Saturday, December 24, 2005

Laughing Buddha

Guess what I just got as a gift?

Yes, that's right, a laughing buddha! (ok, well maybe the picture gave it away a little early)

I'm so excited about my little happy buddha. I was feeling kind of down the previous days... mainly due to little set-backs and petty dramatics going on around me. I was packing for my trip back to Austin, half-sulking, when I remembered that I had gotten a small package the day before. I hadn't had time to open it yet. I had been studying for finals and worrying my life away.

So I opened my little box, and this guy was just grinning back at me from the get-go.

I think I finally understood Buddhism at that moment. I mean, I had read theological literature and memorized a brief history of Buddha(s) but it wasn't until I saw this little guy grinning back at me that I understood.

I claim to be Taoist, though not a very good one. I try to simplify my life and recognize the universal nature of my environment... but I get caught up in the ado of living and sometimes don't get the chance to reflect. I think one of my missing keys is letting go. I had been thinking some negative thoughts recently, knowing fully that these thoughts were keeping me down. Not anymore. Thank you laughing buddha (and friend, you know who you are) for showing me that everything's going to be alright.

So, I think I'm going to carry a little pouch around with me to symbolize buddha's sack, which is one common theme in buddha statues. Laughing buddha supposedly carries a bag around with him to collect the world's suffering. Whenever someone is down, all they need do is rub buddha's belly to remind theirself that, through his teachings, we need not dwell in this suffering. In this action, he takes our suffering, stuffs it in his little bag, and carries it away...

Smiling as he goes.

Why? Well, it's because he's doing what he loves the most, helping others and spreading happiness in the world.

I think that's something I can bear.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Major Histocompatibility Complex Abounds

the unsung song of antigen presenting cells

You put your life on the line
to present these foreign signs
calling out the truth to cells
through MHC confines
attacking substances that invade our lives
you shout victory to the world
when you help activate the dormant
your importance becomes unfurled
so faithful regardless of the infection
or what an immunologist injects
you don't judge, you just display
on major histocompatibility complex

So, don't let these peptides you ingest
lead you far astray
you do things I don't even do
like recycle every day!
There's no need to feel alone
how you process is not arcane
any cell worth its nucleus presents except
with an added beta-microglobulin chain
so, don't let them call you snitch
because you know it isn't true
proper antigen response is something
important we owe to you!

Copyright 2005 to author (me)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

John: Ocelots can lick their noses.
Nick: I can't lick my nose...
John: *look of incredulity*
John: That's because you're not an ocelot.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Alright, so I know I haven't posted in a while. Given that it's final exams time, most of you won't be checking out this site anytime soon anyway. To the rest of you, heh, I haven't been in any position to think anything through anyway.

However, I'm taking a quick break from studying Advanced Organic Chemistry to write about something that was published in our university newspaper.

Apparently, someone thought that it would be a bright idea to bring biological superiority into the argument against gay-marriage. The article appeared in the Dec. 13th issue of the Daily Cardinal. The title ran something like "Biology, Family Values Mandate Same-Sex Marriage Ban." A title like that reminds me how NOT above writing letters to the editor I can be sometimes.

So I did... write a letter to the editor, that is. A damn good one at that. I made the point of my letter about using charged language in such a destructive way. I don't mind if people don't want gay marriage, but there's no need to resurrect the eugenic movement to justify your fear.

...and of course, I couldn't help throwing in a few thoughts I had about giving rights to committed individuals.... and took a stab at the 'scientific' support in his argument, among other things. Yet, I needn't stop there. There are so many other things wrong with the use of Genetic Philosophy in our society. This quasi-eugenic misused Darwinism is everywhere nowadays, as illustrated by the article. So, yours truly, has dedicated himself to being a socially-conscious scientist. I'm forsaking my neutrality in order to make sure nobody comes to grievous harm because of ignorant uses of Genetic Philosophy.

Stand Up for Family Values!

Biology says 'NO' to Homosexuals!
Keep Gays Single!

Might I emphasize that this is not prompted by the civil union amendment currently blazing across Wisconsin. Honestly, I don't think we're going to win this one. The state of Wisconsin will inevitably use it's power to ensure there is no longer a separation between Church and State. Oh well, do your best and regroup for a long war...

But such petty things as civil-union-recognition-debates are no reason to propagate Nazi ideals. Oh, it makes me so frustrated! Did I mention the author of the article is an accounting major? *sigh*

Maybe I should study the use of Genetic Philosophy in society? There's a life calling if I ever heard one.

Ph.D, here I come.

*oh, as a note, the picture comes from the publicly posted Aryan Nations 2004 Congress website... yay*

Monday, December 05, 2005

So, previously, I stated my belief that there is no difference between men and women.

Now, I'm beginning to feel the same way about race and culture.

I've been told that I speak like a white person... which has baffled me to no end. I simply can't delineate the factors which create "white speech pattern." However, people seem to be able to tell the difference. I just think that it indicates that I've had more schooling than I care to mention... or perhaps it's "white" to be educated?

Furthermore, what does it mean to "lose your culture?" I first heard this term in my Mayan Civilization textbook, which I took to Mexico with me while visiting Palenque. The textbook claimed that the Mayan civilization was ruined after years of war and that the inhabitants lost their culture. However, when I visited them, they seemed to have a culture. It wasn't the same as it was centuries ago, but all things change with time. The Mayan cultures live on in new forms that reflect the rich history of the indigenous population.

Even more confusing is when I hear someone say that a person, rather than a civilization, has lost their culture. Mostly, I hear this from other people of color. Sometimes, people feel that I fit this category, othertimes people say I don't. However, I can't fathom what they mean. It's obviously different than the term used in my textbook.

Saying that another has 'lost their culture' seems to suggest that there was a specific way this person should have had to begin with. What would this look like: The ideal Native American. The epitome of Black Woman. The true form of Hispanic Man. What would it mean to "have" your culture? Is this definition based solely on how 'not-white' I am? Then, how does one define 'white?' Is it how well educated you are, as insinuated above, or simply the fluctuation of melanin in your skin?

The racial divide

It starts to become very complex after a very short time. Once again, we seem to try and justify an archaic term with new concepts. It would be so much easier to phase the old language out.

Now, I must follow this with an important statement. Though race may be completely a social construction, discrimination and prejudice remain very real problems. It's far too common to associate certain traits with negative stereotypes. There is far too much variation to ever believe that you can judge someone based on one or two characteristics. Stereotyping this way only indicates that you haven't seen enough of the world.

So, it might take me a while to figure out who I am, now... though who I am hasn't changed. I'm still proud of my family and my heritage, but I refuse to fight over how "white" or "not-white" I am anymore. It's just not justifiable or worth it.

I have better things to fight over, heh.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

I've never really enjoyed snow before. Not until today.

I mean it can be a fascinating thing at times, and I don't think I've taken it for granted. However, it's kind of cold with a twist of deadly at times. Snow has always been something of a nuisance to me.

Earlier today, I was forced to park at the top of the State Street parking ramp in town. The whole top of the ramp was covered in snow, but it had the last parking spot available, so I took it before anybody else could. It was a clear and sunny day when I left my car there, but by the evening, It had begun to snow.

My car hadn't been covered enough so I would have to brush it off, but I got a chance to watch the light snowflakes as the car warmed up. I turned on my stereo and Enya's Caribbean Blue was playing. It's an alright song, but it's a bit soft for me. After a few Enya songs, I feel like the singer Enya should collapse from hyperventilation.

Yet, when Caribbean Blue and light snow are combined, they have an almost magical effect.

I had the most amazing vision of tiny magical creatures clothed in white fur and lace dancing along the wind, spinning and holding hands as they sped along Winter's breath. At that moment, I think that snow became something more than something to be brushed aside or avoided al together. I saw the small workings of something greater... from the warm safety of my car interior.

I'll post a picture of my vision after finals... and my leadership projects... and after I get some writing done. *sigh*