Monday, March 03, 2008

Becoming Indy

Because I have finally moved into a more-or-less permenant new home in real life, I've decided it might be time for a new home in the blogsphere.

Therefore, you will now find my same great content, witty remarks, and Pulitzer Prize quality photos at my new blog Becoming Indy.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Just Right

I found it! The perfect house.
Well, it isn't perfect but it is pretty darn close.

1,770 square feet, 3 bedroom, 2 bath

It has a backyard on a small pond.
A great big living/dining room.
A nice big master bedroom (with walk-in closet).
And a decent sized kitchen.The home was built in 2003 and I'm getting it for a steal of a deal...$20,000 less than it was built for. Everything is in excellent condition and it is move-in ready. So many of the other houses I looked at had evident projects that needed to be done.

I close on March 3 and get to move in. Now I get to shop for furniture.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

House Hunting

What a project! I had spent the better part of January and the first part of February shopping around for a place to live.

How monumental! As a first time home buyer, I have a huge learning curve. What kind of floor plan do you like? Fireplace or not? Ranch style or two story? Two bedrooms or three?

I DON'T KNOW! I've never thought about it before.

So, my realtor set me up online looking at houses in my price range. I was supposed to flag ones I was potentially interested in and then we would go out and look at them. It is hard to judge from descriptions online.

We went out looking...
This one had too many cars (too close to the interstate)....This one had too many power lines...This one had too much carpet in the bathroom...This one, too small...This one, too big...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Mystic Tibet

Stupid Tourist Saturday!

My folks came into Chicago this for the week and so I drove up to see them, Gram and Auntie. We went to the MVCC and took in a presentation of the Mystical Arts of Tibet.

Still suffering under communist rule of China, Tibet is continuing its pacifist revolution of public goodwill tours. The "Free Tibet" campaign was all the rage in Hollywood several years ago but little has changed for the human rights.

These traveling monks represent a relocated monestary that is responsible for the ongoing world tours. They demonstrate Buddhist ceremonies including music, dance, debate and prayer.

I am still not a huge fan of Asian music but it was a good presentation for insight into Buddhist culture.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Wolf Cave

Stupid Tourist Saturday!

So, when the weather warms up, I want to go camping. A couple weekends ago I scouted this great state park a few hours south of Indy. McCormick's Creek State Park must have 300 camp sites so I'll definitely want to avoid the 4th of July weekend and Labor Day weekend.
The park had some hiking trails throughout. Can one really call them hiking trails if the elevation varience is less than 15 feet? More like walking trails. But that is what you get in the midwest.
The trail I took led to Wolf Cave, one of many sink holes made over a millenia or water erosion. So named for the supposed pack of wolves that exited it and chased one of the early settlers of the area home. Luckily for hikers, wolves haven't been sighted in Indiana for more than a century.

It was a nice drive and a nice walk.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Two Worlds Two Voices

My Friday night broke from the uneventful routine that has dominated the most recent weekend evenings here in Indy.

A co-worker had some extra tickets for the Reba and Kelly concert that was playing down at Conseco Fieldhouse. I can't say I'm a huge fan of either Reba McEntire or Kelly Clarkson but it was still a fun show to go to.

Our seats were nosebleed high. Yep, thats them way down on the stage with the big screen obscured by the lighting elements.
Both ladies were on stage the entire time. They did a lot of duets with some great harmonies. Then when Reba did some of her songs, Kelly sang back-up and vice versa.

It was definitely a toe tapping good time.

An Inconvenient Truth

I feel like I am about a year and a half late on this post but...

I just finished watching Al Gore's documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. If you have seen it yet, put it at the top of your Netflix queue. Go down to the video store and rent it. It is amazing.

If you've already seen it, what did you think?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Road Trip to Indy

While my move to Indy wasn't near as tramatic as my move to Korea last year, it was no less momentus. I was able to capture a photo diary of my marathon road trip.
I started out on the Rocky Mountain front. The wind that rolled down those slopes blew me all the was to Wyoming and powered the turbines located just outside of Judith Gap.
The sagebrush flats in Wyoming turned day into night and led me to the foot of Mount Rushmore. One nice thing about going at night is you don't have to pay the admission fee. One reason I wanted to stop (besides needing to stretch my legs) was that over the holidays we watched North by Northwest.
I had to occupy myself through South Dakota and Iowa by trying to trick the GPS unit. I would take a random interstate exit, drive for ten minutes and then see if it could get me back to the interstate without backtracking. That thing is so smart! Only once did it ask me to turn into a corn field. Maybe there will be a road there some day.
After two days and more than 1800 miles, I made it to Chicago. I took a rest there visiting G & J. J and I went into the city to spend the afternoon. We went to the planetarium and then walked to the bean.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Wet Foot, Dry Foot

While visiting Dry Tortugas National Park we had the unique opportunity to escort some new resdients of the United States back to the mainland. The night before, 18 Cubans had arrived on Dry Tortugas island.
Cuba is only 90 miles away so with favorable winds and five gallons of diesel fuel a boat can make it in three days. The influx of Cubans this year is slightly higher probably due to the instability of the political situation. Fidel's brother has been acting dictator and not doing a favorable job. Fifteen hundred plus have made it to Dry Tortugas in 2007. Eighteen the day we were there, 40 the day before and another 4 after we left.
Of course it is illegal for Cubans to enter the U.S. If the Coast Guard catches them in the water, they promptly escort them back. However, an interesting contradiction in U.S. foreign policy governs Cubans who actually touch American soil. The wet foot, dry foot policy updated in 1995 allows Cubans who reach the U.S. to be welcomed with open arms, permenant residency status and a chance of U.S. citizenship.
Their boat was not one that I would be excited to take on an open ocean voyage. Constructed with a thin sheet of plywood and a single layer of fiberglass, it was barely able to hold its shape as a boat.
The huge diesel engine mounted in the center of the water craft took up most of the useable space and sentenced its passengers to precariously balance on the sides of the boat. If the engine should give out, the architect had wisely bolted boards to the ends of steel fence posts to serve as paddles.
A phrase etched into the side of the boat gives an idea of the attitude of reverence these people feel for our often overlooked freedoms. They also scrawled 'Liberertad' - the hope of freedom.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Christmas in the Keys Part 2

While in the Keys, we also toured the Turtle Hospital. It housed approximately 30 sea turtles including greens, leatherbacks, loggerheads, ridleys and hawksbills.
Some of the turtles were suffering from a viral infection similar to herpes found in humans. Others had wounds from human contact (boat propeller damage), and still others had a lethargy disease.
One of the babies they had had a neurological disease that kept him swimming in circles.
We spent an afternoon in Key West and visited the Ernest Hemmingway house. Key West also boasts more than 2,000 feral chickens which roam freely.
We stopped by the southernmost point of the continental U.S.
We also went through the National Key Deer Refuge and saw several Key Deer as well as alligators, iguanas and other wildlife.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Christmas in the Keys

Spending the holidays in the blustery Montana weather was apparently not an option for my folks.

We had been planning for a while (almost a full year) to spend Christmas '07 in the Florida Keys. Dad, Mom, Bro and me all packed shorts and t-shirts and boarded a plane.

The progression of pictures on the digital camera was snow, snow, snow, sun, sand and turf. One of the first days, we took a ferry to Dry Tortugas National Park which is 70 miles west of Key West.
It begs to question why the Union army would ever built a fort all the way out here. The fort was finished years after the civil war and never actually saw military action. Apparently, the mere threat of a substantial military presence in the Gulf was enough to prevent action from the Confederates. It created somewhat of an embargo.
It was later turned into a prison and housed famous inmates such as Dr. Samuel Mudd.
Just off the island are beautiful coral reefs and a host of aquatic life. We went snorkling to explore all of the areas.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The New Job

Philanthropy is interesting. I wish I was a millionaire...scratch that, a billionaire...just so I could give money away professionally. Until I win the lottery, I am resigned to work in the industry of philanthropy. At least I am working for a cause that is near and dear to my heart.

I will be raising money for students who wear the blue jacket. Right now I feel like I'm floundering with little direction of what I should be doing on a daily basis but I'm learning quickly. It is a self motivated position and I like the freedoms I've been given to attack projects in my own way.
I work in a beautiful building on the northwest corner of Indianapolis and my job will have me traveling around as much as 30% of the time. In fact, I just returned from a tour of the mid-Atlantic region. It is still debatable what region of the country I'll be permanently assigned to. Either the northeast or the west, we'll see.I have been involved with FFA in a variety of positions but this is my first full time position with the organization. It is exciting though that I'll be working with the movers and shakers of the agricultural industry.

The giving structure of our foundation is unique with 90% of our funds coming from corporations and only 10% coming from individuals. This is reverse of typical philanthropic groups. What this means is that we get to work with presidents, vice presidents, and marketing executives from some of the top companies in American and international agriculture including Cargill, Monsanto, DuPont, and numerous others. It is neat that these companies who in the capitalist market compete on a regular basis have joined forces to support education and youth in America. For example, Toyota, Ford and Chevrolet all donate to us. How cool!?!

There is great intrinsic value in supporting youth leadership and agricultural education. These companies see it as an investment in the future of the industry, an investment in future employees, and an investment in future educated consumer and customer.

The job is an adjustment for me physically. Confined to a cubical all day will hopefully not have a significant impact on my waistline. Teaching never seemed like a physical job to me but at least I was always on my feet walking around. I was interacting with people more as a teacher as well. In my cubicle I kind of zone out and forget that other people exist. I'm an extrovert but I still miss the interactions that teaching afforded. Hopefully, I'll be able to strike a balance.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I'm Back!

It has definitely been a while! After a two month hiatus from the blog sphere, it could have easily been assumed that I dropped off the face of the planet. Not so!

Upon returning to the States I had the privilege of trying to manage my Internet needs with a dial-up connection which was not conducive to blogging. I'm set up now and have returned to the world of blogging but I'm not going to promise that my posts will maintain the regularity that they had this past year.

A lot has happened in the past couple of months and rather than trying to sum it all up eloquently I'll spend the next several posts giving events due credit and highlighting some of the major items and/or turning points.

One highlight was that while I was home I did get the chance to visit friends and family and enjoy some beautiful Monatana weather.