Thursday, April 30, 2009

Harder Faster Stronger

I was promoted in ROTC today. I am now an MS-2. I wear the same rank as an E-4 (corporal/specialist) I have two bars now instead of one. Tomorrow is my last PT test. My legs still are not great so run time will not be much to note. However the magic number for me is 42. I need 42 pushups to pass. Other than that I should be golden. Wish me luck. BULLDOGS LEAD THE WAY!

One toke over the line sweet jesus

So someone asks about Alive on campus and it being a cult. I wondered the same and did some investigating for my RA class. This is what I am here to report. Obviously Drake can conduct an internal affair should they see fit, and this in no way represents an official university policy. Hope you enjoy:

Alive, and the governing body of Campus Fellowship is one of the largest organizations on campus. Alive is hosted on Thursday nights. However Campus Fellowship has something almost every night. Bible-studies based on residence halls, life/support groups, meals, and social events also become part of the lives of “Alivers.” (It should be noted that Alivers is the Drake colloquial term for those that attend Campus Fellowship/Alive events regularly. This term is not meant in any demeaning way. Those interviewed were generally very accepting of this term, and thus it will be used in the following pages. Alive, as well as many aspects of Campus Fellowship (CF) will be covered, as one cannot accurately talk about Alive, without discussing CF.)
I walked into Cool Beans on the Thursday evening before spring break. Attending Alive is the only time I had ever been up to that part of the building. When I got up there I saw a lot of people. Probably 200 or so, which seemed like an excellent showing for something right before spring break. I had been a few other times at the request of friends so I had a decent read on how things were going to work. They started off with a few songs. This was my favorite part, as I used to play in a worship band. I only knew one of the songs, but they put the words up on a projector so people could sing along. Halfway through a few people put their hands in their air like I see on those worship compilation CDs. I am not used to worship like that, so it was new, but nice to see people passionate about something. Then a brief social meet-n-greet time was given. It was at a previous one of these times that I was informed “Catholics don’t have the truth.” That was in response to my prodding about why members of the group were going to Italy (turns out they went to Spain instead) to “Share the word of Jesus” (colloquially referred to as converting.) That line of thinking I am very uncomfortable with based on Catholicism being around for 2000 years, Peter being the first Pope, etc. However this could have been one member’s personal view. There is not really an Alive doctrine, or bylaws. There is a nice little booklet that describes what the GCC (Great Commission Church) believes, as they are the ones who fund Alive through Walnut Creek Church. However there is no legalistic ruling on what can and cannot be done. This was a major misconception I had, and am glad I have had alleviated. There are definitely some cultural norms that most members self police on each other (see the TD article ) but I did not see any rule book.
The words and actions were interesting. The gentleman speaking was eloquent. He was quoting a new version of the bible, which made me feel uneasy. I have major issues when anyone changes texts, or as it appeared in this case, brought the verbiage up to current standards. I consider this “dumbing down” and am of the persuasion that it should not be done with religious texts, as things can get warped or changed, which could lead to some misfortunes. In terms of cult practices, there was no punch, and nothing was sacrificed. Students were not told to go bomb abortion clinics, nor to send their life savings to a smiling face on TV. I did have an issue because it seemed that when asked members were not sure why they do certain things. Most only hang with each other, as do other large groups on campus (Greeks with Greeks, etc). The issue I had with actions from certain members, was that once it was made apparent I was there for research, and not interested in joining, certain members stopped talking to me. I got the feeling from some members, not all, that they were only interested in talking to me to convert me. I could see this being an issue on the floor next year. Imagine a resident thinks he is making friends, only to find that if he is not 100% sold on the messages Alive sends and stands for, his friends might drop him. There are some members however that I have stayed in very close contact with, as well as many of my colleagues who I have found to be very pleasant and non-judgmental. I was only asked once if I knew where I was going after I died, and that if I didn’t accept Jesus Christ and live my life for him that I was going to hell. (I could see that being a potential problem for the floor as well.)
This experienced taught me to gauge my battles. It is never, ever appropriate for me to tell any of these members that they are wrong. I have no proof either way of who is right, or if anyone is right. I cam to college realizing I pray to the pulpit of I don’t know, and it has been an excellent adventure finding out. This experience has taught me how to ask more open ended questions. I really do not care what they believe, I care why. I want to know the motivation behind what they do. They live a different lifestyle than I would say the majority of students at Drake, which helps make Drake entertaining, intellectual and diverse. I care to know what motivates them. (upon finding out, this paper would get very long.)
There is no immediate danger for attending this group. However should my residents ask I could provide some reasons to not attend. A heightened emotional state tends to happen in certain aspects. I have seen people break down into tears at alive, and other CF events. I know I cannot protect them from everything, and it is not my job to shelter them by any means. However, putting them under emotional pressure will only compound the normal pressures they are put under in college already. If it is a regular occurrence I would not be accepting of that behavior intentionally elicited from my residents. Alive/ CF provides almost parallel programming. There is always something legal and free to do under the group’s direction. This is an excellent thing, as not all of my programs will suffice for all of my residents. However if the events that Alivers go to are dictated to them, then we have an issue. I have never seen an email that says “Thou will meet here at this time or though goes to hell,” so therefore I am not terribly worried about it. However it is something to be advised about. I could also use their programming ideas to implement in the hall or the floor. Some of my most entertaining experiences at Drake have been because of Alive social programs. Some of their political views are very different from my own. I firmly believe in the first amendment, especially the right to free speech, and the right to freedom of religion. However, both must be taken with a grain of salt. The right to free speech does not mean that if a resident of mine is gay, I will let anyone abuse them in anyway, regardless of what grounds. The reverse holds true. In fact this morning a student in my class was ripping into another student on their views of intelligent design/creationism. Civil discussions are fine. Verbal abuse is not. Whatever the opinion is, I may not agree with it, but I will fight like hell to make sure no one takes it from you. I do not have any instances of knowledge, nor do I expect any. It is undisputed that this group does not support homosexual marriage, which could get very interesting in the next few years in Iowa. My biggest fear though is summed up quite nicely in the TD article (Linked Earlier) “Some people believe those who attend ALIVE live a sheltered life. It doesn't necessarily center on a "no drugs, sex, or alcohol" policy, but rather those in ALIVE might miss out on diversity and ways of thinking beyond just what one is told.”
There are definitely some excellent aspects of this group. They provide one amazing support system to members. I also feel as if I could approach many of them should I have an issue. I see a very strong and unwavering sense of loyalty to each other in the group. I personally wonder if this loyalty would remain should someone decide the group was not for them. The discussions, when kept civil by both sides, really expand your mind. College is about bettering yourself. Learning to express opinions creatively and thinking from a different perspective is what half of this experience is about. That is the reason students leave their friends, families and homes: top live the life of the mind. Alive and CF certainly allow one way to challenge that.
Dr. Bakari has confirmed this is not a cult(see attached email). That is good enough proof for me. It has been a very interesting journey researching this paper, any questions or discussions feel free to contact me at


A viewer complimented me on my Half Marathon run. Then they asked what I use in my playlist. The trick to this is to keep the music upbeat, but also have some run songs. This way you keep light as you are running for 2 hours, this needs to be fun and not terribly serious so here they are in order:
1. Startin out with Blink 182s Untitled-It has a good beat, and it’s a nice “here we go” song
2. We Ready by Archie. We are ready to rock this thing. A little more serious song to keep the focus at the beginning. Good rap, and decent hook
3. Out here Gridnin-Dj Khalid. Pump it up, talks about being out on the streets. “I can go for 8 weeks” great lyrics, because it is going to feel like you are running that long
4. Jesus walks-Kanye West. Good Marine Corps cadence in the background. Also nice to know you have god on your side. Definitely need something to motivate you on the run.
5. Yeah-Usher. Another feel good song after some serious stuff. This is where you start to loosen up and dance a little bit. Shake it out some.
6. Don’t leave me-Blink. Upbeat punk song, good song to kick to. This is also about where the race splits, and the half marathoners head on out by themselves. Nice to stay motivated when you start to see people heading for the end, of the 8k.
7. Shooting Stars-cauterize. Great song off the Eurotrip Soundtrack. Nice punk way to keep motivation. Awesome guitar riffs.
8. In the Middle-Jimmy Eat World. Nice motivating uplifting and punk songs. Just hearing this always bring out a smile in me
9. MnMs-Blink. Brought back good memories of jumping off tables while we plays at school. More solid punk
10. What’s my age again-Blink. One of the greatest punk songs. Also brings out some energy in me. I believe it was this part of the race I started air guitaring.
11. Sandstorm-Darude. Greatest techno ever.
12. My president is black-Jayz remix. Very uplifting song. We were headin up hill when this came on. I am pretty sure I might have charged up the hill because of hearing this and being inspired by the lyrics
13. Beer-Real big fish. Fun drinking song=fun running song. Another potential jump around and dance on the road. Very chill, keeps things in perspective but good beat
14. 99 red balloons- goldfinger. Punk up an already tight song. When the German breakdown comes it is time to lift up your head
15. Drink up me hearties (pirates of the Caribbean 3) -Very motivating, and who doesn’t want to be a Pirate in Des Moines
16. Not your boyfriend-3oh3. Intense, Motivating, and sweet techno licks. Always nice to hear about representing your city
17. Pirates theme techno-Why not?
18. Livin on a prayer-Bon Jovi. My running partner and I sang the lick: Halfway there: Whoaa living on a prayer! At the halfway point, keep rockin
19. Get a clue-simon and milo-Solid punk
20. I’m on a boat-The lonely Island. Finally SNL has gotten funny again. Awesomely wacky song. There have been so many I’m on a boat parties here its insane. Good memories and the techno version is great pace.
21. If everyone cared-Nickleback. Solid groove and intense. God way to keep up the focus
22. Phantom of the opera punk version-Why not?
23. Took a boy and made a man-army cadence. Nice to get my steps down and reminds me off all the Army Pt
24. Harder faster stronger-almost as good as sandstorm, good motivation towards the back end of the run
25. Airborne Ranger where have you been?-Army Cadence. See 23
26. Pink Rock 101Bowling for soup. More uplifting punk
27. The anthem-Good Charlotte. Good punk to remind me of high school
28. Relax Take it Easy-Mika. Memories of Jordan, and hey you are almost there, so relax, take it easy
29. Rock Star- Pink. So what Im still a rock star. ‘nuff said
30. Viva La Vida-Coldplay. Jacks me up every time I hear it. Great beat to set pace to. Very uplifting.
31. Numb Encore-Jay Z/Linkin Park. More uplifting, lyrics talk about being the best. Needing severe motivation at this point
32. Remember the Name-Ft Minor. Drake Athletics song. Great rap to push yourself to. Closing in on the end
33. Let it rock-Kevin Rudolph. Nice pace, solid pop.
34. Shipping up to Boston-Flogging Molly. Irish punk at the end? You bet. Very motivating. If you like the Pirates music, check out Flogging Molly. Great for the last kick at the end
35. Gonna fly now-Rocky-duh
36. Final countdown. This should be it. Thank you for running with us. You are now free to move about the cabin.

Standing in the shadows of love

I started to play bass in 5th grade. I had really wanted to play sax, but that didn’t start until a year later. I was heartbroken when I couldn’t make a noise out of a sax but ended up playing trumpet because I wanted to be in band.
One day in 7th grade, my father took me to see the documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown. This was the film about the studio musicians for Motown. Collectively they called themselves The Funk Brothers. The movie talks about their lives and playing under all those big names. Together, they have played on more number one hits than the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, and Elvis…combined. Throughout the film they get together to play with current RnB singers taking the place of the Motown artists. This was an amazing film. I am quite positive my jaw was dropped the entire film. I really took to the bass player, James Jamerson. He is without a doubt the best bass player to ever have lived.
After I walked out of the theatre I asked to buy a bass guitar. I wanted to be Jamerson. We also ended up grabbing my dads old PA system from when he was a kid. This led to many family jams down in the basement.
Later on that year I got to see the Funk Brothers live at Summerfest. Here were 10 guys in probably there 70s and 80s still jamming away. They were probably the best concert I have ever seen. This was the epitome of RnB, of Pop, of soul, of a generation.
Here is a clip of my favorite song. I hope you get a chance to see the full movie.

Alvin Simon Theodore

You all know how much I know how much I absolutely adore music. My roommate can attest to how many random and odd songs I have. While perusing youtube I came across an interesting phenomena. Type in Chipmunks on youtube. Click on anyone of the Alvin and the Chipmunk remixes. Wait for hilarity to ensue. “I kissed a girl and liked it”, sung by the dynamic high pitched trio. One of my favorites is by far is “Sk8tor Boi.” Pretty much every pop song has been redone. (Okay so when these are remade the pitch is just bent hardcore or just sped up) Regardless of how it is done, it is still pretty fun, as well as a decent way to blow off some steam.

Saturday in the park

So the weather has been very nice recently. This has led to me completely and totally neglecting my studies as well as skipping class to play the ukulele under the tree on campus. Just kidding. It has meant that we spend a lot more time outside. My tan lines have become very awkward because of this. My favorite new spot is Gray’s Lake. This is in Des Moines, right next to the river. It is just south of Downtown. If Drake and the Downtown area were to form a triangle this would be the point. It is a fairly close walk, I would say 2 miles or so. We have only driven, because once we get there we walk. Free to walk and talk as long as you want until midnight. Once the sun goes down, there is a very long bridge that gets lit up by funky lights. It sort of reminds me of a disco club. There is a nice park and a few grilles so hopefully this weekend we can make use of that.
Check out the site

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Carry on my wayward son

This is a precious time in your life, when you have the chance to soak up knowledge, challenge preconceptions, play with ideas and develop a philosophy of life that will carry you through the short time that we are given here on earth. Four years to live the life of the mind. A privilege given to so few. Enjoy it. Don't let it slip by without making the most of each passing minute.

Prof David Skidmore
Drake University IR chair

This hangs on my door, as well as above my room mates bed. I will give it to my residents next year. Where ever one finds themselves at school, remember this passage.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Runnin down a dream

13.1 miles. Through suburbs. With 1000 of my closest friends.
Drake Relays 100th anniversary was a time to remember. In the first part of the year a cute girl asked me to run with her. I said of course, (as that is the only appropriate answer when a cute girl asks anything.) We ran 13.1 miles in low 50s on Saturday morning, the Half Marathon Road Race for Drake Relays. It was awesome. I was glad to just actually finish. The winner 1:08:17 which is a 5:13 mile pace. My running partner and I finished both under 2 hours. My time was a 1.59.30.
Iowa has an an amazing running scene. In two weeks is Dam to Dam, which is a 20k race from the dam at Saylorville lake, to the dam in downtown Des Moines. There is also the living history farms race, which is a through the woods, cross country, running through creeks race in the fall. Hopefully I can do that. I will be goading my brother to run the ten mile Waunafest run with me. My new life’s goal is to run the Dead Sea Ultra-Marathon. 50 K, start in Amman, and run to the Dead sea. Half of it is downhill, which will probably require knee replacement surgery. First I will finish college and all that jazz, but at some point, that little stroll is going to be mine!
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