Saturday, October 27, 2007

Midterm Break

NOTE! Pictures taken by jonathan, he gets all the credit for his awesome skills.

Don't be deceived-- my attempts at slacklineing usually last about 1.7 seconds. I consider this to be a good picture though, as it covers 3 essential parts: my amazing tent, the subject of slacklining, and my good friend phil (looking on, he is an ace climber! think V7.....)

Our return to civilization.

I must find a longer trail........

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sabbath with Karl

One of the few things I participated in in Freshman orientation was the community service opportunity. Our mentor was a rather flighty individual named keith. At one point, he wordlessly handed me his signup sheet and sprinted for the dormitory! It was with some releif that I handed him his sheet when he breathlessly reappeared with his guitar....

We were headed for LifeCare, a collegedale nursing home. We had 2 hours to sing and socialize with the residents. I met many fascinating characters, including an elderly lady who claimed to be a strict vegetarian, but was continuously smoking cigarretes (outside of course). Another elderly lady, "Wanita" by name, wore copious amounts of lipstick, and had long red fingernails. She occupied herself by continuously straightening her bed, and by telling me some graphic tales about her youth as a mortician's daughter.

With just 15 minutes to go, I wandered into the last room on the hall. There, gazing out his window, was Karl Lampart. He spoke with a marked German accent and had a long and angular nose. I asked him where his accent was from, and looking at me with a strange smile on his face, he began to tell his story.

Karl was born in Germany, on the Baltic Sea. His father was Sephartic, and his mother was Ashkenazi, in other words, he was Jewish. He told me that since he was out in the country, the persecution of the Nazis wasn't as intense, but still, he had had to go into hiding for days at a time at a neighbours house. I glanced at my watch in the midst of our dialogue and realized I was 2 minutes late for the appointed meeting time, so I made a reluctant withdrawel, promissing him that I would come back soon.

Life has been busy here, and so it wasn't until this sabbath that I was able to go back, this time Joel Kurtz went with me. This time, his daughter was there to. She had dyed purple hair and long fingernails, but I quickly realized she was of high mental caliber as well. We started off on a conversation of what was most important in life. For posterity, he said that 1) the pursuit of happiness, and 2) that happiness was best found through finding a loving spouse.

Karl was an electrical engineer here in the states for most of his life. He told us about his philosophy of tolerances, he told us what is general political worldview was, and then we finally settled on the topic of jewish customs and practices. He told us about various orthodox traditions, the regulations for how far to walk on the sabbath, and how to say "Happy Sabbath" in Yiddish-- "Gut Schabes".

He finally got out his Hebrew scriptures, and showed us how their "old testament" compares to ours. He explained that they do not study the scriptures in an exegetical manner, but take each text particularly.

Frequently, when you ask Karl a question, he responds by asking YOU a question. He really cares about helping you to learn something.

When someone dies, we all lose something, but when Karl dies, we will lose something beautiful, something great.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Swim Time: 22:53 (Overall Swim rank: 211) (0.5 miles)

Bike Time: 58:50 (Overall Bike rank: 127) (18 miles)

Run Time: 30:43 (Overall Run rank: 41). (4 miles)

Overall Rank: 101.

My training was hopelessly inadequate, as studies took top priorities. I felt horrible in the run, but it was my best event. Strange.

I was so tired at the end that I had great difficulty balancing. I eventually got Joel to help me down to the edge of the lake where I spent the next 10 minutes attempting to collect my wits.

I hobbled up to the tent where they served various refreshments for the race participants. Gatorade didn't look especially appetizing, and neither did Panera's day-old bread. At last my tired gaze stumbled on a large bowl of sliced oranges, which I promptly decided were precisely what I felt like. As I ate, I found that I could lean on the table and eat oranges at the same time, which gratified me immensely. After creating a small mountain of orange peels, I noticed something or somebody was trying to communicate with me. I eventually ascertained that it was an elderly gentleman, and, complementing myself on the remarkable acuity with which I had made this observation, I reached for the next slice. Unfortunately, he was persistant, and eventually I began to trace connections between the way his mouth was moving, and various unrecognizable sounds he was making. Mustering my full intellectual powers, I eventually decided he was attempting to dissuade me from eating any more oranges, at which I uttered a guttural "ok" and gradually forced myself to walk away.