Monthly Archives: March 2010

Pizza and Politics: Inside Look At Haiti

On 31Mar10 I attended my first Pizza and Politics event of the semester, hosted by the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to stay for the whole thing, and unfortunately it was also an evening of mishaps on my part. To start off with I missed the bus, and the next one wouldn’t have got me there on time. I ended up moving at a fast walk from the Kansas Union, through the Oread neighborhood, past the dorms and over Daisy Hill to get to the Institute. This wouldn’t have been a big deal if I hadn’t been wearing my new Doc Martens, which are still breaking in. More on that later.

I got there early enough for the pizza and ended up chatting with one of the evenings panelists, a Mr. Scott Morris. Mr. Morris was part of the relief effort, an emergency contractor who purified drinking water for hospital workers. Bill Lacy and Jonathan Earle, the Director and Associate Director for Programming at the Institute respectively, also came and sat at our table and chatted with us. It was some interesting conversation and they made a friendly effort to engage the students like myself, asking our opinions and making small talk.

The presentation itself was a Q&A panel, but the format was such that the questions were submitted by email beforehand and the Institute picked which ones to ask. Aside from Mr. Morris the other two panelists, and I’m probably about to get their names wrong because I don’t have the literature in front of me right now, were Jean-Benito Mercier and Venel Lamarre (names fixed). The two were born Haitians and came to the United States in different ways, one via an organization called the Organization of International Immigration, whose website I couldn’t locate, who came over because of the Aristide regime’s brutality and its legacy. The other gentleman was a “boat person”, picked up by the U.S. Coast Guard and “screened in” at Guantanamo Bay. They spoke a bit about their feelings regarding Haiti’s colonialist past, the roots of the current problems and their reactions to the recent earthquake.

Unfortunately I had to leave while they were discussing the earthquake. It was getting toward the time I had to be going, and though I could have stayed a little longer it was here that I noticed that my new Doc Martens, the best shoes in the world once they’re broken in, had worn holes in the skin covering my heels and the backs of my socks were a bloody mess. I have a picture of this tragedy but I don’t think anyone wants to see it. I ended up taking off my shoes outside and walking barefoot from the Dole Institute to the Park&Ride lot. Fortunately I had an extra set of socks and a pair of running shoes in my car.

It was an interesting talk and I wish I could have heard the whole thing, but the timing was off for me, and there was the whole “bleeding profusely” thing, so there it is. But I don’t regret making the effort and I don’t know why more students don’t attend these things. I look forward to the next one I can get to.


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Filed under Event, Learning, Right Living, University of Kansas

Spring Recruits 2010

Saturday, 27Mar10, I attended Recruits, a twice annual wargame convention held in the Kansas City area. I carpooled on over with my friends from my weekly game group and spent most of the time with them. The event is hosted by a local high school that has a wargame club that uses the event as a fund raiser. I’ve heard these kids can even letter in gaming, which is very neat.

The man in the orange “10th Cavalry” shirt is my friend Mike. The move to war gaming is something that’s recent for me (I’m an RPG guy) and Mike is helping me to round out my army. Here he is playing Flames of War, using WWII German armor to assault into a well dug-in British mechanized unit. He had won his first game, but I didn’t get to stick around long enough to see how he fared in this one.

Here are my friends Jon and Damon during our G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. game. It’s skirmish based game with simple rules, and the setting is pretty cool. It’s a tongue-in-cheek Victorian era setting, which appeals to me greatly, and the game is based on the different factions having objectives. So it wasn’t an all out war of slaughter, and my faction, the “British Scientist” faction, hunted for a rare butterfly and assisted the “Waziri Tribesmen” in resisting the “Arab Slavers”. I caught my butterfly, but too many of the tribesmen were captured to earn my secondary goal. The other faction ally, “Tarzan and family” were tied up in a brawl with the “Russian Explorers”, and could neither help us nor stop the “Russian Trophy Hunters” from shooting all the gorillas. It was great fun!

I spent some of the time playing games with my friends and the other part walking around by myself. I am collecting my own Warhammer 40k army, but I haven’t actually played a game yet, so I wanted to see a game in action. I also wanted to check out the other players models and paint jobs. There were a couple of armies that stood out with great paint, but most of them were mixtures of paint, primer and bare plastic models. I also enjoyed checking out the other Chaos Marine players and looking at how the assembled their models. I like Chaos Marines mostly for the models and enjoy the customization aspect that they lend themselves to.

We had been tasked with keeping our friend Damon at the convention until about 1730, because his wife was arranging a surprise birthday party for him. This picture is his Pac Man cake, which had a “child related mishap” before the party started. It was a nice party, and I regret that the lighting in the house seemed to be strategically positioned to make photographs difficult to take. A lot of what would have been good pictures turned out to look like that scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind where the aliens are first coming out of the space ship, all extreme back-lighting and unrecognizable. But the food was good, the conversation was good and the times were good.

As usual, I have more pictures from the day available on my Myspace albums here. The whole day was fun, but my feet and back were more than ready for bed when I got home around 2200!


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Filed under Event, Folk, Hobby, Right Living, The Heathen Gods

Protected: Arthur’s Journal #4

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Filed under Hobby, Right Living, RPG Journals

Fitness Report 26Mar10

Waist – 41″

Weight – 222.2 lbs

Body Fat Percentage – 34.3%(scale)/29.0%(A.F.C.)

Overweight by – 34 pounds

Exercising – Dancing in the clouds

Dieting –Keeping away from over eating, minimizing junk food

I feel – As if spring break had never happened…

Still very busy in school, missed out on extra-curriculars and regular exercise this week.

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Filed under Fitness Report, Right Living

March Heart of America Japan-America Society General Meeting

Tuesday, 22Mar10, I attended another general meeting of the Heart of America Japan-America Society. I took several pictures, but unfortunately in a mix-up they ended up being deleted before I could use them, and I found and added them to this blog a couple weeks after I initially posted it. Preceding the meeting there was some of the usual pleasant conversation and snacks. Then Jim, the current HoA-JAS presidnt made some announcements about the upcoming garden clean-up. Other officers made reports on various things, notably a 4-H festival upcoming in Riverside and the JAS student ambassador program.

The guest speaker tonight was Mindy Varner, a doctoral candidate at the University of Kansas who is studying pre-modern history of Japan, focusing on the political role that the tea ceremony played. She is also a student of the Urasenke school of Japanese tea ceremony, one of about twelve mainline schools. The tea ceremony in general was her presentation topic. She gave an interesting lecture on the history of tea and the tea ceremony, and both the secular and religious aspects. She described the importance of the tea ceremony and how it was mostly practiced by men who were demonstrating their “cultural literacy” up until the WWII period, and how in the post-war period (side note: how long ago does the war have to be before we stop referring to it so consciously?) it has become a practice mostly practiced by women, though due to traditional transmission of school authority most of the tea masters remain men.

There were some other tea ceremony students in the room, and they were whipping up a batch of tea for us to sample. Real tea is green and rather unappealing to look at. It is also very bitter, though the caffeine content readily explains how such a bitter drink became popular. I had tried it before at a friend’s house, but what I received this time that I didn’t then was a ball of sugar that I was instructed to melt in my mouth immediately before drinking. That made a world of difference, changing the flavor. I did not experience the caffeine rush that was described, but this was the thinner version of the tea, so perhaps that and the fact I have the American habit of drinking soda probably minimized that. Also the picture at the start of this paragraph is of Loose Park’s very own Japanese tea room. Check it out sometime, it’s very nice.

The presentation was long and detailed, so there wasn’t anything else going on. I had very little sleep the night before and was ready to go to sleep right there. The tea probably kept me going until I could reach home! But it was a good thing, and once again I had a fun and educational time at the JAS.


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Filed under Event, Learning, Right Living