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Have a little faith

ImageThis week, Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world when he announced his retirement from papal service. Although I am a Catholic born and raised, I could not help feeling smug when I heard the news. The only Pope I ever really knew was Pope John Paul II. And while I may not have agreed with all of his political views, he definitely was a spiritual leader. As the global leader for the Catholic Church, he checked all of the boxes. He worked for peace in the Middle East. He emphasized the Universal Call to Holiness. He travelled to countries that heretofore had never been visited by a Pope. He apologized on behalf of the Church to those it had hurt. He survived two assassination attempts. And to top it all off, he served to his death despite his battle with Parkinson’s.  To me, Pope John Paul II was a leader by example. He showed us that when you take pride out of the picture, we can live together in harmony despite our faith, gender, age, or political views. So when Pope Benedict XVI was announced as Pope John Paul II’s successor, I was skeptical.

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Space: the next frontier

ImageI recently read an article (check it out here!) asking a very important question: is our work at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) important? For a $10 billion dollar machine, is it really worth the investment? The global economy is still on the recovery. Should we still fund the research of particle physicists when we can’t even solve the global energy crisis? I say yes. And for the same reason I think science is important.

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Mechanical rendition of Snoopy at the Swetsville Zoo.

It is a cool summer day. The anticipated thunderstorm is rolling in, but the sky is only overcast. A few rays of sunlight peek out from the clouds, reminding us that the storm might just pass us over for another town.

I am inside studying for the LSAT. It is summer vacation, and I would rather be hiking in the mountains or taking a stroll along the mall. Nonetheless, I must meet my daily quota if I want to get into law school. At least I can take comfort knowing that my brother is studying as well.

I am in the middle of a frustrating logic game. I have misread some of the clues, so my diagram is wrong. From outside recesses of my own mind, I hear my brother open the door to the garage. Unknowingly I glance at him to acknowledge his presence. He is wearing his biking suit.

“I’m heading out for a quick ride. Gonna go to the local bike shop to pick up that spare part. A friend helped me locate it.”

I hadn’t ridden a bike since elementary school, but my brother convinced me to take up biking again. Whenever we ride, he lends me his bike while he rides our father’s old Italian racing bike. At first I literally could not keep my balance on the bike, especially since his bike is a tad too tall for me, but I eventually got the hang of it.

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Michael Crichton’s State of Fear is the perfect ‘first book of the summer.’ With just the right amount of scientific theory drizzled amidst a suspenseful plot, State of Fear is any student’s ideal fantastical transition from spring semester to summer vacation. The novel follows a lawyer, Peter Evans, who is suddenly drawn into a conspiracy surrounding the murder of his longtime client and good friend, George Morton. Upon his death, Morton was investigating the legitimacy of an environmental advocacy group. After his passing, Evans is recruited by one of Morton’s secret associates to challenge the group and prevent it from sacrificing millions of lives for the sake of publicity and profit. Through its diverse sample of characters and the obstacles they face, State of Fear challenges the concept of individual thought in the Information Age.

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Boulder != Ithaca

Picturesque view of the Rocky Mountains on brighter days.

It has been raining for almost an entire week. The rain literally looks like the heavens have decided to dump buckets of water on us. Even the news has reported flooding in nearby towns. Watching the report of a man canoeing down the main road, I wonder if I too should buy a canoe.

Through the open windows, I hear a tumultuous Boom followed crisp Snap. Lightning has struck a nearby tree. Since it was so hot earlier in the day, I had opened all of the windows in the house. I now clamor over furniture to close all those windows. Only the sliding door leading to the backyard remains. I can feel the humidity building in the house. Perhaps I could leave this door open just a crack. As I fiddle with the door, droplets of rain bombard my face. Has the rain turned to hail? No. Instead, the wind has picked up, causing the water droplets to accelerate towards the patio. I slam the door shut, almost derailing it in my haste. On the other side of the glass, it looks like Armageddon, only the fire and brimstone has been replaced with howling wind and supersonic rain. I can no longer make out individual droplets. Terrific, just terrific. What a great way to spend the summer.

In my lifetime, I have had the opportunity to live in both Boulder and Ithaca. Upon moving to Ithaca, people remarked that my move was no move at all. Ithaca is just like Boulder. Unfortunately, I have found quite the opposite. Ithaca is nothing like Boulder. For one thing, Ithaca is much lower in elevation. Located in upstate New York, Ithaca is much greener and wetter than Boulder. What Ithaca lacks in elevation, it makes up for in precipitation.

With my great lack of foresight, I decided to spend this summer in Boulder. I had imagined myself enjoying the beautiful Colorado sunshine and hiking the glorious Flatirons. There really is nothing more awesome than giant sheets of sandstone jutting out of a snow-capped mountain range. Instead I am locked up in my house, wondering if my insurance covers lightning strikes, mortified that Ithaca has blue skies and sunshine. Come on, Nature. Can’t you tell the difference between Ithaca and Boulder?

In Ithaca’s defense, I will say that while there are no Flatirons, Ithaca is home to some of the most picturesque gorges I have ever seen. It’s just that with what will soon become a gorge formation in my backyard and the promise of more precipitation to come, I am very disappointed in the direction my summer vacation is headed.