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Journal Update

I customized the journal layout quite a bit from the original layout I had, as some of you should have already noticed as soon as you saw this page.

I like this format much better, Journal titles stand out, and you can see at a glance the titles of the last 10 entries on the right.
Only thing I don’t like as much is that the ‘Comment’ link is now ‘Speak’. I can’t change that in this format, but it’s not that big of an issue anyhow.

Christmas Vacation

Christmas Vacation
So, my parents dropped a surprise on my sisters and I this weekend – where we are going on Christmas vacation – Disney World.
We leave for Orlando on Christmas day, and we get back to Wisconsin on the 2nd, so New Year’s in Florida too!

Quote of the week

Quote of the day, scratch that, make it the quote of the week.
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV)

On a side note, I had a professor say “Mark, you think too much” today. Not sure how I’m supposed to take that comment – but it made me smile.

Blood donation

Blood donation

Well, as always when I have the chance I donate blood – well, until today I tried anyhow.

After the wonderful survey, which was changed since I last took it, in addition to being an oral survey, not a written one; I was asked what blood type I had. After confirming it I was asked if I would consider donating 2 pints to blood, or which the red blood cells would be taken from and the rest pumped back into me.
In the last 4 years while I volunteered at the blood drives I had seen these machines, which I can’t recall the name of, used plenty of times on other students. However my blood type was never one they were looking for – until today.

So after I was asked I agreed, even thought it mean waiting about 45 min for a machine to open up. I had nothing I wanted to do… Mechanics of Materials can wait a bit.
Anyhow, the nurse was very thankful I was willing to wait, and she seemed very surprised that I was willing to wait that long. Little did we know this was only the start of the waiting…

After about an hour I was finally able to sit down and get all the tubes hooked up into the machine, and then the machine started up. That was about the last thing that went right.
After about 10 min the machine started beeping, the kind that you know the meaning of before you look, the kind that means ‘something is wrong’. From where I was sitting I could see and read the machine, it was a warning about a weight issue. After the nurse came back over and pushed some buttons the machine started up again. 30 seconds later the same warning sounds. And again. And Again.

So it becomes apparent that the machine is doing something not so right, and I’m hooked up into it still. The machine starts pumping my part of the separated blood back into my arm, which has cooled a bit from being out of my body – that’s a weird feeling, you can ‘feel’ the cool liquid moving threw your body. Meanwhile, the part of my blood that I’m supposed to be donating, the red blood cells, seems to be stuck in the centrifuge.

Out comes the Red Cross cell phone – and the nurse is calling the help line for the machine. Long story short, after about 20 min it is determined that the machine was somehow set into the wrong mode for the type of donation I was giving. Anyhow, they figure out how to empty the centrifuge, which held a pint of so of my blood – back into my arm. That was even colder than the first rush of stuff.

Now, this is where the federal laws come into play – an attempt at a donation, like I had just tried, counts as a donation – which them means you need to wait the 4 weeks until you can do it again. So, even though I had ‘gotten back’ everything that was taken out I was ineligible to donate ‘again’.

So, nothing gained, nothing lost – right?
Not really, I managed to have the neat experience of knowing what the feeling is when cool blood is put back into your arm, which I had heard described a few times.
But the more important part was the impact I seemed to have on the nurse.

This nurse seemed to be awestruck by my wiliness to stay the extra time to donate on the machine, and even more so by my reaction when things weren’t going so grand on the machine, even more so when I was nothing but smiles about the whole ordeal.
I said “Things don’t always work out the way we intend, but at least we tried”, or something along that line, I don’t quite recall. I think she had a bigger smile on her face than most people would have thought possible.

I’m sure that not everybody would have reacted the way I did. I waited for about an hour just to get on the machine. I was hooked up to the machine for over an hour – and for the vast majority of the time it wasn’t doing what it was supposed to be doing, and for half the time the nurse was on a phone trying to find out why.

I just wish I could hop on the machine and donate ‘again’.
After all – nothing lost, but a lot gained – I’ve got plenty of give.

Book Reading

Ah, I did something today I haven’t done in about 11 months.

I read an entire book, in one day, in one sitting.
Last time I was at home I spotted a book by one of my favorite sci-fi authors, Orson Scott Card, on the “Last chance!” shelf at Barns and Noble. “First Meetings in the Enderverse” Hardcover, $4.99, Practically a steal.

The book is a series of 4 shorter stories that take place in the life of Ender, which is told threw the story of Enders Game (which I also own) and 7 books following that one.
Warning, if you ever plan to read the series stop now – As I’m going to spoil the books for you…
The main story line is that the young Ender Wiggins is caught up in a manipulative plot which places him at the forefront of an interstellar war. His entire life has been control and decided for him by the military, Ender wins the war – at the cost of the complete elimination of the enemy. Ender doesn’t know this when he does it, he has been lead to believe it was yet another simulation, another combat training exercise. Ender blows up the home world of his enemy – without evening knowing it was all real.
Ender comes to terms with this destruction, and publishes a book, titled “Speaker for the Dead” (also a name of a book in the series). He does this because he feels that we must all remember what happened, the grave injustice that occurred – the one he made happen, even if he was only a pawn in the game.
This book, which he publishes anonymously, turns himself from a hero into an evil man in the eyes of the universe. His name simply becomes “Ender the Xenocide”, a war criminal to many. It doesn’t matter to him, as he feels that he must deal with this own fate.
While on a distant planet however, he finds the last living queen of the enemy (for basic understand, the enemy in the stories can be considered bees or ants; queens, drones, ect.) he nearly destroyed. He takes it upon himself to protect this queen, to find a new safe location for the queen and to help them grow again.

The main character in this series lives a lie – the games, simulations, manipulations. When he discovers the truth it is already to late for the billions that have died, yet he takes the burden on himself. He wants to do the right thing, to see the truth. He spend the rest of his life doing just that – making right for what he feels was his wrong, a wrong he didn’t even know he was committing – nor had a choice.

Not sure why I typed all this out, just something to think on I guess. Guess you could say this is my first book review… even though it’s really 9 books in all…