Unmosquing Islam

(I’m sorry this is long, but press on through — it was a super insightful experience!)
This Saturday some of our Wesley Foundation women’s small group (Katherine, Chelsea, Emily, and I) arranged a day trip to the Greensboro Islamic Center with the agenda to learn more about spiritual discipline and observe the systematic ritual of prayer in the Islamic faith. We also realized in discussion that we did not know as much about the faith as we thought we did, so this was to be a huge learning experience for all of us.

I. Our Endeavor:
Our trip began with a bit of awkwardness as we arrived at the Islamic center around 4:00 to realize that we could not enter the facility to speak to the Imam because we would have to walk through the male side of the building but did not have head scarves. Wanted to avoid any disrespect or conflict, so Katherine called her friend from the area who frequents the mosque when she is home from college. Katherine is close with her friend’s family, and we were informed that the father would meet us at his grocery store, which sells Arabic, African and Indian-Pakistani products. We met him there and explored the contents of the store with wide-eyes, discovering items like orange-blossom water, Turkish delight, and tons of spices we never knew existed. Chelsea and I purchased some couscous, and the father gave us each a free beverage that he had chosen for us – nonalcoholic apple flavored beer.

Very interesting choice, but we were all grateful and eager to try new things. He invited us to a wedding celebration that was to occur at 7, and Emily kind of flipped out with unsuppressed excitement (she’s a sucker for weddings). We returned to the mosque with the reassurance that we would be fine without head scarves because we would be conversing primarily with women.

We removed our shoes at the door and followed some women inside to a small upstairs room with green carpeting, marked off with black electrical taped lines to indicate the location of Mecca for prayer.
Several women and children were in the room, a couple older ones reading the Qur’an while the the children played and the younger women blew up balloons for the later celebration. We sat down with the young women and helped blow up balloons while asking questions about how they came to the Islamic faith. We befriended two high-school aged ladies, Che—– and Su—-. Che—– was raised in the Moravian church and converted to Islam after researching and exploring the religion. Su—- said she was born Muslim, which compelled me to ask the question, “Did you ever question your faith and decide that Islam was right for you?” She said no, she hadn’t questioned it, because her mother advised against doing anything disobedient against Allah. Su—- did not express this as a concern, and I did not press her to answer my question any further.

II. What is Islam?
As Chelsea, Emily, and Katherine conversed with these two, I turned to speak with a knowledgeable elder of the community, Me—, to gain some deeper philosophical insight, and boy did I find some. I started by asking what makes a person Muslim – if it is heavily based on ritual or the state of one’s heart. She said that it begins with the heart, and then leads to the 5 pillars of Islam (which you can look up if you are curious). She said in order to be Muslim, one must believe 2 things:
1. There is one creator over everything, and only one, in the form of God the father. There is no holy spirit or immaculate son (though Jesus is accepted as a prophet), just the father.
2. Muhammad was God’s last prophet.
She explained that in order to get to paradise, or Jannah, one’s good deeds must outweigh one’s bad deeds. In prayer, people go through a cycle of standing, kneeling, and bowing in prostration. When prostrated, your head touches the floor as an act of complete humility. She said that this is the closest anyone can ever get to God, and every time your head touches the floor is a good deed in your favor. She also told me that I should start using the name “Allah” instead of God, because I was beginning to stack up some bad deeds. Oops.
Chelsea asked what the role of the Imam was, and Me— told us that his job was to recite prayer and readings as well as give knowledgeable advice on the Qur’an and Sunnah. The Sunnah is a book of interpretations and instructions revealed by Allah to the last prophet Muhammad. The Imam is chosen as the leader of the mosque based on his knowledge concerning these books.
I asked Me— about her relationship with God and she explained that Allah is an all-powerful, merciful, and loving God. You cannot have a personal relationship with God, but you can pray and worship him using the instructions he has provided. I found it interesting that prayer is never improvised through personal thoughts, but that it is a ritual of reciting verses provided by the holy books, because Allah knows what is best in all things, even in the words that should be prayed to him.
Then I asked Me— a question that even many Christians struggle to find the answer to:

III. “Why do bad things happen to obedient people?”
She said that Allah created people to see who does the best good deed, and that life is a big test to see how you handle different situations. She said everything that ever happens is created and approved by Allah. “If I am given lots of money, it is a test to see what I spend it on – charity or selfish parties. If I am made sick, then it is a test to see if I remain patient and devoted throughout the illness. Everything is a test.” I was intrigued by this answer, and asked her, “If Allah is loving and merciful, why does he do things that cause us pain and grief?” She said that Allah makes bad things happen because he knows that something good with come of it, because he knows what is best. I asked her if this meant she was not allowed to grieve, and she told me that there are certain prayers in the Qur’an that ask Allah to take away her sorrow and to allow her to accept all of Allah’s plans as good and wise.
This made me consider my own Christian perception of why bad things happen to obedient people (You are perfectly fine to disagree, this is just my own personal conclusion). I have struggled with the question in the past, and through the reading of scripture and the insight of several elders in my church, I have come to the conclusion that God is so good, so perfectly holy, so merciful, and so loving, that he must be the exact opposite of pure evil. Evil delights in misfortune, in  pain, in tragedy, in sorrow, in anger, in sin, and in abandonment of God. Surely nothing evil would intentionally be caused by The Almighty loving Father? However, the reality is, bad things happen, not just to obedient or disobedient people, but to all people. Additionally, all people have free will, and all people have sinned. God’s desire for us is that we will love and worship him with all of our hearts, willingly choosing to surrender everything else and deem it as insignificant in comparison the the Lord of all creation. He allowed free will so that humans can make this choice willingly, but in order to have free will, there has to be a capacity for both good and evil. God is the creator of all good things, however, evil exists in the world as an inevitable attachment to free will. One cannot have free will without being able to experience evil things. This may sound hopeless, like we have a God who simply sits back and watch, but that is not the case at all. Though evil things happen, God is loving and merciful, and he does answer prayer. I’ve experienced that firsthand over the course of several years in a powerful testimony that I’ll try to write about some other time. The beauty of Christ’s death and resurrection is that God took the horrendous practice of crucifixion, indented for the torture and death of criminals, and transformed it into a righteously awesome and beautiful gift — the gift of forgiveness and new life. In the same way, God transforms our current situations of hopelessness, anger, and despair into a more beautiful creation than the original. Out of the ashes he brings up new forests, glades, streams, and fresh botany that are even more beautiful than the creation that existed before the fire. God does not cause evil, God defeats evil. Is pain really a concern if it leads to more joy than there was before the pain?

IV. Salvation
Continuing on with my questions, Me— explained that if a  family member dies and was obedient to Allah, she prays to be relieved of her selfish sorrow because her family member is in paradise. I asked her what she prays if a family member was disobedient to Allah, and she said that one could lift up their good deeds in their family member’s name, so that they might be able to have paradise as well. I found this extremely interesting — that the Islamic faith seems so strict on methodical obedience, yet it is still possible for people to completely rebuke Muslim traditions and still end up in paradise if their family member was obedient for them.

Katherine and Chelsea

I know this is long, so I’ll draw it to a close. The rest of the evening was lighter chatting, and we received some absolutely delicious yet somewhat unidentifiable food.

However, what was identifiable was the feeling of a deeply-rooted community. In these religious observances I saw socialization and spiritual discipline as the same thing, which is something I need to learn how to facilitate better in my own life. Meaningful and genuine conversation leads to meaningful and genuine friendships. I believe that proclaiming Christ to be my largest priority is not a proclamation that can be contained within a single sentence, but should be present within all my sentences. Being “spiritual” and reverent is not switching into a mood whenever it is prayer or worship time, but it is a placement of the heart. I need to constantly realign my heart, for it likes to stray.
If you want to hear more or want to have some other genre of conversation, please do!

Emily (center) and I

Also, man, I’m really proud of you for reading this whole thing.
-Jordan

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Overcoming being Overwhelmed

The end of one chapter marks the beginning of another.

Sophomore year already. Whew. It seems that so much has changed since I last resided at Appalachian State University. I am no longer a freshmen, my friends don’t all live in a dorm right beside mine, but rather I’m living in an apartment off-campus with one of my best friends, I now have a car so I don’t have to bum rides off of friends all the time, I’ve acquired a boyfriend who goes to a school 2 hours away, I’m becoming a leader in my campus ministry, I actually know what I want to major in, and I am starting to practice being a bit more self-sufficient.

I’m not going to lie, realizing that I am entering adulthood is scary. I realized that the other day as I was celebrating my 19th with my friends and family. I am beyond the years of large princess themed birthday parties. I am beyond the years of asking permission before leaving the house. I am beyond the years of blissful reliance on my parents. I now actually have to think about the decisions I make in daily life and in the long term and consider their outcomes. It is a bit overwhelming, trying to figure out how adults deal with things like bills, rent, groceries, cleaning, cooking, cars, gas, bus routes, scheduling events around work, investing in relationships, studying, maintaining leadership positions, etc., all the while still attempting to live as stress-free as possible. It is nothing short of a miracle that adults have any free time at all.

Just thinking about all of those responsibilities makes me feel sick to my stomach and I begin to seriously question my capability to handle so many things all at once. I think it is safe to say that everyone has felt, to some degree at some point, overwhelmed. As I was attempting to wrap my mind around all this transition, I realized that worrying will not improve the situation whatsoever. At the end of the day, God will provide (Luke 12:24) and the best way to go about solving problems is to take life one day at a time. It is kind of like looking at a “Where’s Waldo” picture.

Though the situation seems to be mass chaos from a distance, if you look closely and slowly scan along small portions of the page at a time, you will eventually find Waldo. Sometimes if life seems to be a lot like the crowd Waldo hangs out with, it may be best to find a different perspective, take it slow, and trust that there is a solution. You just might end up in a much more relaxed state of mind, or so I’ve come to find.

It is also important to remember that most of the things that seem important right now might not seem as important years down the road. Load up the pickup truck to move in and drive a couple hours up the mountain only to arrive at your apartment building and realize that the keys are back home? In a few years, it will be nothing but a funny story. (Yes, I did that, and I did cry a little.)

As my mom always says, “The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.” I’ve never heard of anyone being presented with such a weird and unpleasant task as having to eat an entire elephant, but the principle sort of makes sense. I have to take it one day at a time.

The Last Day of my First Year

 Appalachian State University

*not gonna’ cry, not gonna’ cry, not gonna’ cry*

What can I say, it’s already over. Man, how this year has flown by. I think back on my first day at college, move-in day, and remember how exciting everything was, how foreign and new it all was. It was scary, but in a good way, like watching your favorite horror movie only because you know how it ends. The only difference is, how I thought it would end was a lot different than what actually happened. As I was flipping back in my journal, I found an entry that I had written exactly a month after move in day. Yeah, get excited, because few to none have ever read anything out of my personal journal.

As you can see, not all of my first conclusions about college were completely accurate; in fact, I get a good hind-sighted giggle out of reading my old thoughts. (Side note: Keep a journal folks, you will almost always be thankful you did, that is supposing you don’t have any major secrets. Some things are best left unsaid.)

I have experienced significant growth in many areas of my life since the day I entered college. This includes cognitive growth, moral growth, spiritual growth, identity development, a broadening of my range of experiences, better awareness of my interests and skill set, and overall a better understanding life and the value it holds.

A few contributors to this immense personal growth include my newly found independence from my family, being surrounded by a diverse community with intriguing lifestyles and beliefs, hearing the viewpoints of my professors, peers, and elders and challenging myself to consider their reasoning, and most of all, being able to make my own decisions and discover who I am without the pressure of having to label myself beforehand, whether it be a label like sister, introvert, or transcendentalist. I cannot begin to express how liberating it was for me to break up with my long-term boyfriend after the first semester ended. It reminded me that I was not just half a person that was completed by a partner, but that I am a whole, complete person by myself, and having a partner makes me a part of two whole, complete people.

College is such a large atmosphere of young people that there is no possible way to successfully establish a distinct hierarchy of people. Yes, some Greeks rate themselves higher than other Greeks, and some honors students believe themselves to be the elite, but few groups like these are exclusive and there is really no pressure to hang out with a certain group in order to feel accepted. This was a wonderful realization for me, because I have always preferred to lone wolf my way of being confined to one specific group. I feel that with the absence of such barriers, I am able to define myself by my personality and by my actions rather than by who or what I am associated with. This is not to say that I am against organizations, because I love being a part of my church community and the Wesley Foundation, but I also think it is cool to meet people without allowing them to chastise me before getting to know who I am as a person.

I think the lesson that resonates the most from this year is the value of life. I don’t know if any of you watch The Office, but I really enjoy that show for its humor and subtle life-lessons, a similar trait of another one of my favorite shows, Scrubs. In the series finale (sad day), Andy Bernard shares a very intriguing thought: “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” During this past year, I have learned how to recognize that any moment could end up being “the good old days”, and that the key to getting the most out of them is enjoy the present moments, even if they seem undesirable. I think that in order to get the most out of life, it is important to appreciate the present rather than to wish for the past or over-anticipate the future. It is also important to carpe diem, or seize the opportunities of the day. I also like the translation, “pick when the fruit is ripe” and the saying, “And if not now, when?” (Pirkei Avoth 1:14).

I know I am guilty of wasting the day, though “wasting” can be interpreted in many different ways. I find myself often saying, “There are just not enough hours in the day.” The truth is, there are enough hours in the day, I am just not using them as efficiently as I could. I waste time on the internet, I waste time snacking, I waste time sleeping in, I waste time texting, I waste time walking, I waste time watching movies, I waste time showering for extended periods of time, I even waste time just sitting and thinking about things that I have thought about a million times before, yet have always come to the same conclusion. The question is:

 

But seriously, what if I never wasted time? This is not to say that I never want to relax and put my mind at ease. I like watching the sunrise, painting, reading, writing, dancing, running, hiking, singing, and spending time with friends, but I do not believe any of those things to be a waste of my time. Even if I have no plans at all for the day, which sounds like a relaxing day, if I spend the majority of the day doing nothing, I end up feeling terrible about myself! Just like anyone else, my days are numbered, so why in the world would I let one day slip away? If I actually used every hour for something important, I would have made countless works of art, read thousands of books, invested in stronger relationships, trained my body to be in the best shape it possibly could be, and meditated under hundreds of sunrises in the peaceful morning. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty appealing to me.

Appreciating every moment is hard thought. Sometimes I have to do things that I really would prefer not to, like go to class or clean the house. When I really brood over it, I realize that I should be grateful that I even get to do these things. It is privilege and a blessing for me to go to school, so I should be seizing every opportunity possible to learn and to broaden my mind. It is better to think of school as an opportunity rather than an obligation. This same concept applies to other undesirable tasks. It is a blessing to be able to clean the house, because I have a house. It is a blessing to write a paper or an essay, because I am actually allowed to voice my opinion. It is a blessing to cook dinner for my family, because we have the means to do so. It is a blessing to sit in the doctor’s waiting room, because we actually have access to a doctor. It is a blessing to drive around my sister, because I actually have a car and a sister. Maya Angelou said, “Be present in all things and thankful for all things.” Learning to enjoy the seemingly un-enjoyable moments instead of wishing for what lies ahead has been a groundbreaking discovery for me, and it has made me a happier person overall. My roommate had a sticky note on her desk that said, “What if I woke up today with only the things that I thanked God for yesterday?” Good point Elizabeth, good point.

So the year is over, which is disappointing, but I do not wish for it back. I am appreciative of where I am now, at home until June 2 when my camp counseling job starts up again. I am astounded that my first year of college went by so quickly, but I suppose that is a sign that it was really enjoyable, which it was. 1/4 of the way done, 25% of my undergraduate accomplished in such a short time. This is an even bigger intensive for me to enjoy the time I have been given at Appalachian State. I’ll leave you with a quote by Andy Rooney, an American radio and television writer who was famous for his commentary on his weekly broadcast, A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney on CBS’s 60 minutes.

Andy said, “Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.” 

Enjoy the climb folks,

-Jordan

Society vs. Integrity

Hey friends. I’m sure everyone at AppState has heard the news by now of the terrible death that occurred in White Hall this month. This news made me seriously analyze who I am and what I stand for as a Christian. I want to go ahead and establish that I have been mentally well throughout this event, but keep the girls on the fourth floor of my dorm and the girl’s family in your thoughts and prayers, for I know that they are struggling. This is a video I made as a response, and all I ask is for you to be mindful of your own actions. If you would rather read my dialogue, I have it written below.

“Rumor has it that today a girl on the fourth floor of my dorm committed suicide around 2 p.m. This was so unexpected. I never would have thought that while I was happily sitting in my room, a girl only two floors above me was in the process of killing herself. Wow. I didn’t know her, but I think that is what astounds me. I didn’t know her. How many people do I see every single day that I just blindly or ignorantly pass by? I probably came into contact with the girl upstairs before, but I never made good conversation, nor did I make any attempt to be a friend or see into her heart.

I know it isn’t my fault she died, but what if I could have been the reason she lived? I texted my friend Andrew about this and his response was, “You can’t save everyone.” I know I can’t save everyone, but what if I was able to save her? No one would have noticed if she had lived. It takes death and misfortune to draw people’s attention. No one wanted to rejoice in her living, but everyone wanted to mourn when she took her own life. What if I could have rejoiced in her living, during the times when she decided against death?

Our society has two major rules that occasionally conflict with each other. In psychology this is called the “bystander effect“. Here is a video that better explains what this is, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSsPfbup0ac, but the bystander effect is basically ignoring people in need because everyone thinks that someone else will help. One rule is to do the right thing. The other rule is to do what everyone else is doing. The majority of people, and this has been proven, choose conformity over integrity. When there is a man lying on the crowded streets, moaning and crying for help, most people LOOK and KEEP WALKING. They see him! The man asked for help, they saw him, and they completely ignored him!

Obviously, there are some parallels between this psychology study and the Good Samaritan story, but what if the suffering wasn’t so obvious? What if the man was silent, was not on the street, but walking with the crowd, and seemed to have no visible injuries? Are we accountable then? Is it all right to pretend that everyone is happy then?

The truth is, everyone has problems. Pretending like everything is fine in the world is just an unspoken conformist lie that society tells themselves to keep from “getting involved.” It is what we tell ourselves. It is what we tell other people. ‘Our lives are too busy to talk to people.’ ‘We are too busy for new friends.’ That is what we tell ourselves. In comparison to caring for the sick, wounded man, how hard is it to say ‘hello’ and ask ‘How are you doing today?……… No, how are you really doing.’ Not hard at all actually. If I had actually paid attention to the people around me, if I had actually stood out from the normal, do you think I could have saved her? More rationally and more practically, if I had even acknowledged that she was there; if I had actually talked to her, do you think she would have felt just a little bit more human? Do you think she would have felt just a little bit less forgotten?

There are so many easy ways to be the Good Samaritan. I don’t want to conform to the apathy anymore. People, no matter their appearance, have real hearts and real problems tucked away beneath their conformity suits. We look so professional, so put together. Why? Because it is what everyone else is wearing.

Let’s be naked. Let’s expose ourselves as Christians who care and who witness the good news that the Almighty Father love each and every son and daughter with an undying, unchainable, unacceptable in our society, passion. By standing still in a crowd of hustling people, we can stick out. We can realize that all of those hustling people are hustling because they are fearfully, anxiously, desperately running away from their problems and pain and they do it because everybody else is doing it.

Christians, you can’t save everyone, but you can lead people to the one who can. Don’t pretend like you don’t notice people. You aren’t blind; you just have your eyes closed! Let me say that again. You aren’t blind; you just have your eyes closed. It isn’t your fault that people die, but what if you could be the reason that someone lived?”

Blessings,

-Jordan

Grammar Time

rachel-ray

Something isn’t right here…

Today a few folks gave presentations in my psychology class and I was astounded by the amount of simple grammatical errors that were present within the presentations of highly educated individuals. I absolutely understand misspellings and mistakes, but there were some errors that were just too frequent to be accidental. Lacking grammatical skills is definitely not related to intelligence though. I think the problem is that many people just never learned. I hope this clears things up.

Easy Grammar Solutions

1. Your vs. You’re –

“Your” is the possessive form [“ex. Your hair is looking scrappy”]. “You’re” is a contraction, meaning two words combined [you + are].  Try replacing “you’re” with “you are” in a sentence for an easy differentiation.

2. No one –

NOT “noone” or “no-one”

3. Its vs. It’s –

“Its” is possessive [ex. “Its favorite time to feed was around noon”]. “It’s” is a contraction, a combination of [it + is]. try replacing “it’s” with “it is” for an easy differentiation.

4. Effect vs. Affect –

This one is tricky. “Affect” often means influence, while “effect” often means outcome or result. Trying replacing the word with one of those alternatives to figure it out. [ex. “The effects of zombie killing” = “The results of zombie killing”] [ex. “The child was affected by zombies” = “The child was influenced by zombies”] See?

5. Nor –

This is used in place of “and not”. If used incorrectly, it can result in a deadly double negative. [ex. “Either that or this, neither this nor that”].

6. Who, Whom, Whose, Who’s –

“Who” is subjective, meaning it can be used in place of [he, she we, it, they]. “Whom” is objective, meaning it can be used in place of [him, her, it, us]. [ex. “Who did it?” =”He did it.”] [ex. He is my son, of whom I am well pleased.” = “He is my son, I am pleased with him.”] Whose” is possessive, like “its”, while “who’s” is a contraction used in place of [who + is] [ex. Whose dog is that?”]

7. Their, They’re, There –

“Their” is possessive [ex. Their grandmother is nuts!”]. “They’re” is a contraction used in place of [they + are]. There refers to a place or a statement ex. “There are thirty-seven cats in her house” or “Just look over there”].

8. Then vs. Than –

“Then” refers to a transitioning of time [ex. It was then that the irony of the situation occurred to me.”] “Than” is relative, as in comparative [ex. “I would rather die than be a part of this madness.”]

9. Into vs. In to –

“Into” is a preposition that refers to location, just like [over, under, beside]  [ex. “I went into the cave”]. “In to” is used when the two word end up sitting together by coincidence. This can be easily differentiated by chopping up the sentence [ex. “I walked in to find Batman having tea with Morgan Freeman” = “I walked in. I found Batman having tea with Morgan Freeman”].

10. Me, myself, and I –

An easy way to figure out how to use the phrase, “you and I’ is to pretend the “you” is missing [ex. “You and I should go for a magic carpet ride” = “I should go for a magic carpet ride”].

11. Good vs. Well –

I think this is probably to most common mistake among spoken language and it takes some getting used to. “Well” describes a state of being [Think illness vs. wellness or poorness vs. wellness] [ex. “I am doing well”, “He did very well”, “All is well”, “She swims well”]. “Good” often refers to performance [ex. “That looks really good on you”, “He did a good job”, “It has been a good day”, “She is a good swimmer”]. To be honest, I just feel my way about it. Eventually, if you are mindful, you will get the hang of it.

That’s all I have for now. Grammar time!

p.s. Check this out. Hilarious! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujzfv5Mg47c

-Jordan

Mathmaticious

 math01

In honor of Leonhard Euler’s 306th birthday, I have decided to only speak of math in a comedic sense. I think a couple of the prime factors for why I dislike math might be because I cannot function in that domain, and because I have a low tolerance for drama. Everyone has more problems than they can rationally handle. It really takes a number on you if you don’t crack a joke once in a while. (Okay, I’m done)

 math02

First off, here are some math puns from punoftheday.com:

1.            Some mathematicians are reluctant to cosine a loan.

2.            I was kicked out of math class for one too many infractions.

3.            A mathematician that couldn’t stop adding up recently went incremental.

4.            I used to hate maths but then I realised decimals have a point.

5.            I didn’t understand the math, so the teacher summed it up for me.

6.            What do organic mathematicians throw into their fireplaces? Natural Logs.

7.            In high school I recall having a beautiful but difficult math teacher. She was easy on the eyes and hard on the pupils!

8.            Mathematicians are sum worshippers.

9.            I strongly dislike the subject of math, however I am partial to fractions.

10.          You know what happens after you miss math class? It starts adding up.

11.          I’ve failed the mathematics test so many times I lost count.

12.          The mathematician worked at home because he only functioned in his domain.

13.          The math teacher was a good dancer – he had algorithm.

14.          I just finished reading Newton’s Principia Mathematica, and found much of it to be rather derivative.

15.          I’m bad at math, so the equation 2n+2n is 4n to me.

16.          The best place for a mathematician is behind a counter.

17.          The mathematician did not practice safe six and ended up with a binarial disease.

18.          Math class is full of drama. There are so many problems to work out.

19.          The arrogant math teacher finally ate a slice of humble pi.

20.          The top maths student’s blood type was A+.

21.          The inept mathematician couldn’t count on his friends.

22.          The math teacher was hungry, but all she had to eat was a piece of pi.

23.          The first order of priority in hiring math majors is get them to sine on the dotted line

24.          I met a math professor who has 12 children – she really knows how to multiply.

25.          A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class because it was a weapon of math disruption.

26.          We’ll never run out of math teachers because they always multiply.

27.          Old math professors never die, they just reduce their functions.

28.          He became a math teacher due to some prime factors.

29.          A lawyer was defending a math teacher. He had to sum up.

30.          On the shelf there are ten math books, five geography books, and the rest is history.

31.          The math professor went crazy with the blackboard. He did a number on it.

32.          Old math teachers never die, they just become irrational.

33.          The math professor liked even numbers, but only the odd one.

34.          Two mathematicians arguing about even numbers were at odds.

35.          With negative numbers, some math students become nonplussed.

36.          A mountain climbing math teacher found an adder at the sum-mit.

37.          Old math profs never die, they just can’t differentiate.

38.          He wears glasses during math because it improves division.

39.          The math teacher was an exponent of his own powers.

40.          His qualifications as a math teacher didn’t add up.

41.          Old math profs never die — they just use strange expressions.

42.          Mathematics teachers call retirement ‘the aftermath’.

43.          Young women who are mathematics professors closely watch their figures.

44.          A math professor in an unheated room is cold and calculating.

45.          Math teachers have lots of problems.

46.          Some mathematicians are on the negative side while others are quite positive.

47.          A mathematician who was also a horticulturist was interested in prime roots square roots and trees in general.

math03

Moreover, I found this physics joke to be quite entertaining:

One day, all of the world’s famous physicists decided to get together for a tea luncheon. Fortunately, the doorman was a grad student, and able to observe some of the guests…

Everyone gravitated toward Newton, but he just kept moving around at a constant velocity and showed no reaction.

Einstein thought it was a relatively good time.

Coulomb got a real charge out of the whole thing.

Cavendish wasn’t invited, but he had the balls to show up anyway.

Cauchy, being the only mathematician there, still managed to integrate well with everyone.

Thompson enjoyed the plum pudding.

Pauli came late, but was mostly excluded from things, so he split.

Pascal was under too much pressure to enjoy himself.

Ohm spent most of the time resisting Ampere’s opinions on current events.

Hamilton went to the buffet tables exactly once.

Volt thought the social had a lot of potential.

Hilbert was pretty spaced out for most of it.

Heisenberg may or may not have been there.

The Curies were there and just glowed the whole time.

van der Waals forced himeself to mingle.

Wien radiated a colourful personality.

Millikan dropped his Italian oil dressing.

de Broglie mostly just stood in the corner and waved.

Hollerith liked the hole idea.

Stefan and Boltzman got into some hot debates.

Everyone was attracted to Tesla’s magnetic personality.

Compton was a little scatter-brained at times.

Bohr ate too much and got atomic ache.

Watt turned out to be a powerful speaker.

Hertz went back to the buffet table several times a minute.

Faraday had quite a capacity for food.

Oppenheimer got bombed.

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As well as:

Q: I am the beginning of eternity, the end of time and space, the beginning of every end, and the end of every place. What am I?

A: 2.718281828459… (e)

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 One more….

Psychologists subject an engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician to an experiment: Each of them is locked in a room for a day – hungry, with a can of food, but without an opener; all they have is pencil and paper.
At the end of the day, the psychologists open the engineer’s room first. Pencil and paper are unused, but the walls of the room are covered with dents. The engineer is sitting on the floor and eating from the open can: He threw it against the walls until it cracked open.
The physicist is next. The paper is covered with formulas, there is one dent in the wall, and the physicist is eating, too: He calculated how exactly to throw the can against the wall, so that it would crack open.
When the psychologists open the mathematician’s room, the paper is also full of formulas, the can is still closed, and the mathematician has disappeared. But there are strange noises coming from inside the can…
Someone gets an opener and opens the can. The mathematician crawls out. “Crap! I got a sign wrong…”

Alright, that’s enough pun for now.

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P.S. Check out this mathmaticious video.

Have a lovely evening!

-Jordan

Boone’s Best Hikes

If you are looking for wonderful places to hike in Boone, NC and the surrounding areas, this is the post for you! Regardless of season, my friends and I love spending time together hiking and finding new places to hike. Here are the places we have been, our photos, and our ratings, sorted from best to worst [also note that I will be constantly updating this for every new place we find!]:

1. Hebron Rock Colony

[Photos by Elizabeth Fowler – my wonderful roommate and friend!]

Difficulty: ★★

Mileage: ~1.2 mi

Awesomeness: ★★★★

This is by far, one of my favorite hikes! It is a short, moderate hike to get there, and once you do, there are rocks everywhere to climb and jump on! As college students, we loved bouldering those massive things, but it is an awesome place to go with kids as well. Just be careful about bringing your parents. I brought my crazy mom and she nearly fell off a boulder and slid down a waterfall, so again, be careful with your parents. Also note that if you are not paying attention to the trail, you just might end up taking a detour – not enough to get you lost, but just enough to make you think you are lost.

Location and more: http://alltrails.com/trail/us/north-carolina/hebron-rock-colony

2. Snake Mountain

[Photo by yours truly – taken of my friends Stephen, JB, and Connor]

[Photo by Austin – taken of Sam. What would I do without those goofballs?]

Difficulty: ★★★★

Mileage: who knows? ~45 mins – 1:00

Awesomeness: ★★★★★

Snake mountain is awesome and has AMAZING views, but it is not for the lighthearted. You rarely get these kinds of views without going uphill, so just take it at a good pace. Luckily, the trail is easily distinguished. My mistake was letting the boys lead, so I was huffing and puffing all the way up trying to keep up with those rowdy mountain men. By the time we arrived at the pole mid-way, I had forgotten all about the pain in my mooing calves because of the gorgeous view. I would definitely recommended this hike, assuming you are not bringing kids – unless of course, you have crazy hybrid hiker kids who never whine about a bit of walking.

Find driving directions here, and hiking directions here.

3. Rough Ridge

[Photos by yours truly – taken of good old Sam again]

Difficulty: ★★

Mileage: ~1.2 mi

Awesomeness: ★★★★

Rough Ridge is truly the perfect chill-day hike. The views are lovely, and it is a fairly moderate hike. It is perfect for children and pets and seems to be a happy-medium length. There is a boardwalk at the mid-way point, and if you keep going up you will find the peak that is roped off on some sides. If you are up for an adventure, shimmy on down the other side of the big peak at the end (this is not a trail) and walk around the base of the rock formation (where the closest above picture was taken). That is where you can find some awesome views., and don’t worry, getting down there looks a lot steeper and harder than it actually is. I can’t think of any complaints about rough ridge other than I have been there far too many times.

Location: go to http://www.exploreboonearea.com/PlacestoPlay/Hiking/RoughRidge/tabid/328/Default.aspx

4. Glen Burney Trail

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[photo by my dear friend Patric – Ashley and I bouldering at the second waterfall]

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[photo by yours truly – the first waterfall and the big sunning rock]

Difficulty: ★★★★

Mileage: ~3.2 mi round trip

Awesomeness: ★★★★

Despite my predispositions, Glen Burney trail turned out to be a bit more than an “old lady hike”.  The entire hike there is gradually descending, so that when you finally hike back up, you realize that 1.6 miles back uphill sucks a lot. There are two waterfalls along the way, both fairly equivalent in awesomeness. We tried bouldering the second waterfall, but took our time climbing back down because we forgot where all our handholds were. This is a hike you want to set a good four hours aside to enjoy it. Also, I recommend you bring your chacos or rafting shoes. If you want to climb on rocks and wade through the river, chacos are the way to go. If you have kids, I recommend stopping at the first waterfall and heading back. It was a long hike for us college students, so I know it would be a long hike carrying your tired kid back. The waterfalls were really lovely, and I truly enjoyed hiking all that way just to lie in the sun on a giant boulder to watch the waterfall beside me spill over and hit the rocks far down below.

For directions and more information, click here.

[I have more, trust me! To be continued…]

Rockwell’s Women

I admire Norman Rockwell as one of my favorite artists not only for his realism, but because every piece he created was designed with some sort of purpose or message in mind. His work was my inspiration to incorporate meaning into my designs. One message in particular that I am fascinated by in Rockwell’s work is the way he portrays women and young ladies throughout the 1920s to the 1970s. This post is a random visual compilation of some of Rockwell’s work so that you can see what I mean.

Pardon Me, 1918

Needlepoint, 1924

Three Gossips, 1929

Man Courting Twins, 1929

Breakfast Table, 1930

Child Psychology, 1933

Peach Crop, 1935

Movie Starlet and Reporters, 1936

Movie Star, 1938

Letterman, 1938

Decorator, 1940

Cover Girl, 1941

Let Nothing You Dismay, 1941

Hatcheck Girl, 1941

Two Flirts, 1941

Willie Gillis: Girls with Letters, 1942

Willie Gillis: USO, 1942

Willie Gillis in a Blackout, 1942

Rosie the Riveter, 1943

Rosie to the Rescue, 1943

Freedom from Want, 1943

Travel Experience, 1944

America at the Polls, 1944

Charwomen, 1946

Changing a Flat, 1946

Baby Sitter, 1947

Dewey vs. Truman, 1948

Christmas Homecoming, 1948

Prom Dress, 1949

Shiner, 1953

Girl at Mirror, 1954

The Tender Years, 1957

Window Washer, 1960

University Club, 1960

Little Girl Looking Downstairs at Christmas Party, 1964

For more Saturday Evening Post archives, visit curtispublishing.com. You can also check out the Norman Rockwell Museum. I hope you feel enthralled!

-Jordan

Apocalyptic Zombie Survival Guide

Forewarning: I am not barmy and I think it highly unlikely that any proposed science-fiction apocalyptic event will actually take place.This is hypothetical. Enjoy!

Let’s be clear. In this instance, by saying apocalypse I do not mean the rapture, I mean widespread disaster and destruction. Now that’s better isn’t it?

Let us suppose that somehow, zombies arose from the ground with the intent of killing off the human race and demolishing all order and progress. What would your game plan be? I’ll fill you in on my plan as long as you stay alive.. Luckily, zombies are not sophisticated enough to use the internet, all they do is byte things, if you cache my drift. (Lame yes, but I know you smiled!)

Here we go:

1. Find your friends, preferably the fit and attractive ones. You want to bring people that are likely to survive in harsh conditions and can assist in repopulation if need be. Make sure you bring resourceful women, they are humanity’s only hope for recovery. Dress comfortably but efficiently (meaning running shoes, cargo pants, watch, etc.).

2. Head to the nearest super-store. Wal-Mart is the perfect place to get the supplies you need. Similar to tax-free weekends and black Friday sales, zombie apocalypse prices are to die for, meaning free! When you get to Wal-Mart with your friends, check out the weapons isle first. Granted, zombies are not the most complex of foes, but when they charge at you in mass numbers, you might  need more than your fists. Stock up on ammo and stash your supplies in backpacking packs. Make sure you grab several water canteens, pocketknives, matches, walkie-talkies, and a couple handfuls of nails. Heck, grab some bullet-proof armor while you’re at it.

Head to the food isle and stock up on: a.beans (and rice if you can), b.spam and hot dogs, c.processed cheese, d.canned goods (preferably vegetables, fruit, and fish), e.potatoes, f.peanut butter, g.bread, h.granola/power bars, and i.twinkies. Put all of the food in the back of your “borrowed vehicle” and stash some in your pack just in case the car goes. Make sure you store your food in a way that can be easily transported from one shelter to another.

3. Get some wheels, preferably awesome ones. As much fun as it is to jog to the middle of nowhere, I would say driving is a better option, and since it is the undead weekend, you can have your pick at any righteous ride you prefer. If possible, go for something with 4WD that can go off-road and has plenty or trunk space for storage. Get 2 or 3 of them. Make sure you bring an extra can of gas per car for emergencies. Keep in mind that your vehicle is likely to be temporary. If you run out of gas, you might have to ditch the car for another one that was abandoned. Again, make sure your cargo can be easily transported.

4. Go to the middle of nowhere. Zombies like highly populated areas, so take your guns, food, and women to the middle of nowhere and stake out in a deserted country home or shack. Halfway unload the cars. That way you will be able to flee with some supplies, but you will also have supplies in the shack if the cars get stolen or demolished. Nail scrap wood to the windows and block off all but two entrance ways. Make sure both are guarded at all times.

5. Once you have established your base, you have two options: 1. Head out into the city to slay zombies, or 2. Stay at the base like a coward and wait for the zombies to find you. Before you consider the latter, keep in mind that zombies do not slay themselves. The apocalypse will not magically end unless someone destroys them all. This is where the fun begins. Head out into the city with your guns, knives, and ammo and pair up. Establish a meeting time and place to make sure everyone is accounted for. Go out and slay zombies until you can slay no longer, and eat any safe  food and grab any weapons you encounter along the way. Make sure you drink water continuously throughout the day. If you find survivors, bring them with you to the base.

6. Repopulate. After the apocalypse has endured for countless months and your group of survivors has slightly increased in numbers, assign your healthiest women with the task of repopulation. Let them have the freedom of choosing their mates, but just be sure they don’t choose some wimp noodle boys.

If these steps are repeated and the zombie population is gradually being hacked down daily, humanity will be eventually be restored. The best tip: use common sense. That is the best advantage you have over the undead.

Have any additions? Comment down below. On must always be prepared, no?

-Jordan

Life of Pi

If you have not read or seen Life of Pi, I highly suggest you do so before reading this analysis. I don’t want to spoil it! Also, it is important to remember that Life of Pi is a fictional story, so as to not get over-invested in fact-checking and critical analysis.

Last night my sister and I watched the film Life of Pi for the first time and were overwhelmingly impressed with how well it was done and how meaningful it was! Now I’m dying to read the book! I really enjoy books and movies that don’t just entertain me, but really captivate my thoughts and make me contemplate things I would not normally think of. Challenges are opportunities to become wiser!

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{My younger sister(left) and I enjoying our “Pi night”}

There were many intriguing topics within Life of Pi, but there were a few specific ones that seemed to jump out at me.

First of all, what really happened?

Obviously, some parts of Pi’s animal story were very illogical and cannot be backed by scientific evidence. Everything made sense up until the point at which Pi discovers the “Carnivorous island”, which resembles a large mangrove. The island is bountiful with plenty of food and water in the daytime, not to mention the millions of meerkats, but at night the pools of clean water become “acidic” and kills all of its inhabitants (the fish). Pi watches this reaction from a tree and subsequently notices a human tooth in what looks to be a plant similar to a lotus flower. This reminded what was said in Pi’s encounter with his first crush, Anandi:

“Pi Patel: None of the others dancers did that. What did you mean? The God of love is hiding in the forest?
Anandi: No, that also means the Lotus flower.
Pi Patel: Lotus flower is hiding in the forest? Why would a Lotus flower hide in the forest?”

Why would a lotus flower hide in the forest? The keyword here is “hide”. A lotus flower is beautiful and desirable, something one would desire to seek. What the flower contains though, the tooth, represents death. This could be easily linked with the way sin operates. It is beautiful and desirable, and people go out of their way to seek it. Eventually though, seeking sin will result in death, eternal death. God reveals to Pi what is inside the beautiful lotus flower in order warn Pi that what seemed to be a perfect oasis was actually a death trap, as it is with sin. One important thing to notice is the shape of the island, which at a distance resembles a body, in an eerie sarcophagus form.

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This leads me to my second assumption. When Pi tells his second story to the Japanese company, he tells it with such emotion and detail. Either Pi is a really good liar, or his second story is the truth while his entire first animal story was a metaphor for the things that actually happened. Of course, Pi says,“So tell me, since it makes no factual difference to you and you can’t prove the question either way, which story do you prefer? Which is the better story, the story with animals or the story without animals?”

I would prefer to believe the animal story. It sounds much more desirable, much cleaner, and much less barbaric. Unfortunately, I think that it is much more likely to be a metaphor. The monkey represented Pi’s mom, the zebra represented an Oriental sailor, the hyena represented the strange cook, and the tiger represented Pi.

The Japanese sailor injured his leg from jumping into the lifeboat. After a while, the cook feared for supplies and killed the man as Pi and his mom held the man down. Pi recalls, “So… I kept saying, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry’, but he just kept.. looking at me, his eyes so… I’ll never understand the point of that man’s suffering.” The cook used pieces of the man’s body as bait to catch a dorado, which angered Pi’s mom. The next day, Pi accidentally dropped a turtle that the cook had caught and was slapped across the face. This angered Pi’s mom even more, and she attempted to hit and punch the cook. Pi watched as the cook killed his mom with a knife and threw her overboard to the sharks. A short time later, Pi took the knife and killed the cook. He used the cook’s flesh as fish bait, doing to him what had been done to the sailor (meaning possible cannibalism). Pi says, “He was such an evil man, but worse still, he brought the evil out in me.”

Relating back to the carnivorous island, the shape of the island (a body) has a new significance. I read from one blogger, beerdoggler, “The island (cook) is teeming with life. The thousands of meercats represent the life-giving flesh of the island. But we see it’s shape is that of a sarcophagus, or mummy, or dead man … the cook. Pi eats the roots and seeds while Richard Parker eats the flesh of the island.” This may indicate that though killing the cook seemed like the right thing to do, Pi still feels guilty about indulging himself on something that he knows to be morally wrong – murder. He knows he has to move on from that place or he will eventually go insane. Another theory is that the island represents Pi’s view of life after he killed the cook.

One more thing about the island. I was intrigued that Yann Martel could make up such a place, so I did a little research. Apparently, the closest thing to what Martel describes is a small island in the Tyrrhenian Sea near Naples called Castello Aragonese. According to theepochtimes.com, “bubbles of carbon dioxide rise from volcanic vents on the seafloor and dissolve to form high concentrations of carbonic acid that make seawater corrosive. Like the floating island Pi and Richard Parker discover, the island of Castello Aragonese creates beds of vivid green sea grass and sustains swarms of translucent jellyfish and algae. Yet no other life survives in its waters.”

As far as the relation to religion goes, Pi states that there are 330 million God’s in the Hindu religion, the primary religion in India, followed by Islam and Christianity. One blogger, , proposes that many aspects of the story seem to represent several different Indian philosophical concepts.

“1. Metaphor: The island floating on the Pacific ocean.
Meaning: Vishnu, floating on the cosmic ocean (this imagery was shown at the beginning of the story).

2. Metaphor: The seemingly surreal happenings on the island.
Meaning: Our reality, which is a “dream” in the mind of Vishnu (this was also mentioned at the beginning of the story).

3. Metaphor: The carnivorous algae on which the island floats.
Meaning: Sesha, the five-headed snake on which Vishnu rests.

4. Metaphor: The numerous meerkats.
Meaning: Human beings. I know, what an unflattering metaphor! Possibly, they were chosen for their semi-bipedalism, semi-intelligence, social living, or some combination of similar reasons.

5. Metaphor: The island supports life by day, and causes death by night, again and again.
Meaning: Samsara, the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth – that which supports life, causes death, and that which causes death, supports life.

6. Metaphor: The meerkats live meaningless lives eating, running, and dying on the island, under the impression that this is all there is to reality.
Meaning: Maya / Avidya, the illusion about the false nature of reality, which ultimately arises due to ignorance, and causes people to be stuck in Samsara.

7. Metaphor: Pi realizes the true nature of the island, and recognizes its futility.
Meaning: Vidya / Sat / Chit, knowledge or consciousness of the ultimate truth, which dispels Maya, and enables one to achieve enlightenment and liberation.

8. Metaphor: Pi, recognizing the truth of the island, decides to leave it for good.
Meaning: Moksha / Nirvana, the ultimate liberation of one’s self from Samsara, so as to attain union with Vishnu (in Vaishnavism, a monotheistic Hindu religion), or union with God (in Sikhism, another monotheistic Hindu religion), or attain supreme character (in Jainism, an atheistic Hindu religion), or to attain supreme serenity (in Buddhism, another atheistic Hindu religion), or union with the supreme oneness (in Advaita Vedantism/Smartism, a monistic Hindu religion). This constitutes the soteriology of the major Hindu/Indian religions.”

There were many Christian principles that stuck out to me as well. In recalling the book’s version of Pi’s detailed account of the carnivorous island, he says, “My foot sank into the clear water and met the rubbery resistance of something flexible but solid. I put more weight down. The illusion would not give. I put the full weight of my foot. Still I did not sink. Still I did not believe.Shmoop.com points out, “Doesn’t that sound like “Doubting” Thomas from the New Testament touching Christ’s wounds in order to believe that he was resurrected from the dead? Or Saint Peter trying to walk on water after he sees Jesus do it?

But maybe the island doesn’t represent the type of faith Martel thinks we should have. Because, of course, the algae turns out to be man-eating algae. It’s an island that can consume you if you’re not careful. Meaning, if you appease yourself with physical comfort – all the food and drink you want – it turns into a type of spiritual death. If your faith is too easy and you no longer brave the stormy seas, then you’re no longer experiencing real faith.

Notice too that Pi really tames Richard Parker on the island. He has him jumping through hoops. Literally. Richard Parker, like the ocean, is part of Pi’s spiritual trial. What do you do when your spiritual test (a.k.a. Richard Parker) follows your every command? You leave:

By the time morning came, my grim decision was taken. I preferred to set off and perish in search of my own kind than to live a lonely half-life of physical comfort and spiritual death on this murderous island.

Hope this wasn’t a dull read, I understand that it is long! If you have any intriguing thoughts you would like to add, please comment! I love thinking about new ideas!

-Jordan