Wednesday, June 24, 2009

the meaning of "humanitarian"

Main Entry: humanitarian
Pronunciation: \hyu-ma-nuh-'ter-ee-uhn\
Function: noun
Date: 1844

: a person promoting human welfare and social reform : philanthropist
humanitarian adjective
hu·man·i·tar·i·an·ism \-ē-ə-ˌni-zəm\ noun

Right now my sister, Alanna, is flying to the South Pacific. Let me explain...

A buddy of mine, Seamus O, who I've known from a fairly young age - we went to the same church growing up, the same high school and even college - has been quite the world traveler since finishing up his college days. He's been extremely active in theater circles and has been a crewman for a sailboat, doing a considerable amount of volunteer work overseas. In all reality, the phrase "doing a considerable amount of volunteer work" doesn't even do justice the works that he has undertaken over the past several years.

Seamus O is an advocate and volunteer for Project MARC in the island nation of Vanuatu (located to the East of Australia and to the West of Fiji). The most basic way to summarize what this organization does, is to say that it provides volunteer medical services to Vanuatu's most remote island communities.

Part of being a Project MARC volunteer involves sailing vessels, building small clinics, and training village health workers. One of the big projects for this year was going to be the construction of a clinic on the West Coast of Santo (an island in the nation of Vanuatu). Because the ships are not available to help them transport supplies, etc., they are not able to get this project underway at this time.

Instead of building this clinic, they will be undertaking an expedition instead, spending the next month or so traveling on foot from village to village, surveying and evaluating each location for what their needs may be (clinics, supplies, training, medical help, etc.) so that these villages may get the medical attention they need.

I now return to my first statement.

Right now my sister, Alanna, is flying to the South Pacific. She is traveling there to do embark on this expedition with Project MARC. Her path crossed Seamus O's over the holidays and she decided that it was just something she wanted to do.

As her big sister, I am a little nervous for her - especially because there will be no contact with her until she sets foot back on American soil - but I am extremely excited that she is taking advantage of this opportunity. I know it will be a challenge for her (mainly because she HATES camping and bugs and will be sleeping in a tent for a month), but I think she will learn so much about herself, and others, in the process. I already can't wait for her to get back, but I am so proud of her and wish her the best of luck on her voyage.

According to Merriam-Webster, a "humanitarian" is a person who promotes human welfare and social reform. The expedition that these individuals are on is, by no means, a simple undertaking. The gifts they give freely - their time, their own money, strength, blood, sweat and tears - emphasize the fact that these individuals fully embody the meaning of this word. Each of these people deserve our prayers, good wishes and utmost respect for changing the lives of the inhabitants of this island nation.

  • You can access the Project MARC website here.
  • You can access Seamus O's blog here (or on the sidebar of our blog).
  • For your information, there are 3 videos that showcase, with considerable detail, the works of this organization (which is a non-governmental organization) by clicking here. The link will take you to the first of three pages (courtesy of Seamus' parents) - each page with a streaming video, 2-5 minutes in length. The links for additional pages/videos are at the top of the first page (1. project MARC, 2. 2008 Donor Thank You, and 3. 2009 Water Project Appeal).

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Camping 6/12-14 at Reynolds Creek

We went camping last weekend with the Kolbergs at Reynolds Creek. This is the second year in a row we've gone, and 10+ years for them. They started a journal when they bought their pop-up and the 1st entry was the same weekend, at the same campground, exactly 10 years ago! The area is beautiful, it's about a mile high in elevation, in a pine forest, in the Sierra Ancha Mountains. I highly recommend checking out this area there is a lot to see and do. We might go back next weekend to explore some more, we missed a 200ft waterfall, Indian Ruins, abandoned uranium mines, and a hike to Aztec Peak. Plus a firetower on the peak, where author Edward Abbey worked and wrote some of his books. Also there is rumor of a large stone living room complete with thrones (with cupholders) and a large fireplace in the area. Here's someone elses description of the area:

"Aztec Peak is the highpoint of the Sierra Ancha Mountains. This relatively unknown mountain range is located in the Tonto National Forest. Aztec Peak is also located in the Sierra Ancha Wilderness Area. The Sierra Ancha Mountains have some precipitous box canyons, towering vertical cliffs, and pine-covered mesas. Elevations range from 4,000' near Cherry Creek to 7,748' atop Aztec Peak."

Back to my ramblings the weather was great, 80's during the day and high 40's at night. Lucy had a ball, she chased squirrels up trees, swam in Reynolds Creek, and caught a Horny Toad. I can't accurately gage his horniness, but he was not a toad. He was a medium sized lizard, flat, sandy colored, and covered in spikes. When Lucy caught it I was afraid she'd killed it because when I pried her jaws open it was bloody and not moving. When it ran off I thought that the blood must be Lucy's. Neither animal had any obvious wounds and when I told Theresa what had happened she explained that they shoot blood from their eyes to discourage predators ! I looked it up when I got home, check this out:

"Horned lizards (Phrynosoma) are a genus of the Phrynosomatidae family of lizards. The horned lizard is popularly called a "horned toad," "horny toad", or "horned frog," but it is neither a toad nor a frog. The popular names come from the lizard's rounded body and blunt snout, which make it resemble a toad or frog. (Phrynosoma literally means "toad-bodied.") The spines on its back and sides are made from modified scales, whereas the horns on the heads are true horns (i.e. they have a horny core). There are 14 species of horned lizards in North America, 8 of which are native to the United States. The largest-bodied and most widely distributed of the U.S. species is the Texas horned lizard (P. cornutum)."

"Horned lizards use a wide variety of means to avoid predation. Their coloration generally serves as camouflage. When threatened, their first defense is to remain still and hope to avoid detection. If approached too closely, they generally run in short bursts and stop abruptly to confuse the predator's visual acuity. If this fails, they puff up their body to cause it to look more horny, making it appear larger and more difficult to swallow. At least four species are also able to squirt an aimed stream of blood from the corners of the eyes for a distance of up to 5 feet. They do this by restricting the blood flow leaving the head, thereby increasing blood pressure and rupturing tiny vessels around the eyelids. This not only confuses predators, but also the blood tastes foul to canine and feline predators. It appears to have no effect against predatory birds. To avoid being picked up by the head or neck, horned lizards duck or elevate their head and orient their cranial horns straight up, or back. If a predator tries to take it by the body, the lizard drives that side of its body down into the ground so that the predator cannot easily get its lower jaw underneath this lizard."

This is the coolest animal ever !!! Around the campfire one night there was a little girl who was very interested in Lucy. She harrased her for close to an hour, petting her, putting her pom-poms on her, hugging her, and Lucy never growled or nipped at her...she barely even woke up. Here are some pictures, we would have taken more but my battery died very early on. Enjoy !

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Joe and I were reminiscing about New England this weekend and part of our thoughts drifted towards Robert Frost, the great American poet.

While I lived in New England, we would pass by Robert Frost's home on several occasions as it is in Derry, Hew Hampshire...just a few minutes down the road from where Joe's parents live. All I remember is that it was a cute little home, painted in white, on a big lot right off of Route 28. There is nothing remarkable about the house, really. It is cute and very country-ish. But what I think is more remarkable is the work of the man who lived there.

His words have often been favorites of mine while studying poetry in my English courses during school years and were, without a doubt, quite often inspired by the terrain around him - some of his poems light and inspirational, some dark and foreboding. Whatever sentiments were intended, his works are nothing short of amazing. Some of his most famous poems include The Road Not Taken, Acquainted With the Night, and Birches. Below is one my absolute favorites.


Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Monday, June 1, 2009

star trek, new moon, et al...

Joe and I went to see Star Trek a couple weekends ago and, I must say, that I actually loved it! I was never a Trekkie growing up and really didn't watch more than 3 or 4 episodes of the show. Ever. So going into the movie, I didn't really know what to expect other than people kept telling us good things about it (my sister, Joe's parents, etc.). I was a little skeptical, but kept an open mind. And I loved it! Seriously loved it. And I would actually like to see it again. I'm not 100% sure why I liked it so much - could be the plotline, could be the cast, could even possibly be the fact that Spock's haircut reminded us of Jim Carrey's hairdo in Dumb and Dumber - but it was just plain good. So go see it!!

Check it out here:

Also, apparently the trailer for New Moon (not released in theaters until this November) was premiered at the 2009 MTV Movie Awards last night. The awards show (which is generally pretty amusing to watch) didn't start until 9pm last night, so I only watched about 20 minutes of it. [why they put these shows on late on Sunday nights is beyond me]

Anyway, I decided to look online to see if they posted the video of the New Moon trailer and....since all of you are DYING to know....they HAVE!!! Part of me is telling myself that I shouldn't be excited by trivial things such as this. But the other part of me is so excited for November!!!


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