Friday, October 27, 2006

Scholarship Exaggerations

Tonight, I was honored at a departmental scholarship banquet in the Wilkinson Center. This was a nice fancy dinner attended by the faculty and staff of the Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Science Department (NDFS), as well as other scholarship recipients and their parents and/or spouses. My mother and I sat at the same table as the dean of the college of biology and agriculture and his wife, as well as the department chair and his wife. This was obviously the most prestigious table in the room: front and center and all. It was table #3.

As part of the festivities, we were served a very tasty meal provided by BYU catering. It was fancy schmancy, and was a joy to eat. It was great to see all of the other people there getting their awards, and feeling just as uncomfortable as I was to see their biographical sketch in the award summary program that was handed out to everyone in attendance. None of us are quite aware of where they found this information. A popular theory seems to be that they took bits and pieces from our scholarship applications. Well, you know how people exaggerate on those. Exactly.

Here's what mine said:
Joseph Schlegel will receive dual degrees in Food Science and Russian. He would like to use both of these degrees in a future career. He served an internship with the Food Products Association, and was a member of the IFT College Bowl Team, which required an extensive knowledge of the terms and principles associated with food science. He organized a benefit concert for Russian orphans this year, and was able to help needy children receive supplies they needed. He has been a member of the BYU Slavic Club, Food Science Club, and took second place in a Regional IFT Food Science College Bowl competition.

Well, most of that is true, so I guess I am slightly amazing. But, it is really funny how it makes it sound like I organized this huge benefit concert all by myself, when in reality I was simply a member of the club that organized it; my duties included passing out flyers and helping to collect the donations that were sent in. It also makes it sound like I took second place in the college bowl, when in fact it was a team effort, led mostly by the team captain, who was not me.

They ended up reading these biographical sketches out loud for everyone when they had us receive our individual awards. So, there was no hiding from the extreme exaggerations listed. Many people were probably feeling quite uneasy. I had a blast.

I got to meet some neat people, and hobnob with the intellectual type. This is a completely different crowd of people, and one that I wouldn't actually mind being a part of. We'll see where my amazing future brings me, once I finish my job that requires both of my dual degrees.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Scutigera: My Friend

First, some background:
About four months ago, I awoke in a most odd way. I slapped my face as hard as I could, while I was still asleep. This awoke me from my dream. Why did I slap my face? Well, I was in a groggy state, having just awoke, and I thought I had felt a tickle on my face, and naturally, I assumed that my fear had truly occured, and a spider had been crawling on my face. I probably would have forgotten about this by now, and just passed it off to a bad dream that made me believe a spider had been on my face, except that when I looked at my hand, a spider leg was on it. This leg was undeniably one that belonged to a spider, and I was quite scared that I may have upset him now (I know I would be upset if someone whacked my leg off!). I looked around without moving, hoping to see where the spider was. . .but I couldn't see anything. So, I slowly got out of bed, moving only the covers. I looked back at the bed, and saw no spider. I was about to leave, and get on with my day, when I decided to shake things up a bit, literally. I shook the covers, in fear that something would pop out and run up my leg. Nothing did. Finally, I grabbed my pillow, and shook it. Well, this is where I get freaked out, because out from under the pillow streaks this brown insect-looking creature. I thought it had a hundred legs, it was moving so fast. It ran right under the covers. Well, I knew I couldn't sleep in that bed ever again until I knew that that creature was dead and wasn't going to crawl all over me in my sleep. So, I grabbed a sunday school lesson manual (the closest hard object I could find) and held it like a racquet. I quickly threw the covers back, and swatted the racquet down hard. I hit it square, but, due to the softness of the mattress, the spider was not killed, and only paused briefly before running away down the side of the bed (on the side next to the wall). I was very afraid now, because not only is this spider pissed off at me for losing a leg, but now he's been swatted and is probably leaking some sort of goo everywhere he goes. I thought he probably hadn't run far off, and I could coax him back onto the bed. I pulled gently at the mattress cover, and sure enough, up he came. I hammered the lesson manual down on him. This time, I didn't stop. I swatted again, and again, and again, until I had pulverized him, and I knew he was dead.

Note: Don't you find it odd that I consistently refer to scary spiders and insects as 'he'? I do.

Now, the update:
So, a few days ago, I walk into my bathroom and see the exact same type of creature, hanging out on the wall behind the toilet. It wasn't moving, which was shocking, considering how fast his counterpart had darted off the bed. I ran into my kitchen and grabbed a small tupperware container (not yours, GM ... unfortunately, I still don't know where that is ...). With this, I attempted to capture the insect. As I inched close to it, though, it fell right down to the floor and started to scurry away. I quickly clamped the tupperware over him, coaxed him into crawling up the side of the container, turned it around quickly and shut the lid. I then threw that into the freezer, hoping to take it to the entomology room in the Bean Museum for identification.

This proved to be unnecessary, however. A simple email to the curator of the insect collection describing my catch was sufficient for him to give me the exact species name. Scutigera coleoptrata. Commonly known as the
House Centipede. So, after all this time, the mystery is solved. That's what the scary creature was that awoke me in the night so long ago. And, another mystery solved: it states, "In an act of defense, when one of the house centipede's legs is held down, it drops that leg in hopes that the attacker will be distracted by the temporarily twitching appendage." Well, it's leg didn't deter me from smashing it to death, but, it sure gave a valiant effort.

I am very impressed by my friend Scutigera. He eats the spiders that I hate so much. He wasn't on my bed that night to bother me, he was simply ridding my sheets of bedbugs. Scutigera is one of the most beneficial creatures that I could have residing in my room, even if he is nasty looking. Looks can be deceiving: that's the lesson to be learned here. Remember it.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

No Backpack - No Worries

At 7:50PM, I had a twenty minute window before I had to leave to give a friend a ride. I decided that may be the only time I have to get a little bit of homework done for tomorrow. That's when I realized that I left my backpack, and every bit of my schoolwork, in my locker at the Eyring Science Center. This whole weekend, it never even crossed my mind. I guess that shows just how little I think of school on the weekend. I'll be getting up early tomorrow to get some of that work done that's due. That'll be fun. For now, though, it's back to forgetting about it.

Teach Safe S in Schools

There's a need in our education system that is simply not being fulfilled. We teach and teach about the miracles of modern science, about the history of the Native American tribes, about the formations of the clouds; we have children memorize and learn the names of all of the counties in the state, the names of the Native American tribes, and the times tables; we teach them how to read music, decipher petroglyphs, and make ceramic pots. But, between all of this learning of unusable - yet interesting - information, we fail to teach children the value of keeping safe. You see, there is a certain act that many children, even at a very young age, contemplate doing. Many times, due to the pressures of their peers, this act becomes mutual, even ritualistic at times. When this happens, the consequences of such action becomes apparent and cause much difficulty for the family, friends, and teachers of such a student.

The tell-tale signs are clearly visible before the results of the final act are seen. Bloodstains on the sheets, perhaps. Or a child and his friend entering the garage and locking the door, in order to be alone. We all should be able to recognize what is happening. The big "S". Suicide.

Children are committing suicide at an alarmingly higher rate than we were when we were their age. The modern world, this modern society, is all the more troublesome and difficult to live in, and children can not always cope with the pressures and demands of the populace. This causes many problems at home and at school, when children no longer show up for classes or clean their rooms. Many of these problems could be assuaged if we would simply include proper suicide etiquette in the school curriculum.

Safe suicide has already begun to be taught by some school systems and has shown great results. Although the suicide rate does rise slightly with the implementation of such a system, the manner in which these suicides are performed is much more in keeping with the ways of proper living. No longer are children shooting their brains out onto the wall with shotguns, leaving only a bloody stump in the place of a head, and spilling out all of their cranial contents onto their personal belongings. They instead take caution and care to write a proper suicide letter, notifying their loved ones of their actions and the reasons pertaining to them. They ensure that the act takes place in a safe area, with the consent and approval of proper administrators. They learn how to handle unforeseen circumstances, and overcome their adverse effects. With these changes comes a greater appreciation for what they have done, and a better understanding of the mature nature of their actions.

Let's face it: kids are going to commit suicide. It's a basic human desire that requires fulfillment. We are no longer living in an era when it is okay to force children into living a useless and hopeless existence. I demand that all schools inculcate their pupils with the principles of safe suicide. Suicide is much too enjoyable of an experience to deny desiring children. Sure, such values should be taught in the home - but many parents are not fulfilling this necessary obligation. Their children are then having an impact on others, and the poor suicide technique spreads like wild-fire.

The fact remains: children are going to do it. Therefore, let's make sure they are doing it safe and doing it right.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A New Board Writer

Hey, I've made a contribution without even trying. I simply answered the question posted on an online forum, and now I've been quoted on The Board. I keep this up, and maybe people will think I'm a board writer myself.

Same-Sex Marriage

I was reading through today's posts on the board, and found an argument against gay marriages that I had never heard before. It struck me as remarkably absurd, so I post it here for your amusement:

"Marriage was designed, in essence, for conceiving, bearing, and raising children unto God. He wants us to raise our children under righteous principles so that it may continue from generation from generation. Now brings the simple truth: same-sex marriages cannot have children! There is no reason for me to dive in the physiology and why it is that way; we all understand it. If we allow same-sex marriage to continue, it will proliferate to a point that there will be a huge desire to adopt. So much, in fact, that a married man and women, who are unable to have a child naturally, may not be able to adopt. What would happen for you, Logos, if you were married, unable to have children, and couldn't adopt because there were so many gay marriages wanting adopt also? I would imagine that you would be devastated - your name-sake would not be able to continue."

First, I was struck most by the claim that same-sex couples should not be allowed to marry on the basis that they cannot breed. Following that logic, any heterosexual couple that is unable to produce offspring should also not be allowed to be married. Since when was marriage all about the children? Yes, that's its primary purpose, but certainly not a qualifying necessity.
Second, what's all this about homosexuals wanting to adopt? Yes, there are many that would love to adopt children, but I don't think it's an overwhelming majority. Certainly there are enough children available from the illegitimacy and cohabitation problems that were noted earlier in the answer to supply the highly interested and able homosexuals the ability to adopt without stealing the children away from heterosexual couples. And, the last time I checked, the adoption board will only allow an adoption to go through if it deems the home suitable for raising a child. What difference should it make to society, then, if every child that needs to be adopted is able to be adopted by caring and loving parents in the bonds of marriage? Seems like a pretty good deal to me - a hell of a lot better than we stand now.

I am in no way finding fault with The Board, or the writer of this answer. He was asked to give the argument for those that oppose gay marriages, and he did so. I'm simply using my disagreement with his points as motivation to finally type up some of my thoughts on the issue. I agree completely with his concluding points, for example: "I hope you can see, by these few examples, how same-sex marriage can, and will, affect our society," and "A minority of society, who are pushing for same-sex marriages, do not understand the huge implications of it." It is certain that allowing same-sex marriages will cause a drastic change to the way our society functions, as it attempts to respond to the unintended consequences of such a change. But, I believe that this change is due to come just as it has in other revolutions in the past (abolition of slavery, women's rights, voting rights at 18, etc.). Every time a change is made in policy, it, of course, affects our society. There are those who will claim the received consequences are bad, and others who will claim that they are good. However, this change is imminent, and we had better prepare ourselves for it and figure out how we can make it work, rather than trying to put a halt to the process.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Advanced - Mid

It's official. I can speak Russian on the level of Advanced - Mid (which, I assume, is a shortened form of Advanced - Middle). It cost me $55 dollars to find that out. Should I pay the $10 dollars to get the official documentation sent to me? No, thank you. It served its purpose already ... now, here's hoping that was good enough to get on the Russian debate team next semester.
I suppose I should give some background for those of you that may not know of my reasons for testing my Russian knowledge. Ten people next semester will be allowed to sign up for Russian 490R - Russian Debate. This is the first time this class is being offered. It will consist of learning the principles of good debate, and then utilizing those principles to debate in the Russian language. The culmination of this course will take place at the close of the semester, when the team will fly to Russia to participate in an international debate competition against some native Russian teams.
In order to ensure the highest quality of students, they have required that everyone interested in signing up for the course take this Russian language proficiency test. I took it and got the ranking of Advanced - Mid. This is better than Advanced - Low, but worse than Advanced - High and Superior. This ranking is for the oral exam only, as the written portion has not yet been graded. I did just as well on that exam, though, so I'm feeling okay about getting on the team. 60 people took the test, so the odds are still slim, but there's no reason why it shouldn't be me, really. We'll see what happens, though. If nothing else, it's good to know I'm Advanced - Mid.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Fiasco. This is a good word that, sadly, I don't use often enough. I suppose this is a good thing, since it means that I am not presented with many fiascos in my life. But, I do so enjoy exclaiming, "It was a complete fiasco!" Unfortunately, even when a fiasco occurs, I tend not to use that word to describe it ... actually, I rarely, if ever, speak to anyone about the event if it was, indeed, an authentic fiasco. In fact, I'd have to say the only time I ever use the word is in a hyperbolic sense. This, too, is a good thing. I'm glad the word exists. I'll have to thank the Italians next time I see them.

Taco Bell Letdown

Last night, an odd occurrence took place. I was given a ride home by my friend (that's not the odd occurrence; he's one of my best friends, and is always there for me when I need him) and I decided to ask him to stop by Taco Bell, so I could both grab a bite to eat for myself (since I had not eaten for most of the day) and purchase a Cheesy Gordita Crunch for him, since he was so nice to come out of his way for the sole purpose of driving me home. Well, we pull up to the drive-thru, and wait for the little voice to respond. We know that someone's there, because the car in front of us just pulled up and got its food. We sit at the board for a good minute or so before we decide to pull up to the window. Upon pulling up to the window, a mean voice tells us that the store is closed, and 'the one on Freedom is open till 3.' This is taking place at 10:05PM, mind you. I, for one, was greatly confused. I thought Taco Bell prided itself on its late night catering. Assuming this was just a bizarre scenario that could only portray itself at the 9th East Taco Bell (a most unreliable facility, mind you), we drove to East Bay to try our luck with the good old stand-by. Imagine my surprise when we pulled up to my previous place of employment to find that only the word 'Bell' was in lights, and the rest of the store was completely dark. Closed. Closed at 10:00 PM.
Well, the story ends there, really. I was really in the mood for Taco Bell, and didn't get it. Instead, I had Wendy's for dinner.
I can't say I'm too confused though. It makes sense, if you're not doing enough business, to close up shop. But, it seems weird to me that Taco Bell now closes earlier than any other fast food restaurant (unless it's the one on Freedom, which is apparently open later now than it ever was before).

Monday, October 09, 2006

Letter to the Editor

What causes one to write a letter to the editor? Don't people know that the letters to the editor are more often ridiculed and mocked than actually interpreted for words of wisdom and sage counsel? Don't they realize that their petty disputes are of no concern in the large scheme of things? Why do people subject themselves to this meaningless and wasteful endeavor?
Well, having now officially written my first letter to the editor, I can now shed some light on this issue.
I have often opened to the opinion page of the Daily Universe, in order to partake of the immense joy that occurs whenever I read the poorly written thoughts of my fellow students. I take great pride in knowing that I couldn't possibly care less about most of their grievances. Parking problems? who cares. Honor Code Violations? no big deal. R-rated films? okay, I disagree, but, what difference does it make. Dancing to Hymns is Blasphemous? OKAY, STOP IT RIGHT THERE ... THAT'S JUST ABSURD!
So, as weird as it may seem, that's the way the dancing to hymns letter struck me as I read it. I actually felt an extreme hatred towards the two girls who wrote that letter. How could people be that stupid, and then assume that they are speaking on behalf of the entire student body? Someone had to set this right. Someone had to let everyone know that I, at least, do not agree with these two loonies. So, although I was in haste to find time to study for my Food Chemistry test that evening, and I only had a 2 hour window in which to study, I found myself at a computer in the SWKT computer lab, typing up the following
letter to the editor:

While I agree that "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" is indeed a beautiful hymn, I don't believe we can claim it as one of "our sacred hymns." A simple scouring of the alphabetical listing of hymn titles and first lines will confirm the fact that the song is no longer included among the other Hymns of Zion. Although beloved by the LDS community, the inspiring words were penned in the 18th century by Robert Robinson, and are sung in many Christian congregations throughout the world. It, therefore, falls under a separate category of songs for which performance art is valid, and perhaps even encouraged, due to the more rigorous restrictions placed upon the hymns.

I for one would much rather have a spiritually uplifting tune be the backdrop for a dance performance than, say, "Baby Got Back," by Sir Mix-a-Lot. During the performance, I found that my thoughts were centered on Christ and his Atonement; I'm sure many others' were as well. By stating, "Hymns should never be used in a routine or setting to garner loud, rambunctious approval from a riotous crowd," you are discounting the fine work and many hours of dedication that were put into producing the visual accompaniment to the music. The appropriate applause (for which President Samuelson himself announced approval) was not directed at the hymn, but rather to the performers, as appreciation for providing us with entertainment and inspiration. Any disdain could have been expressed by abstaining from the applause ritual.

Joseph Schlegel


So, there it is. I felt that that would be the end-all-be-all on the subject. I honestly thought that I was one of the few who would be confident enough to voice his opposing opinion through the public forum. I was, of course, quite upset to find that my letter wasn't even published until the following Monday, rather than that Friday, even though I had clearly turned my letter in on time (they used the title I supplied for my letter as the title for one of their other submissions). However, I lost all of my previous fervor once I saw the enormous amount of responses on the same subject. It instantly became another of the many issues that I couldn't care less about. I even read through my letter now, and, while I admit that it's not poorly written, it sadly joins the ranks of all of the many other letters in the overly hostile and uncouth clamor of BYU's elitist student body. I don't believe I'll be writing any more such letters in years to come, but, it was a good experiment, and I'm glad to understand a little better now, what compels people to subject their most passionate thoughts to the torment of an uncaring populace.