Wednesday, October 22, 2008

R.I.P.

After numerous nudges from friends and family–most recently coming from Angela, but that should not discount the fact that Sherry holds the record for most nudges–I’ve decided that it is finally time to move over to Wordpress. So, I will no longer be using this blog... so long constantcastro (of the blogger variety). wordpress here we come!

Click here to go to my new blog.


On another note, I also started another blog and hope to use it to discuss issue related to my area of study, international development. And if that topic interests you, you can also read my grad school cohort’s blog.

Cheers.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Quotes of the Day...

Today I received some indirect compliments:

I am often an "advocate."

I am a good leader.

And one person told me that she appreciates that we don't have to communicate "with kid gloves on."

I appreciated these people taking time to speak love and truth into my life. I pray I can pay it forward and take advantage of opportunties to speak equal amounts of love and truth into the lives of others.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Really... is that how it happened?

I love going into Philly and just walking around. I especially love the Quaker history that is present all over town.

Today I took the train in to meet up with some family that happened to be in town on a trip. We went into one of the famous Philly Meetinghouses, Arch Street Meetinghouse. I've been there a few times and have loved to interact with the tour guides. I usually don't say that I'm a Quaker off the bat (mostly because they start right in and don't give me time to say anything). Normally the tour guides are pretty "fair and balanced" in how they portray the differences among Friends. Today the lady that gave the tour said a few things that made me chuckle. She went into her speech and showed a map of the various types of Friends across the US. As she got out West (where I'm from) she said "And as the Friends migrated West they soon became too tired from farming to run their meetings, so they hired pastors to run the meeting." Really... is that how it happened?

Also, she went on to discuss how George Fox is the one man responsible for empowering women in the US. Really...is that how it happened?

Finally she stopped talking and let us tell her that we are from Oregon and are part of an Evangelical Meeting there, and see seemed taken aback and started asking questions. She even had us tell her the size of the congregation so she could write it in some book of hers.

Good times. I love Philly, especially being a minority when it comes to my Quaker flavor.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

New Site

This is easily my new favorite site.

It's the Garfield comic strips remixed, and basically Garfield has been removed. It's hilarious. You really need to check it out.

I know, I know, it sounds dumb. But really, give it a look.

Stimulus Check...

So I heard this story the other day. I was startled. For those of you who don't like following links, it basically was about the fact that the IRS has decided that for certain people in this country they will send gifts in lieu of cash for their stimulus checks... yes... gifts. The story recounts how one couple in Arizona already received an air conditioner. THEY DIDN'T EVEN NEED AN AIR CONDITIONER.

The woman they interviewed at the IRS said that the stimulus package is meant to be spent on consumer goods, so the IRS is doing research before they send out the checks and if the person receiving the money looks as though they won't spend the money but will save it instead, then they will buy something for them that is "geographically appropriate" and send it to them. HOW MESSED UP IS THIS?

Isn't this a republican stimulus package? And isn't the republican stance on economics small government and personal responsibility. So why in the world are they deciding how to spend people's money?

According to the story, Melissa and I are prime targets (aka large amount of debt). All I have to say is I hope I don't get a package in a month with $1200 worth of Philly Cheese Steaks.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Going Green PSA

I wanted to broadcast a Public Service Announcement about going green on this here blog thing.

I recently saw a report that startled me. The report was talking about ENERGY EFFICIENT LIGHT BULBS.

While I still highly recommend changing from the traditional bulbs to the twisty halogen ones, there is one thing that I think everyone should know about them.

These bulbs have traces of mercury inside of them. This means two things:

1. If one of these bulbs break, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO JUST SWEEP IT UP. When you buy these bulbs check the packaging, they have instructions for cleaning the bulbs up yourself. They give you like a 5-step process, so be prepared. The other option is calling a hazard control company and paying them to do it, but I've heard that can get spendy.

2. When you are done with these bulbs, DO NOT JUST THROW THEM IN THE TRASH. This relates to the first issue, but is more for environmental reasons. Keep these bulbs separate, and take them to your local waste disposal center and they have a special disposal procedure. If these are just thrown away the mercury will leach into the ground soil of the landfill.

While this sounds annoying, I still think that it still better to use these bulbs, both for energy saving, but as well as money saving reasons.

Here is an article that goes into detail...


This has been a service of the ConstantCastro Public Service Announcement System.

Monday, March 17, 2008

10 years...

Today marks the 10th Anniversary of the day my grandmother, Maxine Ankeny, passed away. She battled cancer for as long as I can remember, and finally, on Saint Patrick's Day of my Freshman year in high school, she lost that battle.

I never knew my grandpa on that side of the family, so losing my grandma was even more significant, because she had always been so loving to us grandkids. It sometimes felt as though she was making up for the fact that there was only one grandparent to spoil us.

So, to commemorate my grandma's death, and in an attempt to not forget her life, I wanted to list a few things (funny, serious, or otherwise) that I remember about my grandma.

To begin, on a serious note:

- I learned what it means to be a Christian and a Quaker from her.

-She always was a very disciplined and hard worker. She lived on a farm almost all her life and she always tended to the animals and spent time in the fields and garden.

- She taught me the value in humility, and endurance. As I said before, she fought cancer for many years, and in those years she was also fairly well off, but in talking with my grandma you would never know either of those facts. She never let on that she had money, or that she was sick, or that she was tired. She just lived her life, and was obedient to God, both in the good times and the hard times.

-She cared for the well being of her family. She always loved and looked out for us all, and really enjoyed when the HUGE Ankeny family got together. And hearing stories since her death of ways she helped people out, bailed people out, or just lovingly corrected people was a sign of how devoted she was to the protection and well being of everyone.

And now for some fun/random memories:

-I remember sitting in her dining room on the farm, being forced to snap a huge pile of beans before we could go back out and play. This probably doesn't sound significant, but being a kid from the city, I wasn't very good at snapping beans and it took my brother, sister, and I a long time to get it done.

-I also remember the lemon ice tea that we'd drink while snapping beans.

-I remember the fact that we couldn't play games with face cards at grandma's house...like I said, she taught me how to be a good Quaker. Rook anyone?

-I remember the terrible water that came out of grandma's tap.

-I remember plenty of football games on grandma's lawn after Thanksgiving.

-I remember that grandma had honey bees for a while and being deathly afraid that they were going to swarm me.

-I remember the magnetic football game in grandma's attic and the sad day when it finally stopped working.

-I remember when my cousin and my brother shot at me with their bb guns, and my grandma getting mad at them for shattering my uncle's tractor window. It wasn't me, i promise.

There's probably plenty more, like the day I wandered into her bedroom and found out grandma wore a wig, but I'll leave it there for now.

I've got a great family and we wouldn't be who we are today without the influence that grandma had on each of us.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Blog-bernation

I've always wondered two things: do bears ever die while in hibernation? And, why to bloggers feel the impulse to butcher perfectly good words by somehow morphing them with some form of the word blog?

It's been one of those phases where I haven't felt like blogging, I feel like I've been in my own hibernation. Hopefully I haven't died. I know I've never been a reliable, consistent blogger in the past, but this time I not only haven't had the time, but I also haven't had the desire.

I've had many posts rolling around my head, but they never made it to the screen. Life has just been different lately. This semester's courses have been much more demanding, the sense of being away from home has set in more than expected, and suddenly the newness of living near Philadelphia has worn off.

So, here I am just letting everyone know I'm still alive.

We could use prayer as we continue to search for God's guidance with regard to our job placement in the fall. The job search is in full swing and so far it's not looking pretty.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Watching the meme go round...

It's been fun in this very stressful week to open my Feed Reader of choice to find a different person attempt the meme that I passed along. For me at least, a meme always seems to not go very far. You see, Wess tagged me last week, and I tagged a few others. From there it spread like wildfire. Yet again, everything in Newberg spreads like wildfire.

Here is my highlight and a few awards from my meme reading this week.

Kathy just tagged Dan (which I wanted to do initially but thought better of since he isn't really "into" that kind of stuff... but HE'S A PUBLISHER FOR GOODNESS SAKE. I know that if you walk into his office right now, you would see a stack of books on his desk, one next to his chair, and one behind his chair. But I digress...)

Book of the Week: This award goes to Mike, hands down... I mean really?...a Chilton's manual...that's when you know you're hardcore.

Quote of the Week: This one goes to Sherry. So good in fact that she got tagged twice. Maybe she'll step up to that challenge and give us a little more dooty.

Title of the Week: This one stays with Wess. What in the world do Puppets and Dwarfs have to do with theology? Or with each other for that matter?

(And I'm still waiting for Jason to follow through on my tag. I don't know him well, I know his wife, but for some reason his is one of those blogs that I go to each day expectantly, but my feed reader lets me down. What blogs do you go to each day expectantly, only to be let down?)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Book Reading Meme

Wess tagged me for one of the better memes I've seen, or maybe I'm just a nerd and I like books too much. I am supposed to write out a quote from the book nearest to me. I have had a giant stack of books on my desk having to do with my research on Cuba. The book at the bottom of the pile, and therefore closest to me, is: The Politics of Trade in Latin American Development, by Steven E. Sanderson.




The rules of this meme are as follows:

1. Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. No cheating!
2. Find page 123
3. Find the first 5 sentences
4. Post the next 3 sentences
5. Tag 5 people


Currently some participants in the U.S. sugar quota, though protesting the protectionist disposition of the quota itself, realize that in a declining international market for sugar ,in which prices have been subject historically to wild fluctuations and have been quite low and unstable over much of the post-Depression period, the U.S. sugar quota offers a certain protection against the uncompromising marketplace. This situation has in common with bilateral dependence without a preference system the necessity for the smaller country to negotiate from weakness better treatment by the greater power. From the standpoint of national pride and autonomy of economic decision-making, this is an unattractive condition.


Sanderson, The Politics of Trade in Latin American Development, 123

I tag:

Gregg
Cherice
Jamie
Amy
Jason

Happy Valentine's Day

Friday, February 1, 2008

Tagged...

I'm it. Melissa tagged me to do a meme. Thanks...

I'll oblige only out of procrastination from the mountain of research I have to do. (More on that later.)

6 Non-Important things/habits/quirks about myself:

1. I have a large jaw. My lower jaw has grown faster than my upper jaw. This leads to a large underbite, occasional trouble eating, and comments from my brother on my resembling a certain celebrity.

2. When I find a new song I like I will listen to it on repeat for hours. Just one song. (ok, maybe not hours). This drives Melissa crazy on long rides in the car.

3. I'm a perfectionist [period]

4. This past month I flossed every night before I went to bed... that's a record.

5. I download a lot of podcasts on Itunes that I often never listen to. I think I just want to have them on my computer "just in case."

6. I used to sell hot dogs.

I tag:
Aforementioned brother.
Joel
Sherry

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

On the Ipod...



Music has been speaking to me lately. I have been listening to Michael Buble, Ray Lamontagne, Coldplay, Switchfoot, David Bazan, Iron & Wine, and Sufjan Stevens a lot. Josh introduced me to Sufjan Stevens a few years ago. I came across this video recently and can't stop watching it. First, I really enjoy the song itself, and watching the video is an easy way to hear the song. Second, I actually really like the video itself. Sufjan can be quirky at times with his costumes, but I really like the setting of the barn, the banjo, and even the straw hat. Below are the lyrics.

For The Widows In Paradise; For The Fatherless In Ypsilanti
I have called you children, I have called you son.
What is there to answer if I'm the only one?
Morning comes in Paradise, morning comes in light.
Still I must obey, still I must invite.
If there's anything to say, if there's anything to do,
If there's any other way, I'll do anything for you.

I was dressed embarrassment.
I was dressed in wine.
If you had a part of me, will you take you're time?
Even if I come back, even if I die
Is there some idea to replace my life?
Like a father to impress;
Like a mother's mourning dress,
If you ever make a mess, I'll do anything for you

I have called you preacher; I have called you son.
If you have a father or if you haven't one,
I'll do anything for you. I did everything for you

Monday, January 28, 2008

Finding the Right Bike for Your Commute: Philadelphia Edition

Wess over at Gathering in Light always has some great stuff to share. It ranges from the practical to the philosophical, and it's great that you never know what you're going to get.

A few months back he wrote a post entitled "Finding the Right Bike for Your Commute." While I already had a bike for my commute, I used the information at the lower half of the post to develop my strategy for commuting to school. I rode to school a few times in the fall but the humidity made it a very bad experience. This winter I tried to take the old Trek 1000 out for a spin but the lack of air in the tires (and lack of pump to solve the problem) hindered me again. I have reverted to walking to school due to the Chapman family "One Car per Household Policy" but that can take more time out of my day than I would like.

This weekend I went to the local bike shop, picked up a $30 floor pump and decided I'm ready for another crack at it.

I'll go ahead an repost the key points that Wess suggested in the original post, and then add some Philadelphia essentials.

Here are a couple quick tips once you’ve got a working bike.

1. Get some good lights! One front headlight and one rear one (mine attaches to my bag). They should be able to flash, which makes you more noticeable and reduces battery wear. Also I bought lights that use AA’s so I can use rechargeable batteries with my lights and cut down on waste and cost.

2. Get a helmet. You really really need to wear a helmet. As a bike commuter you do not ride on the sidewalk (because it’s more dangerous and slower), you ride with the rest of traffic and you have to be prepared for the worst. Protect your noggin.

3. Get a U-lock. Any other lock will get your bike stolen. Trust me I know from experience.

4. Get a bag to carry your clothes in. Since I ride to work/school virtually everyday and my ride is strenuous enough that I actually work up a bit of sweat I bring a change of clothes. It’s good to get some kind of bag to carry stuff in but doesn’t weigh a lot and won’t hurt your neck or back. That means you should consider getting, a pannier (a side-saddle bag), a messenger bag (mine’s a Timbuktu I found on clearance for much less), or a light backpack.

Tip for taking clothes to school/work: I take my jeans, flip flops, an undershirt, shirt, deodorant and even underwear to school on monday. I wear shorts and a cutoff T-shirt, and my clip-less shoes on the ride and change once I get there. I leave my shoes, jeans, and deodorant in my small cubby during the week, which cuts down on the weight I have to carry everyday. I take the rest home with me to get washed.

5. Find a friend to ride with. You’re always a little safer, and will have more fun if you ride with someone else. I am fortunate to live with a friend who often rides with me to work and back. If you can locate somebody like that you’ll enjoy the ride more - that is unless you cherish the solitude, which can also be nice.


6. This morning I learned the hard way: wear a hat and gloves. Even though you think you may work up a sweat, it is crucial in "chilly Philly" that hand protection and ear/head warmth are used. Luckily I only ride a few miles to school or else I would have been in worse shape.

7. Be aware and get aggressive. There are no bike lanes or drivers who know how to be curteous to bicyclists out here. In Oregon, where I'm from, there is a bike lane on almost any road, and if there isn't then drivers will (typically) take precautions when driving near bicyclists. A professor of mine even said that he classifies riding a bicycle on the roads in Philadelphia an "extreme sport." It also doesn't help that the roads are extra narrow in this part of the country to begin with.

So, that is my Philly Edition of the essentials to commuting by bicycle. Thanks Wess.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Muhammad Yunus

I saw Muhammad Yunus speak at the Philadelphia Free Library today.

Mr. Yunus is the father of micro-finance, or micro-lending. He started the Grameen Bank, a bank wholly devoted to lending to the poor. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 and is one of the reason why I am wanting to go into the field of economic development. I even mentioned him in my entrance essay to Eastern.

For me he is inspirational because he saw a problem, used creative means to solve it, and didn't allow the "conventions" of the world to tell him it wouldn't work. His model of micro-lending has spread like wildfire and because of it we now have institutions like Kiva which specialize in this type of lending as well.

Today Mr. Yunus spoke for about an hour on the topic of his new book. The main theme that I took away from his presentation was the idea of what he calls Social Business. He criticizes current business practices for seeking to maximize profits, and sees the limits that charity and non-profit organizations have, and therefore believes there is a large gap between those two arenas for a third way. Social Business.

He suggests people should go into for profit business with the full intention to solve a social issue, but not simply conduct charity work. If you reinvest all profit and continue to allow that social mission to drive the organization he truly believes poverty will be fought at a more rapid rate.

I'll admit... I bought it. Hook, line, and sinker. I have never been in this field to go into business and make profits, but I can see the value in using the business world to affect change in the lives of the poor. The Grameen Bank is a perfect example.

I hope to blog more the next few days as I reflect on Mr. Yunus' speech.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I just had to...

Thanks to this post by Amy, I had to at least see what my album would be.

So here it is...

Wilderness, Not in Civilization
by Up Holland High School


To do this one yourself follow these instructions.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Insurance rant...

We got a large bill from the hospital care Melissa received in October. I called to inquire about financial assistance. They informed me that we can't get assistance since we are insured. Given our very low income level, had we not been insurance, they would have covered 100% of the costs, but since we do have insurance we have to pay a large amount of money, along with our large monthly insurance premium.

And people try to convince me that the American insurance system isn't screwed up. I disagree.

I'm moving to England...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A room with a view...




It snowed two nights ago. It was great. This was the view from my desk as I worked on some homework. The snow melted the next day, but it was great while it lasted.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Quakers have Missions?

We started classes yesterday. I'll save a description of this semester's until later this week.

We have a few new students this semester. Both of them have taken courses in an extension program that Eastern runs in a few other countries.

One of the students has lived in Nepal for quite some time. As we struck up a conversation on a break he asked where my family had been missionaries to (I mentioned it in my introduction before break). I told him and said that we were sent by the Friends Church. He looked at my with a puzzled face and said "Quakers have missions?"

One semester in Philly and I'm still clarifying. I don't think it will ever end.

p.s. it's trying to snow.