Wabash Blogs The Graduate -

February 25, 2009

Trayton White '08

It has been a little over 8 months since my last post, and since then I found and started a new job (hooray!), moved, celebrated July Fourth, moved again, received notification that I could start my original job (from my first blog post), decided to pursue original job, and moved a third time. For those keeping score at home, I have moved approximately eight times since graduating from Wabash College in May.  I say approximately because it could be more or less depending on your definition of the word “move.”  For two of the moves, a professional company moved everything for us, the other four to eight times we packed all our stuff without professional help and loaded it in a truck. Since you are likely to move at least once in your life, I thought I would spend a portion of this post providing some hints and warnings about the mobile lifestyle.

First, no matter what you do, you always have more stuff than you originally thought.  Every time I have moved, I had at least one in-depth discussion with my wife about a random item with a mysterious origin. I don’t know where this other stuff comes from. I think things that aren’t used regularly somehow asexually reproduce when you aren’t keeping a watchful eye. This could be while you sleep, when you are at work, or for those brief five minutes that it takes you to step outside to get the mail.  Bottom line: the multiplication of your personal belongings is unavoidable no matter what you do. Best to accept this fact now and bring extra boxes when it’s time to pack up and move out.

Second, always use your phone-a-friend lifeline. The more people you have helping you pack the boxes and load/unload the truck, the faster it goes. There is also the added bonus of getting to spend more time with your friends. Be sure to show your gratitude by providing plenty of food and drinks during the moving, and it never hurts to take them out to eat afterwards.  Bottom line: the better you treat them the first time, the more likely they are to help the second (or fifth) time as well.

Third, have lightweight furniture. This one should be self-explanatory. Visit www.ikea.com if you need help. 

I figured I’d wrap up this blog by recommending you check out some of these on-line sources for some wit and humor. www.dilbert.com - Updated daily, Scott Adams’ long-running strip helps put anything going on in your office in perspective. www.fourhourworkweek.com - From the author of the book that goes by the same name, The 4-Hour Workweek provides stories about ways that thinking outside the box can improve effectiveness. I’d advise reading about how to build an upside-down fire.

The arrival of 2009 has me excited and looking forward to all the possibilities a new year can bring. The past year has been quite eventful, and I am certain this year won’t disappoint.

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January 09, 2009

Brian Crum '08

Christmas in the Jungle, or rather a lack there of….

Yesterday was Christmas. I wouldn’t have known it was Xmas unless I looked at a calendar or called home. On Christmas Eve I climbed into bed after a day of cutting down wood in the jungle for my house only to have my host family in the room above me turn on their tiny TV (the screen is probably 3 inches by 3 inches) and watch some Xmas movie in Spanish. I’m not sure what movie it was, but all the voice acting was dubbed in Spanish. Although the dialogue was in Spanish, all the Xmas songs were still in English. So here I am lying in bed in the middle of the Panamanian jungle, mildly depressed because I’m not with my family in the snowy climate I’m used to for Xmas eve being forced to listen to the song “White Christmas,” an expression that has absolutely no meaning to Panamanians. I sat there praying that it would start raining as hard as possible to drown out the noise of the TV…sadly, the rain waited till Xmas morning.

On Xmas morning I woke up at 530AM Panamanian time (530CST) to get dressed and prepared to go cut more wood for my house. Merry Christmas! This picture is of me on Xmas morning. I’m holding my wonderful snowman and getting ready to put on my mud-crusted dirty pants and rubber boots. I don’t really know why I have on two different colored socks; they were both clean and close that’s the best explanation I have. Depending on how smoothly the cutting went, we were slated to finish cutting the 2105 ft of wood necessary for constructing my house, but I’ll talk a little more about that in a second. All right, so I wake up to get ready to leave to work by 6 only to be greeted by rain. Panamanians aren’t ever on time in the absence of rain. When it rains, they are even less punctual. So I climbed back in bed to listen to the rain while I waited for my host father to wake up so I could find out when and if we were still going to cut wood. The rain slows down and he wakes up around 7. I climbed out of bed, made the daily trip to our composting latrine, put on the dirty sawdust-covered clothing I’ve been wearing for the past 3 days, took my drug cocktail (malaria pill, vitamins, anti-inflammatory I twisted my other ankle last Sun in a soccer game so now I have two bogus ankles), brushed my teeth, readied the gas and oil for the chainsaw, and headed to my neighbor’s house for breakfast. Anytime you have a workday in my community, the person who is getting help with work is expected to provide breakfast and lunch for all the workers. Most Panamanians run on rice, sugar, and green bananas; therefore, buying food for the day isn’t that big of a deal.

So we venture to my neighbor Cornelio’s house where his wife has prepared the food for us. Breakfast was a few fried eggs, rice, green bananas, and coffee flavored sugar water. Not the usually Xmas breakfast of biscuits and gravy that I know and love, but hey I did get two eggs. After breakfast we made the 30-minute hike to the huge tree we cut down 2 days prior. This tree was roughly 3.5 feet in diameter. I put my hat on top of my machete in front of the tree to trying and give a little scale.

Anyway, after our hike we started cutting down wood. We cut about 5 boards and then the chain on the saw broke. Luckily, we had an extra chain. So the guy cutting the wood, his name is Benicio, puts on the new blade and we get back to work for about another hour before the saw just stops working. Also, during the morning, we were periodically drenched with rain. Lunchtime was approaching, and Cornelio’s two sons had all ready been sent out to bring us our lunch, so we packed up our stuff and sat around waiting for them to show up with our lunch. The picture below was our lunch on one of the days we worked. It was boiled green bananas, rice, beans, and tuna served to us in big green leaves.

After lunch, we returned home to talk about working on Saturday to finish cutting the wood. I needed to go to Changuinola to get more money and food to finish working on the wood. So after hammering out the details of working this Saturday to finish, I backed up a bag and grabbed a bus to Changuinola to get supplies.

Not really your traditional North American Xmas. Although it was a new experience, it was definitely a Xmas experience I wouldn’t like to repeat. It was my first Christmas away from home and my family. Every year I know others go through Xmas without their family, but being my favorite holiday, being away from my family was rough. I was actually dreading calling home at first because I knew my mom was going to answer the phone with a “Merry Christmas.” When I did call, she did she did exactly that; it brought a tear to my eye. To all my family, I love and miss all of you! Thanks for being so supportive. I will be home for the holidays next year!

Anyway, a quick summary of the housing project. I’m building my house in the center of town. We are cutting roughly 2105 feet of wood for the house. The house will be 16ft by 16ft with 2 rooms (8ftx8ft) and a porch(16ftx8ft). The kitchen will be on one end of the porch. We have cut down wood in 3 separate locations, all of which are between a 25-35 minute hike from building site. After we finish cutting the wood tomorrow, Saturday, I will begin playing a big work day of roughly 20-30 people to haul all the wood to the building site. It’ll be interesting to see how this unfolds. Some of the lumber locations are crazy difficult locations to hike to without having to carry a large quantity of lumber. Plus, there is no way to get a horse into these places to haul wood either. So it should be interesting. For more pictures of cutting down trees, check out my photos. I’m also going to try to load a video of one of the trees being chopped down. As of now, my house is slated to be finished by the end of Jan or beginning of Feb. My fingers are crossed.

En la lucha,

Brian “Koguira Noin”

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December 31, 2008

Jesse James '08

Here’re three words for you. One is a name. One is a thing. One is a theory. Helen Palsgraf. F.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Promissory Estoppel. Don’t look like much do they? Four months ago I would have given them an aberrant glance and wondered what in the hell they mean.

I’m certain that at least a few readers of this post know where I’m coming from and where I’m going with this. If you are of that class of persons then what I write may bring a sense of nostalgia (either that or a purposeful avoidance of your memories). If you find yourself wondering what if any connection that name, that thing, and that theory have in common, please, allow me to explain.

Back in July I wrote a post about my “future” plans. At that time, I had just returned from a warm, clement-weathered vacation down South. It was nice. It was relaxing. Now, here in December, my future plans are now the past. Warm and sunny aren’t exactly in the 10-day.

I arrived to my parent’s home just today. For the last month my schedule has been crammed and cramped with a litany of readings and reviews. Since just before the Thanksgiving holiday, I found myself returning to material that I discussed just a few months before. Most –if not a sweeping majority – of the review material seemed frighteningly new, and it came from a range of sources. Most came from my closest and newest friends – my notes and my casebooks. I saw the comments and notations and the words looked like I had written them. Surely, I had read this stuff before.

After a near-month at reading and re-reading it turns out it wasn’t new material. Fortunately, I recalled the stuff as quickly as I had apparently forgotten about it. My truncated chicken scratch prevailed.

As a prize for my diligence I spent a total of thirteen and three-fourths of an hour typing my fingers off. What did I type about? Well, that name, that thing, and that theory appeared at least once each. Helen made her way through analogy in my Torts exam. I gave 12(b)(6) a home in my Civil Procedure exam. Promissory estoppel can be found in questions 2 and 3 of my Contracts exam. Let’s hope I added them at the appropriate times. I’ll found out in latter January.

I never had a problem with any exams administered to my while a student at WC. I grunted and moaned I’m sure, but in all honesty I never really had a fundamental distaste for them. Call it an albatross, if you want, or a mixed blessing to quasi-enjoy exams and essays. The past two weeks have made me appreciate them (now, that I never had). A Wabash guy might not be overzealous to cram out his C&T exam or write his butt off for a three-hour brain fest. However, the time spent on those exams is beginning to manifest into benefit. Coupled with the lengthy reading assignments, the exams of my undergraduate days have helped me better cope with law school. In fact, they seem to have ridden me of a ‘shock and awe’ that many of my classmates experienced. Strike one up for the liberal arts.

I had been told that one of the best ways to navigate law school is by keeping up. I was told to keep with the readings, the lectures, and the supplemental stuff. I did, and it was not overly overwhelming. I kept up at while at Wabash, and I feel that has really played a role in my enjoyment of these last few months. I’m enjoying the material (save a 12(b)(6) request and Atlantic Bell v. Twombly); I enjoy being a Bloomington resident; and I enjoy the company of my classmates. I’ve found a great cast of legal comrades who are as dorky and dynamic as I am, and I am fortunate to have my best friend in Bloomington. Yes, things have gone well this first semester (the spring semester starts off with grades; I’m not making any bets or projections).

I wouldn’t feel right ending this post without proffering up at least some advice. I don’t really care if you enjoy taking exams or if you dread them like having teeth pulled (there are kinky people in this world, so we’ll go with the normal view on having teeth pulled). I don’t really care if you gripe about studying for your comps. I took them. My friends took them. It happens when you’re Wabashian.

What I do care about is that you give them your best effort. If you plan, even remotely, to attend law school do your future self a favor and put in the time. Read. Analyze. Repeat. Keep up with the readings. I’m not saying that Wabash curricula are the emblazoned pass through law school. They aren’t. However, they help, and from my experience in a rather substantial way. The first semester of law school is an awesome experience. Allow yourself to enjoy it a little more by applying yourself as an undergraduate. Every little bit helps.

Okay, there’s my motivational. Now, time to go back to my van down by the river (there’s a generation determinant comment for ya).

Merry Christmas!

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December 15, 2008

CasiCasa, the Mudhole, 9lbs of chocolate, and “Xmas is in less than 2 weeks, where’s the snow?”

It’s Saturday December 13th, and it’s currently raining, big surprise. I’ve been back in my site now for over a week and most of the flood waters have receded. My community has sustained negligible if any damage from the flood. I’ve spent the last week hanging out in my community as well as making plans for my future house, playing soccer, and watching it rain.

For the rest of Brian Crum's blog go to http://briancrumpanama.blogspot.com/

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November 18, 2008

A boa tried to eat my chicken....and I have a new name

Brian Crum '08

The morning after I returned home from watching the elections in David, my host dad woke me up to show me the 8 or so foot boa that had tried to eat one of our chickens. There are more pictures of it in my Flickr, check them out. So after we stood talking about it and poking it with a stick, we buried it in a hole. I tried to convince him that we should eat it because I needed and still need more protein in my diet, but he didn't think it was a good idea. Which brings me to another rather troubling area, my diet.

The people in my community eat what they have, which makes sense. So for the last few weeks I have been eating rice and green bananas. Occasionally I get some protein, but it is only when I bring home some type of protein rich food from the store. Even then, it is only a small amount. So I've adopted the hot sauce diet. I load down all the food with habanera pepper hot sauce hoping to add flavor to the food or eventually kill my taste buds so flavor won't even matter anymore.

Life has been a little slow lately. I've done a substantial amount of reading. I find I've started to miss home a bit. Every now and then I spend too much time reclining in a hammock, thinking about what I'd be doing if I were in the US. I just finished Atlas Shrugged. It's a great book, but a little too long. The weather has been relatively nice, not too much rain. I have another soccer game this coming Sunday.

Wednesday, the 11th of Nov., the community gave me a new name. My new name is Koguira Noin. The village had a big meeting where they talked about and eventually voted on what my new Ngabe-Bugle name would be. I was named after one of the founders of Rio Oeste Arriba. He may have also been a "botanico" or the equivalent of a witch doctor. The botanicos here know all the herbal remedies for different ailments. Some of the remedies work well, others not so well. One botanico said he could cure AIDS..... I slowly walked the other direction....

Anyway, I have to go buy groceries get some food and get home for soccer practice.

Aqui en la lucha


(NOTE-If you would like to keep up with Brian's weekly blog and pictures you may go to http://briancrumpanama.blogspot.com/)

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November 05, 2008

Homer Twigg '08

Sorry for the delay. You could say I'm on Italian time. The blog has been cleaned and updated. I added a bunch of pictures and some extra coding to make the pictures pretty. Had to wait for a feast day to roll around so I could take pictures of the mass. http://www.hiphopodyssey.com/blog 

Cheers, Homer

Homer's blog may be viewed on the internet with the Mozzilla browser.  It will not open in internet explorer.

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October 29, 2008

Brian Crum '08

Five months have elapsed since my graduation from Wabash. It has been a very interesting and exciting time. In January of this year, I received a nomination to serve in the Peace Corps in Central or South America. Having received a nomination from the Peace Corps, I was assured an invitation to join the Peace Corps pending medical approval. My future assignment would consist of business development, and I could have been leaving any time between June and August of 2008. The information given to me was rather broad, but I was excited nonetheless. As graduation approached and I had not heard back from the Peace Corps, I solidified my plans to begin an internship in finance/accounting in Washington DC starting May 19.

Shortly after graduation, I packed up my belongings and drove to my new residence in Fairfax, VA, west of Washington DC. So I began my internship on Monday, May 19th. I was placed in the accounts payable department where I had my own little cubicle containing residual office paraphernalia from the past employee. The internship was incredibly helpful because it made me realize that I never want to work in accounting.

As an uneventful summer came to a close, I finally received my official invitation to serve in the Peace Corps in Panama. I decided to accept the invitation to serve as a volunteer after a bit of hesitation. My initial correspondence with the Washington DC Peace Corps office left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. They appeared to be very disorganized. Panama was my first choice of the Central American countries. After accepting my invitation to work as a Community Economic Development Consultant.

Sorry for the delay in updating my blog, but the last 10 weeks of training have been ridiculously packed full of training events. Anyway, I have finally arrived to the community I will be living in for 2 years. The name of my community is Rio Oeste Arriba in the Province of Bocas Del Toro (very close to Costa Rica). My community is very close to a city called Almirante. Almirante used to be the headquarters for the Chiquita banana company. Now the town is rundown and trashy. 

Now let me go back to the beginning of the Peace Corps experience.  I left for Miami on August 11th from Indianapolis with a suitcase and a big backpack. I arrived in Miami, FL for staging or orientation. At staging, I met the other 34 people I would be training with as part of the 62nd Peace Corps group in Panama. The 35 of us were split into two groups, Community Economic Development (CED) and Environmental Health (EH). After a few boring days in Miami dealing with logistics, signing papers, and policies. We left for Panama on August 13th.

Upon arrival to Panama, my group went to Ciudad del Saber (city of knowledge). This place is similar to a college campus with dorms and offices. It also contains the Peace Corps office. We stayed in Ciudad del Saber until Sunday August 17th. Our time there was packed full of meetings to go over more orientation, set up our bank accounts, receive vaccinations, etc. On Sunday August 17th, we departed for a community called Santa Clara de Arraijan, a little southwest of Panama City. I would be training and living with a host family for the next 9 weeks in this community.

Training consisted of four hours of language training and four hours of technical training Monday-Friday. Occasionally during the week, often on Fridays, we would go to a conference center in a near by city called Chorrera. Conferences consisted of more Peace Corps policy, safety, and medical issues. We trained in our sectors; therefore, I, being part of CED, trained with all the CED individuals. Training as a whole was beneficial for the most part. I needed more language training then tech. So often during tech training, I would take an additional hour or two of language instead of tech. Tech training consisted of learning different tools for presenting information to our future communities. As a CED volunteer, our goals are to work with Cooperatives in Panama, help them strengthen business practices, and cultivate leaders. Also during training, I spent a great portion of my time traveling around the western part of Panama. During the second week of training, I went to visit a volunteer in La Comarca Ngabe-Bugle in the city of Soloy. Soloy is a huge indigenous town next to the Soloy River. This was an interesting experience because the Ngabe (the indigenous people that live there) don’t really like to talk. So they just stared at me as I walked around checking out the town with the volunteer I was visiting. After 4 days in Soloy, I returned to Santa Clara to continue training. During training, our language skills and adaptability to the culture are always being monitored. This is done so that my boss, Associate Peace Corps Director (APCD) Zach can place me in a community that I can easily live in for 2 years.

So week 4 finally arrives and I was placed in a community called Rio Oeste Arriba in Bocas Del Toro. I would be heading to Bocas del Toro with 6 other volunteers from my group, 4 CED and 2 EH. The following two weeks after site announcement, I went to Valled Del Risco in Bocas Del Toro for a week of studying the culture of Bocas with my fellow volunteers. The week following culture week was technical week. My technical week was in Santa Clara de Rio Serrano, practically in Costa Rica. This Santa Clara was located in the mountains and had an awesome climate. It was the first time I didn’t sweat while sitting in one place and eating my meals.

The following weeks, 5 and 6, I had another week in Santa Clara de Arraijan full of training. During week 8, I was finally able to visit my community of Rio Oeste Arriba. After site visit, we had two more weeks of training. I recently swore in as a Peace Corps Volunteer at the American Ambassador’s house on Oct 22nd. Following swear-in, my group hung out at the beach for a few days to celebrate. Now we are all in our sites where we will remain to integrate for the first 3 months.

I apologize for any spelling or grammar mistakes; I’m trying to write as much as I can while I’m sweating my face off in this Internet café. Anyway, my host dad is waiting so I have to go. I’ll try and update this blog roughly every week or 2 from now on, now that I can have my own schedule.

Pictures: #1- Host family, who live in a community called Santa Clara De Arraijan.  From L to R – Jovana, Stefanie, Arsedilia (host mom), and Grace.
#2- During my volunteer visit to the town of Soloy in La Comarca Ngabe-Bugle, I went to the Soloy River.
#3- Soccer field in Valle Del Risco of Bocas Del Toro.  I lived here during week #5 – Culture Week – of training.  This was the first time I was immersed in the culture of Bocas Del Toro, and I severely twisted my ankle on the field that week.  For a while, it was the size of a grapefruit.

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