Category Archives: Geography

Vacation, The End

Eagle Falls So much for updating more than once.

Things got busy, we had fun, I didn’t want to update the blog. So there.

The UK visit was a little lack-luster. The Geography Department was less than helpful as far as having information available (they pointed me to their Web site) and the Office of Graduate Studies was closed for a two-hour meeting while we were there. But driving around Lexington was fun, and useful for getting a feel for the town.

Today we drove back after stopping at Lexington Greens at some kind of cool grocery store (similar to World Market, I think? You know, the kind that Karen goes ga-ga over…) and a bookstore, where I promptly spent 40 bucks on a primer book on architectural styles, a Berlin-specific moleskine and a copy of The Iliad for $3.50.

Now we are at home, and we were hit by a couple small showers as we unloaded, so Karen and I decided to stay at the house until it quits raining. Mom also mentioned the words “pizza” and “supper” so we’re sticking around supper.

I uploaded a few more photos to Flickr, but the shots from UK and Lexington are on my camera in the car.

Vacation, Take One

Cumberland Falls
Vacation is here!

Yesterday my family left on vacation for Cumberland Falls State Park in southeast Kentucky. After about six hours of driving in the rain, we arrived and checked into a very nice two story cabin that could sleep about 10 people. Three TVs. Cable. Kitchen. 2.5 bathrooms. Very nice. We win.

Aside from taking in the rainy Kentucky scenery yesterday, Karen, Rachel, Blair and I played Wii Fit for several hours last night, while Mom and Dad did their own thing.

This morning we got up relatively late and then walked/hiked around the falls area on the Cumberland River. It was very pretty, and I’m uploading pictures to Flickr right now. I’ll keep them updated as I can throughout the week.

Vacation has, of course, had its humorous anecdotes.

Take just a minute ago for example: Karen and I have been in the lodge using the Internet for the last hour, and she was getting thirsty so we went to find a drink machine. Because she brought her laptop in her purse-bag-thing, her wallet is at the cabin, and I just have one, $1 bill. We got down to the vending machines and were so excited to see that they have Diet Dr Pepper.

Only one problem, though: the Diet Dr Pepper is in the bottle vending machine, which costs $1.50. Our excitement slightly lowered, we then tried to put our dollar in the 12 oz can vending machine which costs $1. It didn’t take my money. Instead of being smart and going to the front desk to ask for change, we tried to put it in an older looking food vending machine to get change (Karen’s idea, I might add.) Did we get our change? You guessed it. The machine sat there staring at us blankly.



What’s your problem? Why do you want change? You put in your $1.00.


DAH! So Karen and I decided to buy the least thirst-causing candy available in a land of salty, sugary goodness: an Almond Joy bar.

We now have $0.25 and nothing to solve our thirst problems.

I’ll update again when I get the chance!

The Future

Ever wonder what the future may have in store?

Boy I sure do.

In case you are wondering, this post is only semi-professional in nature, but I didn’t want to go to the trouble of using Dreamweaver to update my mCook Web site. I know. I’m a slacker. Whatev.

So anyway, back to the future. (It’s good to be punny sometimes.)

At some point in my life I stopped daydreaming on a regular basis about how I wanted my future to turn out. I don’t know why; I don’t know when. I just stopped. Maybe I was disillusioned, maybe hurt from a relationship or two…but regardless, I stopped doing it on a regular basis.

Now, “regular basis” are two key words there. I still daydream from time to time, and I do think about the future, but these days I’m more apt to be planning for the future instead of dreaming, waiting for it to come smack me in the face.

A few things have made me aware of this:

1) Spring Break free time. Spring Break has been good, mostly. I haven’t accomplished nearly as much as I wanted to/should have. I need to read more about Berlin. I definitely need to get caught up in meteorology. I’m like four labs and six chapters behind. No joke. But the break has had its high points, too. I’ve had three birthday dinners, and my birthday was a week ago. That’s pretty amazing. Take my advice: turn 21 as often as you can. People like to feed you at this age, apparently. Other than just my stomach, the rest of me has enjoyed the break by relaxing, sleeping in, playing cards/catch with K and family. All of the free time has given me plenty of opportunities to think, and that has been the primary reason for becoming aware of my lack of future-dreaming.

2) The second reason for remembering how I used to think my future would turn out came about from an unlikely source —pulling a box of cards off of my bookshelf last week that haven’t been used since middle school. Back in the day, a couple friends and I would spend every day we had off from school and half the summer playing cards at one of their mom’s office in downtown Martin and then go (religiously) at three o’clock to the local card shop (at the time) Home Plate. This was our heyday of dreaming and (dare I say) scheming. We started playing guitars. We started wishing we could drive. We started thinking about girls. (Well, at least I did.) And then high school came. And we lost one of our friends to a move to Massachusetts. And then I got bogged down with school and stuff (and girls…and band…etc.) And somewhere in there the blinders were put on so that I couldn’t see much past graduating high school.

3) The final reason for becoming aware of the lack of future-dreaming is that my brother-in-law Blair told us tonight that he won’t be going to UK for grad school, at least next year. He’s still waiting on East Carolina University, which is another fine music school. The trouble is, the geography program at ECU isn’t stellar and it doesn’t have the focus that I want for grad school.

As you can probably guess, I let myself dream a little when he said he was applying at UK because UK has an excellent grad program in human geography, and so I started looking a little closer at what they had to offer. I had a dream. There’s no telling what may happen with that dream. I would be happy even if the four of us (B, my sister, K and me) didn’t end up in the same area after we leave Martin, but I can’t help but think that it would be much more fun and enjoyable if we all did end up in the same place.

The odds aren’t exactly stellar for us ending up at the same university, given that there are only a handful of universities with great music schools and great human geography programs. Dreaming was fun for a while, but realism inevitably settles in and sets up shop.

I am a self-described realist; others often confuse this for pessimism. Some people wonder why I am a realist, and I’m not entirely sure why I see the world the way I do, but I suspect that it comes down to change and how it is handled. Change has made me strive to see what is real, what is out there in black and white, instead of what would be ideal.

Change has made me a writer, an editor, a geographer, a traveler, a Germanophile, and lately, a supporter of the Democratic party. There, I said it. I want Barrack Obama to be our next president. But enough politics. In high school, and certainly in middle school, I would have called you liar if you told me I’d be all those things in 4-8 years.

I don’t have a witty saying to end this post, and I don’t really want to search for an inspiring JFK quote to show that maybe there is still some hope for the future.

But I did anyway.

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” ~John F. Kennedy

Water, water…

Live, from the Dixie, it’s Tuesday night!

I’m sitting in the basement of the Dixie Carter, set to perform in under an hour for the West Tennessee Higher Education Symposium’s annual choral festival. As interesting as that is…it’s mostly hot and crowded.

Which leads me to my point: Water is amazing.

I realize that was a poor transition. Get over it.

I’ve been meaning to blog for the last two weeks about how amazing water is. Meteorology in particular has heightened my awe of the precious molecule H2O.

I drink around two to three liters of water a day. People say that is great. I say they should drink more (cough cough, Karen…) The body is made of what, 50 to 70 percent water? And yet, people pump themselves full of dehydrating carbonated sugar water (e.g. soda) instead of the good stuff. Granted, I’m a little susceptible to the ole Diet Dr. Pepper, but I still drink water like it’s going out of style.

But water does more than just fill our bodies and make us feel guilty about not drinking enough at New Years.

Water destroys mountains. Water fills deltas and river beds with silt, making regions like the Nile, the Rhein and the Mississippi fertile enough to support millions of people through agricultural production.

Water makes geologists and physical geographers look bad, because their precious rocks and landforms are no match for water. Most earth scientists will claim that they embrace water’s effects, but I suspect they are just covering their envy of its power.

Basically, water makes me happy…so respect that.

Reelfoot Lake

Today Karen and I took a departure from our normal Friday schedules and went with Dr. Mark Simpson and Helmut Wenz to Reelfoot Lake with part of Dr. Simpson’s Geography 201 (Physical Geography) class.

It was a lot of fun, however cold, but I was able to get some decent photo work done while the sun was out. I need the photos to use in my Scholar’s research and to include in my PowerPoint presentation for Geography 201 (Methods in Geoscience) next Tuesday. We are giving presentations summarizing the literature reviews we have worked on this semester. I still need to add more lit to mine…so it should be a fun weekend.

I’ll post the photos on Flickr sometime later for those interested.

What are the goals of terrorism?

Is anybody up to reading an essay? I wrote this last night (a little over 1,000 words) and I’m looking for a good critique. It’s all that is on my mind right now, geographically speaking, right now so somebody read it!

*Begin long essay*
What are the goals of terrorism?
In a post-9/11 world in which so much media attention is given to the various forms and acts of terrorism both at home and abroad, almost all Americans have been affected by terrorism either directly or psychologically. Many do not even know how to define terrorism, as its meaning has changed numerous times since the word originated in the French Revolution (White 2003:5). The best way to characterize terrorism may be to explain what it is not: it is not conventional warfare, in which both sides in the fight are comprised of standard militaries from a country or countries. It is not merely guerrilla warfare, in which smaller forces use surprise attacks on a larger military organization to achieve its goals. However, it is possible for a group to carry out terrorist attacks in the midst of these types of conflicts. Thus, in order to define terrorism as different from these forms of warfare, the question “What does terrorism have as its goal?” must be answered.

According to Glassner and Fahrer (2004:292), terrorism is the use of violence or threatened violence against anybody in society, including innocent civilians, in order to achieve a political goal. This definition, however, is broad and could arguably be considered a part of conventional or guerilla warfare, as those situations also involve the use of violence to achieve political goals, and civilians are frequently affected in addition to military personnel. Examining the goals of religious, ethnic, and nationalistic terrorists will help clarify the definition. This paper seeks to examine the goals of these types of terrorism using a selection of modern acts of terrorism as examples and the implications these have for the future of terrorism.

Goals of religious terrorism
Religious terrorism, according to Hoffman (1998:94), often becomes a holy act for the terrorist that is justified as a “necessary expedient for the attainment of their goals.” Those engaged in religious terrorism may attempt to push their religion or morality onto others and likely consider themselves to be at war with anyone not of the same mindset. Hoffman (1998:95) believes that this creates a much larger set of “enemies” for the religious terrorist.

Muslims, Jews, and Christians have all committed acts of terror to convert people to their God or [eliminate] opposition. Islamic terrorism is the most widely known variety of religious terrorism, coming from the desire of Islamic extremists to spread Islamic law (like that in Iran) to other Muslim States and the conversion of non-Muslim States to Islam. As Hoffman points out, the Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini told his followers in 1980, “We must strive to export our Revolution throughout the world,” (1998:95). The declaration of jihad on Americans and Jews in 1998 by Osama bin Laden was made because he said Americans were occupying the Arabian Peninsula (Islamic holy land) and “plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people … and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim people” (Washington Post 1998: n.p.). This was the justification needed by al Qaeda to carry out the [attacks] on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001.

Jews and Christians have also been involved in terrorist acts, though not as widely publicized by Western media. Jews terrorists under Rabbi Meir Kahane have, since the 1980s, performed acts of violence and terrorism against Arab – largely Palestinian – groups in Israel (Hoffman 1998:100-101). Kahane’s doctrine promoted hatred of Arabs and claimed that no Arab liked Jews. This policy fueled an Israeli terrorist movement to remove or exterminate Arabs in the traditional holy lands promised to Israel in the Torah.

Goals of ethnic and nationalistic terrorism
Ethnic and nationalistic terrorism, also called secular terrorism, has become an ever-increasing problem since the end of World War II and the decline of European imperialism (Hoffman 1998:45-46). As nations relinquished control over colonies, they often left different ethnic groups at a disadvantage as a minority in the newly independent country, leaving the door open for terrorism in the future. These ethnic groups, under oppression or without representation in what used to be their land, attempt to terrorize the government and ethnic majority into giving them their own country or at least some representation. According to White (2003:187), “ethnic terrorists attempt to forge national identity. … When the inevitable government persecution follows terrorist actions, it draws attention to the group and allows the terrorists to present themselves as victims.” An ethnic terrorist attack may also turn into full blown war if the ultimate goal is to overthrow the government entirely.

One modern example of ethnic terrorism include the PKK’s (Kurdistan Workers Party) actions and attacks in southern Turkey to push for the creation of Kurdistan (Durham, Rogers 2007). The Kurdish ethnic group was made a minority in four nations after British and French imperialism in the Middle East ended. This fractioning has spun off terrorism as the PKK and other Kurds seek their own land and control of their own affairs. Other examples of ethnic terrorism include the Irish Republican Army using terrorism for the creation of an independent Ireland (White 2003:78-91).

The future of terrorism
According to Glassner and Fahrer (2004:292-3), fighting terrorism can take two forms: anti-terrorism and counter-terrorism. Anti-terrorism is defensive in nature in that it attempts to prevent terrorist attacks on people and places. Counter-terrorism is the use of military force against terrorists. Glassner and Fahrer argue that neither type is capable of effectively stopping terrorism, but that the only way to stop terrorism is to fix the situation that created the problem. This isn’t easy, particularly when dealing with religious terrorism that wants nothing more than to convert the world to a single religion. Other terrorist situations, however, may be capable of being solved without a full blown war against the terrorist organization. Terrorism is likely to continue in the near future as the preferred method of warfare by extremist organizations because of the difficulty of predicting and stopping terrorist attacks.


Durham, W. and J. Rogers. 2007. Lectures from Geography 462, University of Tennessee at Martin.
Glassner, M. and C. Fahrer. 2004. Political Geography. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Hoffman, B. 1998. Inside terrorism. New York: Columbia University Press.
White, J. 2003. Terrorism: an introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thompson Learning.
Washington Post. 1998. English translation of “Jihad against Jews and Crusaders.” Available online at (last accessed 14 November 2007).

*End long essay*
Comments and corrections are appreciated.
[Recent updates in brackets, thanks for pointing them out. 🙂 ]