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Thursday, March 7, 2013

High Maintenance

Electrician Martin Chapa examines Northrup lights as part of routine maintenance.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Happy birthday to me! Followers of this blog and of student life at Trinity are well aware of The Dog Jurgens - the TSA bomb-sniffing pup that we fostered for a year. She stayed at the Tuttle house by night and weekend, and at Campus Publications by day. Students and staff walked and trained her. We returned her to her base in early October where she has been training ever since. For my birthday, my lovely wife Donna was able to arrange a surprise reunion with me and Jurgens, thanks to Diana at TSA and some of the trainers.

Donna hijacked me from work and took me to the mall where Jurgens was doing some training. She explained what was going to happen. I was to sit and wait while she worked before I could blow my cover. You can see in the video below that while I sit quietly (heart pounding), Jurgens finds her target (explosives), which one of the trainers had on her for this exercise. The exercise complete, I was allowed to greet J-Dawg. It was the best surprise and present I have ever had. I miss her so much and my wife knows it. She set it all up and it was awesome to see Jurgens for the first time since we turned her in five months ago. You can't just go in and out of the dog's life once it is turned in for advanced training. So it was a lot of work and coordination for Donna and people made a lot of exceptions for her/me. My favorite part of the video is hearing my wife.

So here is the update. Jurgens is doing fantastic! The trainers said she had thrown a rare tantrum that day, in which she just stopped walking and had to be dragged. Sound familiar? Here is the video, again, of her in her most famous stubborn mode. She has trained at a very high level and will be paired with her permanent handler in early March. After that, she will have 12 more weeks of training and then be moved, with her handler, to her airport city to get to work. The trainers say she LOVES to work. No surprise to those of us who learned first hand what "toy drive" was as we trained her to want to "seek." You can tell in the video above that she did a good job. If we were ever worried about the quality of her life as a working dog, those fears are long gone. She is happy, still funny, and dogged in her determination. (Intended.) When it was time to go, Jurgens, ever living intensely in the present, ran off in search of new toys, bombs, and adventures. She has never been sentimental!

Jurgens will graduate in early June. When I learn more details I will distribute information to others. In the meantime, I hope this photo, video, and update are enjoyed by all who participated in raising this great little pup!

Friday, March 1, 2013

You Belong Here

A priest once told me that most of his peers had about six speeches in their repertoires - that essentially each homily was a re-working of those same sermons. I have a handful of favorite themes too when I speak: College is not what entertainment portrays; take care of one another; we are here to support you; don't break our stuff; we want to save you from yourselves; and 'you belong here.'

Imagine my glee, recently, at seeing the "You belong here" slogan stenciled in paint on a couple campus parking spaces. I'm not suggesting someone stole my theme. Indeed, I have to admit that I was worried that it was a campaign from some right-wing religious group. I don't want to be an unwitting pawn. To make sure  I tried to find out more on the internet. No luck. All I could really find is that it is a song by Anberlin, who I thought was a past wife of Henry 8. Or a sleep aid. Well, my search led me to the Anberlin song, which led me to another group called Paper Tongues, which has a song called Trinity, which reminded me I had a blog post to write. In any case, I have to wonder who on earth took the time to do this "vandalism" and why. But I kinda like not knowing.

Of course I have to be against random stenciling on parking spots as it is definitely a violation of our stenciling policy, which I feel duty-bound to uphold. I want to be clear, in no way am I endorsing stenciling on parking lots at Trinity.

I totally endorse this stenciling on the parking lots at Trinity. This isn't graffiti, because I understand it. It isn't someone's attempt to affirm to others that they are parking in their own personalized spot.

Whether it is prospective students, current students or alumni, hopefully everyone here finds a sense of place and belonging. It can be hard. As we conclude residential life student staff selection, as we come out of fraternity and sorority pledging, as the student commencement speaker is chosen and as officers are elected to student government posts, I am always reminded that some aren't selected, some aren't chosen, and others aren't elected. I hate that. Amidst all of the affirmations that the winners are receiving, the rest are left to wonder - do I really belong?

My answer is a resounding YES! You are the ones that the message is particularly for. At some point everyone doesn't get what they want. (Except for Molly Malloy, who I went to high school with.) Another day looms ahead. I am constantly reminded of the exceptional people that make up this outstanding community. Our students are talented, bright, clever, and caring. These qualities bind them together. Our students also, at times, have doubts, fears, and failures. This community looks out for each other and exalts the successful while supporting the down-trodden. At any given time, through the highs and lows, we all ask, "do I belong?"

I don't think it can be said or sung or stenciled enough. As we look at marketing our campus, developing a new strategic plan, and finding our unique niche in higher education, we seek a theme that will never get old.  I think we need not look too far for inspiration. Glance down once in awhile - and maybe it will hit you. It's simple: You belong here.