Category: The Other World

Backpacking South Asia: The Monkey Temple

By Jen Jang

Since my friends back home in Taiwan were huge worriers, I told them I was still travelling in Japan. In actuality, I had already booked my flight to Nepal, and gotten my visa for India.

Not having a plan was an anomaly for me, as I usually have 15 items on my daily to-do list, and a schedule too packed for vacations. But soon I found myself on the plane to Kathmandu, the capital, with 10 kilograms on my back and no plan other than bargaining for a taxi.

The woman sitting next to me took care of the bargaining. “Call me if you have any questions!” she whispered as we parted.

Caught in the midst of peak traffic, I could see the claw-marks of the devastating 2015 earthquake, raked deeply across the capital. Dirt and saturated plastic littered the streets, while mud form along the unearthed pipes in flooded areas. I spotted old and beaten trees, buildings – people alike. Here, I suppose the charm of the city lies in its antiquity and chaos.

The next day I meandered through Kathmandu’s alleys, in search of Swayambhunath, “the monkey temple.” It was early morning, but the city had already risen. Patient goats, tied to a pole, waiting for their turn for slaughter. A man shearing the fur off one such body, almost meditative in his movements. A mother, arms crossed, smiling in satisfaction at her playing toddlers. Avril Lavigne blasting from a nearby home. Dogs at the side of the road, ears flicking lazily as they bathe in the sun. Nonchalant cows, free to perambulate.

“Namaste!” an old lady beamed to her old acquaintance; he grinned back and parroted her greeting.

The strap on my left sandal broke, and I had to fix it with a green-hooded safety pin.

I soon reached the Buddhist temple. True to its name, I found monkeys racing around, picking at nibble through the littered floor. The small hill was also the local gym; men ran laps up and down the steep stairs, kids played jump rope to blasting pop music, and young men gathered at the bars, doing chin-ups.

After conquering the stairs, the heavy metal prayer wheels came into view. Parents lifted their children so that the tiny hand could turn the wheels in their spits. To my left was a congregation of song and drums and various traditional instruments. Pigeons dived over scattered seeds, then flocked back to the temple roof when intimidated by their giggling pursuers.

Vendors were everywhere, selling arranged plates of offerings — flowers of orange, hot pink, purple and yellow — along with manufactured antiques and gaudy souvenirs. Some probed me with “Ni hao,” which means “hello” in Mandarin. I ignored them, and they proceeded to impress me with various East Asian greetings that perhaps matched my face.

A woman was breastfeeding nonchalantly on the side, but all the attention was on the pushing and shoving of offerings into the temple’s mouth; people were touching the gold, the Buddhas, the inscriptions, the sacred painted stones, and wiping the holiness all over their own skin. The central holy man turned distractedly to slap a man on the forehead with a bundle of greens — as some form of apparent blessing — then pocketed the money that was offered.

I left the temple profoundly bewildered yet enthralled at the bizarre world I had landed in. This world functions within its own logic and traditions, and I am open to all interpretations offered. As I would learn later, letting go of my meticulous schedules is what opened me to all the possibilities of travel.

And I certainly did not expect to find myself in the Himalayas mere days later.

 

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Tech Talk: Configuring SSID and Password for Your Home Wireless Network

By Joseph Zhang

 

So your grandma came to visit — “What’s the Wi-Fi password?” “I don’t know, that Time Warner guy wrote it down somewhere, let me see if I can find it.” “Well, hurry up! Grandma needs to get on Instagram!” After 10 minutes of digging through that stack of paper that hasn’t been touched for God knows how many years, you find a coffee-stained piece of paper that says “linksys” and a bunch of gibberish under it.

Well, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Remember how every time you go to a coffee shop or Best Buy, pull out your phone and search for a Wi-Fi connection, it shows a list of wireless networks with names that actually make sense? This guide will show you how to do just that, customizing your home Wi-Fi’s SSID (broadcast name) and password. The whole process should take less than five minutes.

First, you need to go to your router’s control panel. If you don’t know what a router is, that’s okay; you won’t need to physically access your router in order to do this. So, grab your laptop and go to COMMAND PROMPT. If you have Windows 10, search “cmd” in that circle thing next to your start menu. If you have previous versions of Windows, either search or run “cmd” inside your start menu. If you have a Mac, best of luck to you… Jokes aside, you should be looking for something called “Terminal” on a Mac, but this guide is dedicated to Windows operating systems.

Now that you have opened up command prompt, type in “ipconfig /all” and hit Enter. You should see a list of info; feel free to pretend you are Hackerman for a second. What “ipconfig /all” does is display current TCP/IP network configurations. You need to find a section labeled as “Wireless LAN adapter Wi-Fi,” or something similar. Inside that section, find “Default Gateway.” Your default gateway should be something like “192.168.x.x”; copy that number or write it down, because you’ll need it for the next step.

Open up your browser (the thing you use to go to Google). In the address bar, up top where the url is, copy and paste your default gateway and hit Enter. Now you should be looking at an authentication page. The username and password are often factory defaults, depending on your router’s manufacturer. The most common ones are “admin” for both the username and password, and “admin” for username and “password” for password. Try these first, and if they don’t work, do a simple Google search. The last resort would be resetting your router or calling tech support.

After you have logged in, you should be looking at your wireless router’s control panel. Most modern routers have a control panel; even the lower-end ones should have one for basic configurations. If you are on this step, you are almost finished.

Inside the control panel, things are pretty straightforward. You can look through different tabs and change certain settings if you want to — just don’t mess with anything you aren’t sure about. Every manufacturer has its own control-panel interfaces; different models of routers from the same brand might have different interfaces, but they should be very similar.

What you are looking for are the wireless settings. For instance, since I have a Netgear router; the settings are under the “Wireless” tab. Once you go in, you should be able to simply change the SSID (name) and password by typing in a new one. More complex passwords are recommended, with upper- and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Changing the default router login is also a good idea — you don’t have to, but you should if you know how. After you are done changing the settings, remember to click “Apply” or “Save.” The router will want to restart after that.

After the restart, you will lose internet connection on all of your wirelessly connected devices. Reconnect to your Wi-Fi as you normally would, except this time you are searching for the network you just named, with the password you just set up.

Customizing your wireless network’s SSID and password allows easier access for visitors, makes it easier for you to add a new device and enhances security. If you have a wireless network with no password and suspect your neighbor is leeching your network resources, follow this guide and set up a password ASAP.

 

Joseph Zhang is a member of the Information Technology Senior Seminar course and is planning on a career in the IT field. You can find an online version of this article at http://www.josephzhang.net/beacon-article

Heroes Around Us

By Sudeep Stauble

 

A mother struggles to balance her writing career and take care of her family. A student with an eating disorder strives every day to pursue her goal of helping those with similar issues. What do these struggles have in common? They belong to any of us, whether you’re a celebrity or merely an ordinary person. Maybe you have a mental illness. Maybe you suffer the stress of a chronic medical issue while juggling a full course load. Maybe, after years of enduring hardship after hardship, you suddenly find yourself breaking down in paroxysms of hopeless sobs.

We often associate acts of heroism as committed by soldiers, police officers, firefighters, or, for some of us nerds, comic-book characters in tights or capes. However, we fail to recognize the heroes all around us, ordinary men and women who face daily challenges just to get by. While it is true soldiers and police are heroic, the day-to-day sacrifices of these everyday heroes deserve just as much recognition.

Most of us recall being asked, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” Little do we realize that our goals are often impacted by what we have endured. Brittany Dutton, a student at Southern Maine Community College, is majoring in human services and psychology. When asked about her goals, she told me, “I want to get my doctorate in psychology so that I can be an eating-disorder psychologist and help people who are struggling.” Ten years ago she was diagnosed with an eating disorder. This mental illness impacted her in multiple facets of her life. Her relationships were nearly destroyed, and her health was deteriorating. She has stated that, after spending six weeks in an eating-disorder center, she has striven every day to pursue this noble endeavor. She continues to remind herself that she is in recovery, which enables her to fight her battle with her disorder.

While some of us can go through the motions and live through the monotony of every day, there are those whose days are full of challenges. Brittany Lewis, age 29, described her daily routine and the balancing act between her writing career and caring for her children. “My youngest is autistic and he receives ABA therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and has a special-education teacher. They all work with him at our home. In between helping the therapists, I do my best to work on my author career for several hours a day; writing, editing, growing my following on social media and doing interviews are just some of the things I do for work. After all my son’s therapy is over around noon, I stop working and focus on cooking and cleaning. I pick up my daughter from the bus stop at 3:50 p.m. and we do her homework before I cook, serve and then clean up dinner, give them baths and get them ready for bed.”

As a writer, I can relate to her to some degree. While I myself am not a parent, it’s all I can do to imagine how difficult a task it would be to divide my time between my aspirations and my family. I admire her dedication to her family and her passion as a writer in spite of what she has been through. In fact, I often express to her my admiration. She has inspired me to finally take my own writing passion seriously.

When looking back, my sources have relayed to me that their battles with their respective demons have shaped them into the people they are today. An anonymous source remarked, “As a gay woman, I want to advocate for marginalized communities.” She has explained that growing up, she often faced stigmas regarding homosexuality. As such, she would like to put to rest those negative viewpoints and impact society and advocate for those without a voice.

When asked how her struggles have affected her, Dutton explained that she feels she can “take care of people better because of what I went through.” By the same token, Lewis explained, “Having my son has helped me to be more patient and more aware of children with special needs in general. Autism was something I didn’t know very much about before he was born. With my own health issues, it has helped me to want to have much deeper relationships and helped me to strive to work that much harder to reach my professional goals.”

Have you ever felt as though you were at your wit’s end? As though you were running on reserve energy, that your suffering would never end? I know I certainly have. There are those who persevere through their suffering by reminding themselves that this is temporary.

Throughout my interactions in my research, I kept contemplating role models. We all have someone we admire, sometimes wishing we were them. These may include celebrities, leaders, even heroic characters in film or literature. But for me, role models are ordinary people who have flaws, people who overcome obstacles and strive to pursue their goals, people who persevere when night is darkest before dawn. These people possess qualities and virtues by which I myself try to live, qualities such as courage, ambition, and confidence. I cannot build monuments, paint portraits, or plaques for them. But through my writing, I hope to pay them an homage long overdue.

Who Is That Man With the Tracts?

Ben Riggleman

 

If you’ve gone to a home baseball game at the South Portland Campus, or even just walked by during one, you’ve probably interacted with Ed Heron. It’s hard not to. He stands strategically at the corner of Fort Road and Pickett Street so that he can spread the word of God to passers-by through colorful gospel tracts.

On a bright Saturday afternoon, a Beacon correspondent interviewed Ed to find out what keeps him coming to games when most students who know him actively avoid him. The following are excerpts from that conversation.

 

BR: Why do you stand here passing out tracts at SMCC baseball games? What motivates you?

EH: Well, ever since I got saved in 1974, I — God puts love in your heart, more than I ever had, you see. And so, God loves you too, right? He wants you saved, he wants to see you in Heaven, right?

BR: Mm-hmm. Now why do you come here? Why do you come to SMCC?

EH: My boy plays on the SMCC team.

BR: Oh, really? On the baseball team?

EH: Yeah, sorry, on the baseball team, yeah. Do you play baseball?

BR: No, I don’t.

EH: Ah, ok! Well, I used to play, but I was the worst on the team, you know. I just couldn’t hit, I was scared of the ball, and… [laughs]. We like baseball. We’re carpenters, you know, we do carpentry for work. You know, so I can take off, you know, when I need to. … I work six days a week, but if there’s a game, I’ll take off, quite often — not always, but quite often. And it’s fun; ‘bout the only thing we do, you know, besides church — you know, work, church, baseball. …
BR: So you enjoy watching the games as well?

EH: Yeah! Yeah, I do. I don’t see much from here, but I can see enough [laughs]. But I’ve seen some people interested in the Bible here come by. There was a young gentleman the last game, Friday, that said he was interested.

BR: Really?

EH: Yeah, and he took a gospel paper — so I’m hoping. I pray for his salvation. I’d like to see the whole town saved.

BR: Do you often experience disrespect when you’re passing out tracts?

EH: Very little! Here, it’s just a wonderful — so many people are polite. One person gave me a hug, you know, and I get a lot of “thank yous.” … There’s some people who don’t understand. There was a Satanist here earlier, he says he’s a Satanist, and he didn’t want to have a gospel paper.

BR: He said he was a Satanist?

EH: Yeah, he told me he was a Satanist. So, you know, just pray for him, and hopefully one day he’ll be able to read the Bible and see that God loves him. Because this guy we had in our Church here [points to tract, “My Search for Peace”] — he was a Satanist, and he overdosed many times to drugs. And finally he got peace through the Lord Jesus Christ, and now he’s a preacher. And he got born again. He came to our church, and he’s a good preacher. So there’s hope for that Satanist who walked by here. I don’t know his name, but hopefully God will work in his life so that he’ll want to read a gospel paper.

BR: What is your church?

EH: Our church is in Union. It’s on the radio. Right next to Rockland, it’s in a little town called Union. It’s For His Glory Bible Baptist Church. And For His Glory, that’s capitalized, because that’s talking about Jesus Christ. And our pastor likes to do everything according to the Bible. … He’s on the radio, 8 o’clock, Saturday morning, 105.9 FM. …

BR: How long of a drive is it from Union to South Portland?

EH: Well, see, we live near Farmington ourselves. We live in Wilton, so it’s close to two hours to get here, from Wilton. Yeah, it’s… We’d like to see people think more of the Lord, you know what I’m saying?

BR: Yeah, I do.

EH: I know the students have studies they’ve got to think about. But, you see, I got saved when I was in University of Maine-Orono, when I was a student there; that’s when I got saved at the age of 20. Because I saw my life — I wasn’t really into drugs, you know, but I saw my life going nowhere. I just — I tried working hard. I used to get up at 3:30 in the morning and work until 8:00 at night, and I used to do that, like, I think seven days a week. … I’d drop, sleep, then do it all over again. I thought work was life, and I finally figured out, that’s — that’s a drag.

I tried sports; I wasn’t good at that. And I couldn’t tell you at that point in my life, but I was searching for something. For what life was all about. And when I found Jesus, I was satisfied. That was enough. That was what I was looking for. Before that, I couldn’t tell you what I was looking for, but I was really looking for the real meaning of life, why we’re here on Earth. And when I asked Jesus into my heart that night, my life started to change. …

I like to see God use me to win souls. You know, I led my Dad to the Lord about 30 years ago. That was a good day. I know my Dad’s going to Heaven. And He wants to save you too. God loves everybody. The Bible says that God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” …

BR: Are you familiar with the Christian student groups on campus — there’s InterVarsity [Christian Fellowship], and I think there’s one called Alpha and Omega…

EH: Really!

BR: Yeah, they’re, uh —

EH: Nice! Well, I didn’t know that. Ho, okay, well that’s good! … I think high schools — a lot of times high schools kick out God. But it’s good to hear that this campus doesn’t, you know.

An Escape by the Ocean

 

By Noor Ibrahim

 

Spring Point Inn, located on McKernan Center Drive on SMCC’s South Portland Campus, is a well-known tourist attraction with a breathtaking view of the ocean. However, the magnificence of this inn does not lie in the view. This sumptuous inn is a symbol of traditional American architecture and decor. The inn is located next to a wall full of climbing plants, with some leaves that have already transformed into the color fire red. The building is almost hidden in between the tree branches, as if it was located inside a secret garden.

After reaching the main entrance, two black wire tables sit on the patio. The wire tables add a minimalistic feel to the space, making a charming impression on its guests. Once the guests walk into the inn, they will be greeted by a grand hall facing the front desk. From the wooden floors to the chandeliers that have an accent of stained-glass, the guest will feel as if they walked into a ballroom with the Waltz of the Flowers playing in the background.  

The inn is decorated in a simple fashion that compliments the scene seen from the large glass windows. The main tones I found throughout this building are natural wood, aesthetic mint colors and neutral tones as well.

To enter the conference room, the guest will walk through double French doors. The highlight of the first floor has to be the table arrangements that overlook the ocean. In this L-shaped sunroom, the large windows allow natural light to wash the dining area. The sun rays add a warm and mystical feeling as the particles in the air sparkle.  

Now heading to the stairs, the guest will walk up in an old-fashioned double staircase. The railings are also painted white, with the handles being wooden toned. The foyer is visible from the midst of the staircase, revealing a palatial view of the bay windows.

The second floor has two lounging spaces, furnished by vintage-patterned chairs. Once the guest enters their room, they will be welcomed by a home-like bedroom. The beds are warm and cozy with high, soft mattresses. The lighting in the room is just right for a relaxing rest. Again, the tones are subtle enough for the guest to be contented. The air is fragrant by the refreshing scent of cleanliness.

Moving on to the third floor, next to the staircase, sits a coffee station that is open for all the guests. Climbing further up, on the right side the guest will find a giant collection of square windows designed to resemble picture frames. The dramatic placement of these windows add a ritzy feature to the inn’s overall feel.

After finally reaching the third floor, the guest will be in the deluxe retreat. Later, the guest will then enter a sanctum. These deluxe rooms are especially lavish because of their three arched windows. These three arched windows adds a regal look to the room, making it appear more opulent.

Last but not least, one of the staff provided me with information about the inn and what makes it worth a visit. Julia Bustos, a current staff member and a former Southern Maine Community College student, stated, “We try our best to provide the five-star experience.” She further explained that the inn is student run. Therefore, during events (such as weddings, conferences and parties), the Culinary Arts students work in the kitchen to provide catering. During the winter season, SMCC staff are offered a discount.

This inn is an excellent place to spend a vacation in. It has a patriotic and a historical feel to it, it is cozy and it is toasty. It is also located away from the distractions of life so the guest can escape stress and enjoy the natural scenery.

 

Below I have provided few images that I captured. Maybe we can use one or two in the paper?

 

Why the Hell Is Everyone Waving?

 

By Andrew Boccuzzi

 

It’s been over 75 years since the United States gave life to one of the most iconic pieces of machinery to roll over the world. Driving off the assembly line for the first time in 1941, the manufacturer termed it “GP.” It’s still up for debate how it received its modern name, but  popular theories point towards a slurred pronunciation of its technical name or an adaptation of the name of a popular comic-book character from the late 1930s, Eugene the Jeep.

The Willys Jeep was designed to haul troops and supplies across the European theater; by the end of WWII Jeeps were quickly tweaked to be sold to any old Joe Shmoe that wanted one back home in the States. The name “Jeep” had become a byword for tough and dependable. CJs (Civilian Jeeps) sold by the tens of thousands by succeeding their original military design by pumping out… well, the exact same design, to be honest.

And this was a good thing for us all, because as time went on the Jeep naturally became more and more domesticated through the demands of consumers for additional creature comforts like a heater, stereos, doors, an airbag for both the driver and the passenger, and even some windows that could keep out all of the rain if you managed to install them correctly.

Which leaves us with the Jeep Wrangler as we know it today. All these years later the only thing that has really changed is the options list. Start with a boxy convertible with a short wheel base, a decent amount of travel in the suspension and a solid 4WD drivetrain, and give consumers a choice on the rest. They can choose between a lethargic four-cylinder or a more powerful six-cylinder. They can also decide to have a soft or a hard top, full doors or half doors, a premium sound bar and much more.

However, all these fancy doodads have nothing to do with why Jeeps always sell like they’re going out of style. The sensation you get while driving one is bizarre, but familiar. The handling isn’t particularly precise, but it steers and stops. The noise from the vibrating top creates an intense sensation of speed, at any speed. And its soft suspension urges the body to roll a little more than some people are comfortable with. But it all adds up to be one of the most fun cars to drive, on or off of the pavement.

Just by driving one of these you get the added benefit of being automatically enrolled into one of the most underwhelming yet desirable clubs around.

I own a Jeep, so I can confidently say that it is a fact that if you have a Wrangler, you are expected to be an active participant in this club every single time you get behind the wheel. All that is required is a subtle exchange that doesn’t mean much beyond “Hey.” Just an acknowledgment that you two own the same car, which I guess Jeepers decided was interesting enough to call for a polite “how do ya do” as you drive by. You just have to wave, and everyone does it.

Every wave qualifies, whether it’s lifting a few fingers off of the steering wheel, sticking your hand out of window or throwing up the peace sign. Just wave and carry on, and wave again and keep on moving on and then wave again, and again, and again, and, well… yeah. That’s why everybody’s waving, or, more accurately, that’s why everybody who owns a Jeep is waving. Because they own a Jeep, nothing more, nothing less. And now they have a reason that isn’t really a reason but still counts as an excuse to wave at other drivers for no reason.

Hannaford’s Helping Hand

 

By Taylor Freeman

 

Hurricane season this year is hitting the world hard. The last time the world has seen a storm as large and devastating as Hurricane Irma, was Katrina, in 2005; both Katrina and Irma  reaching Category 5.  Irma’s winds were 10 mph faster than Katrina’s, topping off at 185 mph, or 295 km/h. Compared to Katrina, which caused between 1,245 and 1,836 fatalities, Irma hardly reached 100. Following close behind Irma, Jose started to make his way towards the already destroyed Islands. Fortunately he strayed north, but only to reveal a new threat, Maria. At the time of writing, Maria is, according to CNN, “the strongest hurricane on record to make landfall in Dominica.” After devastating Dominica, Maria started to make her way towards the already demolished Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, which haven’t seen a Category 4 or 5 in nearly 85 years.

The devastation that these storms bring is, ironically, the thing that brings us together. The world pauses its political squabbles to come together in the case of disaster. People offer to house those who have lost their own, centers and hotels offer food and shelter while the storm passes, and civilians go out of their way to assist where they might be needed most.

In fact, our own Hannaford supermarket chain has stepped up to help. Hannaford not only provides victims with donated food, but right now, if people donate up to $50,000, it will match that donation. That is $100,000 towards rebuilding the billions of damage caused by hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Maria.

The people who live up here in Maine don’t normally have to worry about rebuilding their home or wondering how their car got into their neighbor’s living room. Up here it may feel like we don’t have a way to contribute to those affected by these devastating storms. But by donating to Hannaford, and many other places, people can help no matter where they are in the world.