Saturday, September 26, 2009

and I was the entire audience....

Yesterday, after seeing the Australian folk music band, The CRAGGs, play at Jazzman's cafe, I had the bright idea to invite the only two Australians I knew to see their second performance. I knew from several past events that they enjoyed folk and bluegrass music, and thought they might enjoy it, so I phoned them up. As it turned out, they didn't have anything going on, and agreed to come immediately.

The show was at the Hut, a strange sort of building perched high on the side of the hill that is the MU campus. I had never been there before actually, and so didn't know quite what to expect. When I arrived, Gene and Trisha were already there, along with an odd five or so students who looked like they were there more because it's where the usually hang out than because they were expecting to see a concert. The show started though... and what followed was probably one of the most disorganized, under publicized events that I've ever seen.

There was no seating set up down on the floor where the stage was, so everyone was up in the club area, which juts off of the concert hall at a 90° angle. So when the band played they were essentially looking into a completely empty room. Eventually one of the organizers pulled out a few plastic chairs and we moved down stairs into a corner of the hall... but no one followed us, so we ended up being the only people really watching the performance for it's 2 hour duration. It was one of the more awkward experiences I have had lately.

It's understandable that we were the only people there though. The concert had no advertising save for a few announcements buried in the daily email sent out to students, and even they stopped two days before the date. Second, it was late on a Friday night, which means that any students who live within a hundred miles of the University were on there way home. Worst of all, it was the night of the 1890's festival in historic downtown Mansfield, which is the biggest event of the year there. So, all this to say, who ever coordinates student activities here needs to be fired.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fires, Philosophy and Folk Music

This week went pretty well overall, and even had a bit of excitement toward the end here. Mansfield is hosting some pretty awesome concerts this semester (which is a first). Today I saw the Craggs, who are an old Australian folk group. They are playing their main show tonight, but they played a gig in the cafe in Alumni Hall this afternoon, which was cool, and I was able to see them. There weren't very many people, lamentably, and I started to feel like I was getting a private concert after a while... which was cool I guess. A girl told me that it cost the University like $20,000 to have them come... so hopefully they will have a better turn out tonight, not that it would be unusual for the student activities committee to blow some obscene amount of money on an event and then have no one show. I myself though, thoroughly enjoyed it, and so I'm glad they did. I talked to them a little afterwords, and they were really nice. The other thing that brought me to Mansfield today was buying a ticket to the big concert event of the semester: The All American Rejects, Taking Back Sunday and Anberlin. How they convinced them all to come is beyond me... but it should be awesome, and I'm sure someone other than me will show up to it.

I've been watching the Matrix trilogy, which I really enjoyed. I had pretty low expectations for the second two movies, and after I heard all the bad things that people said and wrote about them, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised. If anything, my main critique is that they completely switched genres in the middle of the series. It started as a shoot-em'-up thriller, and morphed into a sci-fi epic... and so I think the alienated a lot of their fan base. Regardless though, I think they are all well made, and thought provoking. In fact, if you aren't too distracted by the way cool kungfu fights and slow motion gun battles, they are actually are real 'pageant of philosophy'. I think almost every single person Neo meets exemplifies a different school of thought.
So anyhow, I watched the Matrix Reloaded the night before last. There is a big car chase sequence in it, with lots of sirens blaring. I was awakened from sleep at 3 am by the sound of sirens... lots of them... which is almost unheard of since we live in the country. I sort of thought I was dreaming and went back to sleep. The next afternoon though, I found out that a house down the valley from us had burned to the ground. It was brand new, expensive, and has sat without being lived in since it was built about three years ago... so I must say, the whole things seems rather suspicious to me... but at any rate, it's gone now:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hadrian's Wall

So I just got the latest issue of Smithsonian today, and I think I just found what I would like my next serious adventure to be. I want to hike Hadrian's Wall.

In 122 AD, the Roman Emperor Hadrian decided that the Roman Empire had expanded as far as it sustainably could. To defend the Empire and symbolize the end of imperial expansion, he decided to build a wall across the Empires farthest frontier: Britain.

The Wall is 84 miles long, stretching from coast to coast and separating Scotland from Southern England. Today many people enjoy hiking it and farms and bed and breakfasts have sprung up all the way to accommodate tired travelers.

So I don't know about you, but a week hiking in the British countryside on top of one of the most historically significant artifacts in the World, camping or staying in quaint farmhouses, eating British food and sampling prodigious quantities of tea and beer really sounds like an awesome, stress relieving kind of adventure to me. Not to mention, beyond the initial flight to London, the whole thing would be relatively cheap.

So now I just need to convince some people to come with me.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Good Day + Boring Monologue for the Sake of My Own Thought Process

School went very well today, and I think it's probably the first really 'good' day I've had so far this semester... which is kind of sad considering that it's now the 4th week. I actually made it to Social Research on time today (it only meets once a week, and up until now, I had delayed in getting there to an embarrassing time).

Comp also went well. I was really kind of upset last week when my Comp 1 professor decided to make my paper the first one to be critiqued by the class... especially considering that the topic we had to write on was "Most Memorable Learning Experience" and I probably disclosed more personal information than I normally ever do in a paper. Most of the people I ended up talking to today was impressed by it though, so I guess it was okay. Today we had to turn in four rough drafts that we had written on different essays last week, along with one essay that was made out of the one draft that we felt we had done the best one. I had chosen Shooting An Elephant by George Orwell, and ended up being paired with a girl named Kelly, who had also, out of the dozens and dozens of essays in our textbook, chosen Shooting An Elephant. So it was interesting to do a critique on an essay on the same topic you had just written about.

Social Research went well, as I said, although I found out that me and several other people misunderstood the schedule and ended up doing this weeks assignment last week... which I suppose is much better than having done last weeks assignment this week, but still kind of strange. I looks as though I will be redoing our first assignment though, as I got the grade today, and got 12 out of 15 on it, for reasons that I do not understand. So I plan on going to talk to Dr. Purk tomorrow before going to study with Lisa, a friend of my parents (and me) who happened to end up in class with me. Your allowed to resubmit stuff, so it shouldn't be an issue, the problem is just that I have no idea what to do differently, so hopefully I'll be able to talk to her.

I've been reading quite a bit lately for school... mostly my Mesoamerican Anthropology class... it has a pretty intense load (about 200 pages a week) but it's interesting, so I try to keep up with it... which is more than I can say for either of my sociology classes... the text books are just ridiculously boring... and coming from someone who can write a blog post this boring, that's saying something.

I've also been rereading a book by C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces. My Mom read it to me when I was 12 or 13... and it's always been one of my favorites since. I know however that a lot of it was over my head at that time, and I'm having trouble remembering what the final conclusion of Orual's complaint against the Gods was (I recall that she withdrew it, but can't quite remember why) it's a very good, if sad book about the human condition... and suffering, plus it's a retelling of an ancient Greek myth about Cupid and Psyche... so if your into that sort of thing.

I've been looking a bit at Universities. Since Mansfield is unlikely to take my credits from last semester now, I should probably look for one that will. More than that though, I just kind of feel the need (again) to be somewhere else right now.... I've never enjoyed college the way that it's been and it seems like it just gets harder and more depressing every semester in a lot of ways. So I've been looking at Liberty University and Bryan College... I know both of them would accept my credits. Liberty has a World History/Archaeology program that I would be interested in. On the downside, I only really know one student there, and none of the faculty. At Bryan on the other hand, I have more friends than I do at Mansfield (a lot more) and I even know some of the faculty as well, which never hurts. Unfortunately, they don't have any programs that would relate very well to what I'm doing now. If I go went there, I'd probably end up switching to communications/journalism. It's also in Tennessee... so lets just say my commute would be a little longer than it is now. Lately I've also looked at this place called North Park University in Chicago. They have a number of very specific global studies programs that would mesh with my Anthro interest very well... and be even more in my area of interest than what I'm doing here. The other thing is the location. Liberty and Bryan are both in kind of nowhere locations (not unlike Mansfield - except of course that Liberty is about 10 times bigger than the town of Mansfield itself) way down South. Chicago on the other hand seems like it would be a much more interesting place to go. I even have a friend or two there at Moody Bible Institute. But North Park doesn't have an established relationship with SBI (unlike Liberty or Bryan), and so, they may possibly be no more interested in accepting my transcript than Mansfield is. So then it wouldn't really make sense from a pragmatic standpoint.

So I don't know. I feel like whatever I do at this point, I'm bound to end up stabbing someone in the back. If I think about it, it was all part of the plan really... well no, not really a plan... but shall we say, the agenda that I talked about with my parents before I started at Mansfield: that I might only go there for the first two years or so and get some of the basic gen ed junk out out of the way... but somehow it seems harder than that... so I suppose I'll just have to keep thinking and praying about it... anyhow... that's part of what I'm doing I guess by posting it here... I want to keep thinking about it now, early on in the semester, before I get overly involved and stressed out with school and then find out that it's December and I have five days to submit an application for anywhere.... I've been typing all day almost all day long. My fingers are starting to hurt.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Resistance

This is by far my favorite album so far this year! I got into Muse with their last record, Black Holes and Revelations, and have been eagerly awaiting a new release for some time. I was not disappointed. The Resistance, which features a three part Symphony has a lot more classical music in it than any of their previous releases (or any Pop album I've ever heard for that matter [although you wouldn't really get that from this video])

Friday, September 11, 2009

Organiations & Expenditures

Yesterday I had only on class and spent the rest of the day between the campus organizational fair, a meeting for social science club, practice for worship at Navigators and finally Navigators itself. It was beautiful on campus today, and they have been making a lot of cosmetic improvements lately, so it's actually starting to look really nice. All of this however has my adviser annoyed, as he told me today, the college leaders are complaining about a budget deficit and cutting their travel funds, all while buying $6000 flag poles, and letting the lights stay on all night in buildings, the cost of which he and another prof from my department estimated to cost around$4500 a month each. Below is North Hall Library, arguably the coolest building on campus:

Here is a shot of the organizational fair:

I've been enjoying my Mesoamerican Anthropology class. We've been learning about the very first inhabitants of America, and the rock shelters that they often lived in, one of which was actually here in PA. I actually know of a rock shelter about a mile from my house, and think I will probably walk there today and check it out, and although I don't have particularly great expectations of finding any prehistoric remains from Clovis people, I will at least take a few pictures and maybe post about it.

My Dad's still suffering from paralysis of the vocal cords, but they are pretty certain now that it is neither cancer or stroke that done it (to use English incorrectly as it is by English people themselves). He is actually going to a business meeting today, believe it or not... so that's good I guess.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

:*( ... : )

I had recently decided that I was using the blog far to much to vent about my problems in a very self centered way, and should probably cut back. The last two weeks have been very little but big problems, thus my brief hiatus from blogging. A lot has actually happened though, so, with a hopefully minimal amount introspection or desperation, here is an update:

My Dad lost his voice, and ability to eat solid food. They still aren't sure what it is, but the are thinking some kind of either stress related or neurological event. What they do know is one side of his throat is completely paralyzed. He has thus been in and out of Geisinger Hospital all week.

My credits didn't transfer. I went to the admissions office again, gave a little presentation on my computer (they were unimpressed), cried (they were unmoved) and finally told them that I would have to transfer if they refused to take any of them (they said I could go and do that, but under no circumstances would they even look at my transcript).

I came home and our rental property had three or four acres of lawn that hadn't been mowed in about a month. After almost breaking the mower, the grass clippings were so thick that they threatened to kill all of the vegetation, and I ended up having to hand rake much of it and drag the clippings away on a tarp.

I spent most of labor day weekend bordering on a nervous breakdown, and ultimately wishing I could have one so that I could just go to a quiet room in some institution and take all kinds of way-cool mind altering drugs for the rest of the semester. It didn't happen though, unfortunately.

The night after my bad day with the admissions office though, when I was at about the lowest point, something good did happened. I got a message from a friend from my semester in Italy. We had kept in touch a little over the summer, but never much more than a sort "hi, how's your summer going" sort of dialogue. She said that she had been praying and ended up feeling the urge to send me a message to encourage me and wonder if everything was ok. I think that was the greatest thing that has happened to me in a long time... and while I was still depressed for a while, and nothing has really changed, I think I know that somebody still has some kind of plan for me that involves more than all of this stuff.

Most of my classes have been going well so far. I really enjoy one, and the rest are tolerable so far. I was real exited last week when I was able to add Intro to Theater last week, but after attending the first class, which mostly consisted of listening to the professor swear, talking about drinking, and generally insult as as groups and individuals at every possible chance, I decided to drop the class.

I'm only taking 13 credits now, and I honestly don't know if I'll be staying at Mansfield past this semester, after the issue with the transcript from SBI. It would, as I told, diplomatically, the admissions lady, make more sense for me to go to one of the four or five Universities, more prestigious than Mansfield I might add, who would accept my credits from SBI. It pains me though, as I've just recently began to feel at home in the department and understand how everything works. And even harder than the decision itself is having to stay here and maintain my perfect GPA for the next three months not knowing if I'll even be here after Christmas break. I haven't told any of my friends in my department yet, and am honestly kind of dreading it.

So, problems, problems, problems, I'm sorry if your reading this... but I felt like posting, and it's all what's been on my mind lately. I have had some fun editing travel video a little bit and putting it on my YouTube Channel . I discovered how to export the them fro iMovie 08 in their original HD quality... and since HD is like the way to roll these days, I felt like I had to upload them, even though it three to four hours a pop. If your interested, feel free to check them out.

Tomorrow is the Organizational Fair for all of the different clubs and student bodies at Mansfield and I need to help two of them out, which could be interesting. The Navigators meets for the first time tomorrow night, and I'm playing on the worship team, which I always enjoy (for the most part anyhow.