Sunday, December 26, 2010

What Cold Feels Like















I had a good Christmas here at home with my family. It was rather different, since instead of spending Christmas Eve with my extended family as I usually do, I was in Virginia with my Dad working at a mall. An old business partner of my Dad had decided that he wanted to try selling the glass jewelry SOUL that he and my Dad based  a business on several years ago. They had spent the month trying to sell it at a Kiosk in the Lynchburg mall since before Thanksgiving, and my Dad and I just went down to help pack up and bring things back.  That day we worked at the kiosk a bit and it was interesting. While I made hundreds of them at our workshop back in the day and worked with the original artist who created them, I had never tried selling them before. It was kind of difficult really... I have so many bad memories associated with it because of stuff that happened back then that I have honestly developed a dislike for it, so it was weird trying to pitch it to people. At any rate, we didn't get back until 2AM Christmas morning.

While I wasn't able to do the traditional party thing, I did end up seeing my Grandparents and my Uncle Bruce, which was nice. It also turned into a very white Christmas. There was just a bit of snow on the ground in the morning, mostly left over from a week or so before. By lunch time though, it had started snowing again, and by that night we had several inches.

It has stayed very cold all day today, and I went out in the field to check on the gas well drilling site. I don't think I've felt cold like that in at least a year. Whatever the temperature was, the wind sweeping over the huge field that the site is on always plunges the chill below zero:














Below is a picture of the kiosk in Lynchburg:

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Was in Virginia the last two days where I was helping some old friends pack up their kiosk at a mall in Lynchburg... Didn't get back until 2am Christmas morning. I kind of had this song in my head... enjoy!



Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Guide to Speeding In the Eastern US

After making this trip several times by myself and countless times with family and friends under a variety of circumstances and vehicles ranging from sports cars to moving vans, I've decided to post my impressions about it. They may perhaps be of service to someone, and at least entertaining to others.

New York: danger - too many squad cars (which is probably why their taxes are so high).

Pennsylvania: Freedom!!!

Maryland: moderately safe.

West VA: moderately safe.

Virginia: danger - speed traps, unmarked cars, motion cameras, (although I'm pretty sure the "Aircraft" that they constantly threaten will enforce the speed limit don't really exist).

Tennessee: Freedom!!!

Georgia: You might as well just shoot yourself now and get it over with.

Florida: moderately safe. Enough squad cars, but the general traffic tends to move 15 to 20 over the speed limit, so just stick with the herd. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Endlessly Repeating Final

It was a rather intense week of finals. The two that I had on Tuesday went about as expected, that is to say that my psychology final went really well, and my Spanish final went quite badly. What I didn't expect was today. Both my finals were with Palmer, which means that theoretically, they should have been easy, and indeed, what I actually had to do was easy: just answer an essay question and then give a brief presentation on the findings of my semester research paper to the class and answer any questions they might have. The problem is, there were thirty other people who all had to do this, and in both classes, we ended up going over the two hours allotted for the finals.

Of course, none of this was helped by the fact that I stayed up late last night celebrating the end of the semester with some friends off campus, and that my first final this morning was at 8:00AM. By the time I was done with the first one, I was feeling completely drained, and by the time I was done with the second one, at 3:30, I was feeling so bad that I thought I might be coming down with the flu or something. Fortunately, I started to feel better soon afterwords, when I realized that this not-so-fun semester was finally over.

I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening packing, and now have everything moved into my car so I should be able to get an early start on the 750 odd miles between me and home.

So yeah... I'm done.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Semester's Last Weekend

Now is that odd time of the semester when some classes are done, others are about to have their biggest assignments come due, and everyone is generally in a state of discombobulation. You can start to feel the relief of the semester being over, but you still have some of the hardest tests right in front of you. Three of my classes, as of last week, are finished completely. For those that aren't, I have four finals next week. Only one of them is going to be at all difficult, and two of them will be mostly just discussion. Unfortunately the said discussion is going be on the topic of what we wrote in our semester papers, and the professor who teaches both of those classes didn't tell us anything about the papers until last week. They're both short though, so it really isn't that unreasonable. It was just a bit of a surprise when I got the email.

Yesterday was rather interesting. That morning I was walking around with no real destination when two of my friends, Katy and Bryce, pulled up next to me and started gesturing for me to come over. It turns out they just got engaged, which is great. After that I went and watched Scrooge, which the school drama department was performing. I spent most of the evening (aside from when I was watching Taliban on CNN, which is very good, and you should try to catch the second half this evening if you read this in time) hanging out with the freshman on my hall and watching first Elf, and then Christmas Story. They are really a cool good group of guys, and I've felt bad that I haven't spent more time getting to know them. It's just been a bad semester I guess, but anyhow, most of us at least will be here next semester too, so hopefully I'll do better.

This morning it was snowing quite a bit, and although it doesn't really stick on the ground here, it at least added a nice effect. I decided to wake up and go to church, even though I had stayed up till after two last night playing Halo Reach with some guys over on Long 4th. I road with Drew, my RA/Suitemate to Westminster Presbyterian, which is generally where I go while in Tennessee. It was kind of a Christmas praise/devotional service, and while most of it was nice, it seemed like it took about three times longer than it usually does. Maybe it was just that I stayed up late though.

At the sad rate that I have been posting recently, this may well be my last entry from Tennessee for now, unless something particularly interesting happens of course. I can't really express how much I'm looking forward to getting home... less than a week now.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Masquerade

 I was fooling around with a project in Final Cut Pro this afternoon and I did this almost by accident. It looks  kind of cool,  so I thought I'd share it. The original video is from a church in Austria:













 Last night I went to my first banquet here at Bryan, it was fun, although I still don't really understand the point of them too much more than I did before. The theme was a masquerade ball, so I brought my Carnevale mask from Venice, which was cool. I wasn't sure if I'd ever have a need to use it again. Afterward my group went to Panera in Hixson, which was fun, except for getting there, which was a little rough, because several of the girls who planned the whole thing wanted to keep where we were going a surprise, which considering that two of the drivers including me were those from whom it was supposed to be kept, made for an interesting situation. We made it though, and after we got back we all watched White Christmas in Mercer, which was good... I had been hoping I'd get a chance to see it this Christmas but wasn't sure I'd get a chance with the semester lasting as long as it does.   

I'm very, very ready for the semester to be over (ok, I have felt like that since about the second day, but that's beside the point). Last week I just kept telling myself that I'm almost done, but now last week is over and I still have more than another week to go....

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving in Tallahassee













This evening is my last night in Tallahassee, where I spent my Thanksgiving break this year with my cousins. I had a kind of rough trip down, but my time here has been great. It began with the Turkey Trot Thanksgiving morning, which my Uncle had been trying to get me to run in again ever since my whole family spent Thanksgiving here several years ago. That was the first race I had ever run, and I was looking forward to hopefully getting a better time this year. It was a huge race, with over 5000 people showing up for the entire event, and running in that big a crowd was a different experience for me. As it turned out, I did get a better time, 23:17 as opposed to 24:12 back in 2006. I was a bit disappointed by this, as this Spring I got a 22:something in the Bob Bridgman, which is a significantly harder course. Still, for not having trained much this semester, I felt ok about it. I also beat my Uncle, which is something I could not say before. After the race was over, we all, in accordance with tradition, went to Krispy Kreme, thus, the picture above.

 Aside from running, I played a lot of other sports with my cousins, and their other cousins, which was fun. Left is a picture of us playing "Rolly Bat" a sport that I have never heard of anywhere else, but is a favorite of my cousins here.













 After all this, I was pretty tired and sore, but still decided to go out with everyone at 4:00AM on Black Friday. I had never been black Friday shopping before, and it was an experience. We went to Walmart, Target, Starbucks (the first place that I actually bought something), Sears, Macys, several stores in the mall, Atlanta Bread CO. and several stores in another outlet before finally bringing the day to an end. It was fun to do once, but I'm not sure if I will do it again.


Left are Abby and Jordan at Target, where we weren't able to buy anything because of the line that literally stretched all the way around the store.















Speaking of new experiences, I went to my first college football game today. My Uncle's brother-in-law somehow new someone who was able to get Jordan and I tickets even though the game was only two days away (not to mention it was the Gators-Seminoles game which was their biggest rivalry game of the year). It was pretty crazy, but a lot of fun... especially since FSU won by an unexpectedly high margin.  














Tomorrow morning I'm heading back to Tennessee to buckle down for two and a half more weeks of classes. I suppose I can't expect it to go better than the rest of this semester has, but it's a short enough time now that I think I can buckle down and get through it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Death of a Turkey

I have only one class left before Thanksgiving break begins. I won't be going home, as I would end up spending almost as much time driving as I would with my family. Instead I'm heading for Tallahassee Florida to spend the holiday with my cousins. It should be fun, as I'll get to run in the Tallahassee Turkey Trot with them like I did four or five years ago.

Last night I had the first of what will probably be several turkey dinners at a house on the hill with some friends. Left is Tomas carving the turkey.. He employed a very interesting technique that none of us had ever seen before....

Aside from watching Bryan win the first game of the NIAI national championship, I haven't really done much else that was particularly interesting. I'm really tired of most of my classes, but then, I was tired of most of them by the end of the first week, so that's really nothing new. Hopefully I will have an interesting Thanksgiving post... regarding the Turkey Trot. Also, Black Friday is a possibility, as I know my cousins are usually in to that. Not that I really have money to spend on anything like that, but it might be interesting to experience once.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Where I Live

Looking back on my last few posts, I realize that rather than saying anything interesting about anything to anyone, they are more soliloquies intended for my own future reflection.  So if you have been reading and happen to be someone other than me, I apologize for the rambling chronicles of my weeks that I've been dumping on here without any real thought to an audience.


Anyhow, I took this photo today because a new weather front was moving in and the light looked really cool. This, in case you ever wondered, is where I live. It's slightly newer and has a different layout than the dorm I stayed in last semester, and having actually had the knowledge to make an informed decision this semester, I decided to move here.

When I took this picture, I had actually just got back from a run. I had been out jogging around Bryan Drive and I saw a great rainbow. I ran back to my room and grabbed my camera. By the time I got back out though, it had already faded away completely, so I had to be content with taking some pictures of the fall foliage around campus in the changing-weather-front light, which was still really cool looking.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Feeling Like Lawrence

It was an awfully long week since my last post. I had my second meeting with my BFC Latvia group on Wednesday, and we agreed on our first fundraiser, which is good. That afternoon I had my interview with OM, which I felt went really well, although I'm honestly a bit intimidated by the next step in the process, which is sending them my resume, along with links to some examples of my video work. Thinking in that direction, I spent the next evening down in the communication department's Mac lab working on Final Cut Pro. It's really great... and I need to get a copy of it for my own machine as soon as possible (although, I could also use a new computer to run it on too... but one step at a time) When I got back to my room, I realized that I had made probably my stupidest mistake all semester... aside from taking Spanish with Pascucci instead of French with Paige that is, and completely missed my first ACTS Project class. I was relatively upset. I've realized recently (though not for the first time) that I'm not very good at dealing with stress, or letting things go when they were my fault. So I'm trying to work on that.

It's getting to the point where I can see the light at the end of the tunnel for a couple of my classes. Not with Spanish though, the bane of my existence this semester. We're getting into these stem changing verbs, which I think really ought to be banned as a crime against humanity. We have so many tests for that class as well. I got A's on the first two, and a B on the last, but only after studying for hours. They just keep coming. We have another next Friday, and then I think at least one more before the final. If I don't have a breakthrough in understanding, which I doubt will happen, I'm afraid I'll be getting C's on them from here on out. The tests aren't even the most frustrating part though. Pascucci has us do a huge amount of in class exercises based on the material she just gave us in class. I'm terrible at these, because I rarely learn anything in class (I always have to learn it from the book), so I'm generally lost, and everyone in the class knows it. It's been really depressing this semester to have to get up everyday and go to something that I know I can't succeed at. So anyhow, that's my self-pitying rant about Spanish. 

Today I started working on my homework as soon as I got out of bed in order to set aside a solid five hours to watch Lawrence of Arabia. It's a movie I have long wanted to see, both because it's a classic, and also because I was intrigued by the historical and geographical setting of the film. I was not at all disappointed, and would heartily recommend it if you have five hours to spare. As the plot developed, I found myself identifying more and more with Lawrence, which is unusual for me (to identify with movie characters, that is). Not in the sense of him being an Alpha type personality and not letting anything stand in his way (not me at all) but rather how in the second half of the film, he becomes more and more conflicted in what he wants. He seems driven to do crazy things without knowing why he wants them and then only gets satisfaction from things that he doesn't want to do. And while I may not be blowing up trains in Saudi Arabia or leading a revolt of Bedouin Tribesmen, I somehow feel like I'm often faced with the same dilemma.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Missional-Cynic?













This evening I meandered down to Rudd Auditorium and ended up listening to Shaun Groves. I've been familiar with Groves' music for a long time, and while I didn't dislike it, it seemed to be the kind of thing that my local Christian radio station played... a genre I had tried to escape from ever since I started buying my own music. Still, when I found out in Chapel that he was on campus, I couldn't resist the urge to go down this evening and check it out. I must say he was very good. Not quite my style (rather far from it actually) but very enjoyable to listen to none-the-less. He also had an awesome stage presence, which never hurts.

During the concert he was encouraging people to sponsor children through compassion international. That's something I always thought would be a rather difficult sell on a college campus, but it seemed like there was a fair amount of interest. It made me think back years to the very first concert I ever went to... Rebecca St. James... and how my family started sponsoring a girl in Ethiopia as a result.

It seems like I've been encountered by lot's of missions-oriented things lately, both at school and from pastors and ministries that I've listened to for a long time. It could be because right now I'm on the verge of doing some things that could be classified as "missions", and so I'm sensitive to it. Or perhaps there is just a bigger movement toward it in the Church in general right now... which wouldn't be a bad thing in my opinion.   

Speaking of ministry and the Church... I was thinking the other day about both of them. I want to help people, yet at the same time, my experience with the Church has honestly left me far less than inspired to try and spread it. I know that's a problem, but it's just where I am. I started to think that maybe because I've become so cynical I really have no business doing anything related to ministry or aid or anything like that. But then I had to ask myself the question: Is that really a good reason not to do it? Does not feeling like my heart is in the right place mean I need to wait for it to be? I think I've spent most of my life since I was a little kid feeling like this and thinking that I had to wait until I felt differently before I did anything. I think I could easily wait my entire life telling myself that someday I will "feel right". Should I risk spending my whole life waiting for that? Even as the cynic that I may be, I'm starting to think that I shouldn't.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

And It Keeps Coming

My time between posting keeps getting longer and longer these days. Classes have been as busy as usual, and the last couple days I've had the added stress of registering for classes. That shouldn't really be stressful if you've done everything the way you're supposed to, but I never have. All the uncertainty resulting from transferring, studying abroad, changing major once, and not knowing when I should or can graduate has made it chaotic. I thought I had everything figured out, but then, yesterday, I found out I had some course requirements that I didn't know about, and now it looks like I will definitely be graduating in Spring of 2012.

When I transferred to Bryan I assumed that that was when I would graduate, but this summer, looking at what I thought where my required courses, I had started thinking that I might be able to do it by next fall. I know staying that extra semester isn't the end of the world, and it will really look like I'm just graduating on time anyway, because it will be Springtime. But it's kind of depressing, because almost all of my friends from Italy will be gone by then. Also I'll be 22... which isn't terribly old, but when I think how my three cousins who are close to my age will all have had their Master's by that age, it's a little depressing as well.

Yesterday Bryan kicked off it's Symposium on Human Trafficking (alternately known as the SSTOP conference). Yesterday I listened to lectures by Dr. Paul Marshall, an authority on religious persecution. It was excellent, and I got to talk to him a little bit afterwords. Listening to someone like him makes me really see a reason to be doing the things that I'm doing... rather than just torturing myself for no reason at all... which tends to be more my general state of mind. This morning we heard from a State Department official from their bureau on trafficking (I forget the technical name). That was a bit ironic, as yesterday was the deadline from their summer internship, which I did not apply for, and therefore will not be doing. I did however, get accepted to Acts Project, so I will probably be doing something with them. That could possibly involve doing something with IJM, which is an organization we will also be hearing from this week.

Halloween passed since my last post. Last year I ended up in a crazy and unexpected situation on Halloween... and this year was kind of a repeat. I had been kind-of, sort-of, invited to a party/haunted house/rave last Saturday night, but decided not to go because I was feeling extremely tired from the week. On top of that, I had to watch The Oedipus Story that night. While at the play, I ended up running in to Kaity and her boyfriend Bryce. When asked if I was doing anything that night, I told them about the party, and they asked if I would consider going if they came along. A couple hours later, we arrived. By that time the haunted house was over, and there were only a few people dancing. Then another group of people arrived... and the atmosphere changed a bit. Let's just say it got a little out of hand... and every time I've run into them this past week we've had a good laugh about it.

I had my first meeting for BFC meeting last Wednesday. At this point our leaders were mostly just talking about raising support. I sent out most of my letters over fall break, and I've been really thankful for the response I've already received. I'm really excited about our group and what we will be doing over there. It's another one of those few things that just occasionally makes it seem like it's all worth it. I wish I could feel like that all the time, but unfortunately I can't.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Contradictory Weather

 I realize that my last post ended with a bit of a cliff hanger, me being stranded in an airport terminal 100 miles from my destination and all. I also realize that I then neglected to ever post what happened. So sorry. I did make it back, but then I was too busy to post for the first few days. After that, nothing interesting enough to inspire a post happened for the rest of the week.We did have a close one today though. Well, it wasn't actually that close, but it was exciting.

This morning I woke up to very strange weather. The wind was blowing hard, and the sky was overcast, and it looked like it should be a crisp late October day. But when I stepped outside, it was a balmy 75 degrees. The sky started looking stranger and stranger as the day progressed, and by mid-afternoon the alert went out on campus that a tornado had touched down in Rhea County, and we were under a warning.

In the end we didn't get a tornado anywhere near the college, but the sky looked pretty spectacular. Around seven, it started looking like we might finally be in for something, and I decided to go for a walk around Bryan drive with my camera and see if there was anything interesting. It started raining a bit, and I ducked into the Library just as the wind picked up and torrential sheets of rain commenced to pound the building for more than half an hour.

While I was trapped in the Library, I decided to start reading Civilization and Its Discontents again, even though I had decided to stop before because I felt it was contributing to an overall sense to depression that I was experiencing. Somehow, reading it up in the library with lighting flashing all up and down the valley and rain and leaves driving against the giant glass windows beside me was an experience unto itself, and not really a depressing one.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Closing Walls & Ticking Clocks

So, according to the plan, I was supposed to be back in my room on Woodlee 2nd Short making up for only getting three hours of sleep last night. That was the plan.

My parents dropped me off at Elmira Airport at five this morning. My flight which was supposed to depart at 6:20 didn't even board until 6:30, and by the time we got to Detroit I was already about thirty minutes late. That would have been workable if I ran fast, but then there was some regulatory confusion with them not letting us get off the plane for ten minutes after we landed even after everything was in place for us to do so. Safe to say, I missed my connection.

The next flight to Chat wasn't until 5:30am the next morning, so I was going to have to wait around all day, go to a hotel, and then show up again at like four. Instead I asked if they could put me on a plane to Knoxville, which they did. So hear I am blogging from the Knoxville terminal. I have a friend coming to pick me up, which is great, but I still have to figure out how I can get back to Chattanooga to get my car this week. So anyhow, I guess it could have been worse.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

WaterFall
















I had a beautiful fall break. It ends at 4:00AM tomorrow morning, so I don't have time to elaborate much, let alone upload the photos that deserve to be uploaded. However, I can say that it included several great walks with my Mom to see the fall foliage which was just past peak this week, a trip to Ithaca and Taughannock Falls (thus the above photo), hanging out at the Night & Day in Mansfield and running into lots of old friends, finishing The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, having Chris over and staying up till dawn playing Halo Reach, and spending this evening with the Spanos and Joe.

And tomorrow I'm flying back to Chattanooga. I really don't know how I'm going to make it through the rest of this semester. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fall Flights

I had an excellent trip home from Tennessee yesterday. I was worried it might be a rough, as I had three connecting flights, and two of them without much space in between, but it ended up going very smoothly, and I met some interesting people along the way.

After parking in Chattanooga, I was told by the man at the check-in counter that my first flight was running half an hour behind, which could be a problem since I only had one hour to make my connection in Charlotte. While waiting at my gate I ran into Dr. Turner, one of my professors from Bryan, who was headed out West. So I said hi to him before we boarded our flight, which ended up being only fifteen minutes late, giving me a completely reasonable forty-five minutes to find my gate in Charlotte. The plane, an older turbo-prop model, was kind of a puddle-jumper, and Turner made some remark about the wings being held on by duct-tape. It got us there fine though. 

I wanted Starbucks and in the terminal at Charlotte there is seriously a Starbucks about every fifty feet. Sadly, though, I had to walk about a mile to get to my next gate, and by the time I arrived, there wasn't time to wait in line for coffee before boarding.

The flight was to Philly, and I ended up sitting next to a guy who was headed to Tel Aviv. He asked where I was going, and I asked him some things about Israel, and the book he was reading in Hebrew. His name was Adi, and when we landed in Philly we ended up hanging out for a while. We went outside for a bit, and while we were standing on the sidewalk I asked him about the political/military situation in his country. It turned out that while he is not on business trips in the US, he is a soldier with the IDF and he took out his phone and started showing me all these pictures of patrolling the Gaza Strip and the Jordanian border and lots of other places. He asked me about the military in our country and if I knew anyone who was in Iraq (I don't right now, but I have several friends who have been). I also asked him about Iran, and he gave me his opinion on that. So really, flying back was almost worth it just for that.

We went back in through security again and headed to our next flights, mine to Elmira NY, and his to Tel Aviv Israel. It was at this point that I was asked for about the 5th time by security people about the book I am currently finishing up: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. It seemed like almost everyone I ran into was either reading the series, or wondered what I thought of it. I will probably finish it in the next couple days, but now I almost want to carry it back with me just because it's such a good conversation starter.

Flying out of Philly was really beautiful. I never really think about how big cities are until I see all their lights lit up at night, and Philly did not disappoint. When I finally got in at Elmira at around 10:30, my entire family met me once I walked out of security, which I wasn't really expecting. Sanna ran up and started hugging my legs so I could barely walk, and we all went out to the car and headed home.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Class in the Dark

This afternoon I took Cami, a friend of mine, to the airport to fly home for Fall Break. Tomorrow I'll go again, only for myself. My parents and I decided that rather than taking two whole days of my break and $150 worth of gas to drive home, I should fly instead. So I'll hopefully be back in Pennsylvania/New York by tomorrow night.

There was a huge attitude of excitement around campus all day. We almost didn't have class at all when the power went out for a couple hours this morning. We went through the first couple hours in the dark, but then, just a few minutes before the time when they said the rest of the day would be canceled if the power didn't come back on, it came back on. I still ended up being done by one however, as chapel and my algebra class were both canceled.

So now I have a week off. I have to write a paper on a documentary/debate that we watched in Psych of Comm. It has to do with the existence of God, and contrasts the views of C. S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud. It was very interesting, probably the most interesting thing I've seen all semester (not that that's saying much this time around). While it was interesting, it has also been kind of depressing. It's causing me to think hard about a number of things that I haven't thought hard about in a few years. And it reminds me that the reason I stopped thinking about them wasn't that I found any answers, but because I slowly learned to ignore them.

Anyhow... that combined with the fact that I just wasn't feeling that great before, I've almost had a hard time even being excited about fall break... which is kind of strange. Maybe that's good though. Last semester I got really excited about spring break, and then it ended up being kind of horrible... what with getting the stomach bug, the worst sunburn of my life, and then rain the rest of the time. So maybe irony will work in my favor this time. Of course, hoping that it will would take the irony out of it... so maybe I should stop. Anyhow, it's going to be a long day tomorrow, so I better get to sleep soon.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Malcolm Gladwell

I ended up going to see Gladwell this evening at UTC as I had been hoping to. It didn't work out quite as I had been thinking. Out of my Psychology of Communication class in which the trip had been suggested only two other students and I had interest in going (which surprised me seeing as how much the class seemed to like Blink). Then, one of them couldn't go because he had work to do this evening for the school newspaper. In the end, it was just my friend Maddie and I who went. It ended up being a fun time though.

The event was expected to be over-attended, and seeing as by the time we figured out that we were the only people going we were only half an hour early, I expected we would end up in the overflow room. When we arrived however, the first overflow room was already full, so we were sent across the street the second overflow room. We were some of the first people in and thought there couldn't possibly be many more people coming. It filled up too though, and pretty soon people were being turned away. By the time the lecture actually started there were something like four overflow auditoriums, and the staff had started packing people into class rooms and having them watch on computer screens. So while we didn't get the best seats in the house, it could have been much worse.

Aside from Gladwell giving an awesome speech on the financial crisis of 2007 and the attitudes that precipitated it, the coolest thing about the event was that they had a live twitter feed on the big screens and a hashtag for the event itself. I had heard of it before, but until experiencing it, I never knew how much fun it could be to tweet whatever you want onto a screen that close to a thousand people are seeing.

Gladwells lecture was really good. He used an analogy from the civil war (which he also mentions in the afterword to the latest editions of blink) where the Union General Hooker with his larger forces and precise battlefield intelligence was defeated by the underdog Lee. Gladwell's main point ended up being that overconfidence is dangerous, even more so than incompetence, the reason being that incompetent people tend to not be in positions of power, whereas overconfident people typically are. He then compared this case study from history to the attitudes of investment bankers before the financial meltdown a few years ago. He summed up his speech with this statement: "In times of crisis we think we need to rely our leader's ability or expertise, when we really need to rely on our leader's humility."

Monday, October 04, 2010

Homecomings and Goings

It was a pretty good weekend. Friday night I went to yet another rugby game; this one between the current rugby team and returning alumni who had been on the team. Saturday I went to the homecoming game, which at Bryan is a soccer game. We won 5-0, which was good. That night there was a bonfire and the Little Foxes played. They are basically a Bryan College version of the Grecian Urns (see Lovedream) a band led by a guy who goes here. It was their last show, as all the members either have graduated or will graduate this December. Sunday I did nothing all day but fill out applications and complete a rather massive amount of homework. I ended up reflecting a bit on things that if I could go back, I could have done differently or more efficiently in my whole academic experience since high school that would have made things easier (perhaps better?) than they are now. But it's really too late to do anything about... so that was a little depressing. Other than that it was really a good weekend. Here are some pictures from our excellent homecoming game:

Above is Harry, our star defensive player from England (our soccer team is almost entirely imported by the way... since Bryan doesn't do football, they seem to spend the difference on soccer). Below is Rasheed (sp?), who almost always tries to head the ball. It's great when it works, but sometimes it doesn't.   
































Spanish and Algebra, and OT Lit to some extent, are all getting pretty intense. I'm kind of glad fall break is just a week away. There is a chance I may be going to see Malcolm Gladwell, the author/journalist I mentioned a few posts ago tomorrow night, which would be awesome. I'll let you know if it happens.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

The Perennials

A couple good friends of mine, Pete and Amanda Wells, just released their first EP. I met Pete and Amanda (although they weren't married then) in San Lorenzo Italy at SBI where Pete was my RA. We ended up playing guitar together, and I quickly realized Pete was one of the best guitarists I had ever met. We spent a lot of time fooling around with recording projects using nothing but webcam mics and acoustic guitars. While we didn't create too many masterpieces at that time, I realized Pete also a serious muse when it came to lyrics. I haven't seen him and Amanda since SBI, but shortly after I got home he moved back to the States and went to recording school on the West Coast (why I haven't seen them recently). We kept in touch though, and even exchanged a few projects, letting me see how their style was maturing. So I was really excited the other day when I heard about the release of their EP:



It has a kind of folk-alternative sound with lots of guitar picking and ambient vocals. The lyrics are very thought provoking, and sometimes downright haunting. You should check it out.

Friday, October 01, 2010

The Cliffs of Insanity

I don't follow professional sports at all, and never used to pay that much attention to college sports. This semester however, I have been unable to ignore them. There is, you see, a relatively strong rivalry between Bryan College and Covenant College, a slightly bigger and significantly richer school on the mountain above Chattanooga. Since time immemorial (or at least long before I transferred here) this rivalry has been perhaps the primary dynamic animating the campus. In the latest episode, things, at least in the opinion of some, got way out of hand.












This past Monday, I went to a pep rally (pictured above) where pretty much everyone from campus came out to buy shirts with anti-covenant slogans, eat pizza, and watch the soccer team obliterate a car symbolically representing Covenant. The big game was to be the next night, and while I had been only vaguely interested in going that day, the cult like atmosphere of the pep rally convinced me that I had better tag along and check it out. This put me in a rough spot, because I had applied for Break for Change, a Spring break mission trip program, and was supposed to go to the meeting to find out if I had been accepted the very next night (at the same time as the game). As it turned out, there was no conflict. The next day, early in the afternoon, everyone received an email that the big game had been postponed until November. The reason for this delay was stated to be "field conditions". It quickly surfaced however, that the "field conditions" spoken of were a collection of pro-bryan slogans that had been painted (with permanent house paint) all over Covenant College's soccer field. So I didn't go to any game that night. I did go to the Break for Change meeting, and found out that my application, despite being submitted at the last minute, went through, and I will, God willing, be going to Latvia this Spring to help teach a film workshop for highschool students.

So there was no soccer, but last weekend, while I was not at homecoming banquet for various reasons that I shan't mention, I went to the school rugby club's first game in Chattanooga. This picture pretty well sums it up:   












On the academic front, I had a surprise this Monday, that while leaving me unsure if I'm either brilliant or retarded, was pleasant nevertheless. Last Friday, I had been shocked to get a D on my first psychology test, even though when I took it, I had felt like I knew almost all of the answers. When we went over the test on Monday, I found that the scantron form had a back as well as a front, and I had stopped at 50, when there were really 65 questions on the test. I showed it to my professor, who very graciously let me step out as she went over the answers with the class and then fill in the 15 questions that I had overlooked after class. My score consequently went from a D+ to and A-... which is always a nice thing. To the left is powdered lemonade (not crack, as some of my friends who saw the photo on facebook suggested) that we used for a Pavlovian experiment.


This week was Spirit Week on campus. It started with class color day, which I participated in, pajama day, which I participated in, and movie character day, which I did not participate in. It was interesting to see all the costumes that people wore though.

Today I discovered (or rather my Dad, who I was on the phone with discovered) a new use for duct tape. While I was on my way to the grocery store to by some more tea, my passenger side window came off the track and retracted all the way into the door. I ended up spending most of the evening trying to fix it and driving to Lowe's and Walmart in search of tools to try and pull it up out of the door. In the end, I bought some duct tape thinking that I would at least cover it over with plastic for the night and then probably take it to a garage tomorrow or Saturday. Then my Dad told me that I should see if I could feed the duct tape down into the door through the gasket and attach it to the window glass. I was a little skeptical at first, but after only a minute or so of fishing around for the glass and trying to keep the tape from sticking to everything else, I was able to affix it to the window and pull it back up out of the door. I then looped the tape around the top of the door frame so that the window won't get lost again, and while I won't be able to use it right now, I can at least wait until I'm back home to take it to the shop. So my Dad gets huge kudos, first of all for creative problem solving, and secondly for doing it with duct tape.

Anyhow, it has been a rather insane week.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Blood and Espionage

I had intended to hit the hay early tonight, but was unsuccessful at doing so. This is probably due to the fact that I have been just a tad over-caffeinated for most of the day. So being stuck awake, a decided to write a more normal (but hopefully at least somewhat entertaining) blog post.

Speaking of being over-caffeinated, I had an interesting question today while sitting in Psychology of Communication drinking an Americano: if I gave someone a blood transfusion right now and they were relatively sensitive to caffeine, would they get a buzz from it? Well, someone is going to find out, because as soon as I finished that Americano, I went down to the "Blood-Mobile" which was on campus for the day and donated a pint.

It was actually the first time I had ever donated blood, and I kind of just wanted to know what it was like. It turned out to be uneventful. In fact, I was almost a little disappointed that I didn't pass out, or at least get dizzy or something like that. But alas, I felt no different after than I did before. The only adverse affect was that I was unable to use my right arm much until just this last hour, and still can't quite extend it all the way... but that's okay.

I had three tests to take this week. Two are done, one is tomorrow. As far as the time spent in class and doing homework is concerned, this is by far my busiest semester ever. At the same time, it doesn't seem quite as stressful (yet at least!) as my past two. Instead of lot's of papers and Godzilla research projects that hang over my head and make me wonder if you are doing enough or not, most of my work this semester comes and goes at a steady pace that makes managing my time easier.

So I've been spending a lot of time doing homework and studying. In addition, I've been playing Travian again. It's a German massively multiplayer browser based game that could be compared in some ways to Settlers of Catan, but with a more developed military aspect. I have been playing for a number of years on and off. This current account is by far my most successful ever. I started playing on Server com2 not long after it opened this summer with Gauls as my civilization. I had, for the first time in several attempts, the luck of getting into a good alliance, something that is critical in the game. You want team mates who will pressure you to expand, but do so in such a way that they don't become a bigger threat than your enemies are. I now have five villages on the server and have the strongest army in my personal history. So that's cool.
I guess I just decided to blog about it because it's something that is easy to forget after you are done doing it, even if it occupied a noteworthy part of your mental world for weeks or even months before you stopped. When I was at SBI for instance, I was also in the process of building what was until now my most successful empire ever, but when I think back on that time, I hardly remember playing it at all. I guess part of the reason is that unlike most other games that demand that you sit down and play for hours, travian just demands a minute here, a minute there, and so on... I can even maintain my villages from my blackberry or iPod if I want to... although I usually try to avoid doing that.

Something that I've learned from playing into it this far though is that it is in many ways a game of disinformation. You can't possibly attack your enemy everywhere at once, but you can sometimes get them to think they are being attacked everywhere at once. I read a book this summer, A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West in which Ian Johnson said something to the effect of "The basis of all effective espionage is disinformation." So in the end, could travian, which I always thought of as a strategy game really be a game of espionage?  

So anyhow, if I get destroyed, or the server ends, then I will probably do some kind of memorial post or something, but I just thought I would mention it now to give it some kind of context.

So, good night all... I shall try to actually sleep now.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Is Time Limping or Flying?

Does time seem different when you are at school? It does to me.

It seems like the days are longer... or maybe more like they are further apart. When I look back on events that happened yesterday morning they seem like they were much longer ago than that. Yet at the same time, it seems like time on a longer scale is moving faster. A week flies by and I think "Wow, Friday again already." It's kind of crazy.

When I was in high school people told me my college years would go by fast, and I have friends who have talked about semesters flying by. I have yet to experience that. I dare say the first couple semesters at least seemed like they went by slowly, and even now, when I think about all the craziness and how different my life and world are now than they were three years ago, let's just say it really does feel like it has been three years.

I realize part of that could be because I've changed things so much, what with going to Mansfield, then running away to Italy (my semester at SBI could be a whole other post; just based on memories and relationships I really feel like I was there for years, when it was really slightly under three months) then back to Mansfield for another, rather personally discombobulating semester, then to Bryan College at the last minute, and now another semester here.

So time in general doesn't seem to have sped up too much, but on the day to day and week to week level it feels very different.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Worst Poet Ever - Officially















This evening I won a poetry contest sponsored by the college literature society, The Broadside. This sounds rather impressive, until someone tells you that it was a bad poetry contest, in which the person who could write the worst poem won. It was actually a lot of fun though. I hadn't written anything funny in a long time, and this was definitely a good opportunity. I was told at the beginning that the prizes were intended to "match the quality of the poetry", so I wasn't really sure what to expect. I ended up taking home these to adorable mugs though, so it was all worth it....

I have decided against posting the winning poem here for several reasons, however, if you real must read it, I think it may be available on The Broadside's facebook fan page at some point.


This week I did a lot of reading. For my Psychology of Comm class I had to write a response to Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. This of course meant that I had to read it, and this detail was complicated by the fact that I didn't actually get the book from Amazon until last Saturday. I finished the book at around one Thursday morning, and finished the response sometime around two. It was well worth it though. I had intended to post my entire response on here, but realized that it was a bit long-winded, and might give away a few things that someone wanting to read the book might not really want to know. So to summarize, Blink is about making decisions based on subconscious intuition, as opposed to analytical thought process. Gladwell, among other things, points out a number of situations and case studies in which having too much information hinders peoples ability to react correctly, and instinct wins the day. After presenting lot's of cases that challenge everything we thought we knew about how our minds work, the book is a bit vague in it's conclusions. Still, I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in psychology or communication, or who just appreciates good writing. Also, I would recommend you get a copy that has the "New Afterword by the Author", as it provides some conclusion and closure that the book itself lacks (the one I have pictured here has the afterword, but those of some people in class didn't, and I think it showed in the conclusions they came to about the book).

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The 3rd Week

Yesterday I finished my second full week of classes and my third week in TN this semester. It was long. I also came down with a pretty bad cold part way through. Since Wednesday I've been feeling slightly better, but far from well. By last night I was feeling in just barely good enough shape to go to Chattanooga where we watched some live indie performance by a chick band who's name I never actually caught. Afterwords we went to Rembrandt's, a coffee shop in the city's art district. It was about 11 by then, and I just wanted to order something that didn't have caffeine and wouldn't be too expensive. I ended up getting ginseng-peppermint tea and a coconut macaroon, which were both very good.

This morning I slept in really late and then spent most of the afternoon reading doing Spanish homework.

Thursday night, when I was feeling sickest, I went to a meeting for the Acts Project, a missions/internship program that Bryan is involved with. It wasn't really something that I was interested in at all before this semester, but after having a conversation with Kait about a week ago, I started thinking about it. She spent this past summer in Beirut with doing a communications journalism internship through the program. Lebanon is somewhere that has always fascinated me, and the description of the position sounds like something that I would really enjoy doing. On top of that, they say they are actually "desperate" for people in that region, and if I have to spend next summer helping someone for free, I would just-as-soon that it be someone who actually needs help.

So, if, and I say, if, this ends up being what I do for my internship, then I'll be even sorrier that I'm taking Spanish with Pascucci than I am already. In Lebanon, they speak French. I would have rather taken French than Spanish, but I somehow felt like it was "unpractical" and I would never use it and decided to take Spanish, even though I knew the professor would be harder and I wouldn't enjoy it. I guess Spanish is still something I should be learning regardless of what I end up doing next summer, just with the way the world is going and all, but I really don't like it.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Trials & Tribulations

I spent a good while yesterday practicing for the challenge test to hopefully get out of taking intermediate algebra this semester. In fact, I had spent several hours a week since I got here practicing for it, not to mention going through some video tutorials that I have on my computer over summer vacation. It was all to no avail though. I worked through the first few problems on the test, and couldn't do the fourth, and realized that I really had no idea how to even go about solving the rest of them. So it looks like I'll be stuck with 19 credits all semester, not to mention having to buy the book, which wasn't cheap either. To add insult to injury, I've already taken this course before at Mansfield, and got an A in it. Unfortunately, my retention span for math is literally hours after I've studied it, so that doesn't do me any good.

I took algebra three times in high school. The first time I didn't understand anything, and the second and third time I did, but it wasn't enough to improve how I did on the SAT, or my entrance exams to Mansfield. Thus, Mansfield required me to take Elementary Algebra in addition to my other courses. I did, and passed it with an A, although I spent more time working on it than all of my other courses (which I also got a's in) combined. Then last semester I transferred to Bryan. They accepted everything on my transcript from Mansfield except the elementary algebra course, because it is an 090 (remedial) level course. What they did unfortunately accept were my abysmal SAT math scores, which according to Bryan's policies required me to take not one but TWO remedial math courses. I spent the first week of  last semester when I should have been adjusting to the new school and getting to know people feverishly studying to test out of the first course, which I did.

This summer, knowing that I would have to take the second one, I started studying in early August, reviewing some tutorials that I kept from the text when I took the course at Mansfield. When I arrived on campus, I was forced to drop one of my upper level Comm courses because a clerical error on the school's end last semester had scheduled me to be taking it and Intermediate Algebra at the exact same time. When I finally got to the class and found out when I would have a chance to test out, I started studying again. All this leading up to today with me  staring uncomprehendingly at the pages of paper in front of me for fifteen minutes before getting up and dropping them on the professors desk and telling her not to worry about even grading it.

So I will be taking this class, and then, when I'm done with it, I'm still not done, because I have to take regular college algebra.

So to the few people who read this blog, if math comes easily to you, and you were able to go into a math based major for which you got lots of government and academic scholarships and will lead to easily obtaining a high-paid and respected job afterwords, be thankful.

And those of you who hate math as much as most people but were able to understand it enough in high school to be done with it and only have to ever take ONE math course in college, be thankful.

As for me, by the time I'm done with college, I will essentially have been forced take basic algebra SIX times, and it will have done nothing for me, accept possibly cause me to graduate late.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Cicada Tragedy

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I've been kind of busy, but mostly just haven't felt like it. I'm taking 19 credits this semester, and at this point I can't say that I like any of my classes at all. So it looks like it's going to be a long semester. I've also been struggling with a serious lack of motivation. I know it's always hard to get back into the routine, but this time it feels different somehow; like I've finally gotten to the point where I just don't care anymore. At the same time I've had to make some kind of tough decisions with my schedule. It's not really turning out how I had wanted it to, but if I want to graduate on time in three semesters and before all my friends are gone, I don't really have much choice now days.

So, all this, and some other things as well, have had me in the mood to do anything but blog. None the less, I have attended some interesting events in the past week since I arrived. I went to the All College Picnic up at the Fort Bluff camp on the mountain above Dayton, and while I wasn't in the mood to do much but talk with some people, I did get some pretty serious video of other people playing on the blob in the lake:


The other night was Bryan's first home soccer game, and while the game itself was cool, it was raised to a whole new level of epicness by the presence of that infamous African invention, the vuvuzela:












The noise of the vuvuzela, if you were unfortunate enough to not watch the World Cup this summer, is something akin to a low buzzing insect, and when you get a whole crowed armed with them, it starts to sound like you are in the center of a swarm of angry bees. Speaking of buzzing insects, there are tons of cicadas around here... so many in fact that my Mom has commented on the noise they make while on the phone with me. A couple nights ago, while heading into my dorm, I noticed one sitting on the wall right below the flood light. On my next trip by, I noticed it buzzing about wildly and smacking into things. Then, it dropped on the sidewalk in front of me and lay still. I scooped it up and brought it into my room.












At first I thought it was dead, but then it moved, and I nudged it over to the Ivy that I have growing above my desk. It climbed all the way up the vine and latched on for almost two days. Then it fell off, and again I thought it was dead. THEN, the next morning, I saw it twitch again. I turned it back over and tried to give it some water to drink. I'm not sure if it drank any, but within a few minutes it was crawling around, and then flew off the shelf and onto the floor next to my bed. I decided it was ready to be released back into the wild... if the wall of my dorm can be described as wild. I took it out and placed it on the bricks in the exact same spot that it had fallen from originally, and there just so happened to be another cicada right next to it. I turned back to the door and realized I had left without my keys and it was several minutes before someone came out and I was able to get back in. It seemed worth it though, knowing the the cicada had been saved.

The next morning, coming back from class, I looked at the wall and saw nothing. Then, on the ground directly in front of the door was the mangled, but still unmistakable body of my cicada, who had obviously fallen, and this time been stepped on. I felt a great sense of defeat.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Room

I finished unpacking and setting my stuff up yesterday and then made a run to Walmart (where else?) with Jonathan to get a few things for our room. I like my dorm room infinitely better than last semester. First of all it's in Woodlee, which is a newer building that Long, and has, in my opinion, a better layout. There is also a distinct and much appreciated absence of spiders, cockroaches, and Marilyn Monroe posters, all of which were present in my room last year.

This is a picture of my desk, which looks slightly different now, because I bought a keyboard this morning. It was only eleven dollars, and will hopefully last longer than my fifty dollar mac keyboard I bought that started to go bad after just about a year. This one doesn't have some of the convenient volume and screen controls on it that the other did, but it is actually better for typing, which is the main reason I need it.

The outlet on my desk wasn't working when I arrived. After plugging things into it and six or seven different combinations, I put in a maintenance order. The guy showed up within a couple hours, and guess what, as soon as he plugged something into the outlet, it magically started working, and nothing I could do would get it to stop working. He did take it apart and found a slightly loose wire inside, which may have been the cause of my experience before, but whatever it was, it decided to correct itself right before he got there. This isn't the first time this has happened to me with something like that. In fact, it's almost getting to the point where I'm scared to ask for help with electronics, because I know it will mysteriously self-correct right before the expert looks at it. That may sound like paranoia, but it's based on several experiences....

Classes start tomorrow, which will be good. I'm not entirely sure if my schedule is going to remain entirely the same as it is now, but I'm looking forward to some of it.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Shredding Tires & Stealing Coffee

After only sleeping three hours last night, leaving home at 6:30AM, and driving for 14 hours, I'm finally in Dayton Tennessee. It rained torrentially for the first half of the trip, and then seemed unbearably hot and bright for the second half.

Aside from the weather though, my journey really went remarkably smoothly. Getting hit by a shredded tractor-trailer tire and accidentally taking somebody else' coffee at one of my multiple starbucks stops were the worst things that happened, and considering that the tire didn't do any serious damage, and the coffee was really more the barista's fault, it could have been much worse.... ;)

I finally arrived about 8:00 this evening. I was exhausted (and still am now). I hadn't been able to get in touch with Jonathan, my room mate all day (I later learned this was due to a major catastrophe that befell his phone recently) and was afraid I wouldn't be able to get into the room, as the offices where I pick up my key were all closed by then. Fortunately, my new RA noticed me walking back from the door and let me in, and then helped move my things up from my car.  

So it was a long trip, but I'm here now, and very thankful.














PS. if any part of this post doesn't make sense, please attribute it to my general lack of sleep, food, or some other necessity.....

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Off To School

Well, tomorrow morning around six I'm heading off to Tennessee again. I spent much of today packing, and otherwise trying to spend time with my family. I'm going to miss them.

The funny thing is, at one point, I didn't really to miss them (I'm going to get in trouble for saying this). The whole time I was in Italy, I can't remember feeling the least bit homesick.  My first semester at Bryan, I started out not feeling homesick (although did feel pretty lost for the first month or so). Then, sometime around the second half of the semester, I really started wishing I could see them again.

So now I can already tell that I'm going to miss them, and I haven't even left yet.

It's going to be a long drive down (13-14 hours)... by far the farthest I've ever driven by myself before. My Dad and I maintenanced my car today, and I have my GPS programmed, so hopefully there will be no disasters or unintended detours or anything of that nature.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Vinyl & Vegans

 I hope to leave for Tennessee the beginning of next week, and the day before yesterday, a flurry of preparations that that had been put off so far commenced with my parents and I going to Big Flats NY to shop. Originally they were going for something else, but decided to take me along to the AT&T store as I have been in rather serious need of a new phone. I also needed a suit (I've always got by on borrowing my Dad's stuff, but now that I'm going to Bryan and living in the South, I have to dress up a lot more often). My Mom suggested we stop in Jos. A. Banks and just "look" at what I might want. As it turned out, they were having a 70% sale on everything just that day. So after about an hour of trying things on, fitting, marking for the tailor, I have two brand new suits ordered.

We finally did make it to phone store, where I traded in my four year old Razor. I had been thinking about just a newer flip phone, but we got a hundred dollar credit for my ancient razor, and I ended up getting a BlackBerry Torch 9800 Phone (AT&T). It's my first step into the wide world of smartphones. Maybe I'll post specifically about the features it has later, but for now I'll just say that it's a major upgrade. I took all the pictures in today's post using it, and I was impressed not only that they look quite decent, but that I actually had to downsize them before uploading them on here. It must be almost the same resolution as my first digital camera.

Yesterday I went on a trip to Ithaca with my Mansfield friends. We ate at the famous vegan restaurant, The Moosewood, and spent the rest of the afternoon trolling around the commons at stores that sold things like vintage records and hooka pipes. Below are some coffees we got at the Maté place, which was great.














While at a record store, Patrick bought more vinyl than I thought we would be able to carry back to the car. He and Nicole decided that they wanted to have a record party or sorts later, so on the way back to Anna's house where we had started, we picked up Pat's record player. We had planned on plugging it into the TV and just using the built in speakers. Unfortunately, we were never able to get the TV to pick up the signal. This led to an hour and a half long troubleshooting rampage that involved trying three or four sets of speakers, multiple cords, making a run to Walmart for adapters that didn't work (fortunately I was able to return them this afternoon). Finally, Ethan who had showed up at the house with several other people, offered to drive to his apartment and bring a guitar amp, which did work. So all that to listen to Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds.















We spent most of the rest of the evening out on the porch listening to the vinyl and setting things on fire. It was kind of sad to say goodbye, because I know it may be several months before I see some of them again.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Most Epic Settlers Game













I spent three days of this week working at Empire Farm Days in Ovid NY. It is the biggest show that ThisWarmHouse does every year, and unlike the others, it's just close enough to commute. My Dad and I woke up around six each morning and made the two hour drive through Elmira, past Seneca Lake, and then up to the huge field where the show is held.

It was pretty slow the first day, and on top of that we forgot to bring any chairs, which means it was a really, really long day. The second day was very busy though, and the third day, which in the past has been slower, was almost as busy as the second, which kind of made up for the first. So in the end it was a good show.

When I finally got home yesterday I was really tired... something about waking up early, standing in the hot sun all day, and talking to dozens of people is exhausting. I probably should have gone to bed, but instead I went to the Bible Study that Josh, Patrick, and sometimes some other people do in Wellsboro and Dunkin Donuts. Thomas, an old friend of mine, was there, and he brought Settlers of Catan Cities & Knights Expansion. After reading through Acts 8 and discussing it for an hour and a half or so, we headed up to Patrick's house and played what turned into what I believe we all agreed was the most epic game of settlers ever.

I had never played the Cities and Knights expansion before, but was very familiar with the original game. Cities and Knights goes to 13 victory points instead of 10, and in the last half hour of the game, which stretched for over three hours all together, Josh, Patrick and I all made it to 12 points. The problem was, we actually ran out of space on the board to build. I had reached 12 first, but was stuck in a complete check mate situation where the only way I could get one more point was to randomly draw one from the progress deck, which was unlikely, or steal another players metropolis, which was difficult, it seemed like we went through four or five complete rounds in which each of us thought we were about to win on our turn, or about to lose on every other players turn. In the end Josh, who wasn't completely boxed in like me, built a new settlement and won. That was a little disappointing, but it was still one of the most fun matches I've ever played before.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Cowboys & Indians
















Yesterday I attended the 16th birthday party of an old friend and ex-neighbor (a title shared by very few people on this earth) Mariah Slack. I could tell you what the theme was, but I will let you try and guess from the above photo. Safe to say, there was a contra-dance band, square dancing, and several food eating contests. It was a legit party.

Speaking of cowboys and indians, I watched a movie this evening (no cowboys actually) that I have been wanting to watch ever since I was six and my parents wouldn't let me: The LAST OF THE MOHICANS. It was great, and I was right to want to watch it, even if I might have found it slightly disturbing at the time. It was also fun to watch in light of my recently discovered Lenape heritage. While the Lenape were not Mohawk (you see, it was the last of them) they were from the same basic area and time.

Tomorrow I'm headed to Seneca Falls NY (coincidentally close to where LOTM is supposed to have taken place) to work a show there for ThisWarmHouse. It's Empire Farm Days, by far the biggest venue we do all year. Not quite my favorite, but it should still be fun... as long as the sun doesn't shine too bright. You see, Empire is on this huge flat plateau high above the lakes. There is no shade and no and no water... only dust, tractors, and Mennonites for as far as the eye can see.

So I will def. be posting about it with photos afterwords, and possibly even from the event itself depending on what kind of internet we are able to get a hold of.

Adios!  

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Nothing In My Way

I'm at that place in the summer where I really am tired of being alone and doing nothing. The obvious solution to this would be going back to school, but the sad thing is, even though it solves the aforementioned problems, I never really want to go back to school.

I have lots of reasons that I should be excited about it this semester, and true, I don't dread it as much as I have in the past. Still though, it's school... and for some reason I have just never managed to like it. At the same time I can't say I want to stay doing what I'm doing right now. So lately I have been thinking again of the lyrics to a song I used to listen to every morning while driving (generally way to fast) on my way to class at Mansfield:

It's just another day
Nothing in my way
I don't want to go
I don't want to stay
Now there's nothing left to say


Nothing In My Way from Under The Iron Sea by Keane.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Of Bugs & Bureaus

I've really had almost nothing that I've needed to do this past week. That can be a blessing and a curse. I'll be heading back to Bryan in a few weeks here, and things are bound to get a lot faster paced. For now though, I'm just reading A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West by Ian Johnson, and taking videos of bugs. That's right, bugs.



Okay, so I have videoed bugs, but I have actually been spending a good deal of time looking at internships for next summer and figuring out what it would take to apply. I'm required to do an internship for my major, and I want it to be something really interesting and possibly challenging. So even though I don't like planning, I've started looking now. I'm mainly considering something with the International Justice Mission, or the State Department. IJM, unfortunately for now, seems to have all their internships geared toward people who have recently graduated college, as opposed to still in it. Thus, the State Department has come back to the front of my attention. If I could get accepted, it would mean either moving to DC for the summer, or going abroad, and doing who knows what either way! There are so many different bureaus within the Department itself that it's really mind boggling to even look at all the possibilities. I would like something related to my major (obviously), and there are plenty of things like that. The other thing is that I would really prefer to go abroad. Not only have I been wanting to just do it again for some time, but it would actually be cheaper in some ways, because you get housing (in DC you have to fend for yourself). So anyhow, I'll be working on that more in the next couple months, and it will be interesting to see what God's plan is.