Monday, October 31, 2011

Forums & Foliage

This past Thursday I went to the Free Market Forum. It was a valuable experience. I intended to post about that. Unfortunately, I couldn't come up with a post to express it well, so I will just have to say that it was good.

Friday was all the conference from dawn to well after dusk. The next morning Andrew and Lee, the two other students who went to the conference, drove back without our professor who found a ride with someone else. By the time we got back, I was pretty tired and planned on not doing much for the rest of the day.

Kevin, one of my housemates though, asked if I wanted to go rock climbing in the Pocket wilderness area. I've had a lot of opportunities to climb over the last few years, but always turned them down for one reason or another. Yesterday was beautiful though, so I finally decided to take him up on it.

As it turned out, I was about as bad at the climbing as I figured I would be. After that we went repelling though, which was a lot more enjoyable, especially considering that we were doing it during peak leaf season.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Different Worlds

I'm beginning to think that I may be one of the most bipolar people in the entire world as far as my political views and affiliation are concerned.

Just an hour ago, I was forced to make a choice as to how I would spend my week: Would I go to Chattanooga and cover Occupy as they crash a campaign fundraiser by Congressmen Chuck Fleischmann and Speaker of the House John Boehner, or would I go to Atlanta for three days (expenses paid) and attend the Hillsdale forum on Markets, Government and the Common Good?

When one of my professors told me he had a vacancy and that he'd like me to go to Atlanta with him after class today, I was torn, not because I had to do either, but because I found them both to be very attractive opportunities. But how different could the possibly be? You probably couldn't ask for events from a more divergent ends of the political continuum.

I the end, I said yes, to my prof's invitation, but I still plan on attending one of the Occupy events. In fact, I found out that there is a group even closer than Chattanooga, which makes more sense if I cover it in the campus paper, because it's supposed to be local.

So hopefully I'll get the best of both worlds. But what different worlds they are.

Friday, October 21, 2011


It's kind of unfortunate that fall break is already over. I feel like I just got here. I didn't get to see several of the people I was hoping to, but then, I saw a few people that I wasn't expecting to see at all. I did absolutely no school work, but I read quite a bit––for me at least––both of which things are good in my opinion. For better or worse though, I'll be heading back to Tennessee at 4:30am tomorrow morning.

Part of the reason it seemed like a shorter break is probably because it was. Because of hitching a ride up with someone else to save money and miles on my car, I left a day later than I probably would have, and now, because I'm riding back down with my family, I'm leaving a day earlier than I would otherwise. At least I don't have to drive the whole way by myself though.

While any kind of break is nice, I usually feel like these little week long ones are difficult. It probably takes me more than I week to really emotionally adjust to being anywhere, so spending just a week is always kind of discombobulating, and I don't know if it will necessarily be easier or harder to continue with school work now.

Monday, October 17, 2011

And that's when I saw it....

Over the last few days I've been inspired to write a number of posts for this blog and have actually gotten as far as completing two of them. Unfortunately, they were both rather inflammatory in nature, and I realized that I just don't want to deal with that now that I'm back home for a week. So, I haven't posted them.

In the meantime, I decided to do an experiment to see if I could combine an animated model that I created in blender with real footage to make a video. This was the result:

So, I got a little carried away with it. But it was at least a good proof of concept.

My trip back from Bryan with Jana went well, at least until we hit West Virginia's "Bridge Day" celebration. That's probably a post in itself, but I'm unfortunately a bit tired right now.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Oh, Controversy - A Somewhat Inside Perspective

The semester, hard to believe, is nearly at its halfway point, and if I had to pick one word to describe it, that word would be Controversy, with a capital C. Thus, I thought it might be interesting to list some of the major disputes and events that were not approved of by many on campus.

On September 2, just as the school was recovering from the unexpected death of a student, my editor and chief at Triangle, Cat, published our first opinion piece, objecting to perceived abuses of authority by RAs, using a specific example that she had witnessed regarding a heated exchange between two RAs and a commuter. While the parties involved were kept anonymous, it still generated a large amount of controversy and judgment (which was more against the editorial than the RAs judging by letters to the editor) on campus that continues even to the present with the RAs being forbbiden to comment on the piece, several of them forming a pact to not speak to Triangle about anything, ever again, letters to the editor pouring in, and more letters attacking previous letters pouring in atop those.

The night of the day that that editorial was posted, an event occurred that was so shocking (at least for Bryan College) that it took more than a week for us to figure out what actually happened. I first heard about the incident in which a group of Bryan Students were flashed by an obese women in the back of a van driven by men wearing clown masks from another student while sitting down for lunch during one of my very infrequent visits to the cafeteria. While it was second hand, and seemed too ridiculous to be true, I decided that it had to be a story, and started following up on it that very afternoon. I found one of the few people whom I had been told was in the group of students and asked him if he would be willing to give me an interview and put me in touch with some of the other students. He confirmed he was there, agreed, rather enthusiastically, and gave me his number. When I sent him a text a few hours later though to set up a time, he backed out, and said that furthermore, he didn't think we should even publish a story about it because of "negative connotations" that might arise from it. I told him I felt we were obligated to publish it, if only to inform students of what had happened so that they could know how to respond (or not respond) if it happened to them. He was adamant though, and I moved on to look for other sources.

The same thing happened over and over. I would talk to one person who would confirm they were there, agree to an interview, and then text me back an hour or so later saying that they had changed their mind about the whole thing. It got to be pretty frustrating, and a little bit creepy after a while, and I almost thought I'd have to drop the whole thing.

Then one person who refused in the manner mentioned above, tipped me off to two people they thought might be willing to talk. I found them, and they were. In fact, they were a little more willing than I had anticipated. I learned with a certain amount of chagrin, (and I have all of this audio recorded, which I had asked permission to do, making it especially ironic later when both of the sources claimed that they hadn't known they were being interviewed or that I had any intention of quoting them directly) that the students had been on make-out patrol––a somewhat institutionalized prank in which students walk or occasionally drive around at night with flashlights and "preach the Word" to couples who they find becoming physically affectionate in the darkness––at the time when the event occurred. Furthermore, rather than being stalked by the clowns driving the van with the flasher as the original rumor that I heard said, they had actually been in communication with the clowns for at least a minute or so before the flashing occurred.

By the time I was done with the first interview, I knew the article was going to be a lot more controversial than I had previously thought (or hoped) and by the time of the second one, I was genuinely somewhat perplexed at what I knew I would now be obligated to write if I were to tell the whole story. In the end though, I decided I had to, and brought my paper to our weekly meeting that night. When my editors and adviser read it, they were as shocked as I was, but were even more intrigued by the concept of "make-out patrol" which many of them had never heard of before. The idea came up that I should make it into more of an editorial piece about make-out patrol. I said I wouldn't be comfortable with this, so it was decided that I would keep mine, if not as an unopinionated news story, then at least as a less opinionated news feature. An editorial, however, would be written, by Shane Vicry, to accompany my piece in our first print edition that very week.

The print edition came out, and all hell pretty much broke loose. I, for better or worse, happened to be in Chicago at the time for a conference, but was forwarded some of the ensuing letters to the editor that came in almost immediately from everyone from concerned freshman to the people I had interviewed claiming they didn't know they were being interviewed––which is nonsense on stilts––to people I had named claiming that I had promised not to name them––which, were it even permissible in a news feature, is an outright lie. 

While I managed to be out of town for the peak of it, the controversy has continued to simmer, with people still bringing it up to me on occasion (almost a month later!) and a recent letter to the editor being published in which the concerned writer calls my story "half-accurate" without ever saying how it was so, states that the parties interviewed were "completely unaware of the fact that they were being interviewed" (which I find to be quite puzzling since I clearly said I was with Triangle and asked them if I could tape-record their answers––and they agreed) and finally refers to the action of driving around campus with the windows rolled down shining flashlights and yelling at people as a "private area of our student body" which should not be talked about in public. 

As if all this wasn't enough to happen before fall break, the student body just found out, by means of the trickle-down effect, that the administration is considering cutting fall break down to two days (starting next year obviously). What is upsetting many people (meaning the majority of campus) isn't so much the proposal (which would mean that going home for break would be impossible for anyone who lives more than ten hours away––and there are many of us here) but the borderline conspiratorial way in which they have tried to ram it through.

They never officially announced this to the student body, or even many of the faculty for that matter. Then is the timing. They will make the final decision on it the day before break, so anyone who is upset about it will have to wait until after break to voice their concerns. Then there is the coincidence that this is the week when both of the faculty who represent the student government happen to be out of the country on prearranged trips for the school. Then there is the issue that when SGA finally found out about it through the grape vine and scheduled a meeting with the president, he postponed it until after the deadline, ensuring that they would have no direct voice and reducing them to getting signatures on a petition.... something that historically hasn't been too effective around here. We just got an article out about it, which I hear is quite good, but I actually haven't read myself, because it was posted as I was writing this.

So, that is a brief chronicle of the controversies surrounding the first half of the semester. I won't speak for anyone else, but I am rather ready for fall break––even if it's the last full fall break that Bryan has. 

Saturday, October 08, 2011

A generation goes and a generation comes

Here are a couple videos I did this week for Triangle this week. Was interesting, although a lot of work.

It's homecoming weekend here. Kind of interesting because I actually know a number of people who are coming back this year, as opposed to only a couple people last year, and absolutely no one the year before. It's kind of strange to see people back here, and hear about what they're doing now. I'm honestly not sure that I like it entirely, although it's nice to see them again. I don't think I can ever see myself coming back for one... but who knows, maybe that will change.

This evening I went out to Jacob Myers with some friends... first time I've gone to a regular restaurant in weeks, and the first time I've been to Jacob Myers since they moved to their new location and became an actual restaurant. It was good, and after that we went and played Halo for a few hours, which was kind of nostalgic. It's only the second time all semester that I've played Halo. Which is funny, now that I actually have a 360 here, I have almost no desire to use it. I also have a bunch of computer games, but hardly touch them either. I can remember a time well when I thought video games were like the best thing next to I don't know what, but now I'm just not that interested by them. Which I didn't think would ever happen. Funny how we change.

There's only one more week of school until fall break, which will be nice. There hasn't been anything too terrible about this semester as far as classes go, but there are a few things that are starting to wear on me a bit, so it will be nice to get away for a while. 

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Some random events

It's been a good bit since my last post. Nothing extraordinary has happened, but that isn't to say that nothing has happened.

I created my first video story for of the semester for Triangle. It was about this Genesis Symposium that the Bryan Institute is hosting in Chattanooga. I was able to interview to of the profs. behind it and make what was at least a technically decent video about it. Maybe I was still seeing red some of the controversy earlier this semester, but they got the impression that I was being negative in how I portrayed it, which wasn't my goal, but it may have come across that way... so I had to put that fire out. It all ended well, and I had a good talk with both of them, but it was stressful while it was happening.

I got invited to go to England over spring break to attend the L'Abri retreat that Spiritual Formation does annually. While I was kind of honored that they thought of me, there was a significant caveat––it costs $1500. There are also the issues that I don't really like being around people that much, and I tend to get morbidly depressed when I think about philosophical/theological questions, both of which I would have been doing on the trip. So I had to say no.

Classes have been going alright. I keep getting behind in my two comm courses. It isn't that they're particularly difficult, or even that I don't have time. I'm just still not particularly motivated to do the assignments, or even remember that I have the assignments to do, which isn't really good. But then, I haven't been too worried about it, which is a plus. One of the classes is Senior Seminar, which is about getting ready for life after college or something like that. The annoying thing is, I already, by some fluke of the registrar, had to take a similar course as a sophomore (makes so much sense right?) at Mansfield. So I feel like I've already sat through a lot of this before.

When I didn't sign up for the meal plan this semester, it was because I didn't want to pay for it. After the first week of cooking for myself however, I was afraid I might end up spending more money than if I had gone with the plan. I finally added up my receipts from the last six weeks of school though, and it worked out that I've been spending only $30 a week on food, which I was somewhat impressed by honestly, and is definitely cheaper than if I was eating at the cafeteria. 

I haven't been back to the farm since my last post, and it was nice to finally have a weekend with pretty much nothing to do after over a month of not having a free weekend. Unfortunately, I may need to cover homecoming this Saturday, which means I may not be able to go back this weekend either.

Last week I was assigned two video stories for Triangle, working with writers this time to interview the subjects. So it's still a lot of work filming and editing them, but at least a little leg work is cut out of it by having someone else to make the appointments and ask the questions. I finished one of them tonight, and after it's posted tomorrow, I may embed it on here (I was planning on doing that with the first one about the symposium, but then I got so upset about the whole thing that I didn't feel like it).

I guess that's all for now.