Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Double-Tap In Rochester

Today I went to Rochester with my parents and littlest sister. My parents had said they would get me some kind of new music listening device for Christmas. My phone is getting pretty old, so they were originally thinking an iPhone. After seeing how expensive it was going to be to add another one to the plan however, we decided to get an iPod Touch instead. So while I still need a new phone eventually, this more than satisfies all of my music storage needs. It also makes an awesome little web browser, and I am actually posting from it at this very minute. There is a tad of irony in the fact that I am sitting right in front of my computer while tapping away at my touch, but I mainly just want to see if this will work.

Tapping, is in fact the word used in the instruction manual to describe the action of your fingers on the screen. This seemed a little funny to me at first. But when I got to the part where they call doing it twice a "double tap" it struck me as downright hilarious because I previously new that only to mean killing some one hitman style....

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Christmas came. The part with my immediate family was wonderful as always. The part with my extended family was troubling.

This morning I went to Church with my family at the local house fellowship. There must have been some unspoken agreement that this was going to be Anabaptist (Mennonite) theology day, because they were all laying it on heavy with the supremacy of free will, and the importance of living a life style that sets you apart from the unbeliever, and the vitality of keeping the commandments to salvation, and other things that would make Charles Spurgeon, John Calvin, St. Augustine, and most of the other theologians that I tend to agree with turn over in their graves all at once.

Fortunately, I had to leave early to go to a birthday party in Corning for my old neighbor, Jordan.

He had a Texas Hold Em' themed party, which, as I learned, is a form of poker. I had never played before... but fortunately for me, neither had most of the people there. So I learned how, which I had wanted to do for some time actually. That was fun. I also got to see my old Sovereign Grace friends again. Between this and the Christmas party, I've become quite acquainted with some of them, and may end up coming to their guys nights.

I've been tired since yesterday. I think I have a cold that put my little sister Maryah on the couch for about 24 hours. No fun. I don't have a lot of typical cold syptoms besides a sore throat, but as far as general energy and state of well being goes, I feel like I got hit by a truck (ok, so I'm sure if I actually ever did get hit by a truck, I'd feel much worse, but I like the expression).

However, that didn't stop me from driving to Williamsport yesterday to meet up with my friend Jonathan from SBI. We had a great time. And yes, he may be the only person I know who just sitting a Wegmans and eating a slice of pizza with could be classified as a great time. We talked about my plans, for the next semester, but mostly reminisced about stuff that we did in Italy. That eventually led to talking about plans for the near future. This usually terrifies me, but it was actually fun. He is going on a missions trip to Italy this summer... which led to us talking about me making a possible visit for a week or two while he's there. I did of course bring up the insufferable issue of money, which is the only factor I can really see as a negative. We decided though that regardless of what happens this summer, we want to just go to Europe some Christmas break and see how many places we can go. Which sounds absolutely fantastic to me. So, that's hopeful, and in the near future, even if the immediate future is becoming more and more foggy.

The last situation with my extended family tonight had me rather depressed for a bit. I just ended up not being able to think of anything but the anthem from Coldplay's last album: "I don't want to follow death and all of his friends." And I came to the conclusion eventually that the fact that I actualy don't want to follow death and all of his friends is hopeful (because sometimes I feel like I might be following them, and not just in regards to family), and must mean God is still doing something with me; which is hopeful.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Black & White Affair

This past Sunday I went to yet another party. This one was in Corning, held by some friends at the Church I used to be a part of there. It was an It's A Wonderful Life themed Christmas party, and so everyone was expected to wear black and white. It ended up looking pretty sweet, and there was opportunity for a few good pictures.

I met a lot of people that I hadn't seen, let alone talked to, in at least a couple years. It was good to catch up with them and also to meet some new people who are attending now. One of them, Tim.

After the party I went to the Jeror's house for the after party, and ended up playing guitar hero for the first time ever (hey, I've been a real guitar hero before).

So that was a lot of fun. I ended up at the Jeror's again the night before last because they had invited my whole family up for supper. They took us all out to Wegmans for gelato afterwords, and the little girls (and Derrick for a minute) ended up dancing on the floor after the store people put the tables away for the night.

Last night was our families traditional "soup night" when my grandma makes soup for everyone. This time was a little bigger than usual, as the Efthimiou's are back up from Florida for Rachael's graduation.

My cousin Chris and his wife Sarah were also back from Carolina, where he is in Navy sub engineering training. It's funny to hear him actually doing a lot of the things that we talked about or pretended to do when we were little kids.

So it's shaping up to be a pretty full holiday season so far, which is okay with me.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Venti, Navi, & Wild Parties

This evening I went to see Avatar with Joe and Mattea. Movie rocked my socks! Instant favorite! It was somewhere in between the Matrix, Star Wars, and apparently, Dancing With Wolves (which I've never seen, believe it or not). At any rate, about as soon as the star, Jake, spent his first five minutes with the Navi (the big blue indigenous people on the far away planet) I decided I wish I was one.

So... being a Navi would be kind of weird I guess. But you know what's almost as weird? Being 20! Yes, I turned 20 today! That's like one of those things that I thought about when I was little: "wow, when you're twenty, you're like... wow" So... anyways.

I didn't have a party, but that's really OK, because I'm almost partied out for the moment after yesterday. I had three, back to back. First, I went over to Kathe and Chad's house in Wellsboro to hang out for a little after semester celebration. Then, I drove home just in time to leave with my family for the Osburns house up near Catan NY. After drinking some wassail and chatting about the demise of Western civilization for about half an hour, I headed down into Gang Mills to play Halo with Joe and the crew.

Tomorrow I'm waking up earlyish to go here the Christmas Cantata at the Old Coovert Church up on Armenia Mountain. Then, going over and hanging out with our local fellowship for a bit. Then, I'm off to another Christmas party in Corning with friends from the Church I used to go to there. Now, this celebration is vamped as being something like the party of the decade, and with a theme like "It's a Wonderful Life" I imagine it is going to be pretty cool.

So... wow... I'm 20.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Someone Set The Sky On Fire

Last week was crazy with all the writing from my three (W) courses. It's paying off this week though, because those classes either didn't have finals, or they were given online and I was able to take them already. So, as of 4:30 this afternoon, I was done with the semester. Woot.

This evening I went to Bible study at North Hall Library in Mansfield. Before going up I went into the Night & Day Cafe and ordered a chai latte. The barrista saw my bible and didn't realize what it was and said "Wow, that's a cool looking book." So I was like, "yeah, it is pretty cool actually.", and showed her what it was. It was almost closing time, and I ended up getting upgraded to a "Chai Charger", meaning that it had an extra shot of espresso in it, simply because she had was going to dump it down the drain otherwise. That shot may be responsible for my antics the rest of the evening, as well as the fact that I am up writing this now.

Patrick and I ended up going over to Allen Hall where they were giving away free coffee and doughnuts for a "late night finals study break" before starting. As it turned out, there were no more doughnuts, and I already had coffee. It was all worth it in the end though, as the had Baklava, which, while random, I was ecstatic about.

On the way home, I saw eerie flickering red glow lighting up the entire horizon. On the way over I had taken it for a lightning storm or something, but since it was still there, I decided to investigate. I switched the stereo to Muses latest album and turned off of 549 onto onto a backroad that seemed to be pointing roughly in the direction of the flashes. After driving recklessly for eight or nine miles, switching roads once, and only briefly catching sight of the source of the conflagration, I shot up a hill and came face to face with it. It was a gas well that was uncapped, and jetting a forty foot plume of flame into the night sky. The video doesn't do it justice. You can hear the roar, but I could also feel the heat radiating from it all the way into my car, and I wondered if I was maybe closer to it than I was supposed to be.

A semitrailer came up behind me, and I was unable to turn around, and ended up thinking I was lost, but then ending up in a little village outside of Mansfield that I recalled. So I ended up having to drive all the way home again. It was worth it though.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Currywurst - I Ate It

Today on BBCnews.com, I stumbled across a headline video about Germany's current culinary obsession: currywurst. I was delighted then, that when I was in Villach Austria this past April, I actually had some.

We (Connor, Nicole, Mary and I) had just gone for a long walk, and coming back toward the center of the city, we found a little cart down by the river. It looked like one that you would expect to be selling hotdogs in the U.S, but this was Austria, so of course, they were selling bratwurst; prepared in more ways than I ever imagined possible. Connor is a vegetarian, so it didn't do him too much good, but Mary and I went down and ordered. Out of all the different variations of wurst on the menu, currywurst stuck out to me. It was good. Basically just bratwurst in a thick curry sauce. So I was surprised this morning, to find that it is now apparently something of a cultural icon for the German speaking nations of the world. And I ate it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Long and Dark December

Well, I'm effectively done with this semester. After turning in 20 pages of writing last week, all that I have left are two finals, but they are both online, so I won't even have to go to school for them

I can't say I'm at all sad to be done. It was a crazy and not fun one. I guess it did improve in the middle, but it started really badly, and got a little intense toward the end, what with that Social Research class and having to write three major research papers all due the same week and all.

I did develop some relationships with people in the department that I had really missed out on the last two semesters, which was good I guess. On the other hand, I'm not sure how long all that's going to be meaningful.

We have been having some serious winter weather the last few days and I've been frustrated by the fact that my house still has no real heat. Last night was so cold that I could hardly sleep, despite being under a quilt and a sleeping bag.

My Dad had promised several times that we would install some kind of heating system, and he ended up deciding on a Verner, which is a Czech biomass furnace. We used to sell them at this warm house, and ended up having a display model left on hand. They are really nice machines, so I was exited about getting it.

The only problem with us and projects is that my Dad has all these contractor friends who do work for him. They end up basically being contractors, only minus the contract part. This means they often show up, do some work, and disappear for weeks (or even months) at a time leaving the job undone.

Naturally, they got the Verner about 90% installed, and now its been three weeks since I've seen them, and I'm sealing of my room with blankets and and trying to find out how many electric space heaters our breaker will support.

So anyhow, as Coldplay said, it's been a rather "long and dark December" so far... but I feel like the rest of it may be a lot better, or at least I hope it will.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree!

Today my brother had the idea of getting a small Christmas tree from the pine forest near our house and planting it in our yard where we had recently chopped a dead tree down. He asked my Dad about it, and my Dad decided that we should get a bigger tree - and put lights on it. The next thing I knew, I was standing 12 feet in the air stringing lights on a mid sized tree that 20 minutes before had been in the forest:

Friday, November 27, 2009


Two days before yesterday my Dad had surgery. Since he had his last episode they wanted to look around in his arteries and see if it would be possible to place a stent where the restriction that caused him his first stroke is. It's a somewhat risky operation, and I was praying really hard the morning they did it. The surgeon ended up deciding it was still to fragile and they didn't place the stent, so while that's unfortunate, I'm thankful he made it through for the time being.

The day before yesterday I interviewed my Aunt Beverly. I'm having to interview two people over the age of 75 for my social research class. It ended up being really good. Just the interview went for almost two hours and I learned a lot of things about her family (and mine also). She is really an amazing person. She and her husband now travel all over the world and are involved in all kinds of community service projects. I just hope that if I live that long I'll be something like that. So regardless of what kind of grade I get on the project, I'm glad I got to talk to her.

Yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving at my Uncle Tom and Aunt Linda's house. It's really just down the road from us, and just across the street from my Grandparents house where we would more traditionally celebrate it. Did I ever mention on here that my Aunt and Uncle have an awesome house? It used to be a fabric store called the Strawberry Patch that my Grandma ran. Back they it was just a single room long building with a basement and a tiny upstairs. When my cousins moved to the hill when I was seven or eight they moved in there (after a short stint in the house that I now live myself) and added on the upstairs of the Strawberry Patch building. Then, two years ago or so, my Uncle started building this huge four story addition that more than doubled the size of the building. It's all beautifully done, and with the combined length of the two buildings (which he left open all the way) you easily put a couple bowling allies in the downstairs!

So anyways, it was a good Thanksgiving. I have lots of papers that I need to work on and seem to have almost no motivation to do so. I also need another senior citizen interview. That should happen though....

Sunday, November 22, 2009

On the Age Old Art of Mousetrapping (And Videoing It!)

For the last couple months there have been a lot of mice moving into my house. I would occasionally see one run up the staircase or disappear into a hole in the bathroom wall. I could also hear them chewing in the walls at night, which could be kind of unnerving. I was trying to just ignore them, but last week, they climbed up onto my sink and pooped all over my toothbrush. I decided it was time to take action. I set out just one mouse trap. Within a few minutes it had caught a mouse. I set it again, and caught another, and again, and caught a third. Now, I have always kind of wondered what it actually looks like when this happens, and now, being reasonably assured that it would happen, I set up a camera. Here is the result:

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pizza & Fancy Women of Easy Virtue

Yesterday was pretty long. I only have one class on Thursdays, in the morning, but I had told some people that I would come to Social Science Club, which is at 4:00PM. So after my class got out at 11:30, I had to hang out in town for almost five hours. I ate some pizza and was able to get some good research done for big papers for two of my classes; Mesoamerican Anthropology and Rural Sociology. The book I found for the Meso class was really a bit of a life saver too. I'm writing my paper on syncretism (the mixture of two religions in a culture) and until now hadn't been able to find that much in the way of literature directly about it.

At SS club we ate pizza (good) and watched this really long documentary on the Austin Dam disaster (not so good). It was actually interesting, just... long. One part was pretty funny (although it wasn't intended to be). They were discussing different aspects of the town, and apparently there had been a brothel there, the occupants of which one of the old people interviewed referred to as "Fancy women of easy virtue".

I had intended to go home after this, but Nicole had really wanted me to come to Navigators (Patrick was playing some rather nontraditional instruments: think accordion). Also, Bill and Emily invited me to a party at their place starting around ten, which is just about when Navs gets out. Since the movie ran so long, I decided to go. So I ended up spending two and a half more hours in town with nothing to do.

Navs was good, and I hung out for almost an hour afterwords. I then went to Bill and Emily's, which was fun. They made some really good punch (and pizza), and we watched The Orphanage (not to be confused with The Orphan). It was Spanish, so we watched it with subtitles. I have to say it was much better than I thought it would be (I generally have pretty low expectations for horror movies).

So, when the day was through, I had been in Mansfield from 10am that morning to about 1am the next morning, and eaten pizza like three times... which is ok.

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Great All-American Freakout

Classes have been going decently this past week. Social Research got really intense (that is, more 'really intense' than it has been) but I completed and mailed the survey I had been working on, so that is a big milestone.

Last night I saw Anberlin, Taking Back Sunday and The All-American Rejects live in concert at Mansfield. It was fun. Anberlin and Taking Back Sunday were both pretty good. The All-American Rejects show was seriously perverted though... anyhow it was an experience.

It's that time of year again when all the leaves have fallen and everything is gray (or white this morning as it snowed last night on my way home). If you look hard while your driving along through, particularly through swampy areas, you're likely to see a splotch of red color, and likely as not, it's swamp berries. I went on a walk with my Mom the day before yesterday, and we walked into our neighbors swamp and picked some to decorate with:

Last winter I didn't have any heat in my house save for some little electric space heaters which didn't do the job when it got really cold. This year, my Dad decided to install a Czech biomass furnace, the Verner, that we sold for a while at ThisWarmHouse. The contractors have been here every morning for the last few days, which means I haven't been able to sleep in at all, since they are working right here. To add insult to injury, they didn't show up until about two weeks after my Dad said they were going to. In order to fix a pipe that was frozen in the storage space beside my room, all the stuff that was stored in it was emptied into my room... and since they didn't come for two weeks, all this junk has been covering my room for almost three weeks now. But at any rate, I'm thankful that they are doing it now, and that I'll have heat this year!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Saving Daylight and Killing Time

Well... you know, I don't really believe in Halloween, and I haven't actually done dressed up or done anything to celebrate it since I was about five years old (when I dressed up as a chef or cowboy or pumpkin or all of those things). The other night though, I was invited to a halloween party with some people from my department at school, and I decided to go, at least to hang out with them. I ended up dressing up as Neo... the star of one of my favorite movies of all time:

We ended up playing monopoly. It was the first time in a long time that I've done that, and as usual, we didn't finish. Still, it took a few hours, and I didn't make it home until about three in the morning, which was not fun... but I had a good time, so that was cool.

Last night was the time change (if you didn't realize that, the congratulations, you just gained an hour!). I was kind of exited that I was going to sleep an extra hour, but then, I stayed up past midnight, and all my clocks now change automatically (I forgot they do that). So basically, my alarm woke me up at 9:00am... and I was exited because I figured that since I hadn't set it back it would really be 8 when I went over to the house... but alas... it changed automatically and when I thought I had gone to bed at midnight, it was really 1:00am old time, and when I thought I was waking up at 8 new time, I was really waking up at 9 new time, and ten old time... that was frustrating, and kind of stupid on my part, all despite the fact that it was really almost completely meaningless.

So, did you do anything for a Halloween this year?

Did you sleep an extra hour last night, or stay up an extra hour (like me)?

Leave me a comment about it. (if you feel like it of course)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rocking San Lorenzo

This is a video Chad and Connor (two of my mates from Saints Bible Institute) and I made as a joke for our graduation ceremony (it's tradition there to have a sort of talent show afterwords). So this was filmed on one of the last days we spent together in Italy. I have had tons of problems posting this video online since it has a song in it, and the powers that be have been cracking down really hard on that recently. I first put it on facebook, but they deleted it, and threatened to ban me. Now it's on Youtube, and they agreed to let it stay as long as an add for the song can appear on it... so if you are watching this in the future and the link doesn't work, it will likely be because they've changed their policy.

Note, the florescent vests we are wearing are from the school. They were always trying to get us to where them whenever we went out on the road at night, and we thought it looked so dumb we started joking that we might as well take our shirts off and walk into a bar wearing just the vests. We didn't but, they video is sort of a joke on it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hay Rides, Bonfires, Corn Mazes and Slamming a Deer With Your Car

It has been a beautiful Fall this year. Aside from a freak snow storm that left everything covered in three inches of whiteness, we were able to observe the changing colors in glorious sunny weather. It's just about over now, but here is a picture I took on a walk with my Mom last week:

Last weekend, I did all sorts of "autumnal" things, from going up to the Finger Lakes region with my friends and cousin to do a corn maze, to a late night hay ride with friends from the home fellowship we attend occasionally. After the hay ride there was a big bonfire, and we drank tea and hot coco... so that was really chill. Here is Chandra and the fire:

On the way back from the Markell's who hosted the event, I culminated the Fall experience by hitting a deer (well, actually it's debatable who hit who, I would tend to think the deer hit me). I swerved and managed to slow down to the low twenties before impact and got of with only a small dent in my fender.

As I mentioned before, it snowed a couple days ago, which is unusual. Typically that doesn't happen till at least a couple weeks after the leaves are gone. Some are taking this as a sign that the predictions this winter will be an epic one are true. I'll just wait and see though.

Two of my cousins, Daniel and Anna, that I helped move to Florida a couple months ago are up visiting for the weekend. Tomorrow I'll go hunting with Daniel. I'm exited now, because I just looked at my PA Hunting Trapping Digest, and ruff-necked-grouse season just opened. I've always wanted to get a grouse, but they are tricky birds. They are almost invisible when still, and when they take off all of a sudden, it sounds like a plane flying past you, and you have about two seconds to shoot at them before they are gone. If anything interesting happens I'll post about it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Climate Change - We Should Prepare To Adapt

Well, I have to say that I was a little disappointed when I heard that this year's Blog Action Day was voted "overwhelmingly" to be devoted to climate change. It seems to me like there are many issues out there that we have far more ability to control that could be discussed. Still, I respect what Blog Action Day stands for, and I do believe that climate change is a significant issue... just not in the way that most people have now been taught to believe.

It is a fact that our earth's temperature is rising. It is a fact that this could have major consequences for our environment ranging from crop production to ocean levels. Another fact, one that is seldom talked about, is that the earths climate is constantly changing, and has been doing so for eons of time before humans first harnessed fire and artificially released CO2 into the atmosphere - let alone drove the first gas guzzling SUV. The earths geological history is full of periods of dramatic global cooling (what we call: "Ice Ages") and warming.* The last ice age that our planet experienced was actually in the late middle-ages** and stretched on until around the founding of the United States (notice the ice blocks in the painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze; the Delaware has never been known to freeze in recent history). This "little ice age" ended in the 1800's, which means that since then, the earth has essentially been in a stage of "global warming". All this without the aid of fossil fuels.

Now that I've vented my skepticism toward our ability to start climate change (and therefore our ability to stop it) I'd like to again recognize that it is a reality, and say that I think it's important to think about, and prepare for.

Preparedness should be our main concern. If the current trend of global warming and subsequent rising ocean levels continues, it is going to put nations with a lot of coastline in a very bad way. Many of these nations are highly impoverished and will likely be unable to deal with the humanitarian crisis or thousands or millions of people being displaced. A plan should be put into place to deal with this situation now, before it occurs.

The other chief concern should be agriculture. If climate zones change, then crops that grew well in one area may suddenly find their ideal habitat has moved North or South. Farmers will need to be prepared to adapt to the new environment. Given the huge scale and factory orientation of most farms today, such a change may prove difficult for farmers to finance on there own, and the government should plan on assisting in the change, as well as provide expert advice and counseling on what steps should be taken.

While climate change in the past may have altered human history, it has never seriously threatened our survival as people. This has been because we adapted to it; not because we tried to stop it. Preparation to adapt should be our primary concern with regards to climate change.

* Glacial periods. Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition [serial online]. January 2009;:1. Available from: Academic Search Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed October 15, 2009.

**Fagan, Brian M. The Little Ice Age: how climate made history, 1300-1850

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Chariots of the Gods

I've been learning a lot about the prehistory of Mesoamerica (Mexico, Central America and such) in my Mesoamerican Anthropology class. While archaeologists may not be sure about the whole story, one point that was hit on again and again is that aliens had nothing to do with it. That's right aliens are not responsible for the massive architectural and scientific achievements of the ancient Aztecs, Mixtecs, Mayas, Olmecs or Teltecs. Nor was it aliens, the Illuminati, Atlantian refugees or lost tribes of Israelites. While most of the these beliefs have gone out of fashion (or were never that widely adhered to in the first place) the alien one seems particularly persistent. This may be due in part to the 70's book and TV series Chariots of the Gods by Erich von Däniken. All this to say, that was the inspiration for my most recent attempt at 3D animation using blender. Enjoy:

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.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Details of a Loop

I just got done with my first day of classes. I'm really kind of amazed how tired I am, despite only having two classes today. In reality, I suppose it was more like four classes, since one of them is two hours and forty-five minutes long, and is equivalent to having three classes over the course of a week (a concept that I like). The day started at 2:30 with Composition 1, and then commenced (or should have) at 4:00 with Social Research Design and Methods (the really long one). I unfortunately got confused and ended up showing up at Research fifteen minutes late. That class sounds like it's going to be a great deal of work. I think it's actually teaching me something useful though, and as it turns out, I have two friends in it, which is always nice, and may (hopefully) make some of the assignments and bit easier. The class has about twenty people, of which I am the only guy, and also the only non social work major.

I was able to register for Intro the Theater which will meet on Tuesday night, and will meet an art requirement that I have to get out of the way. The downside of that is I will be gone every single evening until Friday, so, even though I live next door to my family, I may end up hardly seeing them over the next three months. The upside of it is that I have no early morning classes, which I have always had in the past and hate, and no classes at all on Friday, giving me a three day weekend (which is really exiting). I'm interested in joining the Kendo club on campus, which I just found out is led by my adviser, Dr. Clark (the guy is full of surprises). The only thing about that is that with my new class on Tuesday night, I can't hope to make much of the clubs meeting on Tuesday, leaving Friday as the only other option... the day on which I was hoping to avoid Mansfield all day long. Anyhow, we shall see how it all goes.

It's been just a small wonder to me, for the last couple days, how I ended up right back here, were I was a year ago at this time. After everything I did last semester, I somehow figured (and hoped) I would find something completely different to do... whether it was working for ThisWarmHouse full time, or going to Bryan College with all my friends from SBI, or something that I couldn't even imagine at the time.... Somehow though, it seems like I just made something of a loop... and ended up back where I was before, albeit, with a different perspective. I may also be a bit wiser, and perhaps (and I've kind of been hoping) have a bit more passion for life than before.... I still was unable (for the moment at least) to over come the forces of gravity and inertia and land in a different environment... which, looking at it this evening, seems just a little bit depressing. I'm not really sure why I want change.... I suppose everyone does (our current president was apparently elected on the platform), but I seem to have developed a craving for it that I didn't have before... a desire for a change of place, and of pace and of faces... maybe that in itself is something that has changed in me... and maybe, because of that, it isn't a lost cause after all. That's what I'll hope at least... and for now, I should probably try to make the most of my current circumstances.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I've had a pretty bad cold the last couple of days, along with almost everyone else in my family.

I've continued reading Oh Pure and Radiant Heart, which has dried out now (see my last post) and it is quite good... very thought provoking, and somewhat disturbing at points (though not as disturbing as most of the books I've read this summer.

Speaking of books, I went to Mansfield today to buy my books. I think I managed to get all that I would need right away, which was good. I spent more than $300, which isn't good. It could be worse I suppose though. I talked to a friend from my first semester at Mansfield, and she spent about $600!

I also paid a visit to a woman in admissions to try and wrap up everything with the transfer of my credits from last semester at SBI. She was nice, and they had received my transcript, but beyond that, it didn't go well. I will have to argue with them now unfortunately.

This is my 333th post... it's crazy how long I've been blogging... and how blogging itself is almost viewed as dated or oldschool as a form of online communication. I like it though.

Friday, August 21, 2009

On the Destruction of Books, Balloons and the World

So, there has been a slew of wicked thunderstorms around here lately. One tore through Ag Progress Days, the show I was working at for ThisWarmHouse in State College PA. The show covers a large area of ground along the base of a valley surrounded by hills on all sides. Around four o'clock one of the guys working at our booth noticed what looked like a wall of fog quickly approaching us down the side of a hill. Two minutes later we were all huddled under our pop up tent hanging on the rafters to hold it down against the gusts of wind, driving torrential rain and lightening strikes on all sides. We got away without any loss to speak of, but this was not the case of many exhibitors... particularly those with large helium advertising balloons. In the above photo you can see on blowing away.

Last evening, I heard some near by friends posting on facebook that they were watching lightening. Sure enough, as soon as I crawled into bed, I was kept awake by bright flashes of light the kept illuminating my whole room (and the sky for that matter). I couldn't sleep and ended up going out side to try and photograph it. I was somewhat disappointed with the results, as most of the chains were hidden behind clouds and didn't produce results nearly as spectacular as those that I recently captured in Sarasota. Still, it was awe inspiring to watch. On the way to and from the field where I was watching, I walked passed the book that I had been reading: Oh Pure and Radiant Heart, by Lydia Millet, a future/historical (it's complicated) novel about the scientists who developed the Atomic Bomb coming back to life in the 21st century and leading a campaign for nuclear disarmament and against the destruction of mankind, which I had left on the arm of a chair in our yard that afternoon... completely oblivious to it's presence in the darkness. I felt the wind pick up and returned inside. It started to rain - hard, and a second before I fell asleep, I remembered that I had left the book outside, but managed to convince myself that I had left it at my parents house and was just being paranoid. I didn't think of it again until I happily walked across the deck in the morning to make breakfast.

I seem to have a knack for destroying books with water, and wouldn't have been terribly upset if it weren't that it was a library book... and I don't really know what I'm going to do now. One bit of thought from the book (which is surprisingly chalked full of philosophy) was that the fact that you're paranoid doesn't necessarily mean that your wrong. I should have remembered that last night as it started to rain.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Navigation by Triangulation

So I finally went and did it. I bought a highway GPS. I'm so terrible with following directions and being aware of my situation that I had decided if I ever had to drive anywhere long distance I should get one. Coming back from Florida of course seemed to be a good excuse, and thus, I went and grabbed one at target. I bought the garmin nüvi, the cheapest model of the garmin I could find. Not only had I had a chance to witness both the garmin and the tomtom models in action, but had also heard a great deal of impassioned input from at least six people as to which was better. After using them both however, I harbored the suspicion that they were both really about the same. The garmin matched my own style though, and the model I wanted was $30 off that morning, so I decided to get it:

While being led home by the GPS, I was able to have nearly 24 hours of conversation with my traveling companion, Joe, which was cool. We had originally planned on making the trip back in one long shot, but realized that we both had relatives along the way. I was able to stop and see my Prutsman cousins in Tallahassee FL, and we spent the next night at the home of Joe's Aunt near Charlotte North Carolina.

So, now that I have the GPS and am getting to know people in more and more far flung places of the country (and beyond for that matter) I may feel more confident about going on some long solo cross country trips in the fairly near future... I will need to get my car back first though... which has been at the mechanics for two weeks... and it may well be that the bill from the procedures that kept it there for the afore mentioned time may be enough to erase any ideas of spontaneous travel from my short term radar.

So, I'm thankful to be home, albeit nearly a week later than planned.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Really Fun Place To Get Marooned

My friend Joe (above right) and I were originally intending to leave as soon as we finished unpacking, i.e, this past Sunday. The Efthimious however were relatively intent on taking us to the beach. This sounded like fun, so we decided to postpone our departure a day. Before going to to Caspersen beach, Joe (a former Coast Guard) had the idea to go buy some snorkel gear, and we did (pictured below)

We had a great time snorkeling, even though there were some annoying waves and the visibility was poor. It seemed like a waste to go back to the frozen and beachless north so soon, and so, we decided to postpone leaving yet another day (today) which was spent at siesta key. On arriving at the beach we had to walk over a mile along the surf to get to the reef area, but it was worth it. We spent the whole morning swiming with schools of fish and exploring the crab infested nooks and crannies of the area. We intended to go out again this evening, but an electrical storm (there has been one every night!) prevented us from doing so. Joe decided to let one my younger cousins dye his hair, as a final sort of "last hurrah" before leaving north in the morning. On the way back however, he discovered that Stephen's car had a tire held on by only two lug nuts ready to fall off at any minute (I had wondered what the strange clacking noise was earlier). This was a big issue, because it is the car we intended to leave in. So I am now stuck here, somewhat indefinitely (though hopefully only until the day after tomorrow) when the car is repaired. I have to say though, for being unable to leave three times, and now getting stuck here without transportation, it's a really fun place to marooned!

I figured out some settings on my camera just a few minutes ago and was able to capture some beautiful photos of the standard evening lightning storm they have here in Sarasota:

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Moving the Efthimious to Sarasota.

I'm in Sarasota Florida now, at the house that my cousins are renting until until they are able to find a more permanent house. We made the trip down in two and a half days, involving 2 hotel stops, which I thought were a bit excessive, although when traveling with a family of nine children, many of them very young, I think we were blessed to make it in as little time as we did. The trucks also were very slow: it was hard to get them past 55, and the were governed not to go past 70.

We arrived in the rain on Thursday and spent most of the time since then unpacking. The house has a pool, and so we were able to swim also. The development is lain out around several ponds, and they are stocked with fish, so this morning we went fishing. I caught two talapia, one of which was almost 15 inches long.

I spent most of the time on the way down riding with Joe, who I enjoy talking to, and am going to drive back up with him. We were originally planning on not leaving until Tuesday or so, but, after seeing that all we could do to help would be over with soon, and beginning to tire of some of the drama that has accompanied the situation, we decided to up the date to Monday at the latest, if not tomorrow.

We may stop on the way back to visit my cousins in Tallahassee, but other than that, intend to make a more or less non stop shot back up the eastern sea board.

Monday, August 03, 2009

All or Nothing

For the last month I have had almost nothing at all to do. Now, in just the space of a few days I've been faced with so much going on that I'm having to juggle to fit it all in.

I've been planning to meet with Jonathan, a friend of mine (and follower of this blog : ) this week for a long time. He lives in Virginia and only comes up this way when visiting some family members. We were going to meet this Wednesday, and I was really pretty exited about it. Then, last Friday night, I was at my Grandparents house at a going away party for some of my cousins who are moving to Florida. My Uncle asked me to come along on the trip and help unpack at there new house (they have tons of help packing up here, but don't know nearly as many people in Sarasota) He even offered to fly me home if I couldn't find another way back. So, a few of my friends were also going along (meaning almost all of them) are going as well, and it sounded like a good idea, but you see my frustration: there were about five weeks so far this summer when I could have done something like this without having to rearrange or say no to anything, and then, the one week when I'm planning something, it happens. Seems like it's always been my lot in life though... if I ever planned to go on a trip with my church or anything, it always coincided with the week my family picked to go on vacation or something like that....

This time however, it seems to have worked out pretty well. I talked to Jonathan, and he and his family generously rearranged there plans to meet me tomorrow instead of Wednesday... so if all goes well, I will meet him in the morning, have lunch, hang out for a bit of the afternoon, and then get picked up by my cousins moving convoy as it goes past Mansfield around 2:30 or so.... so it should all work.


Thursday, July 30, 2009


Yesterday I took my car into to get a whole bunch of stuff done to it. Will probably need knew rotors and breaks (in fact almost certainly) and I'm having new wheels and tires put on it. I was worried I wouldn't be able to go to Bible study tonight because of it's absence (and my Dad being gone in Minnesota), but my Mom let me borrow the Mercedes, which was good. I had a great time tonight. It's the best group of guys I've ever had to do anything like that with.

In other news: I finally got my mount in WOW. It's pretty sweet:

It took me until level 38... which is a pretty long time. But I figured I should probably focus more on leveling than trying to get expensive toys (just learning how to ride costs 30 gold) but now that I have it, I think I'm going to wish I had had it sooner. A lot of the time you spend in WoW is just walking around (due to the fact that it's a fairly life sized world) and having the mount greatly increases the speed at which you can get around (duh) so it should actually help me level faster. Anyhow... tis all vanity... but then, so are most things really.

Good night.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Black Berry Bramble + Taughannock Falls Revisited

After going to New York City this past week, we had my cousins up to stay at the Inn. It was a lot of fun, and while I always feel like it's kind of boring here for someone who lives where they do, I think we all had a pretty good time. My Uncle Eric's main objective in coming here was apparently to go blueberry picking. The farm that we usually go to wasn't open yet, but last year my Mom discovered a little patch (well, actually it's pretty big for an unkempt patch) up in the hills that we went to. We made blue berry and black cap pie from the berries we picked with my cousins the day before. It's been a great black cap year - cool and with consistent rain.

We also went to Hills Creek where they rented a boat. I got that out of my system for the time being when we went camping, but ended up going for a run around the lake. My Papa T (Grandfather) came up almost every night, and it was good to see him. I know that my cousins went to visit my grandma also, who has been in bad shape for some time now. Apparently she seemed to be doing well when they met here though.

Today we went to Ithaca with the Spanos. We started the day at a running store where Sue must have tried on about six pairs of running sneakers before settling on a pair (trying them on at this store involves having your stride analyzed, walking around, and finally running on a treadmill. After that we went to a second hand store where I bought a shirt. I like shopping there because, while I like the whole concept of recycling and super cheap clothes, nobody in any of the places roam around here wears anything that I would where... and thus, nothing that I would wear ends up in the second hand stores. Ithaca on the other hand, is a hip kind of place, and on top of that, it's home to Cornell University, which means tens of thousands of rich college students who buy awesome new clothes every season and then think nothing of parting with them for nothing.

I really rather like Ithaca, and not just for the afore mentioned reasons. It has a sort of anything and everything goes mentality that is completely alien to the larger part of the culture surrounding me for three hundred miles on every side. People are friendly, and interesting and interested in things that I am. On top of all that, it has a ton of cool restaurants and shops, is surrounded by the hills and woods that I love about this area and sits right at the southern tip of one of the finger lakes. So yeah... perhaps I will move to Ithaca some day. If I were smart and rich, then I would go to school there... but seeing as I was somewhat passed over on both those blessings, that's not an option right now. Maybe I could just move there and be a hippie... or maybe some day, if I go to graduate school and become a professor I could teach at Cornell (then, it wouldn't matter that I lack problem solving skills, and as far as money goes, they would be paying me) any how... I don't really like plans... so for now, I just have a vague desire to live in Ithaca.

After stopping to get bread and hummus as the Ithaca Bakery, we went and had a picnic and Taughannock Falls State Park, just a little ways around the lake. If you remember my post from going there two years ago!, we found a lot of strange towers made of rocks. I was kind of hoping it had turned into a lasting tradition, but alas, there were none today (aside from one that my sister built, perhaps hoping to rekindle the craze) The ravine was still as stunning as ever though... I think that regardless of how it came to be, stuff like that is a great tribute to God's creativity.

After that, we went back down to the park area, and some of the smaller members of my family went for a swim. I took this picture of my sister as she was drying off:

Monday, July 20, 2009

I... Like NY

I woke up at 4:30 am yesterday and got around. At five, our whole family left for New York City. We stopped in Williamsport PA to grab some bagels and coffee at about six, and made it to NYC about four hours later. We met my uncle and his family at the apple store in front of the Plaza hotel. It was good to see all of them again. My cousins, Michael and Jordan both seem a lot older than last time I saw them... which I guess is to be expected for having not seen them in two or three years.

I went to a Niki store with Michael and Jordan and my Aunt Kim. It was six stories of nothing but Niki products. I didn't buy anything, but it was interesting to look at all of it. I never really knew that Niki made anything but running shoes.... After that we went to Central Park, and the Zoo after that. Then we went to my cousins hotel suite on time square, which was really cool to see in real life. We took the subway there, and I have to say it was one of the worst subway experiences I've ever had. The ticket machines would only let you by one ticket at a time if you used cash, and there were 13 of us, so it was going to take forever. To save time (he thought) my uncle bought a single 20 ride ticket. It stopped working after only about the sixth person through though, and he couldn't get them to refund it. So he ended up having to buy more individual tickets. All said and done, we had spent forty or fifty dollars on what ought to have only cost 25, and missed our train anyways and had to wait twenty minutes for another one. Time square was worth it though (not to mention that none of the money lost had actually been mine)

On the way out of Central Park, I saw what happens if you try to keep your bike safe there by chaining it up:

Here is the roof top of one of the Museums we went to. My Uncle and his family somehow sneaked passed security and my parents found out that if you refuse to pay the actual admission fee, you can name whatever price you want to... which was all somewhat embarrassing. Then, my parents tried to take a stroller into the building, and we ended up getting stopped and separated in an elevator because of it. We did eventually make it to the roof however, and it was really cool. There was a bar on top, and and bunch of hip looking people hanging around chatting, so it felt more like a club or lounge than I museum. That was one thing I noticed in New York City: lots of hip looking people. It felt kind of like being back in Europe again, and even more extreme in some places we went. I rather like it really.

After all that we ate at Virgil's barbecue and then went to Rockefeller Center and paid to go up to the roof. It was beautiful. I'm so glad to opened it up to the public. I got lot's of good photos, as well as a better sense of how the city is laid out.

After that we separated, but my cousins should hopefully be arriving here sometime this evening.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Obese People In Their Underpants and Other Dangers Associated With Mountain Biking

I've been running a lot lately. I went out almost everyday this week, and only took yesterday off because my ligaments and tendons were starting to get sore. It was also probably from mountain biking with my Mom, which I did twice this week in addition to running.

It had probably been two or three years since I had been biking (well, I did do it some in Italy, but it was all flat paved roads there, and the bikes were a joke) so it took me a little while to get used to it again... but they say that you never forget how to ride a bike... and I guess they were right.

One of our chief concerns while biking was dogs, as many people around here keep big, vicious dogs, often without bothering to keep them tied up or behind a fence (my uncle and cousin were both attacked, and my cousin gored by one while biking, and I've been chased while I was running before) We didn't see any though, until we were a little more than half way through, on a road we had never taken before. We were going up hills, and I usually go faster than my Mom on those, so I was about a hundred yards ahead of her. This little dog, about the size of Toto, starts chasing me. He keeps chasing, and chasing, until I wonder if he is going to follow me all the way home. He might have if someone from the house hadn't called him back. But that was the real surprise, because the guy who called him back, according to my Mom who was unfortunate enough to be riding by just then, was this the 300+ pound guy in his underpants (with holes in them no less) walking out in the yard with a bag of trash... my Mom, was understandably shocked by it, and rode on by as fast as she could. Aside from that however, the biking went rather smoothly.

Tomorrow we are going to NYC to meet our Uncle Eric and his family, who I haven't seen in several years. I've never really been to NYC before, aside from driving past it to get to JFK International, so I look forward to seeing it too.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Process Is the Punishment

Maps and calendars make me afraid.

I have to get some stuff worked out this week involving credits from last semester transferring back to Mansfield. I have to get a transcript mailed from SBI. I don't think I've really missed anything so far, but it is stuff that I should have probably taken care of before now. For some reason though, I have just had this dread of doing it. It could be that I'm naturally a procrastinator. But I think it's more than that. I'm really scared of organizations and bureaucracies and systems and things like that. I remember applying for my drivers license scared me... probably a lot more than the test itself. Applying for my passport was always the same way. Applying for credit cards. Applying to college. Applying for anything or doing anything that involves dealing with any of the aforementioned conglomerates makes me want to throw up. So I guess it's natural that this would stress me out... but I wish it didn't.

In the old North Hall Library at Mansfield, up on the the fifth or so floor, deep in the book stacks, there is a table I would sit at while unsuccessfully attempting to force my mind to comprehend basic algebra that most people understood with no trouble when they were about 13. On the opposite row from me, there was a book that I sometimes stared at titled: The Process Is the Punishment. I was always intrigued by it, and toward the end of the semester, after somehow getting an A+ in algebra, still without comprehending it in the least, I checked out that book. It was written by a law student in the 1950's or so, and I was the first one to check it out in a decade at least. I never actually read all of it... but the gist was this: that the punishment that our legal system meets out on criminals is not so much in the actual sentence, but rather their encounter with the system itself, from the summons, to the day in court on through everything else after that. The process IS the punishment. I couldn't agree more. I hate systems. I hate them, I hate them, I hate them. There... maybe I feel a little better now.

I realized recently that I'm afraid of calendars too. It never occurred to me until a week or two ago when I had a calendar that I had purchased on my bed. I was about to hang it on the wall, but the thought of waking up and looking at it every morning seemed so unspeakably depressing that I couldn't bring myself to do it. I ended up giving it away.

I'm like that a little with maps too. Not maps of geography or topography that tell about other places so much. I have always loved those. But road maps of places that I actually need to go. I think I realized this while looking at google maps.

This all seemed rather strange to me until I thought about maps and calendars together, and in a way, they are both really the same thing. Maps tell us where we are in space; calendars tell us our coordinates in time. As I thought about it, I realized that these are both things I really don't care to know. I seem to prefer to float through existence without anything by which to judge where I'm going. I need to know that I am going... but where and how fast... no... no thank you. I'll take the blue pill.

Thinking about it now... this apparent phobia of coordinates and systems probably explains a good deal about my miserable aptitude for math. There... I have discovered something about myself... right here.

I don't know if writing about all these things will make them any less terrifying. At the very least though, it may help me to know my enemies. I don't know if I want them to be my enemies though. I've been thinking a lot about the last verse of the last song of U2's last album:

"Choose your enemies carefully, they will define you.
Make them interesting, cause in some ways they will mind you.
And not there in the beginning, but when the story ends,
they're gonna last with you longer than your friends."

- from The Cedars of Lebanon on No Line On the Horizon by U2

- Andrew

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Yurts, Pogo and the Lords and Ladies of Catan

Yesterday I arrived back from a whole wonderful week of camping with the Spanos. It's something we try to do every year and this was one of the best years ever. We stayed for an entire week and had good weather for nearly the entire time. Usually we only stay for a few days (most of which rain) at most, and it always seems as though we are just getting into it when we have to pack up and go.

My parents and the Spanos stayed in Yurts while brother and sister and I slept out it tents along with Marty and Lisah who rented a site across the road (by the time it was done our group took up and an entire segment of loop B, which was nice)

We went biking and canoeing and went to the beach several times, on one occasion building what everyone who saw it deemed 'the coolest sand castle I've ever seen in real life'. For the first couple days Lizzy's friend Briana came, and Nickie's friend Brooks arrived after that. Nicky and Isaac him had an ongoing pogo stick contest. I brought Settlers of Catan, and it must have been played seven or eight times a day.

I was a little bit depressed for the first half of the week, but felt better after that. I brought Jordan down from Corning for the last couple days, which was the first time I've ever had one of my friends accept my invitation to come. We played guitar until the neighbors came and complained.

I also ran around the Lake, which I had amazingly never done before. It was cool to see something that I had seen so many times before from a completely different perspective. I also ran with Nick once, which was really fun.

Europe seemed to be the topic of conversation, Lizzy having just arrived back from touring Britain, France, and Italy a day or two before. We swapped a lot of stories about our experiences in the places we had been.

Here are Mattea, Isaac and I canoeing.

Here is Isaac on the infamous pogo stick. The thing in the background is one of the Yurts.

The moon one of the first evenings there:

The sunset over the lake looking from the spillway:

Mattea, Maryah, Lizzy and I on the spillway:

Yesterday we broke camp and went to the beach, at which point I got the sunburn, that I had been trying successfully to avoid all week.

After that I took Jordan home to Corning. On the way back I stopped to visit Joe and the Cornfields and ended up staying late to watch a Harry Potter movie with them. I was really tired on the way home and almost hit at least three deer. Fortunately, I don't seem to possess the gift of sleeping easily, and can hardly fall asleep in a car if I'm riding, let alone driving.

Today, an old friend of mine, Riah Markell, got married. It was the coolest wedding I've every been to. I have actually been to several weddings in the last year that have shaken my bias against them.

I met a girl there named Malory who is an artist and was actually in Venice painting at roughly the same time I was, though I never saw her. So that was cool, and I may talk to her some more tomorrow at home church.