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.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Torrential Downpour Camping

Sorry for not posting for a while. I've noticed that's sort of a pattern for me in the summer: posting less, and generally doing less of everything even though I have less to do. And so far this summer, I have had very, very little to do. I'm still officially unemployed. I only work about one day a week and not for pay... so I've devoted my time to World of Warcraft, working out more and harder than I ever have before, reading thought provoking books, and learning a new language... in that order, unfortunately.

July is starting to look rather busy though. Our cousins from Florida are coming up to NYC for my Uncle to run the marathon there, and we are going to meet them. The guys in my summer Bible study and I are going to film comedic short film loosely (very) based on the parable of the wise man who built his house on the rock. And today at 2:00 we leave to go camping for a whole week. On top of it all I have had this crazy pipe dream of going down to Orlando to visit a good friend from Italy (in which case I would probably also try to hook up with some other people who read this blog)... but considering that he leaves on the 25th and all this other stuff is happening it's starting to look like it may not happen. Plus, I my car has some problems (the tires could fall apart at any minute, and the brakes only passed inspection last year because my Dad is a friend on the inspector) that I really feel should be addressed before setting of on a 3000 mile adventure. And then there is fact that while I drive twenty miles a day, and travel thousands of miles from home by myself on a a semi regular basis, I have probably never actually driven more than an hour away before... and the idea of just going off cross country is slightly intimidating to me. So all this to say: "Probably not gonna happen." but then, you never know.

I'm really looking forward to camping this week as much as I ever look forward to anything. We have gone camping with the Spanos and Hills Creek State Park almost every year since we met them. They are probably our best friends and it's always just a really fun, chill time, even despite the tradition of rain. I don't think it has ever not rained, and I'm not talking about a little sprinkle either. And from the weather report, it doesn't look like this year will be an exception.