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 nĂ¼vi, 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.