Sunday, April 25, 2010

The 1st Time I've Danced Since... Well, Not Really Sure When

Last night I drove to Chattanooga for the much anticipated Broad Street Film Festival. I had gone to the screenings on Thursday, and some of the films were really good (not to mention I know a lot of the actors and directors) so I was excited to see what the outcome would be. It was a great ceremony. They had five or six bands playing in between the different awards, and the Tivoli Theater where they held it was awesome (aside from the fact that they sold me a latte, and then chased me out for having a latte... that was annoying).

Above are the Little Foxes, and some members of another band. Below are the winners of best picture.

After the awards ceremony was over I went to the after party, which was in a club up the street away. They had a DJ, and there must have been 80 or 100 people dancing at the same time, so it was fun. I hadn't really danced since... well, I don't know... probably not since I was a little kid at a wedding or something, so it was fun. I stayed there for like three hours and then drove back. It had been raining really hard all day, and the road was almost washed out in some places, so the normally 45 minute drive back to Dayton took a little longer. I still made it in 5 minutes before curfew though... so that was good.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Danger In Ducktown

It's been a crazy, somewhat draining, and somewhat exciting week. I've had to lead a few group projects, and participate in a debate on nuclear energy. The debate was for our environmental science class, and today we had a field trip for that class as well. The trip was to Ducktown, a town on the Tennessee-Georgia border where the environment for thirty miles in ever direction was destroyed by chemicals released from copper mining and smelting.

After our debate on nuclear power yesterday there were only three of us signed up to go, so we were afraid it would be a small trip. This morning though, three extra people (two of whom weren't even in our class) showed up to come, which made it a lot more fun.

After several stops along the winding road to Ducktown for Dr. Eisenback and one of his colleagues to look at rocks (which involved standing in a rock-slide danger area with Semi's zooming past just a couple feet from us and whitewater rapids on the other side of the road) we arrived at the mining complex and looked over the cliff into the valley below. This area (photo left) is an area that was left unreclaimed to give an idea what the entire region looked like before restoration efforts succeeded in the 70's. Even this isn't as extreme as it was, as some volunteer trees have taken root. Before 1970, photos of the area could be mistaken for Mars!

At the time when mining began in the late 1800's, the only way to extract copper from the ore was by firing it with charcoal, which was made from burning down every tree in sight. Then, sulfuric acid released in the process of the smelting itself killed any ground vegetation that was left. With all biological life gone, the soil quickly eroded, making it impossible for anything to grow there again (until drastic and expensive reclamation efforts that are still going on today.)

Here is an example of one of the water purification systems that the company that is currently helping rebuild the environment put in place. It's crazy to stand in this area and see the forests and fields of grass growing just hundreds of feet from ground that still looks like a desert in Arizona. Ironically, a woman we talked to who was a child before the restoration program said she much preferred it before the plants came back. She said there were no mosquitoes, rattle snakes, or other pests around, and that she preferred the way the red canyons and hills looked.

I personally can't help but feel that how it looks now is an improvement. On the other hand though, I grew up in hills that were green. Maybe if I had grown up in red hills, I would prefer them....

I've done quite a bit of stuff with my fellow SBI alumni here this week... partially spurred on by the fact that Stephani Pacey, one of my friends from there who, in her American life, goes to LU, is here visiting for the weekend. Last night Bryan invited me to his house where we cooked supper and met Steph when she came. After that we all went to watch the play Man of la Mancha, which was fun.

Tomorrow we are planning on having a little Italy reunion, which will be, I believe the largest gathering of our group ever back here in the States. So that should be good. Maybe I'll post about it if it later. For now, that's all.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Most Epic Soccer FAIL in the History of... Everything

Since ancient Germanic warriors first kicked the severed heads of Roman commanders around the field after the battle of Teutoburg Forest, thus inventing the sport of soccer, there have been 5 fails that were considered to be the greatest, most epic... etc. Today, they were all left in the dust.

A couple weeks ago I signed up to play soccer for in a tournament with teams from Bryan and Covenant. It was to benefit the International Justice Mission, an anti human trafficking organization. I was reluctant to join, as I hadn't really played since I was 10 or 11. I was assured, however, that there would be other people there who had little or no experience; and there were - seven or eight of them. What we were NOT told, was that we would all be put on the same team, and that the other teams would be composed mainly of varsity players.... We didn't find that little detail out until we showed up five minutes before the tournament began.

So we happily set out from Bryan hill this morning, with a random assortment of mostly borrowed soccer gear, mismatching shirts and gym shorts and drove to Rock City, on top of the mountain overlooking Chattanooga where Covenant College is located. We had a bit of trouble finding the fields once we got on campus, so when we stumbled out of the car it was only a few minutes until we had to play. That's probably good, because after I got out and saw Covenant's entire varsity team (which is in a higher league than even Bryan's varsity team) standing there in their uniforms, already stretched and waiting for us, time to anticipate what would happen next was not what I needed.

We lost the first game 8-0 (I think, I may have lost track after a while). The next one went 6-0, and then we had a break as two girls teams played. We did have one lucky streak, when a Covenant guy named Gomez signed up last minute and was deposited on our team. He was probably our best player, and although I felt sorry for him being stuck with us, he helped a lot.

In the final game we played most of Bryan's soccer team + Dr. Eisenbeck (who was a varsity player in college, which was not many years ago at all). And, in the last half or that final game, it happened. We scored. I've never been so excited about a score that had no chance of winning. So the final tally for the day was two shut outs, and a loss 7-1.

Despite the circumstances, it was pretty fun, and I remembered how much I had enjoyed playing as a kid. Next time though, I would definitely like to go up against people more near my own skill (or lack thereof).

It was a beautiful drive back, and before we went, Jonathan and I stopped at a Starbucks in Rock City, which was really cool (aside from a somewhat awkward encounter with two Covenant girls... but that's another story). Then the car we were following got lost, we got frustrated, and almost ended up going to Nashville....

So anyhow, that was the Bryan/Covenant Tournament. And here's to Bryan's "individual sign-up team" - as the organizers referred to us, or the "motley crew", as several other people referred to us.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Group Project Horror Stories


I've been in college for two years now, and during that time have been bombarded with many horror stories about group projects. I had, however, never experienced one. All my groups that I had ever been a part of were polite, at least somewhat motivated, and communicated well, and safely before deadlines. I had almost begun to think that group project horror stories were nothing but a college myth. They are not.

For my English 2 class, I ended up, not really by choice, in a group with two other guys to give a presentation on a critical essay about the story A River Runs Through It. I tried to talk with them early on. However, they made it quite clear that they didn't want to talk about it... which I guess was a bad sign.

The presentation is due tomorrow, so I sent them both an email early today asking if when they wanted to meet. I got no reply. I waited until 9 this evening, and then finally decided to go ahead and make the ppt presentation myself in my dorm's computer lab. After reviewing the assignment, researching the author, interpreting the text, and making the slides by myself, I emailed the two guys, to tell them what I had done. A few minutes later I got an email from one of them that just said "where are you?" I ended up getting one of their phone numbers from a friend who knew them, and called to find out where they were.

I got to the place where they were having their own last minute meeting and asked if they had told me where it was before... to which they said "no, we weren't really planning on it."

As it turned out, they weren't planning on doing a powerpoint, even though it was a requirement for the project. So it's a good thing I made one. However, their selected quotes and interpretations of the text were obviously different, so after our "meeting" I had to go back and remake a lot of the slides.

And tomorrow we get to give the presentation, with no real preparation or planning.

So, after all this time deprived, I finally have had a bad group project experience. The kicker is that I'm in another group, that with the exception of one member, is looking just as bad as this group (only the project is going to be much more intense than this one!). So there we go. I think I need to smoke some pot... except that it's illegal... and I don't have any.... So instead I came back to my room and listened to some lcd sound system, which has a similar effect on me really.

So that's annoying. Group projects aside though, things are going alright, which is good.

All for now.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter!

The campus is starting to look like Spring. There are lot's of flowering trees (thus, above photo) and the leaves are even starting to come out on some trees.

I hope all of you had a good Easter. Mine was. Better than I expected in fact. I ended up making some new friends and getting to know the area a little bit better (though it was still a far cry from last year, with Connor and Mary and Nicole in Austria).

This morning I took Cami and Seth to church at Westminster, which I think is where I'm going to go mainly from now on (when I go, that is). After that they ended up inviting me to come to lunch with the Thomas family. They have two children, Linzy and Kyle, who go to Bryan, and so their parents and younger brother decided to rent a cabin at 'Fort Bluff' a campsite near Dayton to spend the weekend. It was really nice actually have Easter dinner, and I ended up playing volleyball with them for a long time this afternoon.

I'm still kind of looking forward to classes getting back to normal again though, and the caf being open at regular hours and all that, but all things considered it ended up being a much better weekend than I had thought it would be.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

[Not] Going To A Pawn Shop

It's Easter Break now, which basically means a three day weekend. A lot of students have gone home, but since I live 13 hours away, it doesn't really work for me. I've still been having a pretty good time so far though.

It was in the 80's today, and really, really sunny. I played frisbee this afternoon with some other students who had to stay on campus, and also drove around Dayton a bit.

I went to the Harmony House cafe, and had a delicious frappuccino. On the way back I took a detour to try and decided that I would go to this pawn shop and see if they had any instruments for sale (I was curious because I've never been to one before. I pulled into the parking lot, and, while there weren't any advertisements for instruments, there were several for guns... which are apparently it's main item of commerce. I was still interested in going in, but I thought I would at least wait and see who was going in or out for a minute first. I saw a rough looking older guy in jeans and a white Tshirt come out. Then another rough looking older guy dressed exactly the same walked along the porch. Then a truck pulled up and another rough looking old guy, also wearing jeans and a white Tshirt pulled got out with his wife and walked in. Then a really scary looking middle aged guy who wasn't wearing the apparently standard Tshirt pulled up and went in.

I pulled out and drove back to Bryan.

This evening I went down to Dayton again with Cami and her friend Heather. It was a kind of "First Friday of the Month" thing that they do where they block of the main street and let people walk up and down and shop. We were about the only people there however, so if it weren't for talking to some of Heathers friends who owned a shop, it would have seemed a little eerie.