Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Contradictory Weather

 I realize that my last post ended with a bit of a cliff hanger, me being stranded in an airport terminal 100 miles from my destination and all. I also realize that I then neglected to ever post what happened. So sorry. I did make it back, but then I was too busy to post for the first few days. After that, nothing interesting enough to inspire a post happened for the rest of the week.We did have a close one today though. Well, it wasn't actually that close, but it was exciting.

This morning I woke up to very strange weather. The wind was blowing hard, and the sky was overcast, and it looked like it should be a crisp late October day. But when I stepped outside, it was a balmy 75 degrees. The sky started looking stranger and stranger as the day progressed, and by mid-afternoon the alert went out on campus that a tornado had touched down in Rhea County, and we were under a warning.

In the end we didn't get a tornado anywhere near the college, but the sky looked pretty spectacular. Around seven, it started looking like we might finally be in for something, and I decided to go for a walk around Bryan drive with my camera and see if there was anything interesting. It started raining a bit, and I ducked into the Library just as the wind picked up and torrential sheets of rain commenced to pound the building for more than half an hour.

While I was trapped in the Library, I decided to start reading Civilization and Its Discontents again, even though I had decided to stop before because I felt it was contributing to an overall sense to depression that I was experiencing. Somehow, reading it up in the library with lighting flashing all up and down the valley and rain and leaves driving against the giant glass windows beside me was an experience unto itself, and not really a depressing one.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Closing Walls & Ticking Clocks

So, according to the plan, I was supposed to be back in my room on Woodlee 2nd Short making up for only getting three hours of sleep last night. That was the plan.

My parents dropped me off at Elmira Airport at five this morning. My flight which was supposed to depart at 6:20 didn't even board until 6:30, and by the time we got to Detroit I was already about thirty minutes late. That would have been workable if I ran fast, but then there was some regulatory confusion with them not letting us get off the plane for ten minutes after we landed even after everything was in place for us to do so. Safe to say, I missed my connection.

The next flight to Chat wasn't until 5:30am the next morning, so I was going to have to wait around all day, go to a hotel, and then show up again at like four. Instead I asked if they could put me on a plane to Knoxville, which they did. So hear I am blogging from the Knoxville terminal. I have a friend coming to pick me up, which is great, but I still have to figure out how I can get back to Chattanooga to get my car this week. So anyhow, I guess it could have been worse.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


I had a beautiful fall break. It ends at 4:00AM tomorrow morning, so I don't have time to elaborate much, let alone upload the photos that deserve to be uploaded. However, I can say that it included several great walks with my Mom to see the fall foliage which was just past peak this week, a trip to Ithaca and Taughannock Falls (thus the above photo), hanging out at the Night & Day in Mansfield and running into lots of old friends, finishing The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, having Chris over and staying up till dawn playing Halo Reach, and spending this evening with the Spanos and Joe.

And tomorrow I'm flying back to Chattanooga. I really don't know how I'm going to make it through the rest of this semester. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fall Flights

I had an excellent trip home from Tennessee yesterday. I was worried it might be a rough, as I had three connecting flights, and two of them without much space in between, but it ended up going very smoothly, and I met some interesting people along the way.

After parking in Chattanooga, I was told by the man at the check-in counter that my first flight was running half an hour behind, which could be a problem since I only had one hour to make my connection in Charlotte. While waiting at my gate I ran into Dr. Turner, one of my professors from Bryan, who was headed out West. So I said hi to him before we boarded our flight, which ended up being only fifteen minutes late, giving me a completely reasonable forty-five minutes to find my gate in Charlotte. The plane, an older turbo-prop model, was kind of a puddle-jumper, and Turner made some remark about the wings being held on by duct-tape. It got us there fine though. 

I wanted Starbucks and in the terminal at Charlotte there is seriously a Starbucks about every fifty feet. Sadly, though, I had to walk about a mile to get to my next gate, and by the time I arrived, there wasn't time to wait in line for coffee before boarding.

The flight was to Philly, and I ended up sitting next to a guy who was headed to Tel Aviv. He asked where I was going, and I asked him some things about Israel, and the book he was reading in Hebrew. His name was Adi, and when we landed in Philly we ended up hanging out for a while. We went outside for a bit, and while we were standing on the sidewalk I asked him about the political/military situation in his country. It turned out that while he is not on business trips in the US, he is a soldier with the IDF and he took out his phone and started showing me all these pictures of patrolling the Gaza Strip and the Jordanian border and lots of other places. He asked me about the military in our country and if I knew anyone who was in Iraq (I don't right now, but I have several friends who have been). I also asked him about Iran, and he gave me his opinion on that. So really, flying back was almost worth it just for that.

We went back in through security again and headed to our next flights, mine to Elmira NY, and his to Tel Aviv Israel. It was at this point that I was asked for about the 5th time by security people about the book I am currently finishing up: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. It seemed like almost everyone I ran into was either reading the series, or wondered what I thought of it. I will probably finish it in the next couple days, but now I almost want to carry it back with me just because it's such a good conversation starter.

Flying out of Philly was really beautiful. I never really think about how big cities are until I see all their lights lit up at night, and Philly did not disappoint. When I finally got in at Elmira at around 10:30, my entire family met me once I walked out of security, which I wasn't really expecting. Sanna ran up and started hugging my legs so I could barely walk, and we all went out to the car and headed home.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Class in the Dark

This afternoon I took Cami, a friend of mine, to the airport to fly home for Fall Break. Tomorrow I'll go again, only for myself. My parents and I decided that rather than taking two whole days of my break and $150 worth of gas to drive home, I should fly instead. So I'll hopefully be back in Pennsylvania/New York by tomorrow night.

There was a huge attitude of excitement around campus all day. We almost didn't have class at all when the power went out for a couple hours this morning. We went through the first couple hours in the dark, but then, just a few minutes before the time when they said the rest of the day would be canceled if the power didn't come back on, it came back on. I still ended up being done by one however, as chapel and my algebra class were both canceled.

So now I have a week off. I have to write a paper on a documentary/debate that we watched in Psych of Comm. It has to do with the existence of God, and contrasts the views of C. S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud. It was very interesting, probably the most interesting thing I've seen all semester (not that that's saying much this time around). While it was interesting, it has also been kind of depressing. It's causing me to think hard about a number of things that I haven't thought hard about in a few years. And it reminds me that the reason I stopped thinking about them wasn't that I found any answers, but because I slowly learned to ignore them.

Anyhow... that combined with the fact that I just wasn't feeling that great before, I've almost had a hard time even being excited about fall break... which is kind of strange. Maybe that's good though. Last semester I got really excited about spring break, and then it ended up being kind of horrible... what with getting the stomach bug, the worst sunburn of my life, and then rain the rest of the time. So maybe irony will work in my favor this time. Of course, hoping that it will would take the irony out of it... so maybe I should stop. Anyhow, it's going to be a long day tomorrow, so I better get to sleep soon.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Malcolm Gladwell

I ended up going to see Gladwell this evening at UTC as I had been hoping to. It didn't work out quite as I had been thinking. Out of my Psychology of Communication class in which the trip had been suggested only two other students and I had interest in going (which surprised me seeing as how much the class seemed to like Blink). Then, one of them couldn't go because he had work to do this evening for the school newspaper. In the end, it was just my friend Maddie and I who went. It ended up being a fun time though.

The event was expected to be over-attended, and seeing as by the time we figured out that we were the only people going we were only half an hour early, I expected we would end up in the overflow room. When we arrived however, the first overflow room was already full, so we were sent across the street the second overflow room. We were some of the first people in and thought there couldn't possibly be many more people coming. It filled up too though, and pretty soon people were being turned away. By the time the lecture actually started there were something like four overflow auditoriums, and the staff had started packing people into class rooms and having them watch on computer screens. So while we didn't get the best seats in the house, it could have been much worse.

Aside from Gladwell giving an awesome speech on the financial crisis of 2007 and the attitudes that precipitated it, the coolest thing about the event was that they had a live twitter feed on the big screens and a hashtag for the event itself. I had heard of it before, but until experiencing it, I never knew how much fun it could be to tweet whatever you want onto a screen that close to a thousand people are seeing.

Gladwells lecture was really good. He used an analogy from the civil war (which he also mentions in the afterword to the latest editions of blink) where the Union General Hooker with his larger forces and precise battlefield intelligence was defeated by the underdog Lee. Gladwell's main point ended up being that overconfidence is dangerous, even more so than incompetence, the reason being that incompetent people tend to not be in positions of power, whereas overconfident people typically are. He then compared this case study from history to the attitudes of investment bankers before the financial meltdown a few years ago. He summed up his speech with this statement: "In times of crisis we think we need to rely our leader's ability or expertise, when we really need to rely on our leader's humility."

Monday, October 04, 2010

Homecomings and Goings

It was a pretty good weekend. Friday night I went to yet another rugby game; this one between the current rugby team and returning alumni who had been on the team. Saturday I went to the homecoming game, which at Bryan is a soccer game. We won 5-0, which was good. That night there was a bonfire and the Little Foxes played. They are basically a Bryan College version of the Grecian Urns (see Lovedream) a band led by a guy who goes here. It was their last show, as all the members either have graduated or will graduate this December. Sunday I did nothing all day but fill out applications and complete a rather massive amount of homework. I ended up reflecting a bit on things that if I could go back, I could have done differently or more efficiently in my whole academic experience since high school that would have made things easier (perhaps better?) than they are now. But it's really too late to do anything about... so that was a little depressing. Other than that it was really a good weekend. Here are some pictures from our excellent homecoming game:

Above is Harry, our star defensive player from England (our soccer team is almost entirely imported by the way... since Bryan doesn't do football, they seem to spend the difference on soccer). Below is Rasheed (sp?), who almost always tries to head the ball. It's great when it works, but sometimes it doesn't.   

Spanish and Algebra, and OT Lit to some extent, are all getting pretty intense. I'm kind of glad fall break is just a week away. There is a chance I may be going to see Malcolm Gladwell, the author/journalist I mentioned a few posts ago tomorrow night, which would be awesome. I'll let you know if it happens.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

The Perennials

A couple good friends of mine, Pete and Amanda Wells, just released their first EP. I met Pete and Amanda (although they weren't married then) in San Lorenzo Italy at SBI where Pete was my RA. We ended up playing guitar together, and I quickly realized Pete was one of the best guitarists I had ever met. We spent a lot of time fooling around with recording projects using nothing but webcam mics and acoustic guitars. While we didn't create too many masterpieces at that time, I realized Pete also a serious muse when it came to lyrics. I haven't seen him and Amanda since SBI, but shortly after I got home he moved back to the States and went to recording school on the West Coast (why I haven't seen them recently). We kept in touch though, and even exchanged a few projects, letting me see how their style was maturing. So I was really excited the other day when I heard about the release of their EP:

It has a kind of folk-alternative sound with lots of guitar picking and ambient vocals. The lyrics are very thought provoking, and sometimes downright haunting. You should check it out.

Friday, October 01, 2010

The Cliffs of Insanity

I don't follow professional sports at all, and never used to pay that much attention to college sports. This semester however, I have been unable to ignore them. There is, you see, a relatively strong rivalry between Bryan College and Covenant College, a slightly bigger and significantly richer school on the mountain above Chattanooga. Since time immemorial (or at least long before I transferred here) this rivalry has been perhaps the primary dynamic animating the campus. In the latest episode, things, at least in the opinion of some, got way out of hand.

This past Monday, I went to a pep rally (pictured above) where pretty much everyone from campus came out to buy shirts with anti-covenant slogans, eat pizza, and watch the soccer team obliterate a car symbolically representing Covenant. The big game was to be the next night, and while I had been only vaguely interested in going that day, the cult like atmosphere of the pep rally convinced me that I had better tag along and check it out. This put me in a rough spot, because I had applied for Break for Change, a Spring break mission trip program, and was supposed to go to the meeting to find out if I had been accepted the very next night (at the same time as the game). As it turned out, there was no conflict. The next day, early in the afternoon, everyone received an email that the big game had been postponed until November. The reason for this delay was stated to be "field conditions". It quickly surfaced however, that the "field conditions" spoken of were a collection of pro-bryan slogans that had been painted (with permanent house paint) all over Covenant College's soccer field. So I didn't go to any game that night. I did go to the Break for Change meeting, and found out that my application, despite being submitted at the last minute, went through, and I will, God willing, be going to Latvia this Spring to help teach a film workshop for highschool students.

So there was no soccer, but last weekend, while I was not at homecoming banquet for various reasons that I shan't mention, I went to the school rugby club's first game in Chattanooga. This picture pretty well sums it up:   

On the academic front, I had a surprise this Monday, that while leaving me unsure if I'm either brilliant or retarded, was pleasant nevertheless. Last Friday, I had been shocked to get a D on my first psychology test, even though when I took it, I had felt like I knew almost all of the answers. When we went over the test on Monday, I found that the scantron form had a back as well as a front, and I had stopped at 50, when there were really 65 questions on the test. I showed it to my professor, who very graciously let me step out as she went over the answers with the class and then fill in the 15 questions that I had overlooked after class. My score consequently went from a D+ to and A-... which is always a nice thing. To the left is powdered lemonade (not crack, as some of my friends who saw the photo on facebook suggested) that we used for a Pavlovian experiment.

This week was Spirit Week on campus. It started with class color day, which I participated in, pajama day, which I participated in, and movie character day, which I did not participate in. It was interesting to see all the costumes that people wore though.

Today I discovered (or rather my Dad, who I was on the phone with discovered) a new use for duct tape. While I was on my way to the grocery store to by some more tea, my passenger side window came off the track and retracted all the way into the door. I ended up spending most of the evening trying to fix it and driving to Lowe's and Walmart in search of tools to try and pull it up out of the door. In the end, I bought some duct tape thinking that I would at least cover it over with plastic for the night and then probably take it to a garage tomorrow or Saturday. Then my Dad told me that I should see if I could feed the duct tape down into the door through the gasket and attach it to the window glass. I was a little skeptical at first, but after only a minute or so of fishing around for the glass and trying to keep the tape from sticking to everything else, I was able to affix it to the window and pull it back up out of the door. I then looped the tape around the top of the door frame so that the window won't get lost again, and while I won't be able to use it right now, I can at least wait until I'm back home to take it to the shop. So my Dad gets huge kudos, first of all for creative problem solving, and secondly for doing it with duct tape.

Anyhow, it has been a rather insane week.