Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sky Falls and It Feels Like a Beautiful Day

"The heart is abloom. It shoots up through the stony ground." - U2

All of yesterday and last night, the Southern US (as I'm sure you've probably heard by now) was slammed by what is now being called the worst storm cluster in the region's history. We had four separate tornado warnings over the course of the day starting around nine in the morning and lasting well into the night. Miraculously, the campus didn't get anything but some rain and an amazing lightning show that evening. Many people around us were not so lucky. The storm's death toll is now approaching 300 and six of those deaths occurred last night on Dayton Mountain, just ten or fifteen miles from campus.

This afternoon, Daniel Jackson, another Triangle staff writer, ran into me and said he thought we should go up to Dayton Mountain and try to get some photos, and possibly interviews for our online edition of the paper (the print edition was cancelled due to the printing house losing all power from the storm). Providentially, my new camera (a Sony a55 ) had just arrived in the mail this morning and it seemed like this would be a good opportunity to use it. So after gearing up and paying someone an extortionate amount of money to use their car, we headed up the steep road onto Dayton Mountain. 

We were going on only vague directions, and I felt like we would be fortunate if we found a few downed limbs to take a picture of. This was, after all, the same storm that had passed harmlessly over us on campus just a few miles to the east. So I was in no way prepared when we ran into scene after scene like this:

There was one area in which what I would guess was about five acres of trees had been completely stripped of branches and snapped off at the middle. The trees that were left standing were tangled with thousands of plastic bags and mangled telephone and electric lines. We passed at least one road that was still being blocked off by the authorities, and one man that we ran into said that it was even worse further up the mountain.

So in the end I was glad the we decided to go, although it's sobering to think that these were people's homes, and that some of these people were in them when they were destroyed.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Day In the Life

A couple weeks ago I had the chance to work on a story about a guy that I know here on campus, Brian. Due to a medical condition he is confined to either a wheelchair or crutches, and Kaity, my editor decided to interview him about handicap accessibility on campus. She ended up asking me to film the afternoon that she spent with him and make it into a video for the Triangle website. Throughout the interview I was really impressed by Brian's willingness to share and be open with us (there was even a good bit of stuff that I had to decide not to put in the video) and his attitude toward the whole situation. If you have a minute I've posted it below.

A Dear Old Friend

Today I said goodbye to a dear old friend: my very first mac, and really, the first computer that belonged to me. I was a bit sad to see it go, after all, we'd been through a lot together: a harddrive change, a RAM upgrade, backpacking around Europe, rendering 3D animations, processing countless Gigabytes of video, three and a half years of college, and all the papers a BA degree entails, World of Warcraft, work, trade-shows, another trip to Europe, this time involving a 24 hour HD video editing marathon on illegally obtained software which we finished fifteen minutes before our deadline, and during which we had to import video for other teams as well because it was the only computer with FireWire.

Safe to say, my MacBook was a pretty big part of my life for the last almost four years, and I felt a little tinge of sadness parting with it. The good news is though, it's not dead, just passed on to someone else. And I was even able to get a good bit more than I thought for it. Being as old as it is, I was only thinking I might get a couple hundred for it, but after researching what they are going for online, and even talking with someone who works for Apple, I discovered that macbooks, and this model in particular, have a remarkably high resale value. So in the end I had no trouble selling it for $500. In fact, the demand was such that if I had ten more of them right now, I'm fairly certain I could sell them all on campus for the same price without a problem. People were practically fighting to get it from me!

So anyhow, that will go further than I thought toward paying for the new one that I just bought :)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Early to Rise

Yesterday it rained from two in the afternoon until two am this morning, so things are still a bit soggy. There was also a pretty serious lightning storm, but we didn't get any tornadoes as they did in other places, and as far as I know, the power didn't go out like it did a couple times last week.

This morning I walked down into Dayton to buy some things that I had run out of... like toothpaste. Bryan is on a hill, so it drys out quite quickly and never floods. Down in the valley was another story though, as you can see to the left.

I know I could have probably found some one to ride down with (like the five or six Bryan people I ran into at Harmony House) but for some reason I felt like a walk this morning instead of sleeping in.

It was probably because I'm still in a pattern of waking up earlier from the GPG conference... which I don't really mind. I'm afraid that I'm actually very slowly becoming a morning person, which I thought would never happen. It used to be that I couldn't think until after like one or two in the afternoon, and my best hours were from about 11pm to one in the morning. All this semester though, I've been waking up early enough to eat breakfast at the cafeteria and doing most of my study there. Of course, considering that I've been doing rather poorly in my study-intensive classes this semester, it might be that I would be better off going back to my late night routine. But for some reason I just don't feel like it anymore. Last night I could barely stay up past midnight, even though I new I had nothing to do this morning.

So anyhow, it wasn't a terrible week, which is always good. I had a lot to catch up on from being gone at the conference toward the beginning, and then a I had to spend a lot of time working on a video project for Triangle but that was okay. We also had our last formal cabinet meeting, which got a little out of hand (there were literally people throwing things... it was on video, so if it gets up I'll post it) but I kind of enjoyed it. So hopefully next week won't be bad either.

It's hard to believe how close the end of the semester is getting. It really is.

Monday, April 11, 2011

GPG 2011

I had a great time in DC this past weekend. The Global Prayer Gathering was phenomenal. I was really unsure about it to begin with, but it ended up being one of the best experiences I've had in a while.

It started with the rather long eight or nine hour drive up from Dayton, which we did in three 15 passenger vans + a minivan. There were 47 of us, and when we got to the two day pre-conference event for students, we made up more than half of the people who were there.

Then the actual conference started though, and there were 1000 other people. And they were mostly really cool people too. It all kicked off with a formal banquet Friday night, which was awesome. The next day the actual "prayer gathering" started, in which we broke up into smaller groups of 30 to 100 and went to rooms dedicated to specific countries to spend 45 minutes or so praying together about issues there (IJM, which hosts the gathering, deals mainly with human trafficking, sexual abuse, and forced labor in developing countries).

I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive that this was going to be either really boring or really weird, but it turned out to be neither, and I definitely came away with a much bigger appreciation for the global church and prayer in general (and a slight desire to go to law school....)

The last night we went to a great French restaurant, where I had a really good cappuccino, as seen below:

 The event was in Tyson's Corner, which is just across the Potomac from the actual Capital, and since there were several people in our group who had never seen it before, we decided to go into the mall that night. It was the second time I'd been there at night, which is always breathtaking (or at least it has been the now two times that I've seen it). Below is the Lincoln Memorial, and a couple friends...

The ride back was interesting. On the way up I had been in the van in which everyone wanted to sleep. On the way back down, I somehow ended up in the van in which everyone wanted to listen to loud hip-hop music and dance––which we did––for like five hours.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Thunderbolt & Other Conversation Pieces

Sorry for not posting in a while. This week and the one before have been extremely busy, and this past weekend I didn't feel like doing much of anything at all. There has also been a lack of extremely interesting events... just nose-to-the-grind-stone (what does that really even mean?) school stuff.

One exciting thing did happen though, and it is actually very exciting to me: I got a new computer! I had been in the market, as it were, since last summer, since I've been wanting something more powerful for encoding (and possibly with a discreet graphics processing unit that would let me play games other than Age of Empires... but that was secondary).

This spring I started to consider it even more seriously, looking at a MacBook Pro as the obvious upgrade to what I had at the time. All the forums I looked at though said that the next major upgrade was probably just around the corner, and I decided it would be wise to wait for it.

Sure enough, the week before I left for Latvia, they announced the new lineup of Pros, just last week I worked up the guts to buy one (it took some effort... they aren't exactly cheap and I always tend to over think financial decisions). Anyhow, it was worth it though. I got the 15" model... not so much because of the size (I was always perfectly happy with my 13") but because that model is the one that makes the step up to a Quad Core processor and a discreet Raedeon GPU. It also has the new I/O called Thunderbolt, which is apparently something like ten times faster than USB 2.0 and has created such a stir in the tech community that some people are now calling this edition the "Thunderbolt Macbook." This sounds really cool, but the problem with really new technology is that there is nothing to use it with yet, so for the only thing I can really do with it is talk about it.... 

So I finally have a new computer, and almost as a good omen, I found out just after buying it that Rome: Total War Gold Edition, possibly my favorite strategy game ever, was just redone to run on Macintosh... so in the end, that was what I did last weekend (along with some homework, naturally).

I'm right now in the midst of at least the 2nd, craziest week of the semester so far. I had a fairly major presentation today in Intro to Lit. Tomorrow I have a test in Spanish 2,  a major paper on Hamlet due Thursday, and a take home math test which is due next Monday, and another video project for Triangle, which is complicated by the fact that Thursday morning at 5am I will be in Washington DC at an IJM convention and not getting back till late Sunday night. So I'm not really sure when I'll do all of it, and feel like it may have been a mistake even writing this post when I could have been sleeping or studying... but then, I've spent most of the last 16 hours doing those things (only about two of those hours were sleeping) so I guess it's okay....

Hopefully DC will be fun. Will def. try to post from there.