Friday, March 30, 2012

One my least favorite things

This week has been kind of ridiculous. Sometimes in good ways and sometimes in not-so-good ways.

Tuesday I spent all day in a conference with journalists and a designer from WORLD Magazine. I've read WORLD off and on since I was able to read, so it was interesting to meet some of the staff and see how things work for them. The designer ended up staying for a while afterwords to give us some pointers on production, as that is what we were about to spend the evening working on.

The issue that we were producing was our April Fools Day issue, and when it hit the stands yesterday, I think the general consensus on campus was that it was the best thing Triangle, the school newspaper has ever done––which is both good and kind of sad at the same time, as nothing in it was actually true.

The conference on Tuesday caused me to miss all of my classes that day (with the exception of my night class) which caused me to not find out that one of my assignments for Thursday had been dramatically shortened, which caused me to spend the better part of the day on Wednesday frantically working and becoming more and more frustrated. The assignment was related to my criticism paper for Rhetorical Thought and Theory, which I have had a very difficult time finding sources for. Fortunately, instead of having to submit the completed literature review yesterday, I only needed an annotated bibliography. Unfortunately, I didn't learn that until Wednesday night.

Yesterday went along as most Thursdays have this semester until I was in the middle of cooking supper. I got a call to come to an emergency meeting for Triangle in regards to an issue that surfaced last semester but unexpectedly went sideways today. I unfortunately can't talk about what it is right now, but it will probably be the subject of an extended post sometime in the near future.

Save to say, that same issue was what consumed the lion's share of my time and effort today, doing things that I hate doing, because they involved interpersonal communication.

I hate talking to people face-to-face––especially if it involves any kind of confrontation or attempt at persuasion. I would much rather write, make a video or even speak publicly from a podium to people than actually have a conversation with them. It's one my least favorite things.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Leaking my own video

Between an essay for History and Nature of the English Language, a presentation for Trafficking In Persons, and another presentation for Rhetorical Thought & Theory, I was pretty busy this past week. The one thing, however, that consumed the single largest amount of my time, was a video for Bryan Triangle. Not just any video though. A spoof on my favorite TV show, TopGear. While it's technically not public until tomorrow, I decided I would give the readers of this blog a jump-start on seeing it... and as long as nobody goes and posts it all over Facebook, I think we should be okay. (after today, March 25, you are welcome to post it all over fb, by the way... it's just not supposed to be there right yet).

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The First Instagram

I've somehow become extremely busy since getting back from spring break. Sunday I filmed what is probably the most epic spoof on the show TopGear ever and have been editing it. Tuesday I had a paper and a bunch of homework due, just this evening I had a presentation human trafficking in India, and tomorrow I have an major presentation on the Belletristic movement.

While looking through some of my old photos from Europe in an attempt to find something to illustrate Lord Kames rhetoric principle of "sublimity conveyed through grand objects," I stumbled across some photos that, while probably not grand, reminded me of something that has become very popular today.

It was a foggy, rainy, early February night in San Lorenzo Italy, and for some reason that I don't remember at all, my friends––who were still very much strangers at this point––Mary, Connor, Nicole, Bryan and I decided to go stumble around in the wet and the dark. I didn't want to risk destroying my brand-new Panasonic Lumix super-zoom, but at the last minute, slipped my little Sony CyberShot, the first digital camera I ever owned, into my coat pocket. As I had suspected would happen, by the time we staggered into a bar which we would later know affectionately as Martin's––but like I said, we were still very much strangers at this point––we were completely soaked.

My camera was soaked too, but still functioned more or less. I took some rather awkward snapshots (may I emphasize again, we were wet strangers sitting together in a bar in Italy) as we waited for our chocolate calde to arrive. Stumbling upon them again just now, I was struck by how much they look like they were taken with instagram. Don't they?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Super Size Me... not

The first week of my new schedule––soccer or jogging class every morning at 8am––is over, and I think it's going to be a lot better than I thought it would. Soccer has been fun, at least once we actually started doing it, and jogging has been great. Despite the fact hat I have always hated running in the morning, I've really enjoyed it so far. It's supposed to be just jogging, but as running is the only thing that I'm really anything near competitive in, I tend to end up doing at bit more than just an easy jog, which combined with soccer and being forced to stretch (something I never normally do) has left me kind of sore. But that's okay.

The only real downside to running in the morning is that it means I can't run in the evening. Despite, and perhaps because of, the on-and-off thundershowers of the past week, the evenings have been particularly beautiful––the kind I usually love running on. But I can't.

Well, I guess I could, but one of my goals for this semester––in addition to finding a job––is to get back over 130 pounds, and I don't think that's going to happen if I'm running/playing soccer twice every day.

I've always been on the edge of being underweight, but a lot of it is just how I'm built. I was shocked over Christmas though to find that I had lost about six pounds over the fall semester, and this semester so far I've lost two more. When I got back for spring break, I had a friend I hadn't seen since Christmas ask me if I was okay just because of how thin she said I looked. I guess it's been a rough year.

I feel fine, however, and I think I eat enough. All the same, I'm taking certain measures, like trying to eat more... and not run ten times a week.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dayton Where?

In a class I'm taking right now, History and Nature of the English Language, my professor was talking about how Dayton TN used to be called Smith's Crossroads. 

When the railroad came through though, the good people of would-be Dayton pulled what would not be their last public relations stunt and changed the name to Dayton, after Dayton OH, which was at the other end of the rail-line.

Although I'm not nearly interested enough in this to research it properly, I think I can finally intelligently theorize as to why so many town names in Pennsylvania where I grew up are shared (to the great confusion of customers when I worked for an alternative energy heating dealership that sold to Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Ohio) by towns in so many other states:

Ohio copied all of Pennsylvania's town names, and then Tennessee copied all of Ohio's town names, which is why when I say I am from Troy, worked in Mansfield, and go to school in Dayton, everyone in America assumes I am from their state.

Of course, I guess being frustrated at Ohio and Tennessee for confusing my life is a bit hypocritical. The original Mansfield is in England somewhere, and I hear Troy was somewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean––before it got destroyed by those bloody Greeks.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


It's been a great spring break. Not because I did anything at all fantastic, but because I spent a lot of time with a lot of great people. Tomorrow I head back to Tennessee for the final month and a half that is left of my undergraduate career. Today I took some photos around the hill, mostly focusing on some of my family's animals, and under some strange influence, decided to compile them into a short video.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

The Highway to [from] Hell

Yesterday was so ridiculous that I still can't believe it. The stuff stories are made of. Bad stories.

My friend Meagan and I left Dayton Tennessee at 6:30AM yesterday morning. We both live in Pennsylvania and so wanted to get a jump on the normally 12-13 hour drive. As an added incentive, there were tornadoes predicted for that afternoon. Not something we cared to stick around for.

Only five minutes from campus, I started hearing a strange low noise whenever I hit the accelerator. I checked all the engine lights, checked the oil––twice, and finally suspected it was something to do with the flex-coupler or muffler.
When the noise intensified to a deafening blast that we could hardly talk over, my theory was confirmed. I called my Dad for what would be the first of about about 15 times that day, and he advised that as long as it was just the muffler, we should keep going. That was about 15 miles into the 750 mile trip.

When, a short time later, I started to hear the muffler dragging on the ground, I knew things had just become more complicated.

I pulled off at the first available exit, which happened to be a place called Bulls Gap Tennessee, but I will henceforth remember as the only town in the world without metal coat hangers. I stopped at a gas station, inquired if they had any wire, and when I was disappointed, bought some duct tape and jacked the car up to make a temporary fix. Since the exhaust pipe runs at several hundred degrees temperature, I knew the tape wouldn't hold long, but it kept it suspended off the pavement long enough to get to a dollar store––the only store in Bulls Gap. They had only plastic coat hangers, but I found some zip ties, which, when linked together, worked very nicely to cinch the errant pipe up into its original position. The noise was still deafening, but I hoped the ties would at least last most of the way back.

They melted in about fifteen minutes.

Engine roaring and exhaust pipe dragging down the freeway, I pulled off in Kingsport TN, which I will henceforth remember as the only city in the world without level ground.

At Walmart, we finally found some metal coat hangers to untwist and wire the pipe up with. But there was no level ground. Even the Walmart parking lot was slanted, and when I tried to jack the car up for the third time that morning, it started to shift––not something you want happening when you're under it. We drove around town for several minutes looking for a level area, and finally thought we found one behind a pharmacy.

I jacked it up. There was nothing to block it with, but we were almost two hours behind schedule and I was in a bad mood, so I got under anyways. The pipe was hot enough still that it burned my hands, so I got back out to wait for it to cool. About 30 seconds after I emerged, the car shifted, the jack broke, and the car slammed back to the ground.

While I had avoided getting killed, I was now stuck without a jack. I called my Dad again, and he suggested driving it up on a curb. So I drove it up on several curbs before I finally found one that was just high enough to let me shimmy under. It wasn't ideal, but I was able to get several of the coat hangers, which weren't nearly as flexible as would have been useful, wrapped around, suspending the pipe a couple inches above the ground. 
Did I mention that it was pouring rain for most of this adventure so far? So by now I was pretty much covered in mud as we set off up 81 for the second time.

The coat hangers only worked for about 15 minutes before it started dragging again. Fortunately, my Dad had by this time started looking online for muffler repair shops further up the highway He found one in Harrison Tennessee and gave me the exit just before I passed it.

It was called Rusty's Muffler and was owned by an old man named Rusty with a long white beard. I explained to him that I just wanted it fixed so that it wasn't dragging anymore, but he said he could cut it off and weld a new piece of pipe on for $45 dollars, which was less than I was expecting to have to pay just for him to put it up on the lift and look at it. So we sat on the couch in his office for just about ten minutes which was all it took him to do it, and just like that, it was fixed. 

We had probably an hour of good driving before the storms seriously hit, causing a twelve car pile-up in just north of Salem Virginia, which caused us to have a two and half hour delay on top of the three hour delay from the muffler issues. We decided to try a detour through Salem and up 11, which was a good idea, except for another problem with my car.

After my family used my car for three months last spring, it has had some issues, including a broken AC and moisture inside. These two things taken together give it a major condensation problem when it rains and the car isn't moving fast... which it no longer was. So by the time we were halfway through Salem, I was literally having to wipe the windshield off every 45 seconds just to see to drive. This was finally fixed by turning the heat way up so that the air coming into the car was dry, and we finally did make it back onto 81 beyond the accident. But now we were five hours behind.

Things were uneventful until we reached Carlisle. That was where I was supposed to meet Meagan's Mom so they could make the drive back to Philadelphia. Meagan's Mom though, who had been waiting for five hours now, had accidentally run their car's battery dead. Fortunately I had jumper cables, but it was now a torrential downpour.  I was just getting dry for the first time all day, but jumping the car in the rain took care of that.

It was 1AM by the time I got home. That's almost 20 hours of driving; by far the longest it has ever taken me to make the trip between Dayton and home.