Saturday, March 28, 2009

Improvements and changes at Sertoma

I made a trip up to Sertoma for the weekend to work on some summer planning, while I was there I drove around (it was raining, so I didn't walk) and took some shots of some of the new things going on.

The Flying Squirrel, ready for lift-off, and now has a mulched landing

The Giant Swing, still giant, also mulched in

A view of the new low-ropes area, currently in development and going to be ready for the summer

Here's another view, that's a bridge across the stream right in front of you

Where the old low-ropes course used to be, now has a maintenance shed!

High ropes course, still high, bordered in with 8x8's and ready to be mulched the same way the giant swing and flying squirrel are

The road to the horse pasture, now graded and less treacherous-looking

Path to chapel, looks much nicer now with the 8x8's and the rocks, the parking area in front of the classrooms has also been "rocked out," this should help keep mud from getting tracked in when it rains

New windows in the rec hall! Soon they will be made soccer ball-proof

Windows from the outside

Improvements being made to the pool

New chairs for the conference room! Well, not brand-new, but they're new to us, and definitely an upgrade to what we had before.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Why I dislike Alex Ovechkin's prancing

A lot has been made of Alexander Ovechkin's 50th-Goal-Celebration-And-General-Asshatery over the last few days. For those of you not in the know, after beating Mike McKenna for his 50th goal of the season, Ovi dropped his stick on the ice and pretended it was too hot to pick up. To date it was the most elaborate goal celebration of his career (that I think of) and added fuel to the Ovechkin-Cherry dispute. Don Cherry, an old timey Pro-Canada Anti-European traditionalist, hasn't been afraid to rail against Ovi's shinanegans, #8 and his supporters have been saying that his antics are good for the NHL, that it attracts fans to the sport.

Let's get a few things straight before I start in on this. I'm not a fan of Ovi8, he plays for one of my favorite team's (Carolina) rivals, but I do recognize that he is the best offensive player in the game, and I say "offensive" with good reason. Ovechkin is always looking to score, which often has a negative effect on his defensive play. I don't agree with all of Don Cherry's talking points against Ovechkin, but I agree that Alex's tomfoolery makes him look like an ass, and I'm going to tell you why.

His celebrations don't draw any fans to the game, period. Would you seriously tune in to an NFL game for the touchdown celebration? We watch the game (any game, really) because we want to see it played with skill (something Ovechkin definitely has). We're going to want to watch players of Alex's ilk no matter what because they're the best at what they do, his celebrations are unnecessary. Critics have lamented that the NHL doesn't have any one-name superstars a la Kobe, Lebron, A-Rod, Peyton, Eli, T.O., but this perceived (and as I believe, incorrectly perceived) lack of marketable stars isn't because they aren't prancing around like a band of idiots when they score, it's because the NHL has a piss-poor TV contract that keeps it's potentially marketable stars out of any markets that don't have NHL teams.

I'm not about to say that he shouldn't celebrate as frantically as he does because it might hurt the opposing team's feelings (which is a point Cherry makes). The way I see it, if teams didn't want to see number 8 roll around on the ice like a dumb ass they would keep him from scoring, or they should put one of their goons out there to slap some sense into him. The thing his celebrations do do (I'll pause while we all stop giggling at that list sentence), is draw all of the attention to him. This is what Ovechkin wants, of course, but he does this at the expense of his teammates. Hockey is a team sport (duh), and nine-times out of ten in an NHL game the player that scores the goal isn't the player that made the best play, for every goal there is usually some spirited fore or backchecking and at least one great pass, that's why hockey awards up to two assists per goal. Now, to his credit, Ovechkin celebrates enthusiasticly any time somebody on his line scores (even if his team is still down 4-1), but these choreographed celebrations take attention from the other five guys on the ice that put him in position to put the puck in the net. The first thing most hockey players do when they score is skate over and celebrate with their teammates, Ovechkin drops his stick and acts like an idiot instead.

So that's my case against NHL players making a big production out of goal celebrations. We don't need NHLers taking a page out of the NFL celebration playbook. Unlike NFL players, NHL players come across as personable to their fans, which is one of the reasons why we love them so much. If I saw Ray Whitney or Joe Corvo at the grocery store, I would feel comfortable quickly letting him know they've had a great season so far. A big-time NFL player? I don't think they even go shopping for their own groceries.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

How Wikipedia saved my life

It's Saturday afternoon, the second to last day of my spring break, and I'm bored. I've been needing to blog for over a month now, and since I don't really feel like thinking and writing, I thought I'd goof around with some Mac apps I've been neglecting (Photo Booth, Numbers) and answer a useless question I've been wondering about for a long time:

If I drink a lot of water, how much weight will I gain? Also, how will my drinking a bunch of water affect my scale's calculations of body fat % and body water %?

Yes, questions you never cared to ask, and I'm asking them.

So here's the lowdown.

Me being bored

The water bottle I'm going to be using, holds about 33.8 fluid ounces, I weight it using my scale and it showed 2.2 lbs, which is about right

The scale in question, it uses those metal pads to send electricity into my feet and, using my age, gender, and height, calculates my body fat % and body water %

Another FYI, as far as weight and body fat % I'm not going to tell you the initial number, just the amount it increases or decreases, because I'm like a woman when it comes to my weight.

4:40 PM Downing the first bottle of water. I'm wondering how much fluid the stomach can handle. I'd like to avoid puking.

4:45 PM Finished the first bottle of water. Results of the second weigh-in:

I gained 2.5 lbs, my body fat% went up by 0.4% and my total body water % actually went down from 53.3% to 53.1%. Odd.

Wikipedia says that the stomach, on average, expands to contain about 1 liter of food. Not sure how it handles water, but I just downed a liter of it, so I'm going to slow down a lil bit. No use puking in the name of science.

5:25 PM Finished the second bottle. Gained 2.1 lbs from the last weigh-in, my body fat % jumped up by .6% and my total body water % continued to go down, this time by 0.3%

At this point, nature is calling, but I'm going to hold off for now. In the name of science of course.

Such a trooper!

As a precaution, I read up on wikipedia about water poisoning/intoxication. I found this little tidbit: "In 2008, Jacqueline Henson, a 40-year-old British woman, died after drinking four litres of water in under two hours as part of her Lighter Life diet plan."

Holy Shitballs. About one hour into this game I've downed 2.5 liters. Granted, this woman was probably clinically obese, I'm not sure what kind of complications that would put into the whole deal, but I'm going to take it easy on this water drinking deal. I'm not puking for science, and I'm certainly not going to die for this stupid lil deal.

To balance out my electrolytes I'll see if I can find a banana or some pretzels or something. Yeah, I don't want to die.

6:09 PM finished my third liter of water. Gained 2.4 lbs from the last weigh-in (must be noted that I ate a few things to try and add nutrients to all the water I've been drinking in the interest of not dying) my body fat % went up .4% and my total body water continued to drop, this time by .3 percent.

I'm done drinking water for now. Wikipedia scared me straight, I don't want to die by something as lame as water intoxication, I'm actually starting to feel a little woosy, so I'm gonna end the consumption (and idiocy) right now. However, before I end the experiment all together, I'm interested in seeing how answering nature's call will change the numbers.

6:51 PM Nature called... and called... and called. I just lost 2.4 lbs in about a minute. That's about a liters worth of urine. My body fat % dropped by 1.3% and my body water % went back up to 53.3%, which is what it was at when this whole thing started.

Here's a graph of my exploits

Monday, January 26, 2009

Thinking out loud

I used to be that friend that everybody went to with their problems. That's how I used to make friends, I would seek out the broken souls (at least the female broken souls) and then get them to tell me their life stories. Then I would try to fix everything for them. One of my close friends growing up actually called me her "mentor" I was a 14-year-old with the mind of a wise old man.

I don't do that very much anymore. I haven't for a long time. It wasn't that I didn't like it. I loved it, I loved making people happy and making them feel better about themselves. I'm not completely sure why I gave it up, probably because it was just too damned exhausting. In a few frustrating situations I found out that sometimes people don't want to be happy, they like being miserable, and you can't fix somebody that doesn't want to be fixed.

I also learned that when it comes to advice most people don't want it. 99% of the time when people ask for advice they're asking for you to tell them what they want to hear. They've made up their minds, now they just want somebody else to say what they're thinking so that they will be more confident with the decision they're already decided upon. It's not exactly an optimistic way to look at it, but we all do it.

I've never been very good at telling people what they want to hear, that drove some people away, and I also gave up on fixing people. I can't fix anybody, even if they want me to. When I gave up trying to be the "caretaker to the world" (as my school counselor would call it) my mental health improved dramatically. I started taking care of (and looking out for) myself. To this day that's something that sounds selfish for me to do, but I understand that it has a lot to do with why I'm as resilient a person as I am.

I also stopped giving out so much advice. My close friends all know (or at least they should know) that I would do anything for them, but a lot of times advice isn't what they want or need, which is something I didn't know why I was younger (and sometimes I forget, ask around, I tend to give out my fair share of unsolicited advice, my bad). Sometimes somebody just wants to talk about what's bugging them, to think out loud. Sometimes they just want a hug, and sometimes they don't want to talk about their problems at all, sometimes they need to get their mind off of their problems, if even just for an hour or two.

That said, sometimes I find myself falling into bad habits. I'll see a friend heading down a path that everybody around them knows isn't good for them, and I'll pull my hair out wanting to get them to change their minds. Sometimes I just want to shake them senseless, or at least until they can realize how stupid they're acting. It drives me nuts when I see somebody I care about ignore the great opportunities they have in front of them in favor of some misguided pipe dream that is only going to lead to them getting hurt.

But now, unlike before, I know that I need to stop myself. I don't know as much as I think I do sometimes, and besides, it's not my place to tell them what they should and shouldn't do. In the end the best thing is to let them go off and learn the lesson for themselves, and sometimes people need to chase their pipe dreams.

So instead of rushing in and trying to rectify the situation I'll keep my mouth shut. That's what a good friend does. I think.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tip of the Day for my North Carolinian friends

Last night, for the first time in the 2+ years I've lived in the Tar Heel State, we had a legitimate snowstorm. I woke up in the morning to three to five inches of snow on the ground and classes cancelled for the day.

A fair share of students on campus spent the day frolicking and whatnot, I didn't have much interest in anything like that, I've seen plenty of snow in my time. It's cold and wet, and if given the choice between a snowball fight and an extra few hours of sleep I'll take the sleep.

Anyhoo, for those of you who have to leave their cars outside and commute around the city here's a tip that can save you some time standing outside freezing your ass off and maybe even a few dollars if you want to avoid buying an ice scraper that you'll only use a few times.

The night before a snowstorm (or any other time where you think you'll need to use your scraper later on) take a piece of fabric you don't particularly care for (I like to use an old towel) and place it on the outside of your windshield. Use the windshield wipers to help hold it up. This also works for other windows you don't feel like scraping in the morning, just figure out a way to get them to stay on the window and you're good to go. Then in the morning peel the fabric off and tada! You no longer have to spend ten minutes scraping that bitch off.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Thoughts on God, Religion, Theology, and Pancakes

It's been over a week since I posted anything on here. I was afraid this might happen. Things flowed so easily during the break. I always had something interesting to say (at least to me it was interesting). Now that the semester has started I haven't had time to focus on the outside world long enough to develop any writing ideas. I hate writing about myself and my own life, I'm a self-conscious blogger, and I hate to bore people.

Unfortunately for you it's 4:45 AM on a Friday morning and I'm bored, so I'm going to talk about myself here for a lil bit.

In particular I'm going to talk about my thoughts on religion. Yeah, that sounds like fun. Probably wont sound like a good idea a few hours from now, but why not go nuts?

So here goes...

I'm not religious, but organized religion fascinates me. I'm not spiritual, but I'm intrigued by spirituality. I'm not Christian, I'm not Jewish, I'm not really a Deist in the way it's commonly thought of, I'm not anything really. However I have nothing against those that are religious. My closest friends and some of the most important people in my life are devoutly religious, and that's just fine with me, it's part of who they are, they are intelligent, loving, and genuinely good people, if religion helped them get to where they are today then cool beans. At the same time I have a few (and I emphasize, a few, as in two or three) friends that subscribe to the sort of belief that worries me. They are ardently zealous and unquestioning in their faith. It's the unquestioning part that worries me. Us humantypes are built for asking questions, and suspending rational thought and honest inquiry in favor of zombie-like obedience and mindless zealotry is headslap stupid and creates an environment that breeds extremism, which is never a good thing no matter what it involves. You shouldn't check your brain at the door when you enter a chapel or open a book, quite the opposite in my opinion. Question everything I say. You'll be better off for it. Some of my more devout friends are also some of the most brilliant people I know of, and they involve every ounce of their intellect when it comes to their religous studies, and they are that much better off for it.

I'm now starting to realize that a non-religous person trying to give advice on how to best be religious is stupid. Mind-numbingly stupid.

I'm not religous, but I'm ready and willing to admit that I don't know what the answer is. That doesn't mean I don't believe in anything though. I believe in truth, honesty, and generally not being a douchebag. I believe there is only one sin: stealing, and I believe that any other "sin" you can think of is derived from theft (yeah, I got that from Kite Runner, but you have to admit that was a sweet movie). When I do something nice for somebody else, it makes me feel good about myself, I don't think you have to subscribe to any particular theology to realize that, it just makes sense. I don't go to church, I don't pray, but I try to live my life day to day as a good person, if death is the end then I'm okay with that. Kindness is an end unto itself. It makes me happy now and if it earns me points in any potential afterlife then sweet deal.

The further I get into this lil monologue the more I realize it's impossible for me to get my arms around this topic. It would take hours for me to explain my ideas on religion in a way that I feel would keep people from hating me, so for now I'm going to throw in the towell and go to sleep. Maybe I'll take it up again the next time I'm awake in the predawn hours and need to kill time.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


So on New Years Day I went bowling with my family. It's sort of a tradition that we've been doing for the last little while. I figured it'd be a good opportunity to spend time with the fam and roll a few games. I had no idea I was going to bowl the best game of my life.

Yes, I had the girl behind the desk print out the scoresheet. You have to have proof of things like this or nobody will ever believe you. Along with being my highest score ever it's also my first clean game ever. For the 98% of you out there that don't know the term, a clean game is when you have a strike or spare in each frame, so basically no open frames.

Anyway, I'm done patting myself on the back now.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Murder suspect poses with possible murder weapon on myspace

In another example of stupid criminals metaphorically shooting themselves in the foot with social networking sites, Deamonte Tavaris Brooks, 18, charged with one count of murder and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury stemming from a November 8 shooting, is helping investigators to build a case against him by having previously posed with the potential murder weapon in pictures featured on his myspace page, according to Michael Blesecker of the Raleigh News & Observer.

According to Blesecker, "The page is titled "Crip Swag" and makes numerous mentions of Brooks' affiliation with the Crips street gang."

Sounds like an upstanding member of the community to me.

Police covered their bases and obtained a search warrant to document any potential evidence found on the myspace page. The warrant was executed December 18th and Investigator M. Soucie noted that "Upon further investigation it was discovered the suspect had a MySpace account and had photos of the possible murder weapon along with comments and messages that may be related to this crime, the MySpace account was viewed and did in fact contain photos of the suspect holding several weapons."

I decided to check Mr. Brooks' Myspace page for myself to see if it is as self-incriminating as Blesecker makes it sound. He wasn't exagerrating:

The first two pictures are of what police believe to be the murder weapon. The other two are of an automatic rifle and a sawed-off shotgun.

It continues to amaze me with how stupid some people can be when it comes to Myspace and Facebook. Do you think these photos and "cryp swag" layout are going to shave any years off when it comes to his sentence? What amazes me even more is that it keeps on happening. You'd think that if you've dedicated yourself to a life of crime, or at least decided to dabble in the "thug lifestyle" that you would think twice about advertising your misdeeds and/or weapons arsenal on a website accessible to anybody with two thumbs and the IQ of a speed bump, let alone the COPS. Deamonte may not be the sharpest gangstrrr on the block, but at least he went down in style.

Social networking sites have turned into a real asset for investigators trying to put away criminals that are more concerned with looking good than not getting caught, it makes it easier for them to get these boys off the streets and make life safer for the rest of us, plus it gives me something to write about. It's unfortunate that this kid had to go and kill somebody to make a name for himself.