December 17, 2007

The Giving Blog

So... if you were a 24 year old woman, what would you want for Christmas from your fiance? Seriously, people, I could use some help here. I don't know why I'm having so much trouble this time around. I hope that doesn't bode poorly for future Christmases. I hope to spend many with TinRoof.

OK folks - I'm off to the Schnitzel house for ein bier with one of my office mates (Little Mikey). After that, I may go prowl the mall promptly and hope that a present will present itself to my presence for purchase...presently.

December 14, 2007

Video Bonanza (episode 2)

Greetings beautiful people of the world. Despite my lack of blogging recently, the Musings have encountered a resurgence in popularity. I think it has to do with this post from last year in which I spread the word of The Abominable "O Holy Night". Well good news folks. I just found out there is a new article up over at the Burnside Writer's Collective which includes an interview with the "singer" of this hideous musical performance. Check it out.

As for me, my creativity is still waning. I have yet to fully recover from 12th Night. By the by, kudos to those of you who came out to support me. It truly means a lot. PezMan came all the way from StL, my Dad was in town, and TinRoof's entire extended family (almost) showed up from TN and DC. And of course, many of the CVille crew came out as well. For those of you who did not come (save those of you with proper excuses): allow me to gently remind you how important it is to us performers that our friends come and support us. For all of you out there with friends in theatre or music: when someone invites you to a performance - be there. It's what you do. Especially if it's a show they've spent months on and have a large role in. Unless your friend gives you permission, or you have a genuine conflict, it's pretty much not acceptable to miss a show.

Enough of that. Now on to bigger and better things. Namely, my second ever Video Bonanza! (See above comment about my current lack of creativity.)

A clip from the show Extras. Hilarious episode with Sir Ian in it.
(NYC crew - be sure to watch this one!)


Since we've been talking about hilarious versions of "O Holy Night" I thought I'd rehash the classic performance by Cartman. You wouldn't believe how hard it was to find a clip of this. The only one I found is really poor - but does the trick.


A clip from my recent performance of Carmina Burana.


And because I can't get enough of Bobby McFerrin lately, here's The Voice.

November 28, 2007

Twelfth Night

Today I decided I was going to start a blog and use it to advertise the upcoming performances of Twelfth Night (in which I play Sir Toby Belch). Then I realized I already had a blog! Grant it, no one visits anymore except my mother-in-law-to-be, but still.

Seriously though, I apologize for the blog-neglect. You NYC theatre folk know how it is. Especially you, Bourbon. You have a blog too, ya know. How else am I to learn about the exploits of Quantum and his mighty Quantum Card?

The point is, the show opens Thursday and runs for two weeks after which time I shall return to the art of blogging. In the meantime, here are some things to keep you happy.

1. I may have mentioned before - but I truly appreciate drunk dials. Honestly, it's quite nice to know that I'm remembered from time to time.
2. Uber260 is an incredible human being. The man sent TinRoof and I an engagement present! And he is to be thanked! (She especially enjoyed the gift - it saved her like $60 at Anne Taylor).
3. I know you all don't live in Charlottesville - but come to my show anyway! I'm looking at you Quantum, Brownsox, etc.
4. Remember that one trip to White Castle where we met Skinny and Marlow? I wonder what became of those guys and their jug of gin.

October 18, 2007

In Search of The Belch

I must needs learn to belch. And by that I mean several things. For starters, many of you know I was recently cast as Sir Toby Belch in the UVA Drama Dept. presentation of Twelfth Night. If you did not know it - now you do; it is not too late to congratulate me. And it is never too late to purchase your tickets for the show. Correction: after the show is too late. But I diverge! My point is that I must learn to Belch (that is, to be Sir Belch, and to... burp). There comes a point in every man's life when he must learn the seductive art of the unassisted burp. Typically this comes at about age 12 or 13. Unfortunately, this is one skill my father failed to pass on to me. So now am I a 25 year old belchless man. I have looked for help online and found none that was actually helpful. And every person I've asked has told me the same thing - swallow air. Well kiss my blog-o-butt (did I perhaps finally coin a new blog lingo?), I don't know what the crap that means. And I've nearly gagged myself trying. I am determined to learn this skill over the next month. So if any of you have any helpful advice that does not include the phrase "swallow air" please send it my way.

Also...um... did I mention I'm engaged?!

September 24, 2007

Lemon Water

Let me tell you something that drives me nuts (for, what good are blogs if not as an outlet for childish complaining). I can't stand it when I go to a restaurant and ask for water but instead am brought back supremely watered down lemonade. Now, I know there are those of you who enjoy a slice of lemon on their water glass - and that's fine. But when I ask for a water, I expect to receive only water. If I wanted lemonade, I would order it. And if a lemonade was delivered to me that tasted as watered down as the lemon-water which is so often served in place of water, I would send it back.

Now, this is something I've loathed for some time. But what prompted the blog was this weekend's meals with TinRoof's grandmother, Gan. At each restaurant, Gan would ask the waiter for "water with lemon" and I would ask for "water". And each time, we were both brought the same thing: lemon-polluted-water. I briefly thought, perhaps when I order my drink, I should clarify - "water without lemon". But then I thought, screw that! Why should I be the one who has to clarify? I think Gan had it right when she ordered - she specified exactly what she wanted - just as I did. But only one of us was listened to.

If only I were able to be a jerk in real life (not just on my blog), maybe I would send back my "water" and ask for a water.

September 12, 2007

Dr. Church's Bewitched Ale

The long awaited picture of my home made beer.


Jealous?

September 07, 2007

Pi-th Visit

The Musings have received their Pi-th visitor! (The 3,141-th visitor, that is.) The lucky winner of this shout out is a Verizon Internet Services customer and has an IP address which traces to King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. I didn't even know that was a real town! But it has been google-confirmed and is near Philly which leads me to believe the mystery visitor was my former office mate, the Italian Stallion of Combustion. His visit included 2 page views and a length of 1 minute and 40 seconds - just enough time for a healthy dose prescribed by Dr. Church.

In other visitation news. Someone recently arrived at my site via a Google search for "high altitude flatulence emissions". I've never been more proud than this moment.

September 06, 2007

One time, OK, see, one time (part 7)

OK, so, see, one time Randy Beaman's mom's best friend, whose name is Linda, wanted to get a tan more than anything, so she went to a tanning salon and she stayed in too long and she boiled her guts.

'K, bye.

September 05, 2007

Church's Commercial Challenge

Last month, I supplied you all with a challenge. I was hoping one of you might track down - or at least remember - the "No mommy! That's my food!" commercial. I even offered to grant one wish to the winner of this challenge and sing his praises on my Musings. None of you bit. Fine then. Be that way. However, I have come up with a second challenge. This one is just for fun though - no wishes will be granted.

I've been thinking lately about the long term impact of advertising. There's so much crap on the tube these days. I wonder what will have staying power. Will kids 15 years from now remember the Gecko or the Cavemen? Will they be able to sing the McDonald's jingle? Am I the only one who has a ridiculous memory of this useless crap? I can think back on my childhood and certain commercials or jingles stick out vividly even after all these years. The other day, I couldn't get the old Big Red jingle out of my head and I wondered - am I the only one?

So the challenge is this: Without the aid of YouTube or any other internet cheating device, can any of you remember the lyrics to the old school Big Red jingle?

Give up? You can hear it here. I'd also be curious to hear your nominations for the commercial and/or jingle from your childhood which is most memorable.

September 03, 2007

On the Being of a Grad Student (Part 2)

A moment in the life and times of a graduate student:

It's the week before Labor Day weekend. You have an abstract submission for a conference due on Friday evening. On your own, you might never submit to this conference, or care to attend it; however your advisor is determined to keep up his appearance in the academic community and thus must show you off. You oblige and finish the abstract by Thursday at mid day - sending it to your advisor for one last (well... first) perusal and approval. And while you know the submission deadline will be extended (they always are), your girlfriend will be in town this weekend and you hope to get the abstract out of the way before she arrives. What's more, she has a real job and thus has Monday off from work (legitimately) and you wish to spend time with her. Grad students don't ever really get days off. Even on holidays or approved vacation days your advisor has somehow managed to instill in you a moderate amount of guilt. What kind of slacker grad student takes off for a minor holiday such as Thanksgiving!? So you make plans with your girlfriend to do something fun - perhaps a picnic and then an afternoon matinée. But he knows. Somehow your advisor has caught wind of the fact that you intend to stray from his bidding. So he plots his revenge. Rather than meeting with you on Friday to discuss your abstract (as you requested), he waits until Sunday night to contact you. And "coincidentally" requests a meeting smack in the middle of your Labor Day plans. You can try to change the meeting time, but it will be of no avail. Your advisor knows that you must answer his every beck and call. After all, you hope to graduate one day and emerge from this pitiful graduate existence.

Don't you?

August 27, 2007

Like... such as

I had planned to blog this morning about seeing Evan Almighty last night. I was going to tell you all how pleasantly surprised I was by the film. That it was cute and funny and wholesome. And that I even spotted a friend or two in the background (it was filmed just down the road). I was going to tell you about the ridiculously beautiful theatre that TinRoof and I saw this movie in (The Byrd in Richmond) and how awesome it was that we only paid $2. But then... I saw Miss Teen South Carolina's tragically funny response to a question in the recent Miss Teen USA competition. I honestly wasn't sure whether to fall to the ground in laughter or shed a tear for the US American education system (not to mention those poor South Africans). Even the good old Mario Lopez was struggling to contain himself after this idiotic remark. So what more could I do than what thousands of people have probably already done - and post this video on my blog. Enjoy! But beware - you absolutely will be dumber 48 seconds from now.

My favorite part is "everywhere like such as and"!

August 24, 2007

Horrible Green Monster

Alright so the title is slightly misleading. Give me a break, I don't blog that much anymore. My creativity has been drained by my advisor who deems it unnecessary for academic research. For example, earlier this week - he had me scan a 200+ page document and create a ginormous pdf for him. Man was that a fun time. But what really has me irked at the present (and has inspired this blog's title) is my apartment community's landscapers. These guys come bright and early to get their work done. And as a result - they wake up my lazy grad-student-ass quite abruptly and... annoyingly (is that a word?). Look, I know people with real jobs are up by 8am. But what about those of us who don't go to work until 10...ish? Are we not entitled to wake at our leisure without the sounds of weed whackers, lawn mowers, and leaf blowers? Not to mention the fact that these guys for some reason seem to think it makes sense to blow off the sidewalks by blowing all the clippings and crap onto my front porch! Keep up the good work, jerks.

August 13, 2007

A welcome back joke

Hi there! Last week I was at home all week. And as you might have noticed - I didn't do a darned thing. So, while I do have some stories to blog about, for now I will just offer this joke for your amusement. (The punch line will be posted in comments)

What do you do with an elephant who has three balls?

August 01, 2007

Remind Me

I guess I'm on a commercials kick right now because lately I haven't been able to get a song out of my head from one of Geico's caveman commercials. Specifically, it's the one where the caveman is on a conveyor at the airport and passes a Geico sign. You can watch it on YouTube if you want. Anyway, I really dig the song. Well God bless the internet! I tracked down the song. It's called Remind Me and is by the Norwegian duo Röyksopp. While I still haven't found a recording of the remixed version which is heard in the commercial, the original version is pretty tight as well. To top it off, the video is excellent. Enjoy!

July 26, 2007

Blasted

Once upon a time, I wanted to be an astronaut. It was my dream for a good 9 years or so. Upon graduation from Northwestern, I had a series of interviews with NASA Marshall. They even flew me down for an interview. In the end, though they were intent on hiring me, they were prevented from making an offer due to the restructuring NASA was undergoing at the time. (Thanks a lot Bush!) Instead, I went off to grad school in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. But as time went on, I became more and more disillusioned with NASA. Rojas got a job at NASA Langley and rarely had positive reports about the work environment. Not to mention the fact that a couple years ago I discovered I am ineligible to be an astronaut based on my poor vision. (You don't have to have perfect vision - but it has to be within a certain range. Mine is not. However I knew that. What I didn't know until a few years ago was that getting laser eye surgery to bring me within this range would in fact disqualify me from candidacy.) Anyhow - the point of all this is merely to say that another news story has eroded my faith in NASA...

Drunken astronauts reportedly allowed to fly.

July 25, 2007

When I grow up

You know what's worse than having to prepare for your dissertation proposal? ... Preparing a dissertation proposal which bores the crap out of the person doing all the research! (That would be me.) It is kind of tragic that I've spent 3 years of my life researching a topic which I care so little about. Never mind the fact that I'm committed to one more year of this boredom before graduation will save me from the clutches of grad school. I can't help but wonder how I got here. There seems to be a fine line between perseverance and being stubborn. I'm not sure on which side of the line I currently reside. Some people are surprised to hear that if money was no issue, I would walk away from this field in a heartbeat. Of course this logic reminds me of Office Space...

Peter Gibbons: Our high school guidance counselor used to ask us what you'd do if you had a million dollars and you didn't have to work. And invariably what you'd say was supposed to be your career. So, if you wanted to fix old cars then you're supposed to be an auto mechanic.

Samir: So what did you say?

Peter Gibbons: I never had an answer. I guess that's why I'm working at Initech.

Michael Bolton: No, you're working at Initech because that question is bullshit to begin with. If everyone listened to her, there'd be no janitors, because no one would clean shit up if they had a million dollars.

Ah well. Thankfully I have enough acting training that I should be able to deliver my proposal presentation in such a way that my committee has no idea how bored I am by my own presentation.

July 23, 2007

No mommy!

If any of you can find a clip online of the commercial from way back in the day in which we heard the following quote...

No mommy! That's my food!

I will sing your praises on my Musings and grant you one wish. That commercial was hilarious... in a tragic sort of way. I can't remember what it was for. Probably Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig. Maybe Slim Fast. Alls I know is I laugh when I think about it.

Minor league baseball is the bomb

Among other exciting activities TinRoof and I enjoyed this weekend, we attended a minor league baseball game Saturday night. The Richmond Braves played the Toledo Mud Hens. A meeting of two first place teams in the International League (AAA). It was a great game to be sure - despite a few bonehead plays which one expects to see in the minors. Unfortunately, the home team was not the victor. The Mud Hens prevailed 4-1. A few notes about the game and minor league baseball in general:

  • I appreciate that AAA players like to steal. They give the crowd plenty of excitement. But at the same time, it aggravated me to see people running just for the heck of it, just to see if they could make it. Stealing a base can pay off - if you're not stupid about it. The Mud Hens may have won the game - but they also had 4 of 5 would be base stealers get picked off! My favorite part was when a guy on second got caught in a pickle by the pitcher - who ran him down and tagged him. The idiot on the basepaths should have at least made the pitcher throw the ball! That at least provides the chance for an error. The best part is - on the very next play, the guy on first decides he's going to make a run for second and gets thrown out by the catcher. The Mud Hens went from 2 on, no outs to 2 down and nobody on.
  • I like how many families come to minor league games. The number of cute kids in baseball getup was... innumerable. It was wonderfully distracting. And it makes me happy to live in America.
  • Keeping score is easier with 2 people. You can take turns. You can get a second opinion on how to score a play. And you can get up to get a beer without losing track of the game.
  • I'm glad we didn't go to the game on Sunday. The stadium was evacuated after the 5th inning due to a bomb threat! Can you believe that?
That's the game folks.

July 18, 2007

One time, OK, see, one time (part 6)

One time Randy Beaman woke up at night and he saw Dracula... but he thought it wasn't Dracula - just some clothes hanging up - then he turned on the light and it really was Dracula.

'K, bye.

July 17, 2007

Coffee makes me like things

I'm considering becoming a coffee addict. I'm starting to think it might make me much happier day to day. Currently I generally only have coffee maybe 2 times a week (usually Sunday morning at church and Thursday afternoon at the department seminar). Yet I find once that caffeine gets coursing through my veins, I am much more interested in using my brain. I enjoy seminars - even when the topic is dry and complex. I become fascinated with fellow grad students' research updates, dissertation proposals, or thesis defenses. I even become ever so slightly interested in my own work. I've previously avoided drinking excessive coffee so I wouldn't get to where I need it to function. But what's the point of functioning sans-coffee if you're bored all the time?

July 16, 2007

Blogger case of the Mondays

I'm not exactly sure what is behind my recent lack of interest in blogging. Perhaps it's because so few people read The Musings anymore. Then again, perhaps they stopped coming because I stopped musing. It's the classic chicken-egg dilema. Incidentally, have you ever used Google Scholar to investigate the academic discourse on which came first? I have.

The last few weeks have not been without excitement either. I visited TN. Voce99 made his first trip to visit me in Cville over the 4th of July. TinRoof has now completed 2 weeks at her new job in Richmond and seems to be loving it. We've been taking turns driving the hour-long ride between Richmond and Cville. My roommate moved out this weekend (tear!) and her boyfriend is going to replace her. He should be moving in any day now.

As advertised, I sampled my home-made beer on the 4th. I swear I'll post a picture eventually. Honestly I was pretty pleased with it. It has a nice color and aroma. And the taste isn't too bad either. The only problem was that I clearly over carbonated it. When I opened the first bottle - a swing-top - it popped off like champagne and blew my hair back. After pouring it, it sparkled excessively for probably 5 minutes before it reached an appropriate level of bubbles. All in all, not bad for my first try. I still have a fair amount left if the NYC crew should like to descend from their castle in the north to taste Dr. Church's Bewitched Red Ale. Come visit me you punks.

July 10, 2007

Avatar

Have any of you ever wondered what I might look like as a character on the Simpsons? I has. But this morning, instead of getting to work early, I decided to visit www.simpsonsmovie.com and create my Simpsons avatar. Behold!

P.S. In case you are wondering, I may be suspect of the upcoming movie, but I'm terribly excited about it!

July 03, 2007

Rage Against the Machine

First, to answer a few recent questions:

1. It's summer. It's hot out. The beard had to go. (But for the record, the picture below of me with Seinfeld's puffy shirt is from like 2 years ago...hence I look less fat)

2. I have nothing against hand soap in general. But I do think it's time for liquid soap to go. Foaming soap is the wave of the future. And not in the same way that those lame Dip'N'Dots claim to be. Ice cream of the future my ass. Foaming soap is easier to use, does a more thorough and effective job, and saves water and time. That liquid/gel crap aggravates me with its very existence.

For all my whining and ranting, not many things truly enrage me. I'm really a fairly mellow guy. At least I think. But I admit today I had an episode of true rage. A few weeks ago I received a ticket for rolling through a stop sign near my house. Today was my court date. As you might expect, the judge was a dick and stuck me with the fine. Still, I confess I am ashamed of the explosion of anger I unleashed on my car's steering wheel after the hearing.

Certainly part of my anger stems from the fact that, as a graduate student, I just can't really afford to pay 91 freaking dollars for a ticket. But I think what makes me more mad is that I was issued the ticket in the first place. As a law abiding citizen, I can't help but feel that my 25 years of exemplary obedience to the law should earn me some leniency. While the officer was giving me a ticket for an extremely minor infraction, I can't help but wonder what other actual crimes were being committed. Believe me, I understand why the law exists and must be enforced. I understand I bent said law. And I am not trying to plead "oh, why do bad things happen to good people?" But even with all that said, I'm not going to feel that the punishment I endured was fair.

I can't wait for the 4th of July. I've decided to celebrate my independence by smoking a Cuban cigar. Suck on that Albemarle County.

June 28, 2007

An onion on my belt

I don't have a whole lot of time to post today, which is a shame since there seems to be a lot of little things pushing me over the edge lately (see: traffic cops, graduate advisors, mice, and hand soap), but I thought I should try to post once before I left town this afternoon. TinRoof and I are heading down to Chattanooga for the weekend. Her parents have been in town all week helping her move to Richmond. This weekend we're going to a friend of hers' wedding. Add possessive apostrophes to the list of things that piss me off. Thus even though I'm short on time (I have work to finish before leaving town), I feel the need to attempt to entertain my admittedly dwindling readership. Therefore I shall borrow a tactic from a wise old coot and tell you all a story that doesn't go anywhere... like the time I caught the ferry over to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for my shoe, so, I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. Give me five bees for a quarter, you’d say. Now where were we? Oh yeah -- the important thing was that I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. They didn’t have white onions because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones...

June 24, 2007

Google has 2 o's only

Does anyone else hate Google Images? I find it extremely obnoxious. When I am searching for a picture, I don't want to go to the web page the picture can be found on. I want to see only the picture. But Google has that stupid 2 inch bar that shows up at the top of the page. And then if you actually want to see a decent size shot, you either have to scroll through the website below or you have to click again on the thumbnail. Stupid. Just stupid.

I guess there's nothing left to do but provide you all with a picture or two...

TinRoof and I with The Expert and his wife in Chi-town at a Sox game.

Me and Seinfeld's puffy shirt. It's in the freaking Smithsonian.

P.S. I bought the newest Kurt Elling CD this weekend. It is absolutely ridiculous. If you like jazz - go buy it right now.

June 22, 2007

Mmm... beer

Homer no function beer well without.

I don't believe that I've mentioned in the Musings my recent project of brewing my own beer. I'm fairly excited about it but also nervous. It's been fun - in a dorky way - to learn about the brewing process and to watch as the yeast ferments the wort. It's like a science project in which you are encouraged to drink the final product! I'm looking forward to tasting something I've put so much effort and sweat into (figurative sweat). And yet I'm equally nervous. There are all sorts of opportunities for something to have gone wrong during the process, from sanitation to fermentation to carbonation. I just bottled the beer the other night and now must wait a week or two for it to carbonate and characterize. I'm planning to unveil it on the 4th of July. Perhaps it will taste of freedom. I'll be sure to post a picture of the finished product.

June 17, 2007

Gaza matters

I just read this Newsweek article regarding the recent events in the Gaza strip. As you all know, I'm not given to discussing politics or current events on this blog. But I found the article intriguing. Particularly the following:

By insisting on cure-all elections in countries and territories that had no institutions of justice and security, or a politically aware economic middle class, to sustain democracy, the Bush team clearly seems to have overreached.

This is something I have been thinking about for awhile. Especially after seeing the Ted Koppel special on Discovery Channel a few months ago. He poignantly pointed out that regardless of the outcome of things in Iraq, this global "war on terror" is likely to wage on for generations to come. Yet he also shone light on some encouraging work the military is doing in various parts of the world.

Preventing terrorism.

Delivering clean water and food and health care and education to communities that otherwise would have none of these things. These are areas of the world where America is still loved. They are cities and villages where terrorists will have little success breeding recruits. It seems to me that this is the kind of preparation and infrastructure that has to be in place before we can ever hope to "wage" democracy.

I feel kinda vulnerable just now, attempting to weigh in on the political realm. But go ahead, have at me.

June 12, 2007

I'm once again blind

I just returned from the eye "doctor" and my pupils have been dilated so I can barely read what I type. But I just wanted to blog some additional rage over this whole thing. I just paid nearly 100 dollars to someone to tell me that my prescription has in fact not changed in the past year. I tried to pry a decent explanation from her as to why the exam was necessary. She gave no reasonable excuse and then blamed state law. I say the state must be in the pocket of Big Eye-Ball. Still, it was nice of her to blind me (by dilating my pupils) before robbing me.

June 11, 2007

Be The Groove

As promised, here are a couple video clips from the Be The Groove gig I got to participate in while in Chicago last month. Enjoy.





Videos filmed by the lovely and talented TinRoof who graciously acted as a Be The Groove representative that evening. I believe Sameezy put it best when he said, "Dude, your girlfriend is awesome!"

June 07, 2007

Why I hate buy 1 get 1 free

Does anyone else hate it when a product you intend to purchase is buy 1 get 1 free? It drives me nuts. Why on earth can't they just make the product half off? Then I would not be forced to buy two loaves of bread when I only need one (for example). Whenever I come across a b1g1f, I have to spend several minutes deciding whether or not I want the second one.

Will I use it?
You might not. It could just go to waste.
Then again, it's "free" isn't it? I'd be a sucker if I left it here.
Not if you're just going to throw it away, you consumer whore.


My internal monologue is kinda mean.

June 05, 2007

Wake the - expletive deleted - up!

Since TinRoof is off in Italy with a friend, my evenings have been a bit quiet. So tonight I've decided to finally blog about our camping trip. I figure this way I won't be distracted by blogging whilst at work tomorrow.

Our caravan left Friday night from CVille around 7pm. The crew consisted of TR and I, Marina, Rojas and his roommates and ex-roommates. (Rojas is a friend from NU days - as well as former roommate of mine). The drive was supposed to take 2 and a half hours and bring us into West Virginia. All was going smoothly until shortly after we crossed the state line. About 5 or 10 miles into WV, we came upon a backup. As most people's cars were already turned off, we decided to stretch our legs and to investigate what the hold up was. The rumor going around was that a forest fire was blocking the road ahead. I'm still not sure that I buy this, but who knows. And yet, it was also impossible to tell how far the backup stretched as it was wound around the mountains. We decided to trek down and attempt to gain a visual. But on the way we ran into someone returning from a similar journey who advised we turn back as he'd walked at least a mile with no end to the backup in sight.

Finally we decide to turn the caravan around and attempt another route into WV. TinRoof, being a transportation guru, charted our course and our car led the charge. After heading East and crossing back into VA, then South for a bit, we once again drove West towards WV. A few miles from the border, the road began to narrow. Eventually the centerline ceased to exist. All the while the roadside vegetation grew taller and wilder. The road began to ascend up and around a mountain. Although I was admittedly nervous, I remained calm(ish). That is, until the road reduced to a single lane. Yet we pressed on. TinRoof remained confident the road would lead us to WV. Instead, it led us somewhere none of us expected. To a dead end at the top of a mountain. Not just any mountain either. We later discovered this was Reddish Knob. The 2nd highest peak in Virginia. Bear in mind it was around 11:30 at this point. So we did as you might expect. We set up camp.

After a cozy few hours by the fire, the collective decided to turn in. The sky was beautiful and the air was wonderfully cool so sleep came quickly. Unfortunately it was not meant to last. Not long after 5am we were awakened by the sound of a pickup driving up the mountain. After reaching the roundabout, its driver performed a few donuts. I assumed they too had gotten lost or perhaps were just coming up to quietly watch the sunrise. My assumption was shattered by thundering country music and the piercing screeches of several drunken teenage girls.

Woooooo hooooooo!
Wake the f*** up, mother-f***ers!!

I kid you not. Suddenly our entire campsite was awake. Well, except for Sam who inexplicably slept... nay, snored... through the entire ordeal. Now I must admit, the hick, er, gentleman's sound system was actually quite impressive. Terribly loud and crystal clear. And yet as song after song bellowed from the enormous truck (they never let a song play for more than a minute or two), I began plotting these youngsters' demise. The last straw was when they played Cotton-Eye Joe. If somehow it turns out that I have been wrong regarding my choice of religion, I imagine I will find Cotton Eye Joe playing in Hell for all eternity. However as I suggested to some of the other gents that we confront these fools, I was reminded of one key fact I'd forgotten. We were just miles from West Virginia, and these kids are drunk and blasting country music. It doesn't take a rocket scientist (which I am) to figure they probably have guns. So we decided to let them be. Thankfully for us, it was not too much later that they departed. According to one of the girls, she had to be home before 6am because "my daddy wakes up at 6".

In the morning we were greeted with a breathtaking 360 view. We enjoyed our breakfast and I unleashed some of my mad camping skills by introducing biscuits on a stick. (You cook biscuits over the fire on a 5/8th inch dowel rod. Then the biscuit shell is of perfect size to fit a campfire sausage into.) Finally, we packed up and made our way to Seneca Rocks, WV (via the original route which was now clear). The rest of the weekend was much more ideal. We climbed, swam, played catch, roasted anything that was edible, and whittled. Here are a few pictures from the weekend.

TinRoof and I atop Reddish Knob. Not a bad view behind us considering we stumbled on it by accident.
Seneca Rocks. We hiked to the very top.

A couple of us checking out the peak.
The Rojas and I at the observation deck atop Seneca Rocks.

May 30, 2007

Fat Cats

I was going to post about our recent camping trip. Then I saw this. A photo gallery of people's "Cubby Pets". This is certainly the strangest yet of MSNBC.com's photo albums. The pictures are disturbing if you ask me. But the reason this gallery is blog-worthy? Check out the ratio of cats to dogs in the album. It's not even close. Of the 60 shots, I counted only 10 dogs. The rest... fat cats. I'm not sure yet whether or not I hate fat cats more than I hate regular sized cats (they're all jerks one way or another), but I think I probably do.

Ok, back to work.

May 29, 2007

I once was blind

but that was a long time ago. I've been wearing glasses or contacts since 6th grade.

This morning I attempted to order a year's supply of contacts online. I just received an email saying that my order was placed on hold because my prescription has expired. And suddenly I felt something welling up inside me. A feeling. One that can only be described as... rage. Why on earth do I need a freaking prescription to buy contacts? It's not like they're some kind of drug that I'm going to sell to local teenagers who are looking for a cheap way to get their kicks. Nor am I going to smuggle them to Canada (they probably get them free up there anyway). They're freaking contacts! And if I know what kind I need, why should I be forced to pay an eye doctor money I don't have to tell me what I already know? Perhaps a better question is, why would an optical prescription expire? Oh right, so the eye doctors have a chance to gouge me. What kind of a scam are the optometrists running here? I imagine I could attempt to plead my case with them - that I'm a grad student and therefore have zero expendable income and am quite content with my current prescription. But even in my imagination, I am rebuffed and told to make an appointment and pony up the cash so I can have the delicate genius sign a sheet with the same damn prescription as my current little sheet that is apparently no longer valid.

Ugh. Sorry about that. Stay tuned though. I have tales from the camping trip this weekend.

May 24, 2007

But now I'm found

Dear reader,
Did you miss me?
I did.
That is all,
Dr. C

So I realize this has been the slowest patch of blogging since I first began The Musings. Thanks for sticking around. I plan to be fairly bored at work for the rest of... well... until I graduate - so I should have plenty o' time for blogging. For now, I'll just try to catch everyone up.

Two weeks ago TinRoof and I flew to Chicago for the annual Boomshaka show. Most of you are familiar with Boom. But for those of you that land on this blog looking for information about the fate of Judy from Family Matters, Boomshaka is a student performance group at Northwestern University. A simple explanation is they're a rhythm and dance ensemble. I was in the group for 4 years during my undergrad days. To put it succinctly, I love me some Boomshaka. Annnyhow - the show was fantastic (as usual) and while in town I had the chance to perform with Be The Groove - a professional/alumni spin off of Boomshaka (videos coming soon). It felt pretty good to get back in the groove again. It had been too long.

We spent the rest of the weekend hanging out with The Expert (not you, Nodnarb) and his wife Emba (I can't believe how long I just sat here trying to think of a good nickname for her... and clearly I failed). Hung out in Evanston and Chicago. Saw a White Sox game on Sunday. They got slaughtered by the Royals. Yes, you read right. Ate delicious food. Went to the Lincoln Park Zoo, Navy Pier, etc. All good things.

Tuesday we took the train down to StL. TinRoof could only stay a day and a half as she had to return to CVille for graduation; though thankfully not before we had a fun evening with the family. FYI: Homemade wine makes dinner time fun. I stuck around through the weekend for Arbusta (my baby sister)'s wedding. It was a very beautiful day. And everything went off without a hitch (er... with one hitch). Well, aside from their exit music starting to play way too soon. That may be the funniest communion I've ever witnessed.

And now I'm back. Back to the grind of research - with the important exception that there are no longer classes or TA-ing to distract me. And it'll be like this for about a year. I'm still hoping to defend in early February of '08. After that, who knows. Maybe I'll be able to find a sugar momma to buy me one of those fancy places in Lincoln Park.

This weekend we're off to Seneca Rocks to do some camping with Rojas and his crew.

Oh and by the way, the packaging for Orbit gum really sucks. What's the deal with that? It's like I'm trying to pull out Excalibur or something. All I want is a stick of gum.

May 23, 2007

One time, OK, see, one time (part 5)

OK, so what happened is one time Randy Beaman went on a trip with his dad and they picked up a lady who wanted a ride home, and this was in Kansas, and she sat in the back seat and when they got where she wanted to go they turned around and she was gone!

And Randy Beaman's dad talked to the man who lived there and told him what the lady looked like and the man said, "Oh, that's my wife, but she died four years ago."

Spooky, huh?
'K, bye.

May 07, 2007

Final Final

Over the next two days I will take the final finals of my academic career (not counting my dissertation defense as a final as it is surely much much worse). I am not sure how I should view these occasions. Perhaps I should be working extra hard. Did I come all this way to give up on the final finals? Shouldn't I go out with a bang and smoke my last two academic exams? Then again, I've also been at this game so long that I don't care much for "grades" any more. To be honest I don't care much about the two classes I took this semester either. They were moderately interesting and I like both of the professors; but I am quite indifferent on the subject matter and particularly on the prospect of my attempting to master any of said matter. I've learned enough to know that most things I learn will be forgotten within a fortnight. Thus, here am I blogging with my Chemical Reaction Engineering notes as a prop under my right forearm and my Nonequilibrium Gas Dynamics text book under the left. Isn't it ironic? A little too ironic? You tell me Alanis, you seem to be the expert.

May 04, 2007

Tech Support

To be clear - I did not write this. I actually don't know who did as I received it as an email forward. But its hilarity is sure.

Dear Tech Support:

Last year I upgraded from Girlfriend 7.0 to Wife 1.0 . I soon noticed that the new program began unexpected child processing that took up a lot of space and valuable resources.

In addition, Wife 1.0 installed itself into all other programs and now monitors all other system activities, such as Poker Night 10.3, Football 5.0, Video Games 7.5, and Softball 3.6
I can't seem to keep Wife 1.0 in the background while attempting to run my other favorite applications. I'm thinking about going back to Girlfriend 7.0 , but the uninstall doesn't work on Wife 1.0 .

Please help!

Thanks,
Troubled User.....

_____________________
REPLY:
Dear Troubled User:

This is a very common problem that men often complain about.

Many people upgrade from Girlfriend 7.0 to Wife 1.0 , thinking that it is just a Utilities and Entertainment program. Wife 1.0 is an OPERATING SYSTEM and is designed by its Creator to run EVERYTHING !!! It is also impossible to delete Wife 1.0 and to return to Girlfriend 7.0 . It is impossible to uninstall, or purge, the program files from the system once installed.

You cannot go back to Girlfriend 7.0 because Wife 1.0 is designed to not allow this. Look in your Wife 1.0 ! manual under Warnings: Alimony-Child Support . I recommend that you keep Wife 1.0 and work on improving the situation. I suggest installing the background application Yes Dear 2.7 to alleviate your program problems.

The best course of action is to enter the command C:\APOLOGIZE! because ultimately you will have to give the APOLOGIZE command before the system will return to normal anyway.

Wife 1.0 is a great program, but it tends to be very high maintenance! Wife 1.0 does come with several support programs, such as Clean and Sweep 3.0, Cook It 1.5, and Do Bills 4.2

However, be very careful how you use these programs . Improper use will cause the system to launch the program Nag Nag 9.5 . Once this happens, the only way to improve the performance of Wife 1.0 is to purchase additional software. I recommend Flowers 2.1 and Diamonds 5.0

WARNING!!! DO NOT, under any circumstances, install Secretary With Short Skirt 3.3 . This application is not supported by Wife 1.0 and will cause irreversible damage to the operating system!

May 01, 2007

If I were a rich man

This morning the radio woke me up to an announcement of the Virginia Millionaire Raffle. It's basically like the lottery only there are not as many tickets being made. But help me do the math... the guy exclaims, "Three grand prizes of a million dollars! Less than 200,000 tickets will be sold!" But ten seconds later I hear the quiet, fast-paced addendum: "Actual chances of winning 1:110,000". Doesn't that mean that there must be at least 330,000 tickets printed?

In other news, a couple of weeks ago my jazz combo here at UVA had a spring recital. TinRoof used her trusty digital camera to get my two vocal tunes on video. And as I'm recently addicted to YouTube, I've posted them. Enjoy...


There Will Never Be Another You


Nature Boy

April 27, 2007

Hat O' Shame

The Cards are playing the Cubs this weekend. Should be good times as always. I just hope we can slaughter them :-) Maybe having them in StL will turn around our recent misfortunes playing at home. And yes... I do refer to the Cardinals as we or us. I am fully aware that I am not on the team. Deal with it.


P.S. You're going to have to click on it to be able to read it fully.

April 25, 2007

Pearls Before Breakfast

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
-- from "Leisure," by W.H. Davies

Some of you may have already caught wind of this story - others perhaps not. But as I've finally finished reading the entire article (it's admittedly kind of long), I felt I had to share it with you all. A few weeks ago the Washington Post ran an article about an experiment they conducted in which one of the world's most renowned classical musicians (Joshua Bell) performed in disguise at a Metro station in Washington, D.C.

The idea was to see how many people - despite being busy and on their way to work - would recognize the high quality of the music they were hearing. Would they be willing to take a few moments from their day to appreciate truly beautiful art? Or would they walk by oblivious to what they were missing?

I'm sad to say, the latter scenario is what unfolded. Over the course of 45 minutes, more than 1000 people passed by indifferent - perhaps even intentionally ignoring. Only a handful of people so much as looked his way - let alone stopped and listened. The article is truly fascinating, if sad. I'd like to think I would have been the kind of person who would stop. But then again I'm also not the kind of person who would ever live in D.C.

April 24, 2007

Don't worry, be... content?

Last week was a terribly quotable week for me. For example, the department seminar speaker regaled a story about talking with some governmental types about the future of aerospace design. He sat there listening as they belabored the idea of attempting to replicate designs seen in nature. Finally, he stood up and said, "The thing is, I've never seen - in nature - a bird with a 20 foot wing-span flying at Mach 1.2!"

But the best quotes of all - of which there are too many to count - came from the mouth of Bobby McFerrin. I was fortunate to sit in on a masterclass he gave to singers on campus this past week. It was absolutely unreal. I've never heard anyone do the things he can do with his voice. My jaw was on the floor the entire time. I had hoped to share some footage from his visit - but the person who promised to email me the video has yet to do so.

Aside from his sheer talent, his approach to performing really struck a chord with me. Bobby is about as un-pretentious as they come. He sees no distinction between the stage and life. No line. No difference between who he is off stage and who he is on. Rather, he's just there fulfilling his purpose. He spoke at length on the subject and I know I am probably mangling it, but the one quote of his I did write down was this:

"When I perform, my audience is One, and that's God."
- Bobby McFerrin

April 18, 2007

A moment of Blog silence

I intended to post earlier this week. But somehow I haven't been able to find the words.

Should I post about how UVA has reacted to the tragedy at Tech? After all, Tech is just a couple hours down the road. Many of us - myself included - have friends who go there. It's impossible to not feel the immense impact this has had at UVA - even on the grad student population. It's incredible to think how easily it could have happened here instead of there.

Should I post an engineering-oriented comedic rant about the inefficiency of straws and dedicate it to the victims? Perhaps they would have found it funny.

Should I post about how once again I am faced with the question of why the second amendment is so damned important to people in modern America? I can see how the right to own a firearm was necessary back in the days of the founding fathers. It's probably much easier to shoot your dinner with a rifle than with a bow and arrow (or worse yet, catch it with some clever rope-snare). But what on earth do we need them for now? Oh right, fun - and protection I guess. The Expert has said he wants to own one in case he is ever robbed. I'm not saying it couldn't happen, but I've been on this earth for 25 years and yet to have my home broken into. Personally, I'd feel much safer if the police were the only ones with the guns. I'll defend my home with a baseball bat and an imitation Albert Pujols swing.

In the end, nothing I can say will be appropriate. Nothing a fitting enough tribute to honor these lives. I hope each of you has taken the time to read the short bios of the victims. I've found I can only read a few at a time. And finally, since all I have been able to write is that I'm not sure what to write, I'll quote the only source I know that can offer peace amidst such agony.

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

Psalms 42:5

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalms 34:18

April 13, 2007

Up Off Ya Feet

The long wait has ended. For your viewing pleasure, the world premier of the new Boomshaka concept piece: Up Off Ya Feet.

And for those of you who would like to see more of what I got to do that eventful week in Houston, here's a video I spent way too much time editing this past week.

April 11, 2007

Baseball Picks 2007

Alright boyos, you asked for it - now ye shall receive it. In honor of the Cardinals' fourth straight win, I've decided to go ahead and post my picks for the season. I've sat by too long as Bourbon and McJew have touted their picks. Brownsox has made his opinions known even if he hasn't posted official picks. And Dubs seems to be too busy ranting about musicals and his own complicated (albeit hilarious) version of Christianity known as Catholicism to take time to stand up for the men who wear the birds on the bat. But no more. I am here to champion the cause of the defending World Series Champions - since the rest of the world will find any plausible excuse to write them off. My only disclaimer: I no longer play fantasy baseball as I've realized the time I spent doing so in the past was greater than or equal to the time spent on my own research. And research is the thing that will allow me escape this pitiable existence known as graduate school. That being said, I am much less aware of what is going on in other divisions than I used to be. So to some extent, all picks not regarding the NL Central are a crap shoot.

AL East
  1. Red Sox
  2. Blue Jays
  3. Yankees
  4. Orioles
  5. Devil Rays
I have to make surprise predictions somewhere right? So I'm saying the Big Hurt has a big year and somehow the evil empire gets brought down. Basically I just wanted to hate on the Yankees so I picked them 3rd - even if it's not likely.

AL Central
  1. Tigers
  2. Indians
  3. Twins
  4. White Sox
  5. Royals
I really wanted to put the Indians on top but I just couldn't do it. Maybe next year.

AL West
  1. Angels
  2. Athletics
  3. Mariners
  4. Rangers
Most of you know I love hating on the Cubs above all other teams. Want proof? I put the Rangers last solely because they've got Sammy playing for them now. Wait - are we supposed to predict what will happen? or what we want to happen? Ah, screw it.

NL East
  1. Mets
  2. Phillies
  3. Braves
  4. Marlins
  5. Nationals
You have to hand it to them, the Mets are a pretty solid team. Witness the beating the Cards took to open the season. (I think they'd still trade that series for a trip to last year's Fall Classic though...suck it Beltran!) And I know the Phillies have started off rough, but I think they'll turn it around.

NL Central
  1. Cardinals
  2. Brewers
  3. Reds
  4. Cubs
  5. Astros
  6. Pirates
Ok, so I agree with everyone that this division will be close once again this year. Neglecting the Pirates (a fair assumption) I'm betting around 8 games between 1-5. It's gonna be a wild one. But come on - the Brew Crew, while lovable, is not ready to take down the Cards. And I reject the theory that the division will be close because every team is mediocre. Sure these teams have holes, every team in baseball does. It drives me nuts that the NL Central gets so little respect. Never mind the fact that the 2 central divisions have supplied 5 of the last 6 WS teams. I think it boils down to three simple, perhaps controversial words: East Coast Bias. That's right, I said it. I'm a firm believer. The freakin media loves to play to the coasts. But if something exciting is going on in the Midwest they're like, let the AM radio stations cover it. I'm going to stop myself now in the interest of time.

NL West
  1. Padres
  2. Dodgers
  3. Rockies
  4. Giants
  5. Diamondbacks
Does anyone else wish Barry would just hit 20 home runs over the next 6 games so that the record - hallowed though it be - is *broken* already and we can proceed to ignore Bonds for the rest of our lives?

April 05, 2007

Picture Time

This week I have had problems getting out of bed and out of the house on time. Each day a new distraction has presented itself to keep me from getting to work at a decent hour. Could it be because my advisor is out of town? Possibly. The point being - today I finally got a peek at the pictures from the Zero G flights a couple weeks ago. I couldn't wait to download them to my computer and post a few for you all. (NU boys - you'll have to tarry for my MLB picks. But rest assured, I plan to stick up for my boys despite their manhandling by the Mets.) Click on the pictures to see larger versions.


Charlie and I working on the experimental rig during our first flight.

Arthur, Charlie, and I watching as Charlie fires the laser.

Riding that great Space Pony in the sky.... or something like that.

Taking a break to float a little during runs of the experiment. Check out the dame on the right. Who the heck is she? I have no clue.

This may prove to be one of my favorite pictures. I love the fact that I'm completely sideways in the shot.

Arthur filming the cameraman is apparently driving me up a wall.

Chuck is working hard as Arthur and I goof off.

By our fourth day of flying, zero g was a very zen experience.

April 02, 2007

Why do these girls look so good in the summer?

I've long held the belief that human beings are at their attractiveness prime during the college age years. It seems like the majority of us have developed to adult form by this time and yet - depending on how badly the freshman-15 hits us - we are generally in better shape now than we will be as we age. Incidentally, at UVA they call freshman "first years" so does that translate to the first-year-15? Anyway, you might say we're at our physical peak. Or at least approaching it. After all, it's fairly well documented that a baseball player reaches his prime around his mid to late twenties (I can't wait to see what Pujols is going to do these next few years). Still, I can't help but wonder if this is all perspective. When I was in grade school I had a crush on many a young lass. But looking at girls of that age now, they clearly appear as children to me - and thus not attractive physically. At each age, I've always been attracted to the people in my age range. But I must admit, there are not too many 40 or 50 year olds that I have the hots for. Will this change? In another decade will I look at the 20 something crowd and think of them as children? even though they're technically adults? I suppose one way to find out would be to go around asking a bunch of older women if they find me attractive. One would think a young strapping lad like myself would have his share of admirers. But perhaps not. Perhaps they'll say to me - young man you have no grey in your beard!

March 26, 2007

Feet down, coming out

That's what they would yell at us at the end of each parabola. Basically it let us know that we would be experiencing Gs in a few seconds and we had better get our feet on the ground; otherwise we'd be slammed down wherever we were floating. Honestly though, my feet still have yet to touch the ground.

I made it back to CVille late Saturday night after two looong days of driving. I still can't quite get a handle on what I've just gotten to do. This was an experience I'll be telling my grandkids about. Of course by then they'll be like, "So what, Old Man? I was weightless in the hover-bus on my way to school this morning!" What I'm trying to say is that this was a truly incredible experience - one that I'm having trouble putting into words (let alone humorous, entertaining words). I think I will have to let the pictures and videos speak for themselves (once I get a hold of them). I can tell you some of the specifics though. For example, here's a typical reduced gravity trajectory...
This picture shows one parabola. At the top of each parabola we'd get about 25 seconds of weightlessness. Over four days of flying we did exactly 200 parabolas. (For those doing the math... that's about an hour and 20 minutes of 0-g.) Also, you might have noticed that between each parabola (we'd usually do 10-12 in a row) we would rise and fall about 10,000 feet. I flipped when I realized that this is nearly 2 miles! Imagine a roller coaster with a 2-mile vertical drop and that's about what this was like.

I'm sure I'll have more to say on this later - but for now I've got to get some more work done before dinner. I'm supremely behind after having been out of town all week. Ah well, who cares.

By the by - for those of you wondering - I did not get sick once on the Vomit Comet.

March 21, 2007

A new perspective

I did two backflips today.
I am awesome.

March 20, 2007

I'm still fat in weightlessness

Zero G is awesome.
Very much really awesome.
I don't think I'll ever be satisfied with 1G again.

Manic Monday

Well we arrived safely in Houston Sunday night. Today the real work began. We spent the whole day at Johnson Space Center loading our equipment onto the plane, bolting it down, connecting power cables, gas regulators, etc. It was a mighty long day. Still, everything went as well as could be expected. The experiment seems to have survived its 1300 mile ride (not to mention my advisor's 95mph "driving"). The laser didn't even require too much alignment. The only hiccup of the day revealed itself at about 4:30 when the NASA jokers finally decided to bring to our attention that 2 of the 3 of us are currently inelligible to fly. It seems my advisor didn't do some of the paper work. So we faxed some papers and are waiting for them to get signed and approved before the flight in the morning. If that doesn't happen I'll have to wait another day to experience 0-g. Easily the strangest sight of the day was the NASA Super Guppy. In closing, it's fantastic to be able to get some authentic Mexican food for a change. Tomorrow.... weightlessness!

March 18, 2007

I'm still going

Sorry for keeping ya'll in the dark and for not posting. To sum up. Not only was I sick this week - I had the flu. Still probably have it. Thankfully I have a girlfriend who loves me and takes good care of me. Also, I am currently in a hotel room with my advisor in Birmingham, AL. We are on our way to Houston (along with two undergrads...don't worry, I'm treating them nicely) to do microgravity combustion experiments. It's been an exhausting few days. I am about to pass out so I will bring this to a close. Hopefully this week I'll post some tidbits about the flights. They should be a blast (if I don't puke).

March 16, 2007

One time, OK, see, one time (part 4)

One time, OK, see, one time Randy Beaman's little brother ate Pop Rocks and drank a soda at the same time and his head exploded!

'K, bye.

March 14, 2007

Happy Pi Day

Happy pi day everyone. I hope you all remembered to mark this occasion in a creative way. Perhaps a pi-mile run? Unfortunately I'm battling being sick...again. So I don't have much brain power to use in a post. However in honor of this glorious day, check this video out (ps. understanding it might require some form of illicit drugs).

March 09, 2007

The Middle is the Goal

Lots of news in the past couple days. Our 0-g flights appear to be a go. I took part in my friend's sleep study (and got less than 2 hours of sleep the whole friggin night). And probably other stuff. But today I've decided to share with you the long ago promised college entrance essay which I wrote some 7 years ago. Oh, and it's about cinnamon rolls. (Make fun of me all you want... I got in didn't I?)

Question: How do you plan to adapt to the challenge of college life?

There are rules when eating a cinnamon roll. These rules may or may not be obvious to someone depending on whether or not he has ever pondered the technique involved in savoring this pastry. The most important rule to eating a cinnamon roll properly is always to work from the outside of the roll to the center. When I remind people of this order, I am often met with looks as if I’ve just told them the world is round. “Of course that’s how you eat a cinnamon roll! How else would anyone eat it?” they say. Believe it or not, some choose to break this vital, unwritten law.

Perhaps the method of eating a cinnamon roll seems unimportant. Unbeknownst to most, however, is that this method can be applied to everyday life. The center of the roll is undoubtedly the favorite part to those who enjoy cinnamon rolls. Therefore, it should be looked upon as the goal of its consumer. Truly, without first eating the outer rings of the roll, a person can not fully appreciate the center of his pastry. Basically, the cinnamon roll rule is this: take time with everything to enjoy fully the benefits of success.

If the engineers of the space shuttle Challenger had spent more time inspecting the hydrogen tanks, perhaps someone could have discovered the o-ring defect responsible for the deaths of eight Americans. If the navigators aboard the Titanic had paid more attention to their course, perhaps someone could have spotted the iceberg in time to steer the ship clear of danger. Similarly, when a student makes the decision not to study for a test he has the next morning and later receives a D, he has only himself to blame. The theory obtained from the cinnamon roll clearly applies. When a task is important, whether it is inspecting a shuttle, charting a ship route, or studying for a test, it will always prove worthwhile to spend the extra time required to get the job done correctly. The center of your cinnamon roll will taste much better because of it.

Eating a cinnamon roll from the outside to the middle is not only the best way to eat breakfast, although I enjoy cinnamon rolls during any part of the day, but also the best way to live life. Still, some people choose a different path. One of those paths is to eat only the middle of the cinnamon roll. As in the examples of the Challenger and the Titanic, following this path can lead to disaster. Someone who eats his cinnamon roll in this manner is a person who rushes into things and pays no attention to detail. Just as the child who, when his mother tells him to clean his room, stuffs his dirty clothes underneath his bed, he merely does the bare minimum amount of work.

Another variance of an incorrect way to eat a cinnamon roll is to leave the middle. This too has its consequences. Leaving the middle of the roll means a person has done all the work of eating the outside of the roll for nothing. Like turning a movie off just before its climactic ending, eating in this fashion leaves things incomplete. I, however, have always been one for completing any job I begin. Whether it be studying for a test, practicing for a theater or musical audition, eating a cinnamon roll, or choosing a college, time and experience have taught me to give my all and do my best in everything I hope to achieve. After all, I’ve always been told that anything worth doing is worth doing right. I can only assume that that includes eating cinnamon rolls.

I have no idea what awaits me during and following college. I do, however, know I will encounter my share of hurdles to jump and bridges to cross. In situations such as these, a person has to draw knowledge and perseverance from everything he has ever been taught about life. The abilities of being flexible, adaptable, and versatile in any situation are important in a person’s character. Sometimes the outside layers of a cinnamon roll are too hard or have been baked too long. When faced with this adversity, I do not despair; I know the solution. Dip those layers in milk or coffee or even use a microwave to heat them to softness. In other words, make the best of what may not appear to be an ideal situation. No matter what, keep working around the rings of the cinnamon roll.

I suspect college is like a cinnamon roll. A student has four and sometimes five years of grueling studying and learning. The goal and center of this cinnamon roll is receiving a degree as a reward for years of hard work, using that degree to get a job, and thus beginning life as an adult. As I have already demonstrated, patience and dedication are excellent virtues for this endeavor. College may be hard work, but it has infinite benefits to those who apply themselves and eat their “cinnamon rolls” properly.