Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye, 2009!

You kinda sucked.

Even though I experienced a few milestones and some great memories, as a whole, this year wasn't all that great. I don't even blog that regularly anymore, but I've done a post like this for the last two years, so why break tradition? Here goes, 2009 in review:

January: blah

February: 18th birthday, quit job at Circuit City, Buckeye (Cleveland) Regional, UF Acceptance

March: FL Regional, MIT rejection, started tweeting more actively

April: Laser Quest all-nighter

May: AP Exams, Grad Bash, Graduation

June: blah

July: UF Preview

August: Rapids Water Park, left home, moved into apartment, started college

September: first Gator football game

October: Gator Growl (saw Jabbawockeez, O.A.R., Dana Carvey)

November: first Gator basketball game, resolution of roommate issues, amazing Leonid meteor shower

December: Kid Cudi/Common Concert

I'm not one to make resolutions, but I just hope for a better 2010; academic, health, and social success. One different thing I do plan on doing is refrain from getting a relaxer. I'm just going to let my hair continue to grow naturally, just because it's something new. We'll see how it goes.

Since this also brings the first decade of the 21st century to a close, perhaps I'll do another review post on should be more interesting than the one about this laaaame year.

Happy Year Ending! GTFO 2009, Welcome 2010!

Thursday, November 19, 2009



My last post was right.

It's a fact, Twitter killed the blog (at least this one).

It's been over a month since I've updated, shame on me? Eventually something will come along moving enough that I can only express it in words and I can breathe life back into this here chunk of space on the Internets, but until then, I'm relinquishing myself from any guilt I had associated with not blogging and have come to accept the effects of evolution of social networking. <-- That was quite a run on. I still enjoy writing, I just can't seem to motivate myself to do it enough. But I've gotten over my little issue with talking in front of a camera and then listening to myself again, so I bought a Flip MinoHD and started vlogging (woohoo!).

Vlog me, tweet me if you wanna reach me, when you wanna page me it's okay
(+10 points to whomever can guess the reference)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Twitter Killed the Blog?

It's true.

I feel guilty about not blogging as regularly since I have experienced so many blogworthy events in the past few weeks. Blame Twitter, since I've been updating on there wayyyy more than here and Facebook. I like that I have a different audience that may not hang on to my every word, yet I can still interact with people on an immediate level.

With the frequency that I update on Twitter and the content matter, it seems that it would be redundant to post a blog entry about things that I have already mentioned on Twitter. Though Twitter is considered to be microblogging, a collection of a day's tweets don't form a coherent blog post. I feel as if I'm drawn between the two. Even though I blog and tweet for myself mostly, I feel that I do have an obligation to my very few blog readers and followers not to be redundant and to produce worthwhile content, whether it be something humorous or a reflection. It is significantly more convenient to tweet from my phone, iPod, or computer wherever I am about an occurrence than to blog about it, though I feel that because I'm not blogging as often I don't get a chance to express as much as I normally would. Sometimes blogging is therapeutic, and I think Twitter sometimes removes that aspect of expression when limited to 140 characters.

I have a bone to pick with the Twitter-haters. Though it definitely isn't for everyone, don't knock it until you've tried it. And if you have tried it and you don't like it, then fine, but don't criticize others that actually do get something out of it. You might be able to briefly glance at the site and see that you don't like it without trying it, and that's fine too. But just don't be a hater, you're not above anyone else for not using it. There are dozens of uses beyond simple social interaction and the stereotypes of just notifying the world when you are pooping or every minor detail of your day.

This blog definitely isn't dead and I'll try to think of some sort of content to create to keep it breathing instead of just the highlights of my life since Twitter does a great job of keeping up with that. Maybe when I get my new camera (Canon Rebel T1i **HINT HINT SANTAMOMMIPERSON**) I'll turn it into a photoblog. Maybe I'll think of other things to discuss. Maybe I won't do anything different...probably.

In the meantime, if you're on Twitter, follow me if you're not doing so already.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


It's the beginning of my third week of college. So much has occurred in such a short period of time, I can't even begin to think of where to start with this entry.

Big people school hasn't been that hard as of yet, but at 2.5 weeks in I can feel the workload starting to intensify. I'm constantly developing my study habits since this concept of studying is foreign to me. I take notes because I'd be bored in class otherwise. After reading the book and listening to a lecture, reviewing notes seems really redundant. Passing off reading a powerpoint as teaching is annoying, fortunately most of my instructors provide some additional insight every now and then. Regardless, I copy everything in my notebook like everyone else like a good little scribe and digitize it that evening or the next day. I'm really enjoying the concept of being responsible for learning on my own without having jillions of BS worksheets and assignments shoved down my throat to "reinforce" the subject matter. With well-written textbooks, lectures, free tutors, office hours, and the blessing of the Internet, it's pretty hard not to understand something. But I may be eating my words later, so take that with two shakes of salt.

SYG2000, Principles of Sociology, MWF - I took this class not only because it was a Gen. Ed credit, but because it seemed interesting. Taking AP Psychology two years ago really got my ears perked up to a few new topics that I would've otherwise ignored. The course is taught by a really down to earth grad student. It's been interesting so far and will definitely be an easy A. The class isn't as big as I thought with only 40 students and she already knows most of our names.

ENC3254, Professional Writing and Communications for Engineers, MWF - Even though most Engineers dread English classes, I don't. Finally something relevant! This is our instructor's first year teaching, but she's coming straight from the industry, so even though she's not the best teacher she has excellent advice and commentary. There are about 20 in this class and I think I'll leave with a lot of valuable knowledge. We've already written an introductory memo and prepared a rough draft of a cover letter/resume/follow up. To come later are instruction manuals, technical definitions, a research report, and individual and group proposals. Oddly enough I'm looking forward to all of this.

MAC2311, Analytic Geometry and Calculus 1, M(T)WF - oh Calculus, how I missed thee. I'm really rusty at math since it's been over a year, but the gears are being re-oiled and it's coming back to me...slowly. I'm dreading this little segment we're having on Pre-Calculus, but the material ahead is exciting. Professor Edwards is amazing. He's darn funny and manages to teach the concepts well, though very quickly. This guy co-authored the Calculus textbook we used in high school. The lectures on MWF are huge with over 300 students. I didn't even notice the people sitting on the floor in the back until he said one day, "Welcome to Calculus, standing room only". It's one of those classes where if you're early, you're on time, and if you're on time, you're late. I have my discussion group with about 30 others on Tuesday where we go over homework and take quizzes. I adore the TAs accent, he sounds just like Fez from That 70s Show.

LIN3010, Introduction to Linguistics, MWF - Being the huge grammar/language/word nerd that I am, I expected nothing less than enjoyment from this class. The class is a bit larger than I expected with about 200 students. Even though the lecture is sometimes boring on Monday and Wednesday, the subject material is still incredibly interesting. The professor moves pretty quickly so we cover a lot in a short period of time and usually end up leaving early. I'm so glad this class evaluates langauage from a more sciency perspective than a liberal artsy one. Friday's are discussion groups and there are about 15 people in my group. So far it's been a simple reinforcement of some basic concepts, but the TA is cool.

EML2920, Department and Professional Orientation, R -This is the first engineering class in the mechanical engineering track. It's simply a 1-credit introduction to the major, career track, and resources available, with something at the end about Excel. Another huge lecture hall-packing class, and there really isn't much work at all.

CHM1025, Introduction to Chemistry, online - With my past history with online courses, I wouldn't have bet on me taking an online class ever again if I didn't have to. But I have to. Fortunately the interface is much nicer than what I was previously familiar with, even though I still think eBooks are annoying to navigate. I've heard horrible things about this course and the drop rate, but it's not too bad so far, so I just hope that I make it through the semester successfully.

The Living Quarters
I live in an apartment off campus about two miles away. It's a 4/4, so I have three roommates, yet I still have my own bedroom and bathroom. The roomies are cool, not buddies-for-life-amazing-instant-friends, but we'll get along. I moved in on 8/21 and have pretty much everything I need, but my Target wish list is still growing. I'm hating all of these little Walmart trips that I've been making for little necessities because I really can't stand the place, but it's convenient.

My room is getting to be very comfy and I can finally call it home. I'm considering getting a task chair, lamp, and some more wall decorations and then it should feel complete. I got an awesome and cheap Bumble Bee Transformers poster from the Reitz Poster Sale and I have a Wall-E poster on the way. (pictures on Facebook)

This past summer I paid close attention to my mother's cooking and practiced a bit myself in anticipation for having to cook alone and what not. I have a decently stocked kitched and pretty much everything I need to cook anything I would want. Problem: I'm still as shy as ever and the selfish only child in me still hates sharing. I skeptically agreed to share cookware, but I didn't really want to; I did it because it would be incredibly weird if I didn't. I get really upset internally when I see my stuff being used constantly, stuff that I haven't even used yet, but I wouldn't dare bring it up. It's seemingly a non-issue, but really irks me. In the back of my mind I know it's irrational, though I really can't help but to feel this way. I felt that it was necessary for me to be well-prepared, what a coincidence and convenience for everyone else that Noelle has brought cookware and utensils and plates and bowls and a cookie sheet and what not. If I bring a service for two, does it seem like it would be used by four? No. Maybe I wouldn't have as big of a problem if I were sharing with friends and not complete strangers. Maybe I still have some serious issues to work out internally. I understand no one is at fault except for possibly me for not being open about my lack of ability to share with pleasure, so no blame is being placed. I'm really just arguing with myself.

With that said, I've cooked once -- and it's only been rice. I'm not in the mood for conversation or shyly greeting new people everytime I leave my room, so I've been avoiding cooking. I need to get over this because I miss real food.

Perhaps the worst part of the beginning of the semester is buying textbooks. I have spent a grand total of $447.78 on textbooks/course codes/lecture notes this semester and it was not fun to part with. I was smart with my shopping, and didn't buy a single book from the UF Bookstore. Two came used from local bookstores and the rest were purchased online. I bought the international edition of Technical Communications for $35 new, opposed to $116 new/$85 used for the US version -- saving on that was a great feeling. I was skeptical of the quality and content at first, but it turned out to be the same exact book, same page numbers, diagrams, everything, except the cover said "India Edition" and the pages weren't glossy.

The bus system is great on the weekdays, as 3 different bus routes pass my apartment complex heading towards campus, so I rarely have to wait more than 5 minutes for a bus. I learned the hard way that 7:50-8:30am is peak time and about 8 or so full buses will pass before one will at least stop at my complex. I've learned to leave around 7:40-7:45, so even though I may get there super early for my 8:30 class, it's better than being late. It's quite inconvenient that the buses have such limited hours on the weekend, only running hourly 7am - 5pm on Saturday and then 10am - 4pm on Sunday.

So with my issues with weekend bus service and hatred towards walking miles upon miles daily, I bought a bike on Sunday. I've become envious of the cyclists, whizzing around campus so quickly, with their own less crowded lanes, with rights similar to pedestrians and vehicles. I've gone out for a short ride every evening since I've had the bike, but my first pedal leaving the store made me realize how out of shape I am. It's been about 8 years since I've been on a bike, so I need to build up some endurance to be able to ride ~3 miles to school. I've roughly calculated going 2 miles up and down the street I live on, so I should be ready to skip the bus in a few days.

I've been a bit of a loner for the past few weeks, and I don't find it strange at all. Living off campus might have a bit to do with it, but I'm not much of a social being or small-talk kinda person, so I'll let the friendships come naturally. I see so many people forcing friendships with those that they live near or see on a daily basis; it's simply not my kinda thing to be friends just because, there has to be some sort of common interest, or personality click at least. In spite of my natural introvertedness, I have been to a few social events and such. I joined NSBE and look forward to being an active member in that and I am going to an event tomorrow for the Freshman Leadership Engineering Group (FLEG), so I'm trying to make myself busier outside of pure academics.

I think my year is off to a great start so far. Gainesville is growing on me, being more southern than I thought, but I'm really liking UF as a whole more and more each day. I've finally embarked upon the journey that I've been anticipating for so long, can't wait for what the future holds...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Summer's Over

I'm supposed to be sleeping now, but for some unidentifiable reason I'm still awake. I am currently at the Paramount Plaza in Gainesville, awaiting New Student Convocation/Navigating the Swamp at school tomorrow and moving into my apartment. Being that I'm no longer at home and the first day of classes is only three days away, my summer is pretty much over.

I can definitely say this has been the laziest and least productive summer of my life. The transition from high school to college is like a waiting game, and that's all. Sure there's so much "preparation" to do, but that comes and goes quickly and is usually towards the end of the waiting period. A few days of frantic packing, worrying, catching up with friends and family, and then BAM suddenly you're in a new city, new home, new life.

I set out some goals for the summer, but with my summer pretty much down the drain, let's see how much I actually accomplished:

Summer 2009 To-Do List
  • See Up
  • Go to the beach a few times
  • Figure out what classes I want to take
  • Do Chem and Calc Readiness Assessments
  • Blog at least twice a week
  • Mock up some ideas in Inventor
  • See Away We Go
  • Go to Rapids Water Park
  • Get rid of a bunch of old high school crap
  • Attend UF Preview July 14-15
  • See Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
  • Cook more often
  • Go bowling
  • See Funny People
  • Go to Miami Metro Zoo, mainly to see/feed giraffes up close
  • Enter a few video contests
  • Hang out with friends more often
  • Brush up on some Calculus
  • Try to pick up Spanish
  • Do something with my website (kinda sorta not really)
  • See Bruno (maybe)
  • Plan how I'm moving to college in great detail
  • Go to another Laser Quest all-nighter (kinda, played a regular game)
  • Try to take a photo a day
13 out of 24 ain't to shabby. Most of it is just that I didn't get to go to the movies as often as I wanted to and logistics prevented Metro Zoo from working out. Regardless, I'm satisfied with my relaxing summer and time spent with friends and I am finally ready to go back to school for the most part.

Haha it's just so weird that I'm finally here to stay and not going back home. So surreal. I'm experiencing a suppressed version of excitement, weird. Updates on moving in and such later...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

To The Hurricane Gods:

Dear Tropical Storm Ana,

According to the 2 AM advisory of the National Hurricane Center, I see you have made quite some progress since we were first introduced. Moving west at approximately 17mph with maximum sustained winds of 40mph and gaining strength, I've noticed you're on track to come and visit me. Normally, I would have welcomed your visit, but since you have chosen to arrive on such short notice and at such an inconvenient time, I'm afraid I am not too pleased with your anticipated presence.

If you haven't recieved the memo, most schools in the state of Florida will begin classes on Monday, August 24th. It's such a shame that you have chosen to come visit on Wednesday or Thursday, as many will be scurrying to prepare for school, get settled in for college, or finish up summer vacation. My dear Ana, you wouldn't want to interfere with that, would you?

Now I know TS Fay may have started a trend last year among you tropical storms and hurricanes to arrive on the first day of school (yes, I know it's exciting, but unfortunately unacceptable for hurricanes to attend too!), but may I suggest taking a European vacation instead? There's still time to make a sharp turn east and venture out into the Atlantic before you make contact with the beautiful islands of the eastern Caribbean. The journey may be tiring, and you may lose speed and force, but I gaurantee the sights, food, and experiences are worth it. I also suggest you take your buddy TS Bill along as well, and perhaps stop by the Cape Verde islands to warn your budding hurricane/tropical storm pals to steer clear of Florida and the Caribbean this season.

Though I do not look forward to meeting you, if we shall meet, please be kind and gentle to our area. Mediocre rainfall, thunderstorms, and light wind are tolerable, but please withhold the tornadoes, flooding, and intense winds. Thank you for your consideration and have a peaceful trip to your destination.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

One Week

Unrelated note: Doesn't the title of this entry remind you of the awesome Barenaked Ladies song bearing the same name?

Next Thursday I leave home...forever. Sounds powerfully scary, eh? With these 12-month leases, prospects of studying abroad and finding internships, I don't plan on returning home for the summers or for more than two weeks at a time. And then after that, who knows.

Thinking too much is dangerous.

My thoughts are all over the place.

I don't know where my summer went. I barely did anything that I really wanted to do even though I spent so much time being bored and doing nothing. I can definitely say that I know what total relaxation feels like though.

For the past few weeks I've been fretting over stupid shit -- Do I really need to waste time reading this depressing, slow-paced, uninteresting Devil's Highway book? Am I bringing enough stuff? Too much? Will I get along with my roommates? Will my courses be too challenging? Should I wait to buy books? When am I ever going to grow up for real? Will I have too much time? Enough time? Am I really going to go to grocery shopping and cook for myself? Will mountains of laundry bury me? Am I really going to change in the manner that I want to? Will I become a failure?

Typical freshman thoughts, I'm sure.

And as much as these thoughts ping around in my head like those super high-bounce balls, I'm still incredibly relaxed and stress-free about everything, which is abnormal behavior for me since I'm known to worry myself about simple, simple stuff.

I also feel like I'm supposed to feel some kind of way about leaving, but I don't. I'm ecstatic about starting college and living on my own and new social experiences all that good stuff, but for the most part I'm indifferent about leaving home.

I started sorting my clothes yesterday and will probably do some serious laundry today. I realized just how much of my wardrobe I don't wear. I'm almost ashamed to say that it consists of about just as much as the stuff I do wear. There is so much old high school crap to go through and I don't even want to touch it, but it has to be done.

Everyone has been talking about all of the shopping that they're doing for school, but I'm trying to make this transition as minimalistic as possible. I've made so many revisions and streamlined my packing lists so that what I'm taking should fit into a large rolling suitcase, a medium rolling suitcase, a large rolling duffel, a backpack, and a messenger bag. I almost feel like I'm forgetting something really important.

I really don't know what I'm getting at with this entry. I feel like I'm prepared to go, yet it seems like there is so much to do between now and next Thursday. I keep hearing that I'll be missed and there are a few others that I'll miss as well, but I'm trying not to obsess over it. I guess my issue at the moment is I've been waiting for this time to come for quite a while and thought that it would be SUCH a huge deal though now that it's here I feel like I'm just going through the motions. Perhaps feelings will intensify down the road, or maybe I'll just shrug it all off. Sometimes I hate being so apathetic.

Seven days left in Sunrise, sigh.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Noelle in a Nutshell

I posted this as one of those "25 Things About Me" Facebook notes a few months ago, but I went back and reread it and realized that I did a pretty good job of summarizing myself in 25 not-so-brief lines. If you didn't know...

1. I have a mild addiction to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. I take too much enjoyment in slamming people with a bat until they fall in weakness and then stomp them to the death until they bleed and give me money. I don't think there is anything wrong with this at all, and I don't consider it to be an anger release. I'm not a violent person, it's just fun. Just like how I can't dance or play a guitar in real life, I can't smash people with bats or steal cars either.

2. It seems that all of my major plans are failing or becoming unrealistic at the moment. I'm just being pessimistic though. It helps me from becoming saddened if things actually do fail. Yes, I am talking about college and post-college.

3. I'm not really a studious student, but I do well in school. Go figure! The key to being smart is sounding/appearing/acting smart, not actually being a huge book nerd.

4. In spite of #3, I won't doubt that indeed I am a huge knowledge-nerd. I love learning! I love knowing useless facts, like the fact that Burger King uses ~1/2 million pounds of bacon monthly.

5. I'm a huge scaredy-cat. Sometimes I'm afraid of the dark. Sometimes I'm afraid of answering the phone. Most of the time I'm afraid of talking to people that I don't know.

6. I don't like seafood.

7. I want to get a tattoo with the No L symbol. I'm just having a really hard time deciding the location and orientation. (somewhere on the lower-mid arm, but which way? which arm? how big?)

8. I don't have any friends that I've known since early childhood. It feels like everyone else does though

9. Speaking of which, I really don't have many friends at all. There are very few people that I consider to be friends. I hate it when people are like "we're friends!" when I didn't consider them more than a mere acquaintance. Social networking has surely skewed this perception.

10. I love musicals. Almost all of them...

11. I'm a huge 90's Disney/Nickelondeon fan, especially Disney Movies (including the early DCOMs). I know almost all the words to The Lion King/Pocahontas/Aladdin/Mulan/you name it sappy-moral-having flicks and listen to their respective soundtracks daily. I know there is enough of this out there, but Nick and Disney died in the early 00s. Who can replace old awesome shows like Pepper-Ann and Salute Your Shorts and All That and Even Stevens.

12. Blogging is probably the best thing that I've done since [I wish I had some sort of time identifier to mark an enjoyable time in my life]. It's a relief, is entertaining, a creative outlet, a life chronicler, and a cool way to meet new people or find out more about the people you know. Check it out:

13. Vlogging is equally as cool. I've tried to start on like 3 or 4 occasions, deleting quite a few videos of my own in the process. I'm not quite comfortable with hearing my voice on camera yet, but I'd like to get there.

14. I have a love/hate relationship with robotics. It's interesting.

15. I love airplanes and airports, the entire experience of flying is fascinating. Experiencing new cities only comes second to flying. I just wish I could travel more often.

16. Working in retail has changed my view of many things: people, the shopping experience, life. I've learned lots along the way, but I hope to never go back to retail unless it's somewhere high up in corporate. RIP Circuit City

17. Sometimes I doubt my creativity. For most projects I come up with some ridiculously intricate plan, which I eventually deem a failure and then end up relying on something simple at the last minute that most people love for its simplicity. Why can't I ever choose the simple plan from the get go?

18. I wanted to be an astronaut and ballerina when I was younger.

19. I still would love to go to space. When space travel becomes commercialized and I can afford it, better believe I'll be in line to get my ticket!

20. I have mild interests in photography, film, and tennis. I wish I had more time to dedicate to them.

21. I just watched a 60 Minutes special about lowering the legal drinking age to 18. I totally agree, especially now that I'm 18.

22. I've never been to a concert. Even though there are a few artists I'd be willing to pay to see, the thought of being so closely crammed into a stadium/arena/concert hall with thousands of people is frightening.

23. I did not enjoy high school. Whoever said these would be the best years is greatly mistaken.

24. I have a habit of over-elaborating. Note this note.

25. I like having money, which is perhaps why I'm so cheap. I know when and to what extent to treat myself and others; I'm pretty responsible with money. I like saving. I will be wealthy. you know.

Friday, July 17, 2009

UF Preview (Day 2)

From the schedule alone, it looked like Day 2 would be much better than Day 1 -- not as much information to cram in, more things to see and do.

Breakfast was also at Broward Dining, where they have gator imprinted waffles. At 8:05am we met in the Broward Hall basement and were given individualized schedules by our Preview Staffer. The day was pretty much arranged according to your advising appointment time, whether it was morning or afternoon. Mine was at 9:45am. The morning appointment folks were herded over to Pugh Hall to be moved into another hall in even smaller groups. We were supposed to be reading that book they gave us, but most just watched Headline News on the large TV above us. At 9:15am the 9:45am group was moved to the advising center to a small lecture hall to wait for our individual advising appointment.

Speaking one on one with an advisior was great, as the generalized presentations assumed everyone came in with no credit and would basically have the same schedule. The advisor could easily assess your capability from scores and previous experiences and help you to make wise scheduling choices, I guess that's what they're there for. I registered for my critical tracking courses with my preview advisor present (its cool that they can call over somewhere and open up seats in classes if it's a tracking course that you need) and then she went over my chosen Gen. Ed courses and sent me to lab to finish registering. Everything worked out pretty well, except there were no seats open in Chem except for about 500 online, so I had to take that and see if I can change it to the live class in early August when the scheduling system opens up again. Registration is kind of a game -- searching for courses, seeing 1 or 2 seats open in the perfect time slot, rushing to type in your password to add it, finding the right section that fits into your schedule, or dropping courses and hoping your alternative is still available. Here's how my schedule came out for fall:

SYG2000 is Principles of Sociology, ENC3254 is Professional Writing and Communications for Engineers, MAC2311 is Analytic Geometry and Calculus 1, LIN3010 is Introduction to Linguistics, EML2920 is Department and Professional Orientation (Mechanical Engineering), and CHM1025 is Introduction to Chemistry.

After advising the group went one of the smaller recreational centers to hear a presentation about Rec Sports and how to get tickets for games. We toured The Swamp (Ben Hill Griffin Stadium), Heavener Football Complex (where all the championship and Heisman trophies are), and a few buildings and notable areas. I met up for lunch with my mom at the Hub and we had plenty of time to kill after so we headed over to the bookstore to buy official UF merchandise. They must make a killing on Preview days and during games.

Student and parents were separated again and the parents went wandering while students went to the Reitz Union Auditorium to learn some cheers, hear presentations from financial services, financial aid, the student health care center, and Gator 1 Central. After that half of us were herded over to Gator 1 Central on the first floor of the bookstore to get our Gator 1 cards and the other half went to see some more presentations. There was a bit of time to kill after getting my Gator 1 and before the next presentation, so I found my mom and caught up a bit. I also managed to switch around my schedule a bit since a course that I needed opened up. I'm finding more and more practical uses for my iPod every day.

The doors finally opened for the next presentation, which were fortunately more upbeat than the others. We heard about opportunities to get involved, the code of student conduct, and from some hilarious old guy about faculty expectations. After that there were separate presentations from on campus and off campus housing, we grabbed our final schedules from our preview staffer, and were done for the day around 5.

Overall the Preview experience was pretty nice, but there is definitely room for improvement. There is a lot of sitting and waiting, being herded around like cattle, and force feeding of powerpoints and brightly colored sheets of paper. I don't think all of the presentations were necessary since they were VERY redundant and almost everything was covered online. Maybe it was just more boring for me since I read everything they sent me and told me to read online and I guess everyone doesn't do that. Staying in Broward Hall made me more than happy that I have an apartment, since I couldn't imagine living in a tiny, old, decaying hole like that for an entire year. The Preview Staffers and Advisors were great, cheery, and exceptionally helpful though. Day 1 wasn't as exhausting as many may have made it seem, I think it was just a lot of information thrown at you at once, take from it what you wish...not everything was important and required full attention. Day 2 was definitely more engaging with less of being talked at.

So now that that's out the way I'm an official UF student with classes and an ID card and all that good stuff now, so all I have to do is show up and go to class on 8/24. Woohoo!

UF Preview (Day 1)

Yesterday evening I returned from UF's 2-day Preview (orientation). I've heard really mixed things about it, ranging from fun, exciting, and informative to boring, exhausting, and stressful. After thinking over the whole thing for about a day, I can say most of those feelings are true. There are about 20 different preview sessions through the summer to get 6400 freshmen registered for classes, informed, and ready for UF, so I can see how one may find the system overwhelming or redundant and formulaic.

The trip there was a journey in itself, as we took Amtrak from Fort Lauderdale to Lakeland (4hrs), and then a bus from Lakeland to Gainesville(3.5hrs). Traveling by rail is quite peaceful, but Florida scenery only consists of swamp and trees, so it gets boring after a while, especially since most of central Florida is undeveloped. I definitely prefer air travel, though I still love trains.

Day 1
Everyone arrives and checks in at the Reitz Union, where students are given a lanyard with a name tag screaming "NOOB!" and city of origin, also with a flash drive attached (no one figured out that there was stuff preloaded on these lol). Parents were also given a lanyard with either "New College Family" or "Seasoned College Family" as well as a canvas tote with informational stuff, maps, and what not. Gator alumni parents were cheered for upon arrival. After check in we headed up to the second floor for a quick continental breakfast and then the welcome in the Grand Ballroom. Students were then separated from parents and split into predetermined small random groups of 15 by letter of the alphabet. I was in Group D. Ever get the feeling that you won't like someone from first glance? That's how my entire group was -- just a group of people that I would never, ever see myself associating with. As the day progressed my initial reaction became more and more true. I became worried at one point that this small group would be representative of the population of UF, but thank goodness that thought was quickly dispelled as I met other people of interest.

Each small group was lead by a Preview Staffer, a bubbly UF student of some sort. The groups each went to a small meeting room in the Reitz, while the parents were stuck in the Ballroom and lectured and force fed powerpoints for hours. Each small group also had a Preview Advisor who aided in scheduling and general concerns. We were given a Preview bag like the parents' filled with a spiral workbook, the guide to majors, and some other papers.

After an awkward icebreaker and an introductory powerpoint we split up again to attend a "More Than Just a Major" session of choice, which happened to suck. After that we went to individual college information sessions. The Engineering session was pretty good and for the first time I felt that I was with the right group of people. There was no fluff in the presentation like the others and a few student reps from clubs and departments spoke. I was kind of disappointed that I had to go to another college's session since both of my choices were in the College of Engineering. I chose to go to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' session, where the rep there basically said that what you major in doesn't matter, so do whatever is interesting to you regardless of the practicality. Yeah...sure. The small groups were combined to form 6 groups for lunch and a quick tutorial on how to register for classes online. I don't really remember what else they went through, but during that time we were also given The Devil's Highway, which is this year's book for the Common Reading Program, mandatory for all freshman. I read Part 1 on the way home and it's kind of depressing and boring, but I'm not going to complain since enough of that is being done enough already.

We met up with our parents for more optional presentations, which were pretty informative. We attended the Study Abroad and Undergrad Research Opportunities sessions. Parents disappeared once again and students broke up into small groups to work with preview staffers and advisors on planning out a schedule individually. I did my research ahead of time and had everything planned out, so I kind of chilled while looking busy for an hour. The preview workbook was helpful though, as there was a worksheet and supplemental information for everything, majors, credit hours, gen eds, etc. I was just shocked at the amount of people that were clueless and had no idea what they wanted to do or what they were remotely interested in.

Parents and students were rejoined and funneled back into the Grand Ballroom for presentations from the Vice President for Student Affairs (snooze), GatorWell(oh noes drugs and alcohol, be healthy!), Victim Services (boring), and UFPD (quite humorous).

After that groups were divided by meal ticket color to check into Broward Hall, eat dinner, and attend the resource fair. Our group went to dinner first, at Broward Dining. After experiencing dining halls at CMU, I was expecting the worst, but thank goodness it was much better. Nothing superior or anything to write home about, but it was decent. I won't be eating here often (or at all) since I won't be needing a meal plan and it's overpriced.

After dinner was the Resource Fair, which consisted of about 10 tables from various organizations and recieved The F Book, which is a student guide and also full of university traditions to be completed. Completing 10, 20, 30, or 40 traditions gets you a Tradition Keeper pin for each level and a medal at graduation for 40. I joined the Student Alumni Association for all of their little perks (free stuff, events, tshirts, etc) and got The Box:

After the Resource Fair I checked into Broward Hall and we headed back over the the Reitz for some skits by the Preview staffers. They were about real issues, both serious and non-serious, and quite entertaining in the cheesiest way possible. I couldn't possibly count the references to Facebook.

Parents left after the skits and we broke back up into small groups to discuss the issues covered in the skit in the form of 4 corners. You had to move to corners designated Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, and Strongly Disagree based on your reaction to the serious or controversial question asked. Questions like "Would you be okay with a gay roomate?" and "Do you consider your area diverse?" came up. Some of the responses were shocking, others not so much. The point was to really stress tolerance and acceptance. We all went back to Broward Hall to finalize our schedule choices and discuss the next day's activities with our preview staffer.

I ran into someone that I knew from 5th grade and we chatted for a bit. It was nice to finally meet someone that I knew after being around strangers for hours. I heard so many weird towns and areas during the day that I never knew existed. It was nice to read a familar city on someone's name tag, as if it was an invisible connection of some sort. Also learned that Central and North Florida are WAY WAY WAY different from South Florida. It's like comparing deep south Mississippi to LA.

After getting my schedule signed off on, I returned to my room to drop off everything and head down to the basement for "Club Swag". That was probably the worst attempt at forced socialization that I've ever seen. Picture this: a dark open area, snacks on a table in the middle of the floor, a guy in the corner with a laptop and speakers, and a few dozen teenagers. Most people grabbed a cookie or drink and left after realizing how lame it was. I did too. Others were in the Broward lobby chatting with newly made friends, scurrying to finish their readiness assessments that were supposed to be done before even coming, working on perfecting their schedules, or hiding in their rooms. I was lame and went back to my room and just browsed around online on my iPod a bit. My roommate was okay, we only engaged in small talk.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer Plans

The title of this blog entry is just about as dull as my summer will probably be. A month of my summer has already passed and a lot of my friends are already going off to college for Summer B. I almost regret starting in the Fall, but I'll enjoy my time to relax. There's a bunch of preparational stuff that I need to do before going to UF that I'll probably put off doing until the first weeks of August, but that still leaves me another whole month of lollygagging and doing absolutely nothing. I'll be moving into my aparment on August 21st, coincidentally the day of New Student Convocation, so I have 57 days (5 of which will be in Gainsville, so 52 really) left in South Florida to do the following:

Summer 2009 To-Do List
  • See Up
  • Go to the beach a few times
  • Figure out what classes I want to take
  • Do Chem and Calc Readiness Assessments
  • Blog at least twice a week
  • Mock up some ideas in Inventor
  • See Away We Go
  • Go to Rapids Water Park
  • Get rid of a bunch of old high school crap
  • Attend UF Preview July 14-15
  • See Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
  • Cook more often
  • Go bowling
  • See Funny People
  • Go to Miami Metro Zoo, mainly to see/feed giraffes up close
  • Enter a few video contests
  • Hang out with friends more often
  • Brush up on some Calculus
  • Try to pick up Spanish
  • Do something with my website
  • See Bruno (maybe)
  • Plan how I'm moving to college in great detail
  • Go to another Laser Quest all-nighter
  • Try to take a photo a day
I think what I've planned is pretty manageable and realistic, so we'll see how things turn out in August.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Blog? What Blog?

Oh blog!

For the past month and a half I've abandoned this blogging thing like Key West before a hurricane. Usually I stop blogging due to lack of content, time, or motivation. The past two months have been action-packed, busy, and have whizzed by with unbelivable speed. I have tons of things to talk about, but for some odd reason I avoided blogging about them. Perhaps Twitter is to blame.

In short, I went to Grad Bash at Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure in Orlando, took AP exams, I didn't go to prom, endured a hectic last week of school, high school ended, I graduated, I've managed to completely fuck up my sleeping habits, I signed a lease for my new apartment, ignored the 2nd birthday/anniversary of my blog, spent way to much time on Facebook/Twitter/Youtube, and I've basically been a bum since May 30th.

Graduating high school was quite liberating and I'm incredibly relieved to be out of such an environment. Though college is somewhat distant at two months away, the reality of going away to college is still a lot to take in. Part of me can't wait to go, live on my own (sorta), take interesting, challenging courses, meet new people, and do new things. The other part of me is concerned for the same exact reasons. It's not something that I'm stressing over all the time and I'm sure August 21st will be here soon enough to submerge me in college and all of it's awesomeness (or horribleness?) whether I like it or not.

So it's the last summer before college, supposedly my last free summer until I retire, and apparently this is the year to "live it up". I'll save my summer plans for another post -- they're not that interesting.

I'm hoping I'll be able to keep up with regular blogging throughout the summer until my life picks up with school and interacting with humans on a regular basis again, but I'll aim to update at least once a week.

65 days 'til I say goodbye to Sunrise and hello to Gainesville.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Domino's BreadBowl Pasta

A few months ago I heard about Domino's coming out with some sort of pasta dish to compete with Pizza Hut's Toscani Pastas, which are delicious btw, and testing it in a few markets first. It sounded interesting, and I was hoping it would do well in the test markets so that I could try it for myself. Finally it was released nationally this week, oddly enough right after the booger incident, with emails, ads online, and commericals everywhere informing everyone about the NEW BreadBowl Pastas. I do admit that their slogan, "Pasta so good, you'll devour the bowl" is pretty clever.

My mom heard about it on Friday as well, so there was no doubt about what would be for dinner tonight. Now I've already raved about the Domino's online ordering experience twice before, but I still think it's far better than all of the other delivery places and deserves a spot of attention yet again. That entry from January of last year surprisingly brought in a lot of traffic since the Pizza Tracker was new back then. Although not as exciting the 23423945th time, it's still pretty darn cool to know the progress of your pizza in realtime (within 60 sec.).

There are five different types of pasta: Three Cheese Mac-N-Cheese, Chicken Carbonara, Italian Sausage Marinara, Pasta Primavera, and Chicken Alfredo, with the choice of it being in the breadbowl or not. This evening I ordered the Italian Sausage Marinara for my mom and the Chicken Alfredo for myself with a Coke (I'm an addict) and timed it so that it would arrive around the time my mom got home (the same exact time, surprisingly!). Ever since the 30-Minutes-or-Less campaign started last year, Domino's has been extremely punctual about their delivery speeds.

5:07PM - Order placed
5:07PM - Order prepared
5:08PM - Order put in oven
5:16PM - Order packaged and put in HeatWave bag
5:25PM - Delivery expert left store with order
5:32PM - Order arrives at my doorstep

25 minutes from 'Place Order' to my doorstep? Amazing. There is new packaging for the BreadBowls, a thicker, squarish, box a little smaller than that of a small-sized pizza. The BreadBowls do look delicious upon first look.

Sure it may look delicious, but we all know that appearance isn't everything. First impression is that its like a bowl of pasta with breadsticks built in. As for taste, Chicken Alfredo is Chicken Alfredo. The chicken was flavorless and barely apparent. It was decent; there's was nothing really special about this one, but it was saucier than Pizza Hut's. I'm not too fond of pastas made with just plain marinara sauce (especially if it's bland like Domino's pizza sauce, Papa Johns' sauce is better), so the Italian Sausage Marinara was a turnoff from the get go. It tasted like what I expected, pasta with pizza sauce and pizza sausage bits. Again, nothing special about the pasta.

The novelty of the whole thing is that it's in an edible bowl. Sure it's just regular pizza crust, but it's softer and topped with butter and garlicky seasonings. The seasonings are also sprinkled over the Chicken Alfredo pasta as well. The 'bowl' isn't very deep, so I often got my fork stuck in the bottom of the bowl when trying to pick up pasta, which was a bit of an annoyance at first. The best part was the bottom of the bowl with the soft,doughy bread covered in Alfredo sauce. The only major downside is that when its prepared everything is just dumped on top in order, so the bottom is a little doughy for those of you that don't like doughy-ness, and its a bit of work to thouroughly distribute the sauce through the pasta. A cool thing is that there are a few ways to eat it. You can eat the pasta and break off pieces of the crust as you go along like I did, you can eat pasta and bread in the same bite, you can eat all of the pasta first and save the crust for last, or you can cut it and eat it like pizza.

Here's what it looks like after stirring and devouring. I could only eat half. The combination of bread and pasta is quite filling. This also can't be the least bit healthy at all. I tried some after leaving it out for a few (since the true test of food is really how it holds up when it's cold) and the pasta does taste a little better, but the crust isn't as good as it was when it was fresh. It'll probably taste better tomorrow when I reheat the leftovers in the oven.

Overall I'd give it a 6/10 for taste (the sauces could've been a lot better), 10/10 for concept, and 8/10 for the overall package. I'd definitely reccomend it if you want to try something interesting and I will probably order it again. Maybe I'll try the Three Cheese Mac-N-Cheese next time.

Compared to Pizza Hut's pasta, the value is about the same, as you get a serving for 4 (and that's generous) and five breadsticks for $12.99, and with Domino's each BreadBowl is $6.99 ($5.99 special now if you order online and $4.99 if you get it without the BreadBowl). A single BreadBowl could easily feed two people if you're not starving. I still think the Pizza Hut pastas taste better overall though. The Domino's BreadBowls are a cool little novelty.

My mom stopped at Target on the way home and brought back two of my favorite goodies. Yay!

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Movie-Going Experience

*cross-posted with my cinematography blog*

With the improvements and significant price drops of home theater systems in the past few years, the movie-going experience almost appears to be a trivial pastime. It seems like every few months ticket and concession prices are rising. Why do we even bother going to the theaters anymore?

Going to see a movie is more than just going to see a movie. Most often it is a social experience as well. It's a chance to see what's coming next with the previews, it's a chance to get that one snack you can't find anywhere else, it's a chance to enjoy oneself.  At the theater, you can immerse yourself in the film, temporarily away from the distractions of the real world.

Watching a movie at the theater definitely has it's perks: huge screens, great sound, company, and sometimes even luxury. Legally, the movie theatre is the only place to see the hottest new flicks, but illegal methods or patience can change that, which brings us to the flipside, the home movie experience.

As mentioned previously, quality is no longer much of an issue with improved home theater systems. Seemingly everyone has a beautiful, widescreen HDTV now, and a halfway decent surround sound system isn't hard to come by either. So now you have a setup in your living room that rivals that of some big expensive theatre. You can view movies at your discretion, from the comfort of your own home, in your pajamas, while an enjoying a delicious meal or reasonably priced snacks at the same time. 

Though not as taboo as before, one can even enjoy the same first-run movies at home with bootlegs. No, they're not only sold by sketchy characters in front of the corner store in the hood any more. Besides downloading movies online, there is also a very well organized system if you have the "hook-up". Lists are released weekly of what the movie man has acquired or his full collection, with details on whether it is a studio copy, regular quality, a DVD rip, or an in-movie recording, and even sometimes specials such as 5-for-$20 or buy 3, get one free. The decision to purchase bootlegs pretty much boils down to ethics.

The most apparent difference between the movie-going experience and the home theater experience is the cost. At first, the home theater experience may appear cheaper, but the initial costs are far more expensive and it must be a long-term investment in order to be worthwhile. Ignoring the initial costs for the home-theater system, let's compare the annual costs. For a family of four, an average trip to the movies would cost about $60 ($8/ticket, ~$30 in snacks). This would equate to $720 in movie-going expenses for an entire year. For the price of one movie trip, the family could by three new-release DVDs or 15 bootlegs -- either way, everyone in the family gets something they like. On a monthly basis, the family could buy one new-release movie and order pizza for about $40 and spend $480 annually. Of course DVDs go on sale all the time but never movie tickets. (Sidenote: There are so many factors that contribute to both movie-viewing experiences that it's pretty much impossible to fully evaluate both. Well I could, but I won't.)

So is the movie-going experience still worth it? Yes and no. For some popular, action-packed, must-see movies like Transformers 2 coming out this summer, absolutely. But for other casual films that don't necessarily demand the perks of seeing it in a theater, probably not. Another factor not to be ignored is the reason for watching a movie; is it for the plot, the cinematography, the hype, the actors, the social experience, the message? These also all influence how one physically views a movie.

It is not to by implied that one should abandon one system for the other; actually, the best situation would probably be to have a healthy combination of both. Even though it may be a huge splurge nowadays, who doesn't love staring at 20ft screen while munching on $10 popcorn, $4 candy, and $6 soda? 

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Final Countdown

Kind of bummed about not being at the Championship for the first time in 3 years now, but:

24.5 days of high school left

Grad Bash on May 2nd

AP Exams May 4th & 7th

Final Exams

Not doing the Prom thing

Graduation on May 30th


Anyone have a time machine that I can borrow?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sleep Cycles

For the past month, my sleep cycles have been wacky to say the least. Some nights I didn't sleep at all, some nights I slept for  two hours or 30 minutes, sometimes I slept for 9 hours. This troubled me, as it would often effect my mood for the rest of the day.  I didn't quite have a grasp on why I ventured from my normal pattern and it seemed like every night 2am appeared out of nowhere.

During my early childhood I don't recall having a set bedtime, but I do remember falling asleep around the same time everynight with exceptional regularity. Young kids have a tendency to do that, even waking up at 6am on the weekends...just because. (Sidenote: I don't even see the point for kids to get up early anymore since the cartoons suck now. ABC/Disney's One Saturday Morning was the ish in the 90s.) I remember the days where staying up past 11pm was a big deal and extremely tiring.

By my early teenage years the whole "let's sleep all day and forever" thing caught up with me and I did just that. I went to sleep around 10pm every night, had the hardest time waking up in the morning, and slept through the weekends when I could. 

At some point, I stopped beliving in a bedtime -- I think it was towards the end of middle school.  I was so immersed in whatever I was doing (The Sims, forums, IMs, whatever) that I no longer allowed the clock to dictate my life. It wasn't too bad, as I'd usually be in bed before 12 and not too grumpy at 5:30am when my alarm went off.

In high school, this got worse. Being the procrastinator that I am, I often didn't start my homework until 10pm. I would typically take a nap from 4-7pm, and then have dinner and stick myself in front of the computer until I realized I had homework or something else to do. I'd fall asleep whevenever I was done, but it was usually before 2am unless I had a huge project. I'd wake up at 5am every morning and never miss the bus. On weekends I'd often pull all-nighters just because. This was my routine for 3.5 years.

Suddenly, everything changed. I've overslept and missed the bus on more occasions than I can remember this year. I don't sleep with any regularity. I'm often not tired at all between the hours of 11pm and 2am when one would normally fall asleep at this age.  During the first semester I was often overloaded with annoyances such as school, work, standardized tests, and college apps, so I had a legitimate excuse for not sleeping. My life has been a little smoother for the past 2 months (with the exception of robotics), but my habits didn't change at all. I was tired all the time.

Very recently, as in the past week, I've adopted a new sleeping habit unintentionally, and I'm finding that I'm less tired during the day. For the past three weeks I've been going to sleep at 3am or later and waking up at 5am. In the weeks that I didn't take naps, I was definitely the most unhappy person in the world in the mornings and felt as if some great force was pulling me to the bed and my eyelids closed. Now it's not that big of a deal since I make up for it during the rest of the day. On the ride to school I can usually squeeze in about 20-30 minutes of sleep depending on traffic. Depending on how tired I am I can sleep through lunch for 30-45 minutes. Power naps are amazingly refreshing, and I often feel more refreshed after a nap than I do after sleeping for 6-8 hours. The majority of my sleep occurs when I come home from school, from around 5 or 6pm to 9 or 10pm. There is usually a bit of variance depending on what I'm doing that particular day, but most of my days have been like this.

So I'm sure a major question looming in your head is "Why don't you just sleep like normal people?" It's difficult to answer. I just can't now. My schedule is pretty flexible now outside of school, so I have time to do so much more and it's difficult to evaluate when sleep is necessary. Also, I don't get tired at the same points that I used to, like very early in the morning and towards the end of the school day. Now it's more like the middle of 2nd block (around 10am) everyday and the early evening. This multi-powernap system would almost be perfect if I could take another 30 minute nap during the day around the end of 4th block (~2:15pm), but my schedule just doesn't allow for it. I hope to correct this before I head off to college, but it works for now.

Try it!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Wow, did I write that?


Introspection is sometimes difficult
One's personal history is often an insult
It's hard to imagine a perfect life
One without troubles, or a single strife

Many go on a quest of self-discovery
Most often, it's a quest of recovery
Self-realization is a great step
A shocking reality, with no way to prep

A youthful self-journey, a mid-life breakdown
A sudden urge to get out of this dreary town
Looking into ourselves causes a sudden sway
We're all motivated to change in some way

The wise are those that realize this early
You cannot live life insecurely
Evaluating choices, reflecting important issues
Will save the tears shed on those harsh-realization tissues

Opposite of an existentialist point of view
Evaluate what is important to you
Find meaning within your existence
Be kind to yourself, make a difference

I wrote this back in September for the Jonathan Green poetry contest that we had to enter for AP Literature. The topic that had to be written about was self-discovery; I mulled over writing this thing, feeling muse-less when forced to write creatively under time constraints. I didn't win or anything, but I think some students from Dillard did place. I thought it was horrible at the time, and I still don't consider it to be one of my best works, but it certainly is decent and seems like a message to my present self from my past self. Creepy and ironic considering the subject matter.

I should learn to take my own advice, I like the messase. I never cease to amaze myself when I reflect upon my own work, but I try not to be too conceited.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Evolution of a Blogger

Just a heads up, this is an extremely long post.

The Beginning
I've been on the blogging scene for a while, since about 2005 with LiveJournal. It started with a few silly late night poems, and then progressed to a "daily/weekly/quarterly update" type of thing. There were many hiatuses. I faux-liveblogged the cruise we went on in the summer of 2006 and that was my last post on LiveJournal. There was a social networking site that was semi-popular before Facebook became popular called Classface, renamed StudyBreakers, that I used to blog a bit on, but after several failed redesigns, the site disappeared completely, and so did my blog (I have personal archives). I went about a year without blogging, but suddenly I had the urge to blog again. I checked out my old LiveJournal to see if I could pick up on there again, but realized that I didn't want to post there because everything I had previously written was incredibly lame (no, you don't need to go find it) and I didn't want to be associated with that middle schooler's/freshman mindset. That's when I created this blog in June 2007.

The Angsty Stage
I blogged a bit before going to SAMS and then about 2-3 times a week while at CMU. I used it as an outlet of expression at the time, but I didn't realize how great of a chronicler of memories and adventures it was. Upon returning home from Pittsburgh, I kept up the blogging habit since I was used to it, and mainly talked about school. Most of my posts between July 2007 and January 2008 were mostly angsty rants about why I didn't like school, people, or whatever was happening in my life at the moment. It was depressing and pointless. These are the posts that make me cringe when I go back to read them because they were just so horrible. I am disappointed with how I thought and handled certain situations, and then had the nerve to complain to my blog about it! I suppose one can call this maturity.

The second semester of my junior year was pretty stressful due to AP Lang, AP US History, and robotics all occuring at the same time. Because of this I didn't blog much and when I did my posts were simply composed of brief updates on how overloaded I was. I didn't blog much over the summer either because it was incredibly boring. I almost abandoned the thought of blogging all together at one point because I felt like I couldn't come up with any interesting content to supply this blog with life. Eventually I stopped worrying about posting with any consitency and just decided to write when it came naturally. Over the summer I started reviewing some of my older entries and just realized how much I disliked how I wrote in the past. I made a promise to myself to not rant or complain so much and put more thought into determining blogworthy content. Though working August-February and senior year decreased the frequency of posts, I felt those posts accurately expressed how I felt at the time or the events that occured.

Today I went through and tagged all of my entries for organizational purposes. In doing so, I managed to briefly read all 153 published posts and evaluate my blogging habits. I primarily talked about school, robotics, and preparing for college. I realize that I ran into so many dry spells while blogging because I had fallen into a habit of making specific types of entries: school happenings (grades, classes, events), robotics (events, build season, competitions), and college prep (standardized tests, summer programs, applications, admissions updates). Other types of entries were rare and came sandwiched between 3 or 4 of the other types of entries. Most of the things that I blogged about in the past are going to soon disappear and I'd like to switch up my style a bit. Many have complimented my style of writing, so I don't plan to change that, but what will change is the type of content and the frequency of posts.

I have been following a few photoblogs for a while and noticed a lot of people are picking up on Project 365. It's pretty cool. I've had some conversations with some other friends/bloggers about how hard it is to come up with content on a regular basis if your blog has no particular theme, and we've all agreed that no one blogs as much as they'd like to. Project 365 is a neat way to preserve a snapshot of your life, as well as breathe life and interesting content into your blog. I encouraged Dom to do it and hers is coming out great so far. I've been carrying my camera around with me almost all the time, but I haven't taken many photos. I'd like to start a photo-a-day journey of my own, but I'm not sure when...keep an eye open.

I aim for my entries to capture a snapshot of my life. Posts are the result of me either pouring my heart out, making quick bullet updates, or carefully crafting an entry.  My style has been influenced in many ways, from the classes I take (this was the only place I could write informally when taking AP Lang/Lit), the news feeds I read, other bloggers, and comments.  

I'll come out and admit it now, I'm a backwards stalker. I know almost every one of you out there reading my blog, your IP, browser, operating system, Internet provider, city, state, and frequency and length of visits. Statcounter is a wonderful tool, almost better than Google Analytics in many ways. I use both, but that's not what this is about. In many ways, my audience has greatly influenced the type of posts that I make.

When I first started, there was no audience, it was just me and the Google spiders.  My family was the main audience in Summer 2007 so that they could keep up with me while I was at SAMS. Eventually I asked some friends to read my blog and we'd exchange comments every so often. I grew out of being so blog shy and started linking my comments/user accounts elsewhere to my blog as well. This generated a lot of traffic. Perhaps the greatest influx of readers came when I started linking my blog to my comments on the MIT Admissions Blogs.  I found other interesting people through their blog-linked comments, other interesting people discovered me -- it was great.  A ring of bloggers, of all different ages, interests, and nationalities, was created as a result of this common interest. Even though my journey with MIT has come to an end, I will probably still keep up with a few of the blogs that I've come to love over the two years.

As more people started reading and commenting on my blog, the more encouraged I was to write. Occasionally I'll rethink entries since I know which eyes are watching, but I usually don't let that stop me from expressing myself freely. I've had the "oh yeah, this is MY blog" aha moment quite a few times.

Noelle, The Blogger Evangelist
Ever since I started blogging, I've encouraged others to do the same. I can testify to the stress relief, reflective, and network effects blogging has, but many others don't see the benefit. I definitely understand that it's not for everyone, whether the issue is time, writing skill, lack of interest or whatever. I've gotten a few of my friends to start blogs or resucitate their old ones, and they've appreciated the annoying push later on down the line. Many others have found theirselves eager to blog after being inspired by other popular blogs or seeing the many networks and webrings formed that they're being left out of. A mild case of nosiness may have something to do with this, as many will share feelings on their blog that would never be expressed in normal conversation. It seems like there was a sudden spike in blogging activity recently, even before everyone started their cinematography blogs for school. At one point, it seemed like EVERYONE had a blog (heck, even my grandmother does). Sure I felt a little less special for a moment, but then I realized how cool it was knowing so many people that blogged about so many different things; Dom with photography and personal updates, Joseph with his shoe/music/tech news and criticism, Kyle and his opinions, Shawn and his photography, Josue and his reflections. Everyone's different and has a blog for a different purpose, which is how it's supposed to be.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

Since getting rejected from MIT, I've taken some time to reorganize my thoughts, make some important decisions, and make some baby steps towards preparing for college.

As much as I don't want to stay in-state, I will be attending the University of Florida. I was looking at a few other schools that I could potentially go to, and I found myself constantly shortchanging UF because I didn't want to stay in state and admiring other schools for superficial reasons, though when I compared programs and opportunities, UF stood very solid.

After making my decision, I scoped out some clubs and organizations on campus that I would potentially participate in. Pretty exciting. I'd love to start a FIRST team up there since there isn't one, but it would require an insane amount of effort that I'm not sure I could handle the first year. There's always volunteering for now...

Looking on the bright side, I'll save LOTS of money, will have a few friends on campus, and will get to experience the wildness of the Gator Nation and the #1 Party School...perhaps I'll learn to loosen up a bit (HA!). 

Perhaps the only downside to this is the housing situation, which could be both a positive or negative depending on how you look at it. Since I made my decision too late, I will most likely not get on-campus housing. According to the UF Housing Blog, they have 2,700 more contracts than they have space for and 69 (1 = me) on the waitlist. Looking at last year's data, they were only 1,200 over and were able to place all except about 200 by the end of the summer. This year chances look a lot more unrealistic. This brings up the headache of searching for an off-campus location and worrying if the potential scholarships I get will cover rent. The flip side is that the rooms are nicer and more spacious, I'll probably have a private bathroom, and a decently sized kitchen, so no need for a meal plan, and a lot of the complexes cater to students so there are fully-furnished rooms, computer labs, roommate pairings, social areas, individual leases, and all-inclusive rent payments.  I've heard from a few that live off campus that it's sometimes cheaper. A lot of the places I've checked out seem like resorts and almost too good to be true for the price. Maybe I can take a trip up to Gainesville during Spring Break.

One awesome thing about the state of Florida is the Bright Futures scholarship. 100% of my tuition will be covered, and I just recieved note of my UF Presidential Scholarship as well. Now I just have to find money for housing and books, which kind of sent me into a panic earlier this week. I suddenly realized that burried within the drone of morning announcements at school was a daily vital message "Seniors, be sure to stop by the BRACE office to check out new scholarship opportunities." Hearing this daily for 3.5 years, I eventually stopped paying attention to it. I've only been to the BRACE office a few times, mostly when summoned by our BRACE advisor. Wednesday I decided to stop by. There were TONS of local scholarships! Many of them seemed within reach, unlike a lot of things posted on FastWebs and other scholarship search engines. I'm not really sure of exactly how much I'll need, but I'm applying for as many as I can right now.

With all that said, I got myself extremely hyped for going to UF and just college in general this week and it's difficult to motivate myself out of bed every morning. That darn curse of senioritis. I've had a weird attitude about high school for a while now, but nothing beats the cynicism I face now. There's no need for competitiveness, no need for extra participation out of my interest, no need for near-perfect attendance, and barely a need to go to school. These last few weeks are going to be tough as I encourage myself not to settle for effortless Bs and high Cs and force myself to wake up at 5am to go to that place every morning.

Another decision that I'm dealing with is if I should get a job again. I promised myself that I wouldn't go back to retail unless dire conditions demanded it, but my savings are dwindling, and as I've said many times, I like having money. A new Staples close to me is hiring and so is the Apple store, which is quite a bit father though, but close to Dillard.  I don't have a demanding schedule this last semester, so it might be nice to snag a job before the summer job rush so I can work through the summer and start saving up again.

Saturday, March 14, 2009



No GaTech (wtf for that one!?)

No Elimination Matches

No Awards



I'm feeling really great about now.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Time Warp

Let's use this entry to make up for the entire month that I haven't blogged, shall we.

-I went to Cleveland, Ohio for four days and came back. We performed horribly, but got the robot functional. There was tons of fun, 3-hour delays, science museums, good people, good food, robots, snowstorms, arguments, interesting bus rides, and much, much more.

-I graduate in 2 months and 20 days. HURRY UP AND GET HERE MAY 30TH!

-I have been horribly ill for the past week. Must've picked up some sort of horrible virus on the way back from Ohio, through Atlanta. Monday I was so-so, Tuesday I felt flu-ish, Wednesday I went to school and came back feeling dead with an insanely scratchy throat. Thursday I went to a doctor to get drugs to make me better but instead made me vomit. Friday I threw up about five times and whatever flu-ish virus I had evolved to a menacing stomach virus. Rested most of the weekend, but I still don't feel 100%.

-I'm leaving for Orlando tomorrow. I still don't know how I'm getting there. Murphy's Law has made it's presence clear for everything involving this trip.

-MIT decisions are coming out on Pi day, 3/14 (Saturday at 2pm). OH MY FUCKING GOSH! I'm not really getting myself too worked up over it, but I can't say I'm not excited. We should be finding out sometime during the eliminations of the Florida Regional, which depending on the outcome of the event and our admission status will make us either very happy or very disappointed campers, or maybe some odd combination of both. Our entire drive team has applied to MIT and has been deferred, this should be interesting...

-Circuit City just gave me 20 hours worth of pay. I quit over a month ago. I read they're not taking it back. Sweet! Sidenote: There is no more Circuit City.

-My bookbag is really heavy, but its surprisingly streamlined this year. I only have one organized 1" binder. It's just that darn AP Gov't textbook and German 3 workbook that I have to lug around.

-I'm know I'm late at mentioning this, but Kunio Kato had the best Oscar acceptance speech ever, hands down.

-We played Mafia at school today during AP Gov't after taking a test since we were stuck in class for 4 hours due to the FCAT. It's awesome.

-I'm noticing a trend on Facebook where a lot of people (seemingly just Dillard people at the moment) are writing all of these wannabe profound notes analyzing their perspective on life or the way others think/act. It's like all of the sudden "OMG, random thoughts guys -- I'm probably like the only one to realize this, but I've just figured out that..." improperly infusing all sorts of lofty language, "big words", and interesting, to say the least, sentence structure. I can't say any of my close friends have done this, thank goodness.

-Speaking of Facebook, the trends that are going on currently are all getting extremely annoying. The tagging in the stupid cartoon characteristic pictures, the chain survey notes, and jillions of app requests are totally bringing down the environment. Regardless, I still like Facebook and will enjoy my little corner there, it's still better than MySpace.

-My laptop is kaput. It's the HD, quite unfortunately. I did do a backup a few weeks ago, but lost all of my pics from the robotics season and some other recent files. I might be able to recover the data but I don't have much time at the moment. I don't want to get a new laptop just yet since there will probably be better back-to-school sales or a deal affilated with which ever college I end up going to. I've been using my mother's and grandmother's computers for now when I can get on and my iPod doesn't cut it, hopefully I can get a replacement HD soon. This sucks.

-Season 13 of South Park starts Wednesday! Too bad I'll be on my way to Orlando; hopefully they'll replay it at midnight.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Finally got in somewhere! 1 down 6 to go!

Congratulations! You have been admitted to the 2009 Fall University of Florida freshman class!

Your official notification and additional materials will be mailed to you in the next few days.

Until then, and on behalf of the Office of Admissions and the University of Florida, welcome to the Gator Nation!

Office of Admissions
University of Florida


Sunday, February 8, 2009

"Yes, I'm Sure!"

The people that ask the following questions probably don't read my blog, but it is definitely something that ticks me a bit after a while. Probably several times a week I get questions about my hair or race, most of which are very predictable. Most of the time I'm polite and just try to get through the conversation as quickly as possible. It typically goes something like this:

"Oh your hair is nice, kinda different"
"Are you mixed?"
"Are you sure?"

WHAT KIND OF QUESTION IS THAT?! Am I unsure of my race? Of course not. Continuing...

"Yeah, I'm sure"
"Well what are you then? There is no way you can be just black with hair like that!"
"Where are your parents from?"
"They were born here in the US, and so were their parents"
"Oh, so you're just regular black? Are you sure?"

Actually, I was lying before and I was unsure. Now I'll actually tell you the truth since I see you're so interested in a complete stranger's life. NOT.

"Regular black? Yeah I guess."

If this didn't happen so often, I wouldn't be so disturbed by it, but WHY?! I've only gotten this from other black people that assume I'm this weird exotic being because my hair is of a different color and texture. My skin isn't extremely light or dark by any means, just brown. You can't tell what part of the country I'm from by the way I speak. There are really no indicators that point to another race except for my hair. Why such great inquisition about my ancestry? I guess because this is South Florida, someone that is just "regular black" is hard to come by. Speaking of which, that term bothers me. Regular black? As opposed to irregular black? I'm not completely denying any other backgrounds since I think we all understand that everyone has a bit of a jumbled background, its just that they are not as relevant since I'm not going to rattle off an entire family tree to explain my hair color and texture.

Another similar situation is when people assume that I'm hispanic, or just because I live in South Florida I speak Spanish. No! Being bilingual is not a requirement for just living in S. Florida. This happens at work more than anywhere else where I think a majority of our customers are South American tourists. (Heh, I wrote this before I quit)

"You speak Spanish?"
"You sure?"

There's that "are you sure?" question again! Another common situation features the common are-you-in-denial-of-your-heritage:

"You speak Spanish?"
"Are you sure? It's ok, you don't have to hide it, you can speak in Spanish with me"
"I don't speak any Spanish"
"Okay" ::look of disapproval, continues to speak in Spanish::
"I'm sorry, I don't understand" ::walks away::

Recently, I've decided to have a bit of fun with the people that are just oh-so interested in my heritage. Now the conversation goes something like this:

"Oh your hair is nice, kinda different"
"Are you mixed?"
"Yeah, I'm actually half Puerto Rican and Egyptian" [or insert some other exotic blend]
"That's interesting! I knew you couldn't just be regular black!"

I let it marinate with them for a few minutes.

"I was lying a few minutes ago, I'm not really mixed"
"Nu-uh!" ::feels stupid:: "So what are you then?"
"What do you think?"
"'re just regular black?"

I wonder if this will change if/when I move up north? My faith in mankind decreases as the days progress. Maybe Idiocracy was right...