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.