Sunday, December 30, 2012

400



This is the 400th blog that I have posted since switching over to this platform in 2009 [click here for why]. I don't have an actual number for how many blogs I posted before that, but I would say I probably had close to 300 blogs on my old MySpace page. That's a lot of writing.

I was urged to create a MySpace page in late 2005, my sophomore year of college. I did and enjoyed what was there. One of the first features I saw was the ability to write and post blogs. I didn't know much about blogging at the time, but I instantly felt like that was something that I would enjoy doing.

I had spent 4 years writing for my high school newspaper and I was starting my second year on Concord University's newspaper staff, The Concordian, so I enjoyed writing and was looking forward to how I would utilize this feature.

Starting in 2006, I thought I would use the MySpace blog as a supplement to The Concordian. Three issues had been released at that point and I decided to look at each one and write what I did and didn't like about it. I thought it would be fun and people would like it.

Well, people did like it. And, some people did not like it. Most of the people who didn't like it were some of my fellow staff members.

One of my "beats," if you will, was to cover Concord's Student Government Association. Something that I saw as a problem in early 2006 was that several high-ranking members of the SGA were staff members of The Concordian, including the Editor-in-Chief.

I thought I could use the newspaper to present my stories and disseminate the news in an unbiased manner, while using the blog as an avenue to voice my opinion and get my point of view across. I brought up that I saw the influx of SGA members on the newspaper staff as a potential conflict of interest. It very obviously was. Here's how it all came to a head:

There was a proposal made by a student to allow pets in the dormitories. Like cats and dogs and shit. Kind of crazy. I interviewed her and wrote a story about it. She was trying to get SGA support behind it so it could build momentum. At the weekly staff meeting, the SGA Board of Governors representative (Editor-in-Chief) mentioned my article to the SGA President (staff writer). They started to laugh about it. A couple other SGA members on the staff started to laugh about it. One of the members said something that stuck out to me.

In the next issue of the newspaper, I wrote a piece on the opinions section about how I overheard SGA members making fun of that girl and her proposal. I specifically (anonymously) quoted the one who stuck out to me.

At the next staff meeting, we had a group discussion about staff relations and how it was inappropriate to do stuff like that to your own staff members. I initially tried to defend myself by naming the positions of the people I talked about. The SGA President responded by saying that he wasn't the SGA President when he was in this meeting, he was a Concordian staff writer. After that I shut up and let them finish; I didn't care anymore. The Editor-in-Chief concluded by saying that if we have any issues to discuss them as a staff, and not to write about it in your blog. The SGA people chuckled.

After that, I concentrated very heavily on writing about the SGA and my issues with their leadership. That event was the catalyst for me becoming "that guy who writes blogs about the SGA."

One of my things is that I feel like people need to know the real story. I always tried to do that with The Concordian and when it wasn't as good a publication as I felt it should be, when the readers weren't getting the real story, I voiced my displeasure with it on my blog. When the SGA wasn't helping the students in the way I felt they should, I wrote about it.

Initially, doing that caused me some scorn. I had a scarlet letter of sorts on me; I was "that guy." But, another thing happened over the months, semesters, and years - people started to respect me for speaking my mind and standing up for what I believed in.

After I left the newspaper staff, I was still a student and I continued to attend SGA meetings and write about them. I did that for a majority of 300 MySpace blogs that are no longer here and a huge chunk of 399 blogs here that you can check out.

I've also expanded my writing to other stuff I'm passionate about - namely professional wrestling. I've actually tried to distance that from this blog, since most of my readers aren't in to that. If you do like to read that stuff, then you know where I post it. 

A problem I've had lately is that I really haven't done much of interest with my life and therefore haven't had much of interest to write about it. I spoke about this recently with a former SGA member from my "glory years." This blog isn't really important at the moment, and I feel like it used to be. Some people like to read about me growing a beard and listening to random gloomy songs that I embed, but it's not must-read material.

A successful blog needs to have a focus. It has to be about something. This blog used to have a specific purpose. It doesn't really have one at the moment. That's something that I would like to change. The idea would be to change the fact that I'm not doing much of interest. Then I'll write about interesting things. I'll keep you guys updated on how that goes.

So, this was the first 400. Let's see how the next 400 go.

End of 2012

The year is almost over. I've had a few people ask what I'm doing for New Year's Eve. I've never really seen that as a holiday to celebrate. Mostly, because it's not really a holiday. It's a day. But, I enjoy drinking alcohol in moderation (or not in moderation), so I guess I'll probably "celebrate" the occasion somehow.

Several of my recent New Year's Eves have been spent at Pizza Hut. I watched the year change as I watched people clean and I did fancy management computer stuff. I'll more than likely be able to actually do "stuff" this time. So, we'll see what happens with that.

The last month of the year, like the last few years, has seemingly been a blur. The whole year seems like it went by quickly. It really doesn't seem like 12 months ago when I wrote that blog looking at legislation that would allow medical marijuana in West Virginia. I don't recall hearing anything else about that this year. I emailed the delegate who drafted the legislation and he (or his office) never replied to me.

It's started snowing again, which I'm not a fan of. I guess I'm not necessarily against snow, I just don't like it being cold. If it's going to be cold, it might as well snow. A lot of people I know seem to like it.

I guess that's all I've got for a retrospective looking at my 2012. It's been very underwhelming. We could probably even say it was a wasted year. Hopefully 2013 will see me accomplish a little bit more.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Reflecting

Today's school shooting is so hard to comprehend. Several young children are dead. A man walked into an elementray school and killed several people. The news has been quick to point out that this ranks as the second deadliest school shooting of all time, after the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007. Hearing talk of Virginia Tech got me reflecting back to April 16, 2007. I was a college student an hour down the road from Virginia Tech that day.

I remember that day, and more specificially the morning after, vividly. This was back in the days before Twitter and smartphones and constantly being connected to the world. I had a gray flip phone that didn't even take pictures. But you could play blackjack on it...

I woke up and went about my day. As I was walking through the student center I noticed that CNN was on one of the televisions and first noticed what was going on at Tech. I continued my day and then watched some more CNN in my room later that afternoon, trying to absorb what was going on.

I was the News Editor of The Concordian, Concord University's newspaper. I was the #2 in charge, behind LeAnne Davis, the Editor-in-Chief. The newspaper staff met weekly every Monday evening. Virginia Tech was the main point of discussion, obviously.

With a weekly newspaper, you don't really deal with much breaking news. The Virginia Tech shooting happened on Monday. The newspaper's deadline was Tuesday morning, to be printed Wednesday. So, that was a topic of discussion as well. But, what would we do? It was then decided to wait a week and let more information come out before we made any move.

Tuesday morning, we had an unofficial meeting in the newspaper office between myself, LeAnne, and Cory Williams, the newspaper's faculty advisor. He had printed off some news articles about VT and more information had finally become available. We now knew that at least 30 people had died. I distinctly remember Cory Williams saying, "This is big. We have to do something."

There were two places in the newspaper to do something - the front page and the opinion section. I don't remember how we decided who would do what, but LeAnne interviewed Concord's head of campus police and wrote a front-page piece about how they were making sure Concord was safe. I took to the opinion section and wrote something.

That's kind of how I look at it. It is what it is. It's "something." Some people told me they liked it. I wrote it not even 24 hours after something so horrific and scary. And I didn't know what to say. I usually try to write to a large audience, so that everybody can relate to it. In this instance, though, I wrote directly to college students. I tried to maintain a serious tone and tried to throw in a little humor, but not too much to make light of the situation. I wanted people reading it to understand how serious things were, but I also wanted them to smile at least once. I felt like people needed to smile and wanted to do my part.

What I wrote April 17, 2007, is below. You can see for yourself if I accomplished what I set out to do.

* * *

Originally published April 18, 2007; The Concordian, Concord University

I woke up Monday afternoon (yeah, I know I'm lazy) not quite knowing what to expect.

Mondays are always my "interesting" days, with my Ultimate Frisbee mini course, newspaper staff meeting, and night class; not to mention the Monday night exploits of World Wrestling Entertainment.

Sadly, Monday April 16, was interesting for an entirely different reason.

As the early afternoon unfolded for me and I watched CNN in my room and realized just what had happened an hour down the road at Virginia Tech, I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

As of Tuesday morning, there are over 30 Virginia Tech students dead as a result of a shooting.

Personally, I don’t have any immediate friends who are students at Virginia Tech, but my heart obviously goes out to them.

It has to.

This situation is different for college students as opposed to older generations. An older person will watch this and say, "Some kids died."

I watch this and think, "I could have gone to Virginia Tech; my friends could be there."

As least 30 of our peers are no longer in this world as a result of somebody with a gun.

It boggles my mind how things like this can happen.

A lot of people who need their families right now can't be with them, and it's sad.

My mother called me Monday night to make sure I was okay.

I think she called me more to make sure she was going to be okay.

I can’t imagine what my grandfather is going through right now.

My freshman year, a college student in Nebraska fell out of his dorm-room window and died, and my grandpa frantically called my mom wanting to know how safe my windows were.

My sophomore year, he watched the news one night and again frantically called my mother, wanting to know if I've had my meningitis shot.

Sadly, there’s no humor in my grandfather's frantic junior-year phone call to my mother.

There is nothing that we can do to bring back the lives of the murdered Virginia Tech students.

All we can do is pick up the pieces - like we always do - and try to go on with our lives as best we can.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What's the big deal? Some 'Buckwild' thoughts



Above is the trailer for MTV's latest reality series "Buckwild," which is basically a version of "Jersey Shore" set in West Virginia. And "Jersey Shore" was basically a more centralized version of MTV's "The Real World." Everything has already been done; one thing is just a different version of something else.

I first heard about Buckwild earlier in the year, as MTV was holding casting calls for a WV-based reality series. A few people I followed on twitter were attempting to get on the show. They didn't.

The show was in the news locally here last week after the trailer first came out. It then became national news after WV Senator Joe Manchin publicly decried the show and asked for MTV to cancel it.

My thoughts on this show are going to differ from most of my peers in West Virginia. I've lived in WV for my entire life and I won't be surprised if I never move out of the state. I have no problem with Buckwild and what it represents.

It's an exaggerated version of a small subculture of the state. Whatever you want to call them - rednecks, hillbillies, etc... they exist in West Virginia and this is what Buckwild is showcasing. While I've never seen anybody make a pool out of a dump truck or play around with a crane, I have seen a lot of people ride four-wheelers and shoot guns and drive big trucks and talk with ridiculous southern accents. That exists and that's what MTV is showing.

People are talking about how it gives the state of WV a bad name. Honestly, did WV have a good name to begin with? What reputation are we losing here?

And if your "reality" of a state and its people is based on watching a show on MTV, then you have bigger problems to worry about. Do I hate New Jersey because of "Jersey Shore"? No. There's a reason why people roll their eyes when saying "reality television." It's not real. It's people placed in dramatic situations to get television ratings.

If you want to be entertained by it, then check it out. If you don't, just think about how many cable television channels there are. Watch one of those. I couldn't tell you the last time I watched MTV, aside from occasionally checking out music videos at 4 in the morning. Yeah, they still play music videos.

I know it won't be that easy. Everybody in the state will watch and comment. My twitter feed will be inundated with "I can't believe they're showing this crap" on whatever day after the newest Buckwild airs.

I'll have to listen to my girlfriend complain about it. I'll say to her, "Why? Just don't watch it." And she'll say, "I just wanted to see how they're representing our state." And I'll say, "It's not a real representation, stop worrying about it." And then she'll keep talking about it. And I won't listen. And then she'll call me out for not listening. A fight will ensue. I just don't need that in my life.

The uproar over Buckwild is much ado about nothing. If you're upset about it, stop. If you're interested in it, watch it. It will likely be an entertaining television show, full of drama and comedy. It won't be an honest representation of West Virginia and Appalachia. So, stop being upset about it existing. It's just a television show based in the state.

Buckwild should begin airing in January. For more information about the show, check out the official MTV page with cast bios and more: http://www.mtv.com/shows/buckwild/cast.jhtml

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Tricycle Offense post: Rock vs Cena

Here's the latest piece I sent in to the multimedia blog Tricycle Offense. It's a dvd review of the WWE-produced 3-disk set looking at the year-long feud between John Cena and The Rock. Here's the link - http://tricycleoffense.com/2012/11/28/was-rock-v-cena-really-once-in-a-lifetime/

As the title states, "Was Rock vs Cena really once in a lifetime?" I don't really think it is. It's a good documentary, which you'll learn more about if you click the link. I just feel like they over hyped it a little bit as being "the best ever." And, also, it looks like a Cena/Rock rematch will be taking place at WrestleMania 29 in April, so it's really not once in a lifetime if that comes to fruition.

I have a couple more DVD reviews I'm going to be sending in soon. I recently watched the 3-disk sets looking at the nWo and the "Attitude Era." Both were interesting. As soon as I get motivated I'll send those in. An idea is also percolating in my head to write a piece looking at the sharp contrast between Zack Ryder's 2011 (when he was one of the most popular superstars in WWE) to his 2012 (where he's in a comedy tag team with Santino Marella and treated like a joke). It sort of ties into the Attitude Era dvd in a way.

If there's anything you'd like to see my write about, let me know and I'll try to crank something out for you.

I should have learned by now

When I was growing up, I had my list of chores. I had to clean my room, I occasionally had to vaccum the house, mow the lawn, etc... There was one that I hated more than anything and that was to take out the trash. What I hated about it was that it was a multiple-step job. You have to take the bag out, tie it, take it where it needs to go, and then re-bag.

The part that angered me the most about taking out the trash was that I would always forget that last step. I cannot tell you how many times I would be sitting on my couch watching television or playing Nintendo 64 and my mom's voice would chime in with, "Get in here and put a garbage bag in the trash can!"

I would mutter incomprehensible words of anger to myself and slowly work my way into the kitchen to finish my job.

Fast forward 15 years. I took the trash out last night. Today, I wiped up something with a paper towel and walked over to the trash can and was about to throw it in there. But, I stopped when I noticed that there was no garbage bag in it.

To help illustrate what's wrong with my life, what did I do about it? Did I go get a trash bag? No. I wrote a blog about it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Madness


It took me a while to get into Muse. The first time I ever heard them was in 2004 during my freshman year in college. Their single "Knights of Cydonia" was really popular on mtvU, the MTV channel made just for colleges. I didn't really get it at the time, and as such, kind of dismissed Muse as a band that I would like.

I started liking Muse around the time my friend Bob introduced them to me around 2009 or so. He introduced me to a lot of shit that I shouldn't have gotten into, but I'm very okay with him showing me that Muse was a great band. Go check them out more if you haven't.

This is their latest single and I think it's pretty good.

Beard

I told a story in a previous blog about growing my first beard when I was 16. You can scan the archives for that if you'd like.

As you can tell from the photo collage above, growing a beard has been something I've been doing in my free time lately. I've joked to my friends that I don't even like this beard anymore, but I've already committed to it.

We're nearing the end of the unofficial "No Shave November" holiday. I guess technically I've been breaking the rules, as I trim the upper cheek area (so it doesn't go up to almost my eyes) and I've been trimming the mustache (so it doesn't grow over my upper lip).

I've had a beard pretty much uninterrupted for the last year. It kind of changes who you are. It becomes a part of who you are. I've lost count of how many times I've been referred to as "that guy with the beard." And lately I've been hearing "Have you ever heard that you look like that guy from 'The Hangover?'"

I never really thought I was much of a rebel. But, I guess the reason I really enjoyed sporting a beard off-and-on over the last few years was because I wasn't allowed to. Per Pizza Hut policy, beards are not allowed. Only goatees and modest sideburns are allowed.

I broke several rules while working at Pizza Hut and was never punished for them. But, the only one that I ever was regularly called out on was the beard rule. Most of the time it was just that I hadn't shaved. To have a completely smooth face, I have to shave every single day. I can usually get by with shaving every couple days, since my stubble isn't that noticeable.

I'm lazy, so I don't like to shave that often. That leads to having beards. And I wasn't allowed to do that, so that led to conflict.

After I left the Pizza Hut corporation, I started working at one of those gambling places. People come in and gamble. I give them their winnings and any snacks that they might like. I worked with all females; I was the only guy there. Within a few days I had a decent stubble going and was very happy to stop shaving and let my beard free.

Then I lost that job. Search the archives for the story there. Now it was time to find another job. I shaved off the beard and started the job search. It took a little while, but I ended up at Outback. I don't enjoy it, but it's about all I'm qualified to do at the moment.

I hadn't shaved for a few days and noticed that nobody said anything about it. I decided to try my luck and grow a beard. It was the first thing I liked about that job. I had the freedom to look the way I wanted to. That felt good and made me happy. And not having a job for a while made me unhappy, so this was a good feeling to have.

I kept it nice and trimmed and enjoyed it. I shaved it off briefly in the summer. Within a couple weeks it was back. I shaved it off again for most of September and some into October. With No Shave November coming up, I decided to then see how far I could take it. That's presently what I'm sporting in that picture at the top.

It's a lot more work than you would think. I have to shampoo it when I'm in the shower. I have to towel dry it afterward. I have to keep it combed down and smoothed out, otherwise it gets messed up and unruly. Like I said, I don't even think I like it anymore. But, I've already gone this far with it.

We'll see where this goes after November is over. I might be ready to give the beard a break for a while. Maybe I'll bring this guy back:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Jim Breuer talks about Chris Farley

I mentioned recently that I re-read the Chris Farley biography "The Chris Farley Show." It's a really sad look at a troubled man whose life was cut short by drug addiction. The book is divided into three parts - his early life, breaking out in SNL and movies, and finally his death.

One of the last high-profile things Chris Farley did before his death was to host Saturday Night Live for the first time. It was a few months before he died. The only memorable skit to come from that show was the "El Nino" bit ("El Nino is Spanish for... the Nino"). Other than that, the show was notable for seeing Farley at his heaviest and possibly his most dependent on drugs. According to the book, he was under the influence during the show and it's one of the few episodes that SNL does not show in syndication.

During an appearance on the Howard Stern Show, Jim Breuer (of "Half Baked" fame) recounted a story about Farley hosting, as Breuer was a cast member at the time. It's embedded below in two YouTube videos. Having a SNL host is a week-long event, with writing the show, rehearsing it, and then finally Saturday night.

Breuer talks about Farley deciding to hang with him early on, then learning the severity of Farley's drug issues and distancing himself, and a depressing phone conversation the two shared. He also reveals that Chris Rock was on set as a backup host, in case things fell through with Farley. It's an interesting story that you should check out. Also, Breuer's Tracy Morgan impression is hilarious. If for nothing else, watch it for that.
 
Part 1

   
Part 2

You Don't Know Me


"You Don't Know Me," Ben Folds feat. Regina Spektor

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gerti's article in Prerogative

For those who have been looking forward to it, the current issue of Prerogative magazine (Princeton's women-oriented periodical) has been released. In it is a story by my girlfriend, Candace Nelson, about the Omelet Spot's favorite server, Gerti.

If you'll recall, I posted a blog in late August asking people for help with the article. Since Candace lives in Morgantown, she was unable to speak to a lot of Princeton residents and get their perspective of why they like Gerti. So, I asked people to give me some quotes to give her. I received several comments on the blog post itself and also on Facebook.

If you posted a comment on my Facebook or last blog, odds are you are featured in the article. Here's how you can read it:

Go to http://www.candacerosenelson.com/writing.html and scroll down until you find "Prerogative Magazine | Meals and Memories (part 1) (part 2)." Part 1 is the title page and part 2 is the story. Prerogative doesn't have a strong online presence, so Candace made it a PDF and put it on her own website.

There you go. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Remember all that snow?

That "Frankenstorm" thing from a week or so ago really sucked. Remember that? My power was out for 2 days and I had to stay at my mom's house.

What sucks about it the most, probably, was that things looked good for me at first. It had started snowing the first day of the storm and everybody was saying to expect the worst. Well, I got home and saw that my electricity was still on. I breathed a sigh of relief and went inside to prepare for the cold.

Fifteen minutes later, my power went out.

Honestly, I wish I had gotten home 20 minutes later than I did and just walked into a cold, dark apartment. I didn't like getting my hopes up that everything would be fine and then have the power out after I got settled in.

It snowed quite a bit. Here's a picture that I posted on twitter. I don't know the exact measurement, but that's a lot of snow:

That was the morning after the first night. The first night, it was still coming down. I didn't think the power would be out for too long, so I tried to rough it.

I lit a candle and played around on my phone for a few hours until the battery died. Then I went out to my car to warm up and charge my phone.

I sat in my car for probably close to 3 hours. I re-read "The Chris Farley Show," a great look at the life and career of one of my favorite actors.

Tommy Boy is my favorite movie ever. If you go through old posts here in my blog you'll notice (maybe...) that I try to sprinkle Tommy Boy references in here and there.

The book is broken into three parts - his early life, his big break in SNL and movies, and finally his death. It's told in several interviews by people closest to him - his brothers, David Spade, Norm Macdonald, Chris Rock, Lorne Michaels, Jay Mohr, Conan O'Brien, and other SNL cast mates and other actors.

It's a great book. Tommy Boy was a great movie. Some of his other movies were very hit & miss, but the book goes into his bouts of depression caused by his typecasting he couldn't avoid and his efforts to break out of it. He was also the original voice of Shrek and had recorded most of the dialogue before his death. There wasn't enough to finish it, so they re-wrote it and cast Mike Myers. It goes into detail with that, too.

So, after finishing the book I went to bed. It was probably around 5 a.m. by this point. I woke up around 1 p.m. extremely cold and hungry. I didn't have to work, so I didn't have a nice, warm place to go to since the power was still out in my apartment. So, I went to my mom's.

I got through that night. I had to work at 4 p.m. the next day. So, I stayed at my mom's until 3 p.m. and got ready for work. I had left my work clothes at my apartment, so the idea was to stay at my mom's as long as possible and then go to my place and change, since I still didn't know if the power was out. Luckily, it was back on when I got there to change.

Snow in October is weird. Luckily everything with my apartment is back to normal. All I had to endure was two days without electricity and I at least had a warm place to go. There were a lot of areas, especially the New York area, that were affected a lot worse and are still feeling the residual effects.

One thing I always try to do when I'm feeling down is to remember that it could always be worse. Yeah, my apartment was cold, but at least I still had an apartment and it's warm now.

One thing that does kind of suck is that things are starting to go back to normal and the melting of the snow has created this sort of "false happiness" for me. Winter is my least-favorite season and I hate snow. So, seeing all of this snow melting makes me happy. But, then I remember that this was early snow and it will just be back in a month or so. Then my happiness is gone.

Hopefully that's the worst of it and this winter will be a peaceful one.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Stellar


One of my favorites from Incubus. What I especially like about this song is the ambiguity of it. This can either be a positive love song or it could be about a broken relationship. "How do you do it? Make me feel like I do?" That's the power of words right there.

Latest Tricycle Offense posts

Like with most things in my life, I've gotten lazy and neglected something I like. This time it is the multimedia blog Tricycle Offense. I'm throwing them an article every now and then, but not nearly as often as I'd like. Below are my two latest posts:

Breaking Down the Best in the World ... My review of the WWE-produced 3-disk documentary looking at the career of current WWE Champion CM Punk. This is probably the best documentary that WWE has ever released on somebody. It doesn't have "We're the only major company left, so we're telling our version of history" stench that a lot of previous WWE titles have had. Read the review and find out why I like it.

A Look Inside Ring of Honor ... I attended a ROH card over the summer. I give my thoughts on the atmosphere of that show. I also look at the current state of the organization. For years, it used to be the breeding ground for future TNA and WWE stars. Right now, it just looks like it has the "Best of ROH," the ones that likely won't be future stars anywhere else. That's my take. See if you agree.

As I send more stuff in over there, I'll continue to let you guys see them here.

I Could Have Lied


Nice acoustic-driven piece from the Red Hot Chili Peppers' groundbreaking "BloodSugarSexMagik" album from the early '90s.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

My coffee pot

I couldn't sleep. Having Saturday off from work messed with my sleep schedule a little bit. It's presently early Sunday morning. I work at noon. I decided that sleep wasn't going to work anymore, so I'm sitting at Starbucks killing some time. Should be an interesting day.

The ironic thing about spending a lot of time at Starbucks is that I don't like coffee. I enjoy the occasional Chai Tea (iced or hot), so at least I have something to drink while I goof off on my computer.

A running joke between me and my grandpa was him always asking if I wanted to drink coffee with him. Around the time he realized I was somewhat of an adult, he innocently asked me one day if I drank coffee. I said no. He seemed flabbergasted that you couldn't like coffee. As a result, every time I came in to visit, he would always try to get me to drink coffee.

When I moved into my first apartment in 2009, my grandpa might have been more excited about it than me and went on a spending spree, buying me a bunch of stuff he thought I would need for the apartment. I think the only thing I actually use that he bought is a paper towel holder. When I questioned the coffee maker he gave me, he told me that he would need it for whenever he came to visit me.

He only visited my old apartment once, and he drank all of his coffee at my mom's house, so he didn't need to open it. So, here we are nearing the end of 2012, and I still have this unopened coffee pot in one of my cabinets.

It's going to stay unopened. My grandpa died in February. I guess if you read my blog regularly you probably thought that, as I wrote a lot in December and January about him having cancer. Then he died. And I stopped writing about him. I didn't really know what to say. And I still don't, so I'll just leave with that story about the coffee pot.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Jim Ross interviews Steve Austin and CM Punk



If there's one way to hype a video game, this is it. The popular "Raw vs Smackdown" video game series is no more, having been replaced with "WWE '13," set to be released soon. Perhaps the most interesting feature to this video game is that it features storylines and characters from WWE's critically acclaimed "Attitude Era." The "Attitude Era" was a stretch of time in the late 1990's when WWE and wrestling as a whole was a pop culture phenom, led by arguably the most popular wrestling star in the history of the sport, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.

If you're a wrestling fan, then you know why the above video is awesome. For those who don't, the current hot fantasy matchup in the wrestling world is current WWE Champion CM Punk versus Steve Austin. Ever since the infamous "pipe bomb" promo of last summer, Punk has been compared more and more to Austin.

This match is looked at as a past versus present fantasy scenario, akin to The Rock versus Hulk Hogan from 2002 (and what WWE tried to do last year with The Rock versus John Cena). You can click here to read a piece I wrote over at Tricycle Offense about Austin versus Punk as a potential WrestleMania 29 (2013) or 30 (2014) match.

It remains to be seen if that match will happen. If you want the full story, read the Trike post. But, those involved - Austin, Punk, Jim Ross - know the potential for the match. All three men have discussed in interviews if a match could happen. It all hinges on Austin's health. He retired in 2003 due to neck problems. He has said that he could come back for a match, but that all the stars would have to magically align.

According to the rumor and gossip mill, it appears as though this match will not happen at WrestleMania 29. I have read online that WWE has been considering starting a small Punk/Austin program that would not involve a match as a way to advertise "WWE '13," which is all the video is doing. As a sidenote, WWE had nothing to do with that. It was from the creative team for the video game company, although it was mostly ad libbed by the participants.

Hopefully something happens. It looks like some groundwork has been laid. When confronting Bret Hart a few months back, Punk commented that he was better than Hart and "that dumb hillbilly you beat at WrestleMania 13, Steve Austin." Coincidentally, day 316 of CM Punk's current WWE Championship reign occured on a Monday a few weeks ago, so he made a few comments that night about being better than Austin (with the popular "Austin 3:16" catchprase being the reason for that).

Again, hopefully something happens with this. The window of time for Austin to compete in a competitve match is getting smaller, as he is in his late 40's. These two can still talk the talk, there is just a small window available for them to walk the walk.

Devil's Right Hand



Sweet cover song from Johnny Cash's later years, during his time recording albums with Rick Rubin. It has an interesting message.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Can good people do bad things?

Before we go any further, please disregard the ridiculously drunk guy in the red jacket. In the far left of this picture is Ron Williams. In the far right is Justin Havens. I had met Ron maybe 3 or 4 times and thought he was an okay guy. Justin had been a good friend and co-worker of mine for going on 9 months.

Both were arrested last week on a myriad of charges, including burglary, grand larceny, armed robbery, and conspiracy. Click here to read a report from local newspaper the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

With Justin being a friend, obviously this was a big subject of discussion among those of us who worked with him. The general mood was that of shock. How could somebody who was such a nice guy do something so horrible?

We all know the answer, and it is not an uncommon one in this area - drugs. Drugs can make good people become somebody who they are not. They can make people do bad things for what they feel like they need. Drugs made Ron and Justin stage a robbery. According to the article, Justin and a woman were hanging out together when a masked man robbed them at gunpoint. After their arrest, they apparently confessed to Ron robbing them and then splitting the "loot" with Justin.

I first met Justin in late January or early February. I instantly liked him. He was very charismatic and helped me out with my new job duties. Fairly early on, though, I noticed that he and a few others around me had some issues with prescription pill abuse. It happens. Recreational drug use is something that seems fun at first. I've tried it. Snorting a pill up my nose wasn't as fun as I thought it would be, so I stopped after a few times. So, I understand why people will try it. Curiosity and boredom can be a dangerous mixture.

There were more than a few occasions at work when somebody would come up to me and say, "Am I the only one who notices how fucked up Havens is?" And then I would study him for a second and see the glassed-over eyes and a body seemingly running in slow motion. So, I saw him at what looked like his worst. And I also saw him at what I thought was his best - a funny, nice, friendly, happy guy.

What is most troubling about all of this is that Justin looked like he had been doing better with his issues. He started hanging out at the bar more often with us, something he didn't do as often (because you don't need to drink if you're on other stuff). He had started working in an assistant coaching capacity with his local high school football team. He loved talking about working with those kids and I could tell that he genuinely enjoyed it.

I tweeted a few weeks back that I had one of my top 5 favorite days of work ever. The reason for that was largely due to Justin Havens. It was a slow work day, so myself and my usual gang of friends were goofing off. What made it different was that Justin was involved in the shenanigans. Seeing him, for lack of a better term, act like us was hilarious and made for a memorable night.

What troubles me is that while he was helping me have one of my best days of work ever, he was allegedly helping orchestrate a string of robberies throughout the area to help support his drug habit. It's such a positive memory somewhat tainted by negative thoughts.

A question that comes up a lot is whether or not good people can do bad things, or if they're just bad people. Do bad people exist? Or are they just good people under bad circumstances? Do I still like Justin Havens? Yes, I do. He's my friend and you don't stop liking somebody just because something bad happens. Do I trust him? I don't think I do right now. He was doing some bad things behind our backs.

Is he a bad person? It depends on where he goes from here. I would like to see he and Ron come out of this situation for the better. What they did was wrong and I'm sure they both know that. From what I saw of Ron, I liked him. I really like Justin a lot. I want them to both be okay and hopefully they will be.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Thoughts from the 10-10-12 Concord SGA meeting

I'm a little late with some thoughts, as I was busy during the last week. But, I attended the 10-10-12 meeting of Concord University's Student Government Association. Here are some notes:

The student representative to the Faculty Senate, Greg Stamp, gave a rundown of the last meeting that he attended. He noted that some "computer people" (my words, not his) had been hired. Concord is also advertising for a new web manager. I asked somebody who I thought would be qualified, but he wasn't interested. There was also a proposal to make a minor wording change to the Concord University mission statement.

Josh Hanna, SGA President, discussed the extra Monday issue. He spoke with Dr. George Towers, associate academic dean, and fostered a discussion with those present at the meeting. Dr. Towers assured Josh that part of students Thanksgiving Break will not be taken away in order to create an extra Monday for classes.

Hanna said that he and Dr. Towers discussed having classes on Labor Day, but would have to look into the state policy regarding the legality of that.

Another issue discussed during the meeting was the possibility of adding an extra 5 or 10 minutes to classes. It seems like a small thing, but adding 10 minutes to each class would allow the semester to finish in 12 1/2 weeks instead of the required 15. People against that idea brought up the fact that students still have to stay in class for 15 weeks regardless. And, the scheduling of classes would have to change, as there needs to be a 10-minute window between classes.

As of now, nothing is official and people are still discussing things. Greg Stamp brought up forming a committee to discuss this further. The SGA President did not seem to be interested in that. He said if anybody would like to discuss it further with him, they could see him during his office hours. He did not list what those were, though.

I agree with Greg Stamp. This SGA seems uninterested in committees because they don't really know what can and should be accomplished in them. Committees are for brainstorming and coming up with ideas and potential solutions to solve problems.

The people who complain about how long the meetings last should push for the committees to be formed and accomplish things, that way they wouldn't have to be discussed during the meeting. I doubt this semester we will see a motion for "informal discussion." The reason for that is because the whole meeting is nothing but informal discussion.

In related committee news, the Vice President announced that committees will finally be formed at the 10-18-12 SGA meeting. The committees that are supposed to be formed within the first couple weeks of the semester will finally be formed in the middle of October.

Again, a big reason I think forming committees wasn't seen as something that needed to be done was because I don't think a lot of people understand what they can accomplish.

We'll see what they can get done in the next few weeks. Hopefully I'm proven wrong and these committees are actually used to the fullest of their potential.

Somebody will need to tell me if anything fun or exciting happens at the 10-18 meeting, as I won't be present. Real life has gotten in the way of blogging and I have to work. Maybe the technology committee will get formed and update their twitter and facebook so I'll know what happened...

I'll also miss seeing the third issue of The Concordian, as it's now bi-weekly and will be printed this Wednesday. I'll have to track down a copy and check it out. If I can offer anything to the Editor-in-Chief or Adviser, or anybody on the staff who cares... If somebody criticizes the paper, whether constructive or not, I think the writers should be held to a certain decorum and should be advised against ending a rebuttal by calling somebody a "self-entitled baby." It doesn't make them look good and, by proxy, it doesn't make the staff look good. Click here and read the comments if you don't know what I'm talking about.

That's it for now. If you'd like to add anything, feel free.

Here's my disclaimer:

I import these blogs into Facebook. That gives me the option to "tag" people, sending them an e-mail notification. I tag people for two reasons - 1) if I mention you by name & 2) if I think you will find this interesting. If you are tagged and don't want to be, let me know. If I don't tag you & you'd like to be tagged in the future, let me know.

There is a comment feature on this blog & I don't mind if you use it. It's cool to disagree, as long as it's kept civil. Anonymous comments are allowed, as long as it's relevant & mildly profanity free.

Book Review: 50 Shades of Grey

For a while now, I had been hearing the hype. Everybody was reading it and falling in love with it. The story, the plot twists, the... sex. Not just sex, but crazy, hardcore, tie-you-up sex. You know, the good stuff. So, curiosity got the better of me and I bought "50 Shades of Grey."

First released in 2011 by literary newcomer EL James, "50 Shades of Grey" is the first in a trilogy exploring the relationship between young, naïve, recent college graduate Anastasia Steele and millionaire entrepreneur Christian Grey. Set in a first-person narrative, it follows Anastasia as she meets Christian and is introduced to two new worlds - a lifestyle of the rich and famous, and as a shy virgin, an exciting world of sexual discovery.

The genre of "erotica" or romance novels (of which Ren from "Ren and Stimpy" was fond of reading) have been around in some form for approximately 40 years. "50 Shades of Grey" falls into that category. Most do not get as much mainstream attention and become as popular, though. It looks like "50 Shades of Grey" became popular for two reasons - first, it is a good story and secondly, the sex scenes - the "romance" aspect of the romance novel - are of a taboo variety.

Character-wise, the story is developed nicely. Anastasia Steele is very easy to relate to for nearly anybody. Not a single physical characteristic about her is mentioned; that way, girls reading it can see themselves in her. All that is really known about how she looks is that she doesn’t like to dress up and she likes Converse shoes.

She is a late bloomer sexually, as she is in her early 20s and has yet to have a boyfriend. That’s not for a lack of suitors, as she has a couple guys in her life who have crushes on her. But, she has yet to feel that way about a guy yet. That is, until she meets Christian Grey.

The courtship with Christian begins normally enough (well, normally enough for a multi-millionaire who can fly you on his own private helicopter on your first date). Things take an intriguing turn when Christian discusses his sexual interests with Anastasia. He describes himself as being "50 shades of fucked up." As she becomes enamored with him, she acknowledges his unconventional methods and refers to him as her "50 shades of Grey."

As things progress with Christian, Anastasia is torn between what is conventional and "normal" and she is unsure how to feel about her blossoming relationship. She enjoys her newfound sexual identity, her "inner goddess" as she puts it. But she longs for the traditional boyfriend-girlfriend dichotomy that she has never experienced. And that is where the drama in our narrative comes about.

The author did not finish "50 Shades of Grey" as a singular work and then spawn sequels from that. It is written as a trilogy in the sense that if you want any sense of closure, you must read all three books.

If it sounds like something you would be into, go read it. I don’t think the 50 Shades trilogy will go down in history as literary classics; they seem to be a media-created hype story that has gotten a lot of attention, a "flavor of the week" if you will. Check them out if you want to see what all the fuss is about.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

University 100

Something that has become somewhat of a "hot-button" topic at meetings of Concord University's Student Government Association has been needing to add an extra Monday to the semester. There are several options to attempt to fix that, one of which is to start classes on Monday instead of Wednesday. Opponents of this talk about how it will mess up scheduling with freshman orientation and the University 100 class, which basically teaches freshmen how to be college students.

At the 10-10-12 meeting of the SGA, I learned that University 100 was now only being taught for half of a semester, as opposed to the full 15 weeks. The reason for that was because a large chunk of the Monday and Tuesday before classes begin was used for University 100 "stuff."

I'm actually not really sure what all that "stuff" is, since University 100 was not a class at Concord until the 2007-2008 academic year. If you weren't a freshman, you didn't have to take it.

In 2009, I came back to the staff of The Concordian for one semester. I wrote a weekly column. Here's one that I wrote about University 100, using myself as a reason for why the class was necessary. I was saying that if I had been required to take the class when I was a freshman, maybe I wouldn't be in the situation that I am in.

That piece is below. I pose a question at the end of the column. If anybody has an answer, or additional information, I'd like to hear it.

* * *

Chris Slater
Published 2009, The Concordian

Not to sound cocky, but I'm a smart guy. Read some of my earlier work in The Concordian, check out my blog, take a peek at my Twitter feed, you'll see that I can formulate some good thoughts and come off credibly.

I'm a smart guy. But, I'm a horrible student. I have this huge asterisk beside my name that follows me everywhere I go - Chris Slater*

*Sixth-year Student.

I graduated from high school in June 2004. My first semester at Concord began in August 2004. I'm still here. I have completed 10 semesters of college and am starting number 11.

Why am I still in school? The simple answer is because I failed a bunch of classes. The more complex answer is because I never learned how to be a good college student.

Upon entering college, I did not know how to do three important things - 1) effectively manage my time 2) study properly 3) live on my own.

Without any real training or guidance, I was thrust into room 216 of Wooddell Hall back in 2004 and expected to do all three things. I failed horribly.

I quickly fell into some bad habits that I’ve only recently begun to break.

One of the worst habits was thinking I could pass a class without buying the book. My first semester, I managed to get an A in Personal Wellness without buying the book. If part of your curriculum is to run laps around the track, you really don't need a book for that. I can't tell you how many classes I tried to pass without a book after that only to wind up failing.

My other bad habit was to skip classes. It all began in mid-September, 2004. My roommate was Alex Hosseini (before his Tau Kappa Epsilon days). At the time, we were both wide-eyed freshmen. It was 8 a.m. - his alarm clock went off and mine followed a couple seconds later. We both sat up in bed, shirtless and groggy. I can recall the conversation like it was yesterday:

Alex: I don't want to go to class.

Me: Me neither.

Alex: I'm going back to bed.

Me: Me too.

Thus began my descent into bad college-decision making.

What I needed was some sort of class or workshop or guidance in my early days. I was young enough that I may not have appreciated it back then, but it very well could have helped me graduate on time. I can't even begin to image how different things would be for me if I had somebody six years ago to explain how to study and for how long and how to manage living in the dorms and responsibilities and whatnot. I don't know where I'd be now - probably not here, which would be a good thing.

I've heard conflicting reports about how effective Concord's "University 100" class is. At its core, University 100 is a class that teaches college students how to be college students. It's taught by several different teachers and administrators.

I've heard rumblings from freshmen over the last few years that they don't like the class and that they think it's pointless. I'll take that for what it's worth - just about every class seems pointless when you're taking it. It isn't until after the fact that you begin to appreciate things.

This is the third year of University 100 - I'd be interested in seeing some retention rates of students who took this class. It would be interesting to see how many students who were incoming freshmen in the fall of 2007 are still here today.

Does University 100 work? It's impossible to tell for a few more years. The class gives students the information, but University 100 will only be a success if the students use that information. It will be a success if we see fewer dropouts (like a lot of my friends) and fewer sixth-year students (like me).

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Went out last night...

Last night I received a text message from my friend Kayleigh stating that she was in town. This was cause for celebration, since she had moved away a few weeks earlier after getting a job in Charleston aka "the big times." Click here to see a picture from her going-away party. I'm the drunk guy in the front row.

Anyway, I went out. It was a pretty good time. I ran into a lot of people I knew. It was at Leo's, a bar on Athens Road, on the way to Concord University. It was only my second time going there. Had Kayleigh not said she was there, I likely wouldn't have ever gone back.

The first time was not very good. It was pretty busy, so there was a crowd around the bar. My friend was in line ahead of me and ordered his drink and mine. The cost was six dollars. A little pricey for beer in Princeton, but not too bad. I went up later to get our second round. I ordered the same two beers. The bartender looked at me for a second before saying, "Seven dollars." So, we were playing that game.

I didn't want to say anything, because I wasn't sure how he would take it. I didn't know if he would pull a Soup Nazi on me - "No beer for you!" - so I didn't bring up the beer gouging.

The second time was a lot more fun. There was a live band, good friends, and a lot of people that I hadn't seen in a while. One of the funnier aspects for me was that during the course of the night, I had five different people tell me that they liked my blog and read it a lot. I even had one guy ask how the Mountain Slate project is going.

The biggest thing with starting anything is money. I need that start-up fund before I can start up. I'm talking to a few different people and exploring a few different avenues. People probably think nothing is happening, since nothing is actually happening. But, good things come to those who wait.

So, as of right now, Mountain Slate exists on twitter and a little-used blog. I had a lot of ideas for sort of making that into a mini-magazine, but life and shit got in the way of having extra time for that. Plus, it's a wordpress site and I haven't figured out how to use it fully yet. These kids and their newfangled blogging technology...

Within the next month, I will either have good or bad news to report on trying to acquire funding. Something will happen, I'm just not sure what yet.

I ran into Scott Noble, the Editor-in-Chief of The Concordian. We had a quick drunken conversation about the newspaper and whatnot. I've had a chance to look at the first two issues. If anybody on campus hasn't seen them, go look for them. It's in your best interest to keep up with stuff.

If I can give the staff of The Concordian any advice, it is this: With a bi-weekly format, the newspaper is not where people go for news anymore. Any breaking news will no longer be breaking after a 2-week period. Informative features, well-thought-out opinion pieces and editorials, bright attention-grabbing pictures, and sports features are what people need in a bi-weekly paper.

I've said for years to anybody that will listen that the sports and opinions sections can be the two most popular areas, only if they are properly promoted and encourage readership. Interesting articles that are provocative and touch a nerve will get eyes on them.

An example of a bad opinion piece was the thing from issue 1 where the guy talks about an unprofessional professor. He is so vague and trying not to cause a stir that it's pointless. It reads more like he's talking about the idea of an unprofessional professor as opposed to him being fed up with the one he deals with. You read it and don't care. Name names. Be specific. You might create enemies, but you might also walk into a bar and have 5 drunks tell you they love what you write.

I've also said this for years, but nobody really cares. I hate the color maroon, despite it being Concord's main color. Change the flag at the top of the newspaper back to the old one, instead of that shitty maroon block. Or create a new one. Since it debuted in 2008, I have hated it.

There's that. I'll probably write more about the newspaper at some other point.

SGA meeting notes [10-03-12]

I attended the October 3, 2012 meeting of Concord University's Student Government Association. The meeting was about an hour long and a few budgets being decided were the main happening.

It looks like the budgetary process is being done differently from previous years. In the past, the Budgetary committee would be formed, all organizations would turn in their budget requests, then the committee would meet one night (usually a Monday) and decide all budgets, with voting taking place at that Wednesday's meeting. Now, it looks like they're doing it on a come-as-they-go system, which doesn't seem too bad, I guess. Four budgets were passed at the meeting:

The game room received $350 for pool table equipment, video games, and etc... (that's what I wrote down; don't remember if more stuff was said). The Student Center, where the game room is housed, also chipped in $350.

The Film Society received $1500. Dr. Charles Brichford, faculty advisor to both the Film Society and the SGA, remarked that Concord has "one of the best film collections in the state," noting that there are a lot of obscure indie and foreign films in the collection. They show films weekly on campus and all films are available to be checked out at the library.

Phi Sigma Phi received $650 to cover fees relating to registration for a leadership convention they attended over the summer. Richard Babich, the attorney general, noted that he had been absent from the SGA for a year or so and asked when the SGA began covering things like this for Greek organizations. Vice President Chelsea Rowe said it began last year.

Student Support Services, which provides free tutoring for students, received an allocation of $3000 ($1500 per semester). This was just part of the money this group needs, and they are getting the rest from other sources. In the past, SSS has requested $8000 from the SGA.

There is $30,500 left for allocations for the entire school year, with $14,000 being left for this semester. If you are in an organization that would like to request money, budgetary forms are available at the SGA Office, on the third floor of the student center (formerly the computer center offices for those who have been at Concord forever).

One thing I'd like to address from the meeting is the Phi Sigma Phi allocation and the Attorney General asking a question about it. When everybody thinks the same way and acts the same, that's called a clique. A clique can be good or bad. If you're all focused on the same good things, it's good to have a tight clique of friends. If you're focused on getting your own agenda across, then surrounding yourself with your clique is not good.

This SGA looks like they have the best interest of the students at heart, which means they're doing a good job. But, they're veering dangerously into clique territory, which could become a bad thing. When Richard asked that innocent question (which I was also wondering) - when did the SGA begin paying for Greek organizations to attend conferences - you would have thought he picked up a kitten and punched it, given the negative reaction he received.

The reason for all of that negative reaction was due to the high Greek numbers in attendance. Richard questioning that allocation means he's indirectly questioning their allocations, and they did not like that. Instead of simply answering, "It started last year," the collective Greek community got defensive. And that's not good.

Years back, in my heyday covering the SGA, the Budgetary committee created a question that applied to giving money. If the answer was good, they would receive their allocation: How does this benefit the Concord community? Students use the game room, so there's money for that. Students need tutoring, so there's that. Students can benefit from having a diverse collection of films in their life. And that's why Greek organizations used to not receive money for things like that. The reason given was that it was a leadership conference, and those who attended can use those skills in other organizations. That seems valid enough, I guess.

It all comes back to what the student representatives in the meeting want to do. The Budgetary committee just recommends an allocation. It does not become official until it's voted on by all those present with voting paddles at the meeting. They can move to strike down the budget, to give more or less money. The voting members hold all the power, and one of my biggest problems with the SGA has been apathy and ignorance on the part of those voters. They are important and a lot either don't realize it or don't care.

We'll come back to that topic later, maybe... In other news:

The Vice President apologized for scheduling issues with the Monday and Tuesday Homecoming events. Apparently the Tuesday events happened on Monday and vice versa.

The SGA President said he had emailed Dr. George Towers about the Monday scheduling issues he spoke about last week. He is still waiting on a reply and will update everybody when he gets one.

It was announced that the library will now be open until midnight on Monday nights now. I'll give you more information if I get any. That was something that former SGA President Jeff Yeager tried to do, but after a trial run it proved to not be popular.

To bring up Richard Babich again, he came up to me after the meeting and gave me an update on the @CUSGA twitter issue. He said that the account is under the control of the Technology committee, but since committees haven't been formed yet, nobody is running the SGA twitter. If anybody at The Concordian staff interviews the SGA President for a big feature (hint, hint, story idea...) ask him about the committee thing. Ask him a lot of other, more positive, stuff too. But ask that one.

That's all I've got. If anybody wants to chime in, feel free.

Here's my disclaimer:

I import these blogs into Facebook. That gives me the option to "tag" people, sending them an e-mail notification. I tag people for two reasons - 1) if I mention you by name & 2) if I think you will find this interesting. If you are tagged and don't want to be, let me know. If I don't tag you & you'd like to be tagged in the future, let me know.

There is a comment feature on this blog & I don't mind if you use it. It's cool to disagree, as long as it's kept civil. Anonymous comments are allowed, as long as it's relevant & mildly profanity free.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Some sort of headline about blogging

That title is in reference to probably the biggest blunder I was a part of during my 4+ years on the staff of The Concordian, Concord University's newspaper. I'll tell that story later. I just couldn't come up with a title and thought of that story. I'll save that one.

For now, a collection of thoughts:

I'm growing my beard back. I went roughly (or smoothly...) 3 1/2 weeks without any facial hair. I just got tired of shaving. I have to shave every 2 days to be clean-shaven and I'm lazy, so we know how that worked out.

The first time I decided I was going to grow a beard was the summer of 2003. I was 16 years old and mentioned it to my grandpa. He seemed astounded: "You can't grow a beard!" he said it almost as a challenge, like he didn't think my body could produce one. A couple weeks later, he told me he'd take me shopping for a beard groomer.

* * *

I had been wanting to make note of this observation for almost a full year, but I needed the proper segue. It's finally happened. Disregard this paragraph and continue below.

The National Basketball Association today issued a ruling that they are going to start punishing players for the act of "flopping," which means they intentionally fall on the ground and pretend another player pushed them. Flopping became popular around the mid 2000s and became a key way for teams to get free throw opportunities and put other teams in foul trouble.

I began covering high school basketball for the Princeton Times last December. I went to most of Princeton High's basketball games for over 2 months. The biggest thing I noticed is that they will attempt to flop on nearly every play. Unlike their NBA counterparts, they are all horrible at it and so obviously flopping that it never once worked out for them.

One a related note, I was at the library a few weeks ago and a man walked in that I thought I recognized. I stared at him for a moment and realized that he was the stepfather to a friend that I used to work with. Then I looked at him again and realized that I actually knew him better as the head coach of Princeton High School's basketball team. By the time I made that connection, he had left.

* * *

I blogged previously about dreams that I have, how they're usually just mundane happenings involving me going to work. I'll dream about having a boring day at work, then wake up and go to work. I had a nightmare for the first time in a long time; longer than I can remember.

I had a nightmare in the sense that something scary happened and I suddenly woke up, still scared. I do not remember the last time something like that happened to me. The reason I was still afraid when I woke up was because of how eerie it was.

The way my bedroom is set up, if I'm laying in my bed on my right side, I can look at my bedroom door, which is usually open. I was dreaming that I was laying on my right side, looking at my bedroom door. A woman suddenly started charging at me with a knife. I woke up and nothing changed. The background in my dream was the same background once I was awake. I was dreaming that I was laying on my right side looking at my bedroom door and I woke up on my right side looking at my bedroom door.

* * *

I was looking through some files in my computer and I noticed that I have a lot of unfinished writings. I typically write something in one sitting and - mostly for blogs - very rarely go over it for a second draft. I get in a creative mood, start tapping my fingers on the keyboard, and then *VOILA* something is written.

If I get out of that mood, I usually just save whatever I have and leave it alone. I have posted two such articles here in my blog, an Editorial I never finished for The Concordian and also a Political Commentary I started writing in 2006 & never finished...

I have like 8 of those in my files right now. It's an eclectic range of articles, everything from a memorial to my hamster that died, a partial review of Andre Agassi's autobiography, discovering pop music when I was 11, and a crazy story about smoking marijuana in 2009 to name a few.

I might post some of those here if anybody wants to read them. We'll see.

Where is my mind?


I couldn't get this song out of my head the other day while I was at work. I was performing all of my job duties but couldn't get the song and words "Where Is My Mind" off my mind. It got me thinking... I'll come back to this topic later...

Friday, September 28, 2012

Concord SGA meeting notes [09-26-12]

I attended the 09-26-12 meeting of @CUSGA. Here are a few notes.

Josh Hanna, SGA President, noted that he had a discussion with "somebody" (who was later identified as George Towers, Associate Academic Dean, although nobody said his position during the meeting). Dr. Towers spoke with Josh about the fact that Concord University needs to add another day of Monday classes (next semester presumably; it was never mentioned when), due to losing too many Mondays from breaks.

This has been an issue for years. Monday night classes never seem to be meeting enough, due to the fact that the semester starts on a Wednesday (so there's one class period gone), Labor Day (so there's a second Monday gone), Fall Break (there's a third Monday gone), and Thanksgiving Break (a fourth Monday gone).

Dr. Towers presented Josh with four options to bring an extra Monday into the equation. Josh shared them with the SGA body and asked them for their opinion. The options are:

1) Remove Monday and Tuesday from Thanksgiving Break.

2) Start Monday instead of Wednesday at the beginning of the semester.

3) Have class during the first Monday of finals week, then finals would go from Tuesday until the following Monday.

4) Have class during the first Monday of finals week, then finals would be from Tuesday-Friday.

Nobody seemed to like the idea of options 1, 3, and 4. Most of the people there probably didn't know that finals used to only be a 4-day week, with tests from Monday-Thursday. So, option 4 used to be in play, sort of.

Option 2, which is what most universities do already, was the general consensus of the best choice. Some brought up issues that could arise with that, including added stress and workload to the Housing staff, who would likely have to move freshmen and upperclassmen in at the same time. And, also, how would it affect freshmen orientation activities, since that Monday and Tuesday before classes are used for those purposes.

Josh said he would get back to Dr. Towers with that information. We'll see what happens from there.

As a sidenote, if I can offer any sort of advice to President Hanna, it would be to explain things better to those at the meeting. Most of those people probably have no idea who Dr. Towers is or why he's important and a lot of them were confused as to why we needed to add an extra Monday class. Assume nobody knows anything. Start from the beginning and explain things fully and easily.

The other important thing to happen at the SGA meeting was that student representatives for the Concord University Student Affairs Committee (abbreviated CUSAC, pronounced Q-Sack) were voted on. The members are: SGA Vice President Chelsea Rowe, Zack Whitfield, Drew [didn't get his last name], and James Blankenship. I believe one of those guys is the SGA Parliamentarian and the other two are Senators, but I don't recall which is which. [I realized I was covering the SGA a lot back in the day when I no longer had to look up how to spell Parliamentarian...]

During the meeting, it was attempted to explain what Q-Sack is. I like to think of Q-Sack as one of the more important committees at Concord. I doesn't necessarily have a lot of power, but rather a lot of influence. It's comprised of students, faculty, and staff and they meet to discuss ways to try and make Concord a better place. They then take their ideas to the higher committees that actually get things done.

Things that the Q-Sack have looked into in years past have been issues surrounding dorm visitation hours, expanding tailgating to baseball games, and looking into creating a new scholarship system that was ultimately unsuccessful (click here to see a blog I wrote about it). Not everything Q-Sack works on becomes reality, but they usually have a lot of good ideas.

Those are the two biggest things from the meeting. If anybody wants to add anything else, please feel free.

Some commentary: I still don't know what's going on with regular committees. Is there a reason that nobody is chairing the Technology, Dining, Safety, ADA, SGA Affairs, etc... committees? 

As a final note, I tweeted on Wednesday that the SGA should start updating their twitter account more. Attorney General Richard Babich replied via tweet and said he would look into that. SGA Transparency has been an issue I have written about for years. Read this blog from 2010. Change some of the names around and put 2012 into the date and it's still relevant - http://chrisslater.blogspot.com/2010/11/sga-transparency.html

Here's my disclaimer:

I import these blogs into Facebook. That gives me the option to "tag" people, sending them an e-mail notification. I tag people for two reasons - 1) if I mention you by name & 2) if I think you will find this interesting. If you are tagged and don't want to be, let me know. If I don't tag you & you'd like to be tagged in the future, let me know.

There is a comment feature on this blog & I don't mind if you use it. It's cool to disagree, as long as it's kept civil. Anonymous comments are allowed, as long as it's relevant & mildly profanity free.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Stronger



Kanye West is probably one of my favorite rappers right now. I enjoy how he likes to explore new sub-genres of hip hop and play around with different sounds. He's a great artist. This is one of my favorite tracks of his.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Jean Beasley

I saw the other night that Jean Beasley, the wife of former Concord University President Dr. Jerry Beasley, had passed away. Click here to see a press release Concord University put out.

Jerry Beasley was President of Concord from 1985 until the end of the 2007-2008 academic year, which was the same year I was Editor-in-Chief of The Concordian. So, his last year was a big topic I covered a few times throughout the year.

Dr. Beasley was my favorite person at Concord University. I got to be pretty close to him during the four years I interacted with him. I first met him in 2004. I was new to the newspaper staff and only my third or fourth story assignment was to go interview him about some sort of study Concord had released. I was really nervous going to his office and talking to the most important man at the University. But, he immediately put me at ease as soon as I saw him. He was down-to-earth and very nice to me.

I interviewed him and completed the story. I thought it was pretty good. A couple weeks after the story was printed I was walking around campus and Dr. Beasley happened to be passing by. He remembered my name and said hi to me.

Every so often over the course of the next several academic years, I would interview Dr. Beasley and it would always turn into a discussion about our lives. In 2007, for the first issue of his last year, I sat down in his office and he started off asking how my summer went. After probably 15 minutes of him asking questions to me, he stopped and laughed and said, "This probably isn't what you're here to talk about."

I had one interaction with Jean Beasley and it has stuck with me since it occurred in the spring of 2008. I wrote an editorial piece in The Concordian that was really catching a lot of heat from my fellow students. First, a backstory:

A search committee had been formed to find a replacement for President Beasley. They would narrow all of the applicants and give their list of however many (6, maybe) to the Board of Governors, and the BOG would decide on the next President. The BOG listened to a lot of people to help them make their decision, including letting three of the main constituency groups on campus vote for their pick after the final candidates had made visits to campus and spoken with them.

The three constituency groups were the faculty, administration, and the students. The only candidate for President who was already in-house at Concord was Dr. John David Smith, a very popular man around campus. The three groups voted. The faculty and administration, of which Dr. Smith was a member of both (as a professor and Vice President), did not select Smith. I was at the SGA meeting when the student representatives selected their candidate. A couple student leaders decried the faculty and admin picks and basically urged people to select Dr. Smith for the sole reason being that he was Dr. Smith.

I wrote a piece basically saying it was irresponsible for the SGA representatives to select Dr. Smith just because of who he was and not taking into consideration who was really the best choice for Concord. A few weeks later, Dr. Gregory Aloia was selected.

Shortly after that article was printed, I went to my campus mailbox and discovered an envelope that contained a handwritten letter. It was from Jean Beasley. She praised the article I had written and said that she really liked that I stood up for what I believed in, even if it wasn't a popular opinion. She said a couple more complimentary things and I really appreciated that she went out of her way to tell me what she thought.

I only saw Dr. Beasley a couple times since 2008. I only saw Jean Beasley once, but she and her husband were walking down the street in Athens as I was driving by. I never got a chance to tell her how much that meant to me. Since I couldn't do that, I'll just tell everybody else that I really appreciated what she did and thought it was very nice of her.

Monday, September 24, 2012

SGA meeting notes [09-19-12]

I attended the Sept. 19, 2012 meeting of Concord University's Student Government Association. I'm also very lazy, so I'm just now writing about it. Anyway...

I received a comment on my last blog, but I didn't realize it for a few days, so I only recently got around to responding to it. Since a lot of people may not have seen it, I'll post it here. It's anonymous:

Is this supposed to be a reputable blog? I'd heard of you quite a bit since my transition to the CART department, and none of it has been good. This seems more like the ramblings of an angsty tween than a news blog. That being said, the barefoot gentleman was not the president. He's the business manager and he's barefoot for a good cause. If you were a decent journalist, you'd do your homework before spewing ignorance.

As far as "The Concordian" goes, Scott's doing fine. So what if he doesn't like the office? It's a depressing hell-hole that's now adjacent to someone's office, so there's no privacy, save for a curtain. The Concordian was a joke last semester. Between TJ's need to be a diva and focusing on his band, and Stephen being a poor writer/editor, the paper had no strong leadership. Tori worked at it, but her heart just wasn't in it anymore. TJ stopped caring because of his band and Dr. Williams supposedly ruining his life, all because Dr. Williams wouldn't bend down and lick his boots like he'd asked. I think not coming back was grand for him. Now he'll learn that the world doesn't exist to stroke his ego.

Besides, didn't you graduate? Don't you have cooler stuff to do, like anything that isn't gossiping about college life? I hope I don't end up like you. God, I hope that.

And, here was my response:

To respond to your comment, it was the SGA President. He was wearing sandals and took them off during the meeting.

The SGA Business Manager, Derek Cline, is walking around barefoot to raise awareness for people who can't afford shoes. If anybody would like to donate shoes to him, find him at Concord. Or, let me know here and I'll try to set it up for him to get them.

So, there were two barefoot people at the meeting.

At the time of seeing the President barefoot, I didn't realize that the Business Manager was doing his awareness project. If I had realized, I would have made a note of it. There was a story about it in the current issue of The Concordian. I skimmed over it but didn't really get a chance to read it thoroughly. From a visual aspect, it looks pretty good.

Anyway...

At the 09-19-12 SGA meeting, the SGA Budgetary committee was voted on. It was a very different process from previous years. It usually goes pretty smoothly. It seemed to be a bit of a mess to get everything organized. But, that seems to be the modus operandi of this year's SGA - a little disorganized. Maybe they'll get the kinks worked out.

I don't believe any other committees have been formed yet. And by formed, I mean the standing committees that have been around for years and just need a chairperson appointed and a meeting time designated have not had those happen yet. Something somebody may want to keep an eye on is that most of the SGA Executive Board received pay increases from the last academic year, but they have yet to do much.

In related news, here's the SGA President's report. If you follow me on twitter, you've already seen it, as it was under 140 characters: "I really don't have anything to report to you, so we'll just move along."

Here's the Budgetary committee. I don't know most of their names. I wrote them down quickly as they were being announced. If anybody wants to leave a comment with the full names, feel free to. The members are: Kyle Mauley [sp?], Joey Sharpe, [pronounced Jen-Uh-Veev] Hatcher, J. Blankenship [didn't get his first name; probably Joe or Justin?], and [something] Wheeling. I wrote down a first initial for Wheeling, but then I wrote over it and I don't know what it actually is that I wrote. So, apologies for that list of names that really isn't a full list. I'm usually better than that...

The Budgetary committee is why most organizations attend meetings. They will fill out a form explaining why they need money to do something. The committee will meet and decide if they should get that money. So, they're very important.

In other news, it was announced before the meeting that SGA Advisor and Student Center Director Anna Hardy was leaving. I'm guessing she accepted a job somewhere else, because Anna said that she would be back to visit everybody.

Josh Hanna, the SGA President, made the announcement about Anna and presented her with a cake and plaque. It was also noted that an annual award, some sort of Anna Hardy Leadership award would be given at the end of the year.

The last time I regularly attended SGA meetings was the 2009-2010 academic year. At that time, Anna was new to the SGA and really seemed to still be adapting to her new surroundings and job duties. The President's speech about Anna was kind of one of those things where somebody said a lot, but really didn't say anything. Apparently she is leaving and her valued leadership qualities will be missed. But he really didn't address how she helped the SGA and what she gave to the organization.

If anybody wants to help us out here, to maybe use this as a forum to fill in the blanks, I had a near 2-year vacation from SGA and the new advisor is now the tenured leader who has the SGA President choking up saying goodbye to her. But, he really didn't say what she did or how she helped. I'm kind of curious. I want somebody to fill us in on the progression and growth she showed over those 2 years. I guess, give us the memorial that the SGA President tried but didn't fully succeed on.

That's about it from the SGA meeting. Homecoming stuff was finalized. But, if you're into that stuff, you already know about it all.

As a final note, follow @cumountainlions on twitter. They do a pretty good job of keeping athletic happenings updated.

* * *

Here's the disclaimer:

I import these blogs into Facebook. That gives me the option to "tag" people, sending them an e-mail notification. I tag people for two reasons - 1) if I mention you by name & 2) if I think you will find this interesting. If you are tagged and don't want to be, let me know. If I don't tag you & you'd like to be tagged in the future, let me know.

There is a comment feature on this blog & I don't mind if you use it. It's cool to disagree, as long as it's kept civil. Anonymous comments are allowed, as long as it's relevant & mildly profanity free.