Tag

2008

Summer Goals Series

By health, life

Plain and simple, here’s what the summer has in store for me, if all goes as planned. By the time I head back to school in late August, here’s what I wanna do to change myself and enrich my life (in no particular sequence or order).

I’ll be on vacation this coming Thursday through the Thursday after in the Outer Banks. While I will have wi-fi, I’m gonna try not to spend much of any time with technology because, quite frankly, I need a break from it. I’m going to write myself silly in the next few days and post-date more in-depth entries on the topics below, to show up while I’m gone, one for each goal below, and for each day I’m gone.

  1. Lose ten pounds (This is roughly what I’ve gained over the past year; probably more, but it’s a start)
  2. Get out of my comfort zone (This may mean selling ads for my web business, public speaking, or doing some acting at church in video productions)
  3. Read two books (Hey, I got my library card renewed; that’s a start, right?)
  4. Meet some new people (Can’t go wrong with this)
  5. Finish Downtown Short Pump (I’m well on my way, I just need to sell some advertising!)
  6. Change my ways of thinking (Attitude, etc.)
  7. Be more authentic (We all have room to improve on this one)
  8. Stop trying to please everybody and just live my life (I take on way too many projects and consequently never finish any of them)

It’s going to be an interesting eight days of reading. I’m on the verge of transforming my life into what I’ve always wanted it to be. I’ve felt it for a while, and now I have a plan of action. Sure, it says “Summer Goals,” but really this is what I want to accomplish by year’s end. You could say that 2008 is my year of self-improvement, and 2009 will be the result of this year’s work and reap the benefits.

The Curse Of The Original Southpark Mall Wal-Mart

By news, weather

As I posted about two days ago, there was a huge tornado outbreak across southeastern Virginia on Monday. Colonial Heights, although faced with an estimated $2 million in damage, faired much better than Suffolk, with $18 million in damage. The Colonial Heights tornado was confirmed by the National Weather Service as an F1 with winds of up to 112 MPH (The “F” stands for the Fujita Scale, which rates tornadoes on a scale of F0-F6) and the Suffolk tornadoes were mostly F3 intensity, with winds up to 206 MPH. The devastation was widespread down there, but remarkably no one was killed (I reported on Monday that one person was killed, but later found out, along with the news sources, that the death was unrelated to the tornado).

Now I don’t believe things can be cursed, but the Colonial Heights Wal-Mart sure has some bad luck. It’s now a Sam’s Club, but so many things happened to it as a Wal-Mart it’s almost inconceivable. There’s a theory that the place is cursed because someone was killed there in the Garden Center shortly after the place opened in late 1989 or early 1990. Shortly after, the Garden Center was flattened by either downdraft winds from a severe thunderstorm or a weak tornado. In 1993, Virginia’s most intense tornado to date (still), an F4 with winds up to 260 MPH, ripped through the store, killing two employees and a customer. Monday, the F1 tornado took the exact same directional path, 400 feet from the former Wal-Mart (now Sam’s Club). I don’t think there was any major damage to the Sam’s Club, but what is it about that store and Dimmock Square that so many tornadoes have come through? The place is a freaking tornado magnet!

Like I said, I don’t believe in curses, but check out fellow blogger Carrie had to say about the place even before Monday’s events. This is baffling to me. It’s so crazy this place could be hit by tornadoes three times when Virginia barely has measurable tornadoes, much less catastrophic ones like this.

The Curse Of The Original Southpark Wal-Mart

It was a really big deal when the Southpark Mall opened in my hometown. The land on which the mall was being built was privately owned and barren, save for a lawnmower store (guised as a shack), a few swampy plants and maybe a farm animal or two. I have vague memories of my father telling me that the landowner also had a snake farm on this property, but that seems too exotic for Small Town, Virginia. Then again, a snake farm is just the type of feature my small town would boast.

It was highly rumored (amongst the kids at my elementary school) to be the biggest mall in Virginia and possibly even the country. I should say that this is a one story mall with only 4 “major” stores: Dillard’s, Hechts, Sears and JC Penney’s. We even didn’t get a Gap, a mall staple, until 2001 years ago, and it went out of business and in its place a store called Man Alive opened. (ManAlive sells spiky high heeled sneakers and oversized “Lets Get Crunk” t-shirts and is just down the way from the kiosk that sells confederate flag and NASCAR paraphernalia.)

The mall opening was a huge event. There was a search light, balloons, free Chick-Fil-A samples and human mannequins. HumanMannequins! They posed, perfectly still, wearing parachute pants, ruffled skirts and 1988’s finest double breasted suits, for hours on end. The next day in class, no one was talking about the actual mall or the many stores contained within. We were all arguing about whether or not the human mannequins ever blinked. I don’t think they did.

Shortly after the mall opened, they built the World’s Busiest Wal-Mart adjacent to the mall (At least it was rumored to be The World’s Busiest Wal-Mart amongst the kids at my middle school). This meant we didn’t have to travel to the Bradlees in a next town over to get our B-B guns and Fisherprice record players. Unfortunately, this Wal-Mart was cursed.

In either 1989 or 1990, a man walked into the Wal-Mart and shot and killed his ex-wife, a Wal-Mart Employee, in the Garden Section. This was a really big deal because a) a man walked into the Wal-Mart and shot his ex-wife to death in the Garden Section and b) this was only the second or third murder that my home town had ever experienced. The third or fourth happened on Mall property as well. Everyone (my classmates) was talking about the Wal-Mart Garden Center ghost. I shuddered every time I drove by Wal-Mart or drank a Sam’s Choice Cola. But time passed and the Wal-Mart became busier than ever.

Shortly after that fatal shooting, in May 1990, a terrible storm brewed over the Wal-Mart, damaging the very Garden Section where that poor ex-wife was murdered. There was a continuing debate at CHHS as to whether or not it was a tornado or just a very bad storm, but it was confirmed to be an F2 tornado. Thankfully only minor injuries were sustained. Wal-Mart employees worked overtime to cover the gaping roof with a tarp and clean up all the stray kiddy pools and terra cotta shards. Within days, the Wal-Mart was back in business. But that wasn’t the end of it. Bad things come in threes.

On a Saturday afternoon, in August 1993, a huge F4 tornado, (Virginia’s worst tornado, according to the 1994 High School yearbook), plowed through that Wal-Mart and put it on the national news for its casualties (three) and injuries (198). I derived a lot of pleasure from the attention I got when my friends found out my brother was in the mall when it happened and helped people out of the rubble. Plus, just moments before the twister touch-down, my father and I had just driven past the mall on I-95 on our way to Raleigh, North Carolina to visit my aunt. And my mother was on the turnpike bridge and was gusted into another lane, just missing the path of a Mack truck. The tornado nearly leveled the Wal-Mart– along with a MJDesigns craft store, a mattress warehouse and the tree where Pocahontas saved John Smith, to name a few.

And although the second and final tornado didn’t actually happen in the Garden Section, it did blow contents of the Garden Section all over the store and into some people’s heads. Cue Twilight music.

Officials finally accepted that the Wal-Mart was cursed, because they razed the original Wal-Mart and built a new, improved and blood-freeSuper Wal-Mart about a quarter of a mile away in the new Southpark Commons development area. The new Wal-Mart is just down the street from the World’s Largest Arby’s.

Tornado Outbreak: Suffolk Devastation & Colonial Heights Déjà Vu

By news, Uncategorized, weather

Fifteen years ago, in 1993, a strong F4 (winds of up to 260 MPH) tornado touched down in Colonial Heights, destroying the Wal-Mart store and killing three people, before tearing through Petersburg’s historic district. Well today, history seems to have repeated itself. A moderate tornado touched down in the exact same shopping center (Dimmock Square, near Southpark Mall). Is that eerie or what? I was only five years old the first time it happened, but (strangely) vaguely remember seeing it on TV. The Dress Barn and Target stores suffered blown out windows and minor roof damage, but for the most part there was no extreme structural damage.

It was a different story in Suffolk this evening. The same line of storms marched eastward (and strengthened considerably as they did so) and proceeded to completely flatten a portion Suffolk’s historic district, then went through a golf course community and completely wiped large, substantial homes clean off their foundations to the point where all that was left was a concrete slab beneath. This part was especially eerie to me because the neighborhood looked very similar to mine (Wyndham) from the aerial shot.

Suffolk is completely devastated. It looks like an atomic bomb went off the way the homes literally exploded with the extreme winds. At the time I’m writing this, there has only been one person confirmed dead, but unfortunately, it would be miraculous if the death toll didn’t rise, by the looks of the flattened neighborhoods. Hopefully it won’t, though. Virginia is no stranger to tornadoes, but usually experiences much weaker ones than this. This was extremely rare. Keep your thoughts and prayers with the Hampton Roads community during the aftermath of this immense, widespread natural disaster.

I find all of this very interesting since most of you know how much I like weather and storms. I flipped through the local news channels and hooked up my Comcast digital box to my Mac to record everything as it happened. Here are some screenshots from the live broadcasts I recorded from NBC 12 (WWBT), 8 NEWS (WRIC), CBS 6 (WTVR), and WAVY 10 (WAVY) (NBC affiliate in Norfolk, via live streaming on-air web simulcast).

1993 archive video footage of the destruction of the Southpark Wal-Mart (WRIC)

Meteorologist Jim Duncan advises citizens to take shelter during a tornado warning (WWBT)

Aerial image of Dimmock Square Shopping Center (perimeter highlighted in yellow) and the adjacent Wal-Mart store (now a Sam’s Club) that were both hit by tornadoes that followed the exact same paths in 1993 and 2008 (Blackwood Development Corporation)

Cars were tossed like toys in the Dimmock Square Shopping Center parking lot, in front of Target (WWBT)

A house suffers extreme damage in Suffolk (WTVR)

A Suffolk antiques shop is cut in half with almost no visible damage from the front or rear façades, but obviously the historic building is a complete loss (WAVY)

 The owner of a car dealership snaps a picture through the front windows of his business as a huge tornado barrels through Suffolk (WAVY)

2008: The Year Of Green?

By business, environmental issues

So it’s Earth Day. I remember Earth Day coming around years ago and nobody really made a big deal about it. Well, I’m happy to say that’s really changed. 2008 is looking like it will go down in the books as “The Year Of Green” or something to that effect when we look back on it in the next decade or so. The whole eco-friendly thing is finally starting to catch on.

Everywhere you look, there are environmental themes. NBC has done a ton of things to get the public on board with their “Green Is Universal” campaign. This week, in fact, is “Green Week.” All of their shows have environmental themes, including sitcoms. I applaud them for all of their work. I’ve said this before, but I’ll repeat it again because it’s so true. Corporate America has a tremendous amount of influence on our lives. They’re extremely powerful, and they can use that power either positively or negatively. The kind of positive energy NBC is exuding is what we need across the board.

Tomorrow, in one of my Green Wednesday weekly posts, I’ll the corporate heavyweights and their efforts more in depth. We’re making big steps in the right direction, but there’s so much more we need to do on both individual and international levels if we want to stop global warming before we’re at the point of no return, which experts on the subject claim is only about a decade away.

2008 Deep Run Marathon Dance Opening & Closing Videos

By Uncategorized

I finally figured out how to compress these videos for YouTube and still have them look relatively decent. I made them for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Deep Run Marathon Dance and had a ton of fun doing it! Can’t wait for next year.

Opening Video (shown at the opening ceremony to dancers to get them pumped up for the 27 hours ahead):


Closing Video (includes charity interviews, dance footage (cut out for YouTube time restraints), and a dramatic grand total at the end):

Leap Year Birthdays

By Uncategorized

What if you were born on February 29, a day like today that only comes around once every four years? Do you age four times slower, or do you just have less fun because you only get to party it up every four years? I’ve always wondered how that would go. Here’s one woman’s story. (Oh, and Happy Leap Day!)

Tillie Iverson is observing her 24th birthday Friday — at the age of 96.
Family members from as far away as Florida, Ohio, Nevada and North Carolina are helping her celebrate her Leap Year birthday. Iverson was born in 1912 on Feb. 29, a date that only comes around every four years. Like others born on that date, she has sometimes marked her birthday on Feb. 28 and sometimes on March 1.
“It depended on what day of the week it was and what fit the best,” Iverson said. “Someone might have been too busy one day, so we’d do it another day.”

But she still feels a little cheated as a Leap Day baby. “I didn’t enjoy it at all,” she said. “The day before, that’s not my birthday. And the day after, that’s not my birthday either. I’ve been shorted on birthdays.” Iverson, whose husband died in 1993, helped deliver 42 babies over the years as a midwife. She kept a scrapbook with information on the infants. “We’d get up in the morning and she’d be boiling her instruments on the kitchen stove, and she’d tell us about the baby she had delivered,” said Evelyn Maloney, one of four surviving siblings. Two others have died.
Iverson lives in an apartment in Chippewa Falls where she still handles many of the daily chores of life, with help from Maloney, who visits often.

Presidential Pudding

By Uncategorized

I was watching the Democratic debate tonight and kept hearing Obama use one phrase over and over: “The proof is in the pudding.” What this exactly means, I’m not entirely sure, but hey I like Obama and I sure as heck like pudding of all varieties, so hey! Here’s a new campaign poster I came up with for Obama:

 

First Week Reflections

By Uncategorized

So the first week of the Spring 2008 semester is over, and I really, really think I’ve turned things around for the better. My entire perception of college has changed. Last semester I didn’t put nearly as much time and effort into it, but now I am and I can tell I’m going to do a whole lot better. I’ve also settled into the routine of things and gotten a good group of friends. Just wanted to touch on that. More to come.

Macworld 2008 Keynote – New Hardware/Software: My Review

By Uncategorized

Apple CEO Steve Jobs just finished his keynote at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco. Apple released all sorts of exciting new things. I watched a video stream of it online. Here are my takes on what was released:

First up was Time Capsule. It’s an AirPort Extreme base station (wireless N router) that also backs up your computer’s contents wirelessly. It comes in 500 GB and 1 TB versions.

Next up was iTunes Movie Rentals. This was expected. All major movie studios are on board to offer newly released movies for $3.99 and older movies for only $2.99. The movie is yours for 30 days, but once you start watching it you have 24 hours to finish. Downloads take only about 30 seconds over broadband and are available in DVD quality or HD for $1 more.

iPhone and iPod Touch software updates were next. The Google Maps feature on the iPhone finally has real-time GPS using cellular triangulation (finds the three closest cell towers to you and determines your position pretty accurately). You can now send text messages to multiple people at the same time, too. It’s about time. Web clips now let you make applications out of websites you visit that are already optimized for iPhone (for example, I use the iPhone versions of Facebook and Fandango). You can now put these and any number of other websites on the home screen. You can also now have multiple home screens and reorder your icons in any way you desire. Nice move, Apple. The only thing missing? With all these cool features, I still cant send or receive multimedia (picture/video) messages? Strange, no? The iPod Touch is finally receiving what iPhones already have: Mail, Stocks, Notes, and Weather applications. It should have had these in the first place, but Apple is charging $20 for them. Why?

Apple TV saw a major upgrade. Not the hardware itself, but a huge software update. You can now buy music, watch YouTube videos, rent iTunes movies in full HD, etc. all without a computer. Finally, this once dud of a product in Apple’s otherwise excellent product lineup should see a much more positive consumer response.

Finally, the much rumored MacBook Air was introduced. It’s being dubbed the world’s thinnest notebook, measuring only 0.76 inches thin. Incredible. It comes in an 80 GB 1.8 inch hard drive version (same size drive used in current iPods) or a much faster 64 GB SSD (solid state (flash memory) drive). There’s no optical disk drive, but you can wirelessly install software from other computers on your network. The track pad even has multi-touch just like the iPhone! Very cool. I’m in awe at just how thin, sleek, and beautiful this thing is. I know, I’m a full-fledged Apple geek.

A few things that many people were expected but weren’t announced were a new iPhone model and a Mac notebook docking station similar to the look of the current iMac model.

One thing I don’t understand is Apple’s logic on giving away a big update for the iPhone (as they should) as well as a huge overhaul software-wise for Apple TV, but yet they’re charging $20 for applications that should have originally shipped with the iPod Touch? That makes no sense at all, and I bet the update will become free when people realize how little logic there is in their strategy.

I didn’t think Apple could top last year’s Macworld Expo Keynote (where the iPhone was announced), but I was wrong. Great job, Apple.