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Questioning My Own Existence

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I’m really starting to question my own existence. Yesterday was just my final proof that I don’t really live in this world. I guess I’m in some alternate reality or some crap like that. Okay, so I’m just being a tad bit sarcastic as usual, but it always seemed funny to me how I was left off of any and all lists that my name could be on. It’s not that no one thinks I exist, just anyone related to any educational establishment, apparently. Deep Run and VCU.

It started my Freshman year of high school. I had purchased a yearbook, but for some reason the lists at the end of the year had absolutely no indication that I had ever paid for one. The next year, when the student information sheets that everyone in the entire Henrico County Public Schools system receives to verify and update name, address, and other contact information, I didn’t get one, and they said they weren’t sure if there was a record of me in their information database. They had one somewhere and finally figured it out, but how’s that for strange?

Well, yesterday was my final indication in case I needed any more proof that I do not exist on this earth, at least according to any educational entity. I was at the Alpine Bagel Company inside the commons at VCU trying to grab a bagel before class. Not so much to ask, right? Well I guess I was wrong. The girl looked me straight in the face and took my order, I paid for it, and then she forgot she was supposed to make mine. After waiting for ten minutes while seemingly fifty more people were served who were in line behind me, she apologized and said my bagel was coming right up. Well, apparently it slipped her mind again and she served a few more people before I walked up to the counter and watched her make the freaking thing. I was like one of those dumb magic shows on prime time TV where they’re like “Watch closely as Veronica is sawed in half; this camera will not cut away…”. I barely blinked as she smeared cream cheese on my bagel until it was nestled safely in my hands.

So I wanted my typical Chai Tea Latte from Starbucks to go with it. I walked over to the Cabell Library to get my fix of my favorite drink, and, yep you guessed it, repeat situation. They forgot me once there, which I guess is a better track record than the bagel place, but wow. I’m gonna have to start lighting traffic flares from on top of my head and wave around sparklers or something to make sure people know I’m around I guess. Maybe a flashing LED “Trevor needs food just like everyone else in line” wouldn’t hurt, either. I’ll just wear it around my forehead or something.

Charlie Bartlett – Review

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WARNING: Spoiler Review! If you haven’t seen this movie and plan on it, you’ve been warned.

I went to see Charlie Bartlett last night. I usually go to a movie every week or so, but I hadn’t been in nearly a month. It was a great movie. Anton Yelchin plays Charlie Bartlett, a wealthy private school student who is expelled for running a lamination mill in his room where he created fake IDs for hundreds of classmates. He then decides to attend public school, still wearing his private school uniform on the first day. He tries unsuccessfully to make friends, and realizes that the best way to gain popularity is to offer free medications to fellow classmates.

Charlie begins listening to his peers’ problems in a makeshift “office” in the men’s restroom, and when he found out their issues, he goes to his psychiatrist and tells him he has the same symptoms as his classmates in order to get prescriptions he can in turn pass on to them. He makes a huge profit, wins the love of the entire student body, and largely helps them medically when no one else would listen or they had no one else to turn to with their problems.

After a while, Charlie starts dating the principal’s daughter, landing him in even more hot water than he’s already in with school administration. His drug scheme is finally busted when a classmate tries to commit suicide by overdosing on Ritalin. He ends up going to jail for a short time, but makes amends with the principal and everyone else.

This was a great story told at an interesting angle, so if you’re up for some hearty laughs, a fast-paced, fun story line, and a sprinkle or two of drama, check this film out.

Overall Rating:

US Spy Satellite: FAIL

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I couldn’t help but make another FAIL image for this one to send to the FAIL Blog. President Bush has ordered that a United States spy satellite that has lost power and is falling out of orbit (threatening many lives if it hits earth) is shot down by an SM-3 Navy missile in the Pacific Ocean tonight. As an interesting local note, tonight around 6:15 PM you should be able to see the satellite pass above Richmond. It will look like a very fast moving plane and will be very bright. The satellite only passes near our area a few times a month, so if it’s clear out this evening, see if you can spot it! Hopefully the missile hits it and the problem is taken care of, but rest assured, if they miss, I’ll have an even better FAIL image to post. Here’s the article about tonight’s mission:

A Navy heat-seeking missile is getting its first real-world use in an attempt to demolish a crippled U.S. spy satellite before the orbiting craft falls back to Earth. The targeting of the satellite — which could come Wednesday night — is not the mission for which this piece of the Pentagon’s missile defense network was intended, however. The attempted shootdown, already approved by President Bush out of concern about toxic fuel on board the satellite, is seen by some as blurring the lines between defending against a weapon like a long-range missile and targeting satellites in orbit.

The three-stage Navy missile, designated the SM-3, has chalked up a high rate of success in a series of tests since 2002, in each case targeting a short- or medium-range ballistic missile, never a satellite. A hurry-up program to adapt the missile for this anti-satellite mission was completed in a matter of weeks; Navy officials say the changes will be reversed once this satellite is down.

The government issued notices to aviators and mariners to remain clear of a section of the Pacific Ocean beginning at 10:30 p.m. EST Wednesday, indicating the first window of opportunity to launch an SM-3 missile from a Navy cruiser, the USS Lake Erie, in an effort to hit the wayward satellite.

Having lost power shortly after it reached orbit in late 2006, the satellite is out of control and well below the altitude of a normal satellite. The Pentagon wants to hit it with an SM-3 missile just before it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere, in that way minimizing the amount of debris that would remain in space.

Left alone, the satellite would be expected to hit Earth during the first week of March. About half of the 5,000-pound spacecraft would be expected to survive its blazing descent through the atmosphere and would scatter debris over several hundred miles.

Adding to the difficulty of the shootdown mission, the missile will have to do better than just hit the bus-sized satellite, a Navy official said Tuesday. It needs to strike the relatively small fuel tank aboard the spacecraft in order to accomplish the main goal, which is to eliminate the toxic fuel that could injure or even kill people if it reached Earth. The Navy official described technical aspects of the missile’s capabilities on condition that he not be identified.
Also complicating the effort will be the fact that the satellite has no heat-generating propulsion system on board. That makes it more difficult for the Navy missile’s heat-seeking system to work, although the official said software changes had been made to compensate for the lack of heat.

The Pentagon press secretary, Geoff Morrell, said Defense Secretary Robert Gates was briefed on the shootdown plan Tuesday by the two officers who will advise him on exactly when to launch the missile — Gen. Kevin Chilton, head of Strategic Command, and Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who held Chilton’s post until last summer.

China and Russia have expressed concern at the planned shootdown, saying it could harm security in outer space. At the State Department on Tuesday, spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters that the U.S. action is meant to protect people from the hazardous fuel and is not a weapons test.

Exciting Things

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Well, today’s a day of meetings of all sorts. I’ve been to two, got one more this afternoon. Some good things resulted from these meetings, and things are finally getting back on track it seems. First off, I just got a great job offer today that I’m taking with a local computer company, where I’ll be able to repair Macs (I’m even going to become an Apple Certified Repair Technician just like the people that work at the Genius Bar at the Apple Store) and might even get to set my own hours. I tentatively start the second week of March. I’ll say more about what company it is and everything once all the details are hammered out.

In other news, Virginia Credit Union asked me to be in a TV commercial with a few other members to talk about our experiences with them. They’re filming it near VCU next to the new business building the first week of March. It should be fun; I’m looking forward to it.

I’m meeting later this afternoon with members of the Richmond Outreach Center (ROC) at Deep Run to film a segment about the work they do to for people who would otherwise not come to Christ. They’re the last of ten organizations to be filmed that are benefiting from funds raised at the 2008 Deep Run Marathon Dance. I’m producing a DVD of the event again this year, and I’m looking forward to the event. It’s a great experience.

Things are looking up!

False Alarm

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So I didn’t send my computer in after all. I’m realizing there’s really no 7-10 day period (amount of time Apple says it would take for my repair to be completed) that I can be without my computer because of exams, note taking, special projects, church work, etc. I guess I’ll send it in sometime this summer. Anyway, big update on some projects I’m working on now, speaking of which.

Shipping Out

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Well, I’m shipping out my MacBook Pro to Apple’s repair headquarters in Texas today to get fixed (I’m taking it to the Apple Store and they’re taking care of the shipping). Ever since I’ve had it (last June) it’s never gone to sleep right. When you close a Mac, it’s supposed to go into sleep mode and keep all your applications running and ready to go when you open the lid again, but my computer was born a rebel and decided against going with the status quo. Whenever I close it, the screen goes to sleep, but the computer keeps running and overheats, in turn draining the battery. This is especially fun when I’m at VCU and it starts burning up in my backpack and, here’s the best part of all, the battery is dead by the time I need to use it again because it decided to keep running. The thing has a personality of its own, I’m telling you.

I also dropped it on a video shoot recently where it was used as a prop (I was the one that dropped it, everyone calm down; despite what it may have inadvertently sounded like in one of my previous posts, no one from the church video team is to blame for anything). The case was dented in the corner and the slot-loading disc drive is hard to load now, so I’m most likely getting the entire aluminum case replaced, depending on the cost. The sleep issue is covered by the AppleCare three year extended warranty I bought, but accidental damage such as my casing is most likely not covered by the plan.

I’ve backed everything up via Mac OS X Leopard’s Time Machine feature onto my 1TB hard drive, and post-dated all of my blog entries to automatically show up on my blog on the day specified (I didn’t know you could even do this until recently; pretty cool). I’ve posted a few new entries (albeit smaller and simpler) for the upcoming week and will post a few more throughout the week via Utterz and/or my iPhone. Hey, I’m in Blog 365, I’ve gotta do it! My Mac should be back by next weekend.

Green Wednesday: Six Degrees Could Change The World

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It’s absolutely critical that we do something right now to save our planet from certain peril. An eye-opening new special on global warming will air tomorrow night on the National Geographic Channel. It’s called “Six Degrees Could Change The World.”

In it, some of the world’s top experts on global warming lay out what to expect as the earth warms over the next century:

At 1 degree Celsius, most coral reefs and many mountain glaciers will be lost. A 3-degree rise would spell the collapse of the Amazon rainforest, disappearance of Greenland’s ice sheet, and the creation of deserts across the Midwestern United States and southern Africa. A 6-degree increase would eliminate most life on Earth, including much of humanity.

How do we fight this impending doom? Several people have some very creative, yet expensive ideas. There is hope yet. Check out the following ideas:

Simulating Volcanic Eruptions
The 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines sent an estimated 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide high into the stratosphere. Winds proceeded to spread it all over the planet, forming a high-level haze that reflected back light from the sun and reduced global temperature by 0.5 degrees Celsius. Nobel prize-winning atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen has proposed simulating the Pinatubo effect by using artillery guns or balloons to inject sulfur into the atmosphere. (Rockets filled with sulfur could also do the trick). Crutzen calculates that the cooling effect would begin within six months and last for up to two years. Artificially duplicating Mount Pinatubo’s effects each year might cost $250 billion, though Crutzen says a relatively affordable $25-$50 billion worth would be enough to make a difference. A major downside is the possibility of creating acid rain or wreaking havoc with global weather patterns, as the eruption of the Indonesian volcanic island of Krakatoa did in the 1880s.

Lenses In Space
University of Arizona astronomer Roger Angel has suggested using non-polluting, magnetically-powered vehicles—a concept that NASA is already exploring—to transport trillions of lenses made of silicon nitride film into space and deposit them near inner Lagrange point 1, an area where the combined effect of gravity of the Earth and the Sun would keep them in the same place relative to Earth’s rotation. The lenses would be about three feet across but incredibly thin, weighing about a gram. Rather than blocking sunlight, they would bend some of it slightly away from Earth, reducing the amount of energy transmitted by about 2 percent. Manufacturing the immense quantity of lenses and putting them into space—some 20 million launches would be required—make Angel’s idea a lengthy and pricey one, but he has estimated that the cost would average out to $100 billion annually over the lenses’ 50 year lifetime. The lenses would also be difficult to turn “off” if necessary, and could lead to uneven cooling effects.

Turning Pollution Into Baking Soda
Burning coal to generate electricity is one of the planet’s major sources of carbon emissions. To cope with their seemingly insatiable demand for electric power, the U.S., China, and India plan to build 850 new coal-fired plants by 2012, which will spew five times as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as the Kyoto Protocol nations aim to eliminate. Many believe that carbon sequestration, in which carbon dioxide emissions from smokestacks are trapped and stored, is the best answer. But most ideas for what to do with the carbon dioxide—such as pumping it into manmade caverns—would be costly, and there’s always the risk that the gases will escape. That’s where a Texas-based startup company, Skyonic, and its innovative new carbon sequestration technology, gets involved. Plastic mesh sheets capture 90 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted by a power plant, which is then mixed with sodium hydroxide to produce harmless baking soda. Solids are easier to store, and since the baking soda produced is high-grade, it can be recycled for industrial applications or even used for baking. Texas utility Luminant installed a pilot version of the technology at its Brown Steam Electric Station in 2006, and Skyonics is now designing a system that it hopes to install on a large 500-megawatt power plant in 2009.

Time Management

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Pastor Rick gave what I thought to be one of his most inspiring messages ever today. It was all about time management. He’s done some great messages in the past and is probably the most impacting and inspirational speaker I’ve ever heard, but today his message really hit home.

In the service today, Pastor Rick gave a lot of great advice and wisdom about how to manage your time:

Evaluate your time priorities. This can be done (as I’m going to do) by keeping track of how you spend your time over the course of two weeks.

Busyness does not equal productivity. I am always busy with something or another. The whole week it seems I’m never free. But I’m finding that a lot of the time I’m not doing much of anything of any real worth or significance.

Establish time systems. This could mean many things. One example Pastor Rick gave was his own schedule. Every day, he gets up early in the morning and spends time in solitude praying and having study/research time to plan his messages. He’s also at home every night at 6:00 PM for dinner with his family. These two recurring events are set in stone in his weekly schedule, and are obviously very important to him. I need to figure out which things are the most important for me to do, and plan everything else around them on a recurring basis like he has done. Having set things to do at set times and days also makes it easier to say no to people when they ask you to do something, and that’s a big thing for me. I find it hard to tell people no when they ask me to help with or commit to doing something.

Eliminate time wasters. As you’ll read below, I’ve already gotten rid of a lot of my time wasters, but this is something I really need to work on more. Pastor Rick spoke about how you should delegate what’s important and find new ways to use wasted time, such as reading or catching up on something that needs completing when you’re waiting (for example at a doctor’s office).

I have some of the worst skills when it comes to time management out of anyone I know. I always have really good intentions of getting lots done, being productive, and accomplishing everything I need to do. In fact, despite my lack of priority-based planning, I have one of the most immaculately-organized iCal calendars ever (that picture is a screenshot of how my iCal looks on a weekly basis). It’s broken up into sub-calendars, the main ones being home, school, and church. I have everything from my classes at VCU to my weekly breakfast with Tori and dinner with Jen. From the looks of it, you’d think I was one of the most organized people ever, right? Not so much.

So why doesn’t it all work out in the nice, structured way it seems to by looking at my iCal? There are a couple of reasons. First off, I don’t seem to be able to stick to what should be my top priorities. It’s sometimes out of stress, lack of will power, tiredness, or sheer laziness. Other times it’s because something fun comes up and I end up going out with friends. All I know is I need to increase the amount of time I spend doing some things, reduce others, and maybe even completely eliminate a few. Most things are fine in moderation, I just need to find the right balance.

Sometimes the time I allot to certain tasks ends up getting wasted because I’m multitasking while I should be focused on a singular goal. I also get distracted (and spend too much time on) my Mac and iPhone. The biggest distraction involving both devices? Facebook. Up until today, I had a ridiculous connection to Facebook. On my computer, there’s a desktop program that flashes a little box in the upper right hand corner of my screen notifying me when someone writes on my wall or does some other action on my profile, I get an email with the same information, and then a text on my phone. Sometimes the Facebook email also goes to my phone. Now before you send out the “whitecoats” to haul me off to the nut farm, please understand that some of these notifications were in place from the time I first registered my Facebook account (almost two years ago), for example the emails. I just added one thing at a time and now I’m at this ludicrous level. I’m happy to say that as of today, I’ve completely eliminated all of my Facebook notifications on both my Mac and iPhone, turned off incoming email to my phone, and turned off the new mail notification sound on my computer so I don’t automatically open my email client and read it as it comes in.

In summary, here’s what I plan on changing with my schedule starting this week:

  • Allot more time to studying, working productively at church, and exercising
  • Spend less time on the computer, doing less-than-productive things, eating out, and not necessarily hang out with friends every night
  • Come up with the best balance of school, work, volunteering, and fun

I’m excited about finally getting a handle on my life and make time for the things I need to do and be able to accomplish so much more.

Free Swag From Mix 103-7

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So I got an email that I won a prize pack of free stuff from Mix 103-7 for, well, I don’t even remember. I think I took a survey a while back to rate the music they play online. Anyway, I drove all the way down to Midlothian to get my stuff, and here’s what was inside the bag (with their logo printed on it): A t-shirt, coffee mug, plastic cup, magnetic clip, and fridge magnet. I mean I can’t complain because it’s free stuff, but I drove to southside for a bag of promotional goodies so that I can sport items with their logo on them and help Cox Radio garner more listeners? Appears that way. Oh well, it was free!