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Considering My College Options

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When I was up in Charlottesville this weekend, I started thinking more seriously about exploring my options for next Fall. While VCU is a great school for doing anything with the arts, I don’t know that I’m getting the full college experience I once envisioned. I love Charlottesville and hope to one day live around that area, so I’ll definitely be giving UVA a closer look. I realize it may be a lofty goal, and that some of the demographic could be comparable to a larger body of the Deep Run type population, if you get my drift, but I’m going to consider it.

I also plan on visiting JMU (I also loved the campus there). According to our family friend, Sue, who we visited in Charlottesville this weekend, there’s more of a diverse mix of students as opposed to UVA’s demographic. Finally, I’m going to take a look at Virginia Tech. As you can see, I really want to go to one of the “mountain” schools. But all of these schools are just a maybe. I may very well stay at VCU, but I just want to explore other opportunities. I’ll keep everyone posted.

You Know You Go To VCU When…

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Wow, I saw some weird things today at school. First off, there was a guy riding a unicycle down the sidewalk in what looked like a genuine attempt to get to class rather than a spectacle. Second, a group of ten guys were in the bathroom at the library standing in a line, backing up one step at a time to see how far back they could read the small print “Please wash your hands” sign. There were a couple other things, some of which I won’t even repeat on here, that I guess are just commonplace at VCU. The funniest thing about all of them, though, is that nobody even thinks anything of them at all. I’ve always found people watching to be interesting, but never so much as at VCU.

On a kind of sad note (for me), it looks like my best friend, Jen, is probably going to end up going to Liberty next year… if so it’s really gonna suck here without her. We’ll see what happens.

The Value Of Time

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Pastor Rick started a new message series entitled Time a few weeks ago, and I’ve got to say it’s probably the most impacting series he’s done to date (and he’s done a lot). The first week he talked about just how quickly life goes by. He made several analogies comparing your age with the time of day. I don’t remember exactly the ages and times he referenced, but if you take the waking hours (8:00 AM – 11:00 PM), if you’re 15 years old it’s about 10:30 AM. If you’re 30 it’s 12:00 noon. If you’re 50 it’s around 7:00 PM. Scary, huh? Time passes by more quickly than most of us realize. Today, Pastor Rick talked about how you should invest your time in things that have an eternal value and in things that will have a long-lasting impact.

All this got me thinking about just how funny time is. Sometimes I’ll do something and a few days later think that it feels like it’s been a week or two since I did it. Then, some event that comes around only once a year, take Christmas for example, and I feel like it just happened and the year flew by. It’s funny how different people perceive time in different ways.

One of the most interesting things Pastor Rick said is that people get along (or don’t) and associate with one another based on their time style. Some people prioritize their schedule. Others schedule their priorities. I’m definitely the first style (and sometimes I don’t have them in the right order at that) and I’m trying to become the second. It’s difficult, but I know I can do it if I keep at it.

To find out more about the Time series, visit www.highimpactliving.com.

My Article In Today’s Times-Dispatch

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There’s an article about me on the front of the Flair section (page E1) today. This is the online version.

State group honors teen for historic preservation

By BILL LOHMANN
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER

As a cold rain fell outside, Trevor Dickerson sat in the back pew of the old, unheated church and savored the warmth of success.

“I don’t particularly want to take credit for myself,” Dickerson said of his role in the relocation of the church, Springfield Baptist, that saved it from demolition. “I’m just happy it’s still around for others to see and enjoy and see what Short Pump used to be like back in the day.”

That Dickerson helped spearhead a movement to save the 19th-century church is not surprising. He’s been working in historic preservation for almost half of his life, which is astounding not so much for his years of service but because of when he started.

He was 11.

His efforts caught the attention of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (also known as APVA Preservation Virginia) which today will present Dickerson, 19, with the organization’s first Young Preservationist of the Year Award as part of its annual statewide awards ceremony at the National Theater in Richmond.

“That’s how he got on our radar screen,” APVA Executive Director Elizabeth Kostelny said of Dickerson’s work with Springfield Baptist Church. “But the reason the award panel decided to recognize him in this way was really the body of work. That sounds sort of funny when you’re talking about a 19-year-old, but he developed this passion at such an early age.

“I think we see a growing number of young folks involved in preservation, but I think Trevor hit the high note.”

Dickerson, a freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University and a graduate of Deep Run High School, has been actively involved in historical preservation since his family moved to the Wyndham area of Henrico County. He was 11 when he noticed old homes disappearing along Nuckols Road to make way for new developments and thought he should do something about it.

He started making photographs and videos and interviewing longtime residents about their way of life that was going away. He built a Web site (www.henricohistory.com) for his growing collection of pictures and oral history. And he started showing up at county planning and Board of Supervisors meetings to speak on behalf of saving old structures from demolition, keep alive pieces of the county’s past and generally be an irritant to developers.

“It’s always been in my blood,” Dickerson said of his interest in preservation. His mother, Linda, is a vice president of the Henrico County Historical Society. His grandfather, Wallace Allen, was a history buff, and his grandmother, Jean Allen, used to take him to Short Pump Grocery every week as a young boy for a candy bar and soda. When West Broad Street was widened and the grocery was relocated to a site in Goochland County, Dickerson remembers thinking, “That’s pretty interesting.”

The grocery is on the grounds of Field Day of the Past, on Highway 623, between West Broad and Interstate 64, along with other relocated Short Pump buildings, including Springfield Baptist Church. The church was moved there in July from its original location that had become squeezed in by stores and shopping malls. Once a church deep in the country, its more recent neighbors were Best Buy and Kohl’s.

Asked if he ever took any ribbing from his peers for his grown-up hobby, Dickerson said: “I used to. I didn’t really let many people know about it back when I was in middle school. Those are the years when everybody makes fun of you. People think it’s really cool now.”

Dickerson hopes to major in either graphic design or film production with a minor in history. Whatever his major, he plans to use it for historic preservation. He also has ideas about making a documentary on the history of Short Pump, which, as Dickerson put it, “has changed from a real outpost to a real hot spot.”

“You’ve got to preserve the past and present for the future,” he said. “I’m just doing that any way I can.”
Contact Bill Lohmann at (804) 649-6639 or wlohmann@timesdispatch.com.

Find out more:

Visit Trevor Dickerson’s new Web site, www.shortpumphistory.org

Other 2008 APVA award winners

Outstanding Public Sector Preser vation Project Award: The Virginia Capitol Restoration and Extension
Outstanding Commercial Project Award: Commonwealth Architects for 1840 W. Broad St.
Outstanding Service in Community Preservation Award: Loudoun County for The Loudoun County Historic District Interactive Web site (www.loudoun.gov/historic) and Mary Jordan and the Spencer-Penn School Preservation Organization for The Spencer-Penn Centre, Spencer
Outstanding Domestic Project Award: Aaron Wunsch and Preservation Piedmont for the James D. Nimmo House, Charlottesville
Outstanding Adaptive Use Award: Warm Springs Investment Company for Old Dairy Community Center, Warm Springs
Outstanding Historic Preservation Research Award: Thomas Finderson, Carrollton

Is Richmond Losing The Braves?

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Well who didn’t see this coming? Surprise! Apparently Richmond is losing it’s minor league baseball team, the Richmond Braves. Mayor Doug Wilder is most likely to blame. The city scrapped plans to build a new stadium that would have almost certainly gotten the Braves to stay in Richmond. It was supposed to be constructed either in Shockoe Bottom or the riverfront, either of which would have greatly enhanced the city’s charm and character. Doug Wilder, while facilitating new programs and initiatives to improve the city in many ways, has also hurt it in many others. This is probably one of the biggest.

The Richmond City Council needs a major overhaul. Heck, it seems that half of the council has been in legal trouble or even jailed in the last four or five years. Either way, Mayor Wilder is going to have to face some tough questions in the coming days and weeks about his decision to scrap a new city stadium.

A press conference scheduled for 3:30 this afternoon will supposedly confirm the rumors of the team’s decision to move to Georgia, near the parent club (the Atlanta Braves). If the rumors are true, the Braves will leave in 2009.

One Richmond resident who voiced his opinion on the news yesterday said he wasn’t surprised the Braves would leave because “the only attractions at The Diamond are the Diamond Duck and two dollar specials on hot dogs and draft beer.” I couldn’t agree more. Come on, Wilder. Get it together.

Ramblings About Winter Break

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It’s been quite an interesting break. I’ve had a month of hanging out with friends (including meeting some new ones and catching up with some old ones, as well as the usual suspects like Jen, Allie, and Tori), spending time with family, having a bonfire, and seeing lots of good movies (I went to see seven or eight). I also had lots of new experiences (like going clubbing at Have A Nice Day Cafe on New Year’s Eve) and learned valuable lessons (such as to not put myself out on the line as much when it comes to girls in general, but particularly this girl I really, really like (who is pretty much amazing, has a terrific personality, has a lot in common with me, and seemed like a great match), because I ended up getting hurt in the end, I guess because of my own lack of knowledge of women and knowing how to accurately judge whether or not a girl truly likes me back as much as, or in the same way that, I like them).

A month is a long time in the Winter. It seems like Christmas was forever ago, when in reality it wasn’t that long ago at all. It’s one thing when it’s Summer and you can do stuff outside and there’s just generally more going on, but I would have been happy with two or three weeks. After New Year’s, everything just kinda drops off. I’ve been out most every night doing something or another, but some of the nights it seemed like there was just nothing to do. I spent many a night driving around aimlessly, blasting (and singing to of course) XM, but even that, after a while, starts to get old. It’s amazing how, despite being very commercially-populated, there’s nothing to do in Short Pump (and the traffic, wow- I have a post about that coming up soon). I guess that’s why me and my friends have ended up downtown a lot of nights. But even that’s lacking the luster it had at the beginning of break. I guess what I’m saying is I’m just ready for a routine to set back in (yeah, I know, that will probably change a week into classes).

One thing I wanted to touch on that came to me recently (and please comment and let me know if you’ve experienced this, too) is how freaking difficult it is to make plans with friends sometimes. First off, as I alluded to in a previous post last week, I have a very diverse group of friends, spanning college and high school and from all walks of life. It’s very interesting to see how they mesh well together sometimes, but other times they won’t even give each other a chance. I’ve had many a night’s plan fall through because certain people don’t want to hang out with other people, sometimes when they haven’t even met before. Nothing ever turns out like you think it will, either. One person can be ten minutes late meeting you somewhere and before you know it the whole night’s gone awry and someone’s angry.

Anyway, as break comes to a close and I start my second semester at VCU, I look forward to some quieter nights and want to solely focus on school (in some ways I put it second or third last semester and that’s not ever going to happen again because I’ve come to some realizations and now I’m completely self-motivated to do well this semester). It’s back to classes, long nights in the library, and lunch and dinner at Shafer with Jen.

By the way, Jen, if you’re reading this, I know I say stuff like this all the time, but sometimes I don’t know where I’d be without you. You’re more than my best friend, you’re the staple that holds my day together sometimes. Not only have I had days when you’re the only good thing that happens to me, but it’s just the fact that you’re pretty much the only constant in my life. People come and go and things change, but you’re always there to talk and laugh with, and you give me a swift kick in the pants and straighten me out when I need it. For all that, I truly love you more than you know.

Well, I think I’ve rambled enough. It’s two in the morning, anyway. Overall it’s been a good break, and now I’m ready to work hard and achieve all that I know I’m capable of.

Short Pump Town Center To Get Hotel

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You’ve probably seen that huge crane overshadowing Short Pump Town Center (on the back side adjacent to Dick’s Sporting Goods) for a week or two now and might have wondered what’s going on. I did a little digging and found out that a six-story Hotel Sierra is being constructed. I guess mall management wasn’t lying when they said this is a regional mall that draws from all over the state; so much so that people will stay overnight after shopping. It seems a little out of place, but looks very nice architecturally. Kudos to the construction crews for starting work the week before Christmas, by the way. Half of the back entrance parking is blocked off by concrete barricades and chain-link fencing and the already overflowing parking lot that time of year was twice as horrendous. You’d think they’d just wait until around now, after holiday traffic has subsided.

Hotel Sierra (who recently changed their name from Sierra Suites to their current one) is a small chain of hotels priding themselves on “comfortable luxury, inspired design, and fresh service.” The hotel is scheduled to open in Spring 2009. I’ll be interested to see how they do at the mall.

West Chase House Fire

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This house, in the West Chase subdivision just outside of Wyndham, caught on fire Monday evening. Although the woman who lived there was badly burned (after safely escaping she went back in her burning house to save the family pet), there is an amazing story behind who pulled her out. This story just reaffirms my belief that there are no coincidences in life. Everything happens for a reason. A friend of mine, Rachel Rainer, took the photo at the left that ended up in the paper. Article via the Richmond Times-Dispatch (more photos from me follow the article at the bottom).

Two Henrico County advertising executives have emerged as the Samaritans who dashed into the burning inferno of a home to try to save a woman’s life Monday night.

“Thinking about it now, it all seems like a dream. I’d never in all my life pictured myself in this sort of life-and-death situation,” said Barry Martin, the first man inside a fully engaged house fire in the 12100 block of Jamieson Place in Henrico’s Wyndham subdivision. “I never knew I had it in me.”

The victim, career nurse Jo Ann Casazza, remained in critical condition this morning in the burn unit of VCU Medical Center, in a medically induced coma.

The fate of Casazza now hinges on the skill of the doctors and nurses at the burn unit — and perhaps on a higher power.

It’s a belief in that higher power that her rescuers discovered they held in common.

Martin, founder of The Idea Center advertising agency, and Brian Gordon, who works at The Martin Agency, had never met until Monday.

Martin had set out that night with his 9-year-old daughter Mira to put his family dog down, Buddy. Gordon was just looking for a good place to have dinner with his girlfriend.

Martin and daughter Mira stopped to pray at the family church, Mount Vernon Baptist, after the dog succumbed, and set out for home. Gordon, stumped for a dining spot, paused at a Nuckols Road intersection, wondering whether he should turn right or left.

Then Mira saw a throbbing orange glow of light from the house fire. Gordon saw the image at the same time and the two vehicles changed direction and headed together to the light source.

On the lawn of the Casazza home, a crying girl and a screaming, petite woman, Casazza’s mother, were the picture of abandonment and lost hope.

“We heard that the woman had been safe but ran back in to save a family pet,” Martin said. “It was a very strange feeling after Buddy.”

Martin frantically tried to call 911 but misdialed, at first hitting 411. It was about 7:30 p.m. He had been thinking about how to pull himself out of the despair from the lost pet only to be suddenly confronted by another life-and-death situation on a grander scale.

“I just ran into the house. The front door was the only opening, and black smoke was just pouring out.”

Inside, the victim presented a daunting challenge.

Casazza was literally burning up before his eyes.

She was large, and “her skin was literally fused to a rug in the foyer,” Martin said.

When he pulled on her wrists, “the skin just pulled off. It was a gruesome thing to see.”

Suddenly, Gordon burst into the home and together the two men pulled the woman free of the house on the rug, dragging Casazza all the way to the street.

“I will never forget the people who had gathered there, and this terribly burned woman in the middle of the street on a rug with just terrible, terrible burns,” Martin said.

“I tried to comfort her: ‘Have faith. God is with you and you are going to be all right,'” he said.

“Do you mean it? Do you mean it?” Casazza answered.

Martin said he heard Casazza to describe how the family Christmas tree may have ignited. And then she was gone, carried to the hospital by rescue workers.

For more on this story, see tomorrow’s Times-Dispatch.

Restaurant Review – Fast Eddie’s Jukebox Cafe

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I had the opportunity to check out Fast Eddie’s Jukebox Cafe last night with Allie. It’s located on Broad Street in Centerville (somewhat across from Bogey’s Sports Park). It’s basically an old house converted into a restaurant. It’s had a bunch of other names in the past few years, such as The Bungalow Grill, Diner 250, and most recently, Grandpa Eddie’s BBQ. The last time I went it was The Bungalow Grill. I’m not sure if the place has changed hands or not, but I couldn’t believe how much better it was. The first thing I noticed was the friendly staff. We were greeted and seated by the very friendly owner, and our waitress was one of the nicest I’ve encountered in a long, long time. The next thing was the decor. The place has been totally redone and looks like an old-time diner. It’s a small place, but still open and inviting.

One unique thing about Fast Eddie’s is what they serve before the meal. While most places will bring out rolls or some other kind of bread, they serve you a basket of buttered popcorn! Very unusual, but what a cool idea. It was a little too salty, but props for the uniqueness. Allie and I both started with a cup of chicken noodle soup. There’s nothing better on one of the coldest days of Winter. I ordered meatloaf for my entree. This had to be the best meatloaf I think I’ve had in years. It was encrusted in what I think was brown sugar, giving it just a hint of sweetness. The macaroni and cheese was delectable, and the green beans were seasoned to perfection. Allie got a chop steak covered in gravy much in the style of Salisbury steak and enjoyed her meal as well.

The bill was pretty reasonable for all the food we ordered, coming out to about $15 a person for soup, entrees, sides, and drinks. The portions are pretty generous, too. I love places like Fast Eddie’s because all I ever go to is chain restaurants with cookie-cutter menus, less than friendly staff, and mediocre service. All three were extraordinary here. If you’re looking for something different and unique in the Short Pump area and would appreciate some home-style cooking and friendly service, definitely check out Fast Eddie’s Jukebox Cafe.

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Short Pump House Demolition

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Everyone remember the house across from Barnes & Noble on Broad Street? It was the last one on that stretch of road in Short Pump. Well, the owner, Raymond Haithcock, decided it was time to move on, and is leasing the land for a new development. I don’t know what it is, but I love seeing heavy machinery tear things down. I was able to capture the entire house demolition start to finish, on September 13. I just now figured out how to export the file to fit on YouTube. I had two cameras, one in hand used to walk around the perimeter of the house as it was being demolished and capture it from different angles, and one fixed in the median of Broad Street on a tripod to get a time-lapse shot of the entire thing (shown at the end). The video is set to Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer,” quite appropriately. I love this stuff. I hope you have as much fun watching it as I did making it!