Tag

school

Textbook Ripoff: Part Deux

By rants, sarcasm

It’s the end of the semester, and you know what that means: It’s time to get screwed over by the VCU Bookstore! So I spent $400 on textbooks back in January. Today I went down to VCU and got a whopping $13.50 back in resale value. Half of my books wouldn’t be taken back because they’re proprietary, custom VCU books that have no value once used because they change every year. I have a big problem with that. That’s just ridiculous. I spent more money than that on cheese pies yesterday at the Lebanese Food Festival. I probably spent more than that getting my Xterra down there to the VCU Bookstore and back. Textbooks are a royal ripoff. Students such as myself are getting nothing short of scammed. It’s infuriating.

Recent Questions, Ponderings, Discoveries, & Thoughts

By life

I’ve been doing a whole lot of deep thinking lately, especially yesterday. I could write a full-fledged post on each topic, and I might do that with some of these at a later date, but I just wanted to share what’s been running through my head over the past week or so. These are all randomly-ordered questions, ponderings, discoveries, and thoughts I’ve had.

– You can’t change other people. You can only change yourself and be a positive example for others to follow.

– When you put God at the center of your life, everything else just falls into place exactly the way it’s supposed to.

– If you try to do too many things at once you won’t get anything done at all. Focusing on one thing will get you a lot farther.

– Why is it that practically everyone I know is in a relationship now, and all over the course of the past month?

– I’ll be getting to that point in a few years when everyone I know is starting to get married, and man, that seems unreal. When did I get to this age?

– I’ll be twenty in July? Twenty? Two decades down. Wow.

– I finally know exactly what I want and that I am once again ready to be in a relationship.

– Am I only good enough to talk to or does she (come on you didn’t think you were actually gonna get a name, did you?) actually want something more with me?

– Why am I always second best, and how do I change that?

– Sushi from the VCU Commons is great at the beginning of the week, but practically a biohazard by Friday.

– I need to nail down what I’m doing this Summer job-wise, and really soon.

– I need to decide on my major for sure by next Fall. Graphic Design, Mass Communications, Film, or Business?

– The old saying is absolutely right: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

– Running is a great stress reliever.

– Change is constant and life is fluid.

– There are two options: Get in the game or be left behind.

– I need to spend less money on eating out, and that would also help me with my goal of getting in shape.

– I’ve got an incredible group of friends who are more supportive, caring, and genuine than anyone else I’ve ever been around in my life.

– I need to stop making this list and go get ready to head to VCU for my second-to-the-last day of classes.

Glad I got all that out. I feel a lot better now! Comment and share your thoughts.

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):

The 2008 Deep Run Marathon Dance Raises $105,931.81 For Local Organizations!

By Uncategorized

I still can’t believe just how much money was raised at this year’s Deep Run Marathon Dance. $105,931.81! I headed up the Film Crew this year and had so much fun filming throughout the duration of the 27 hour dance. I’ll talk more about how that went in a moment. But I made an opening video to get everyone pumped, including a pep talk from the movie Miracle, that was shown before the dance started, then had a closing video at the end that included interviews with leaders from all ten of the benefiting organizations, video footage from the dance, and a dramatic grand total at the end.

I was kind of on the edge of my seat at the closing ceremony because it had taken me eight hours to compile and edit the closing video and I didn’t even have time to render a DVD. So I basically just played an AVI that I exported to my computer and held my breath hoping my Mac wouldn’t freeze while playing it. It was a huge 2.5 GB file, so I had plenty reason to worry. Fortunately it didn’t freeze and I think it turned out pretty good. I had been up for just about 40 hours straight by the time I finished it, so I also wondered if I had made any big editing mistakes based on the fact that I was so mentally tired I didn’t know what I was doing. No one had even seen the video but me until I presented it to hundreds and hundreds of people at the closing ceremony. But there again, it turned out pretty good I think. Both videos will be posted later today and will be accessible here, on my YouTube page, and Facebook.

I was on the fence about whether to do this on an annual basis, but after doing this for my second year in a row and seeing the energy, enthusiasm, and huge benefit of this dance, there’s no question that I’ll do this again every year. It was so liberating to be able to head up my own video project and manage five other people who filmed the dance this year. I usually work under other people and have less creative control. It was great for once to be able to have the final say in what was produced and call all the shots, with no one to tell me otherwise. Because of that, I was a lot less frustrated and more motivated to produce a great end result. It was an amazing feeling (and that’s not a knock on anyone I normally work with, because they do great work; it was just a big thing for me personally). It was also cool to be recognized for once and I was honored to be so warmly received at the end.

Some have said that I should focus even more time on other video production efforts instead of doing this, but I would argue that it’s something that I’m really proud to be a part of and have so much fun doing it because of the role I’m given to creatively produce something really exciting and unique. Plus the end result is amazing. An event that raises almost $106,000 for charity is something really spectacular to be a part of. I may even consider taking on other projects and helping out other charitable causes around the area at their respective events because I found working with the Deep Run Marathon Dance to be very impacting and rewarding. It was just incredible.

40-Hour Fiasco

By Uncategorized

I’ve pretty much been up since 7:00 AM Friday and have been at the 27 hour Deep Run Marathon Dance up until now. That makes for a grand total of 40 hours awake, moreless. I don’t feel a thing… yet. I bet tomorrow it’ll hit me like a ton of bricks. I will post the opening and closing videos I made for the dance tomorrow once I figure out how to squish 3 GB files into a 100 MB maximum YouTube upload. Anyway, it was an incredible experience and I’ll write much, much more about it tomorrow!

Questioning My Own Existence

By Uncategorized

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

By Uncategorized

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:

Time Management

By Uncategorized

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.

Considering My College Options

By Uncategorized

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.

West Virginia Considering Giving Middle Schoolers Rifles?

By Uncategorized

You’ve got to be kidding me. With all the issues with kids bringing guns to school, they’re doing this? West Virginia wants to bring back hunting education in their middle schools. Yeah, okay. That’s just a wonderful idea! The supporters of the plan below say that they would teach kids other things besides hunting skills, such as how to whittle a stick, apparently, claiming that that’s something today’s youth need to know how to do. Absolutely vital! Shoot, the last stick I whittled was a pencil. And that was years ago before I had mechanical pencils. And it was with an electric pencil sharpener, too. Anyway, the whole reason they’re considering bringing this back is because there’s a declining number of people in West Virginia getting hunting licenses. Anyone ever consider that’s because, on the contrary, there’s an increasing number of cars on the road these days and there’s more roadkill than ever? That’s the West Virginia equivalent of going to a butcher shop. Why kill the cow when you can select the best cut of meat and cook it right on up? Wait, I didn’t say that, did I?

A bill introduced by a Wyoming County [West Virginia] senator could bring hunter education back to the state’s middle schools.

“It’s about time,” said hunter-education instructor Don Shumake. “I got a big smile on my face and clipped it out of the newspaper.”

Children would be instructed in everything from survival skills to gun safety, but the guns would either have dummy ammunition or be disabled. Sen. Billy Wayne Bailey, who introduced the bill, doesn’t envision West Virginia’s middle-school students firing real guns during class time.

Hunter education in schools in nothing new. The program’s roots are in West Virginia middle schools.

The course teaches the dangers of guns and the respect one must show a firearm, it also teaches boating safety, has an extensive hypothermia section and first aid, including bleeding and respiratory management. Children also learn survival skills.

Hunter education is especially important since many children don’t receive such instruction at home, Shumake said.

“People donát have somebody to show you that when you cut a stick, you cut away from you and other life lessons,” he said. “They are getting more than just a shooting education. They learn about firearms, it’s not fair not offer it to children who really want to understand. I would rather see them look back and say `boy, I’m glad I had that class,’ instead of saying `boy, I wish I knew what I could have done.'”

Superintendent Bill Niday said some hunting classes have been taught in Wood County Schools, though they have always been optional for student participation.

“I can remember at times the Department of Natural Resources have done some classes in the schools,” he said. “I know that some physical education and health classes have touched on aspects of that. At Parkersburg South High School, part of their physical education program is archery.”

Niday said as long as such courses are left up to the discretion of administrators and students, there shouldn’t be an issue.

“If schools have a need, I don’t see a problem,” he said, “but I would hate to see that become a mandatory part of the curriculum.”

Shumake said the program would lighten the load of hunter-education classes. Those classes held in the fall, especially just before deer season in November, fill up rapidly and those who wait to long to enroll will likely miss that year’s deer season. The state requires anyone born after Jan. 1, 1975, to complete the course before buying a hunting license.

West Virginia, where roughly 320,000 people participated in the gun season for bucks, may be the only state in the country contemplating such a bill, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Hunting is a huge part of life in West Virginia, but, mirroring a national trend, the number of hunters buying permits has been declining for years.

The state sold 154,763 hunting permits to residents in 2006, according to the Division of Natural Resources, a 17 percent drop from 1997. Although West Virginia still ranks in the top six nationally for sales of nonresident permits, the decline is being felt at the state Capitol.

Nationally, the number of hunters 16 and older stands at roughly 12.5 million, a decline of 10 percent from 1996 to 2006, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.