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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.

Snow Day Squabbling

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So this kid in Fairfax just to our north called up a school board member recently and left a message asking if there was school or if it was canceled because of snow. His wife then called back and left a mean and nasty message for him. It’ll be interesting to see if any disciplinary action will be taken against him simply because of his wife’s actions. Someone took the phone call and animated it. Pretty funny, but wow, what an angry message!

First Week Reflections

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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.

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.

One Semester Down, Changes For The Next

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So my first semester as a college student was officially over last night after I took my history final. I think I did pretty well on my exams, but I know I still could have done better in terms of grades. Not horrible, but I had a lot on my plate between adjusting to college, working at church, and having a part-time job. I’m going to seriously consider the effect working has on school before I decide where I’m going to work next semester. I need to pick a place with flexible hours and good pay (so I can work fewer hours but make the same amount of money as I would in an average-paying job- does that sentence even make sense?).

Anyway, I’ve come to realize several things this semester. Not having much time to do anything besides what I mentioned above, I realized just how much I value free time. I got so burnt out that once I took a week off, such as I did from the church, I not only saw all of the stuff I had neglected to do for months and decided to get it done, but I also decided to catch up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while and just chill out. Moreover, what I really realized was that I just want to live a little and be a college student. I have the rest of my life to slave away at work (well hopefully I’ll be doing something I like), so I want to live it up while I can. I’m going to seriously consider changing a lot of things next semester.

First off, not seeing many of my friends nearly as often as I did before has caused that area of my life to suffer, and I’m not willing to let that happen. Friendships are an integral part of life and with schedule conflicts caused by all that I did last semester, I lost touch with some people that I’ve been friends with for years.Secondly, I don’t even do anything with several hobbies I had before. I have run a local history website (that I haven’t updated in a year) since 2001. This is the first time I’ve let that slip in seven years. I also have a history exhibition out at Field Day of the Past that I’ve done since 2002. This was the first year I didn’t set up my display because it’s a huge undertaking (the displays take up the whole tailgate area of my Xterra from floor to ceiling) and I just didn’t have the energy after the week I had.

There are plenty more things I haven’t had the time or extra energy to do, like writing, doing some graphic design and video projects I’ve wanted to, and on top of everything else I’m not going to let my school work suffer anymore either. To quote the lyrics of a song by Bruce Hornsby, next semester “there’s gonna be some changes made.” I’ve got to balance things out more. I’m amazed I’ve even kept my blog updated on an (almost) daily basis.

Wawa’s Pesky “Mosquito”

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So I stopped at Wawa on Staples Mill Road Sunday night to get some gas and one of their really good chocolate chip muffins on the way home from VCU. As I stood there pumping gas, I noticed this awful pulsating, high-frequency tone that sounded like it was coming from the gas pumps. I had been listening to my iPod in the library while I studied for a good few hours, so I thought maybe my ears were ringing from prolonged music-listening. So I went inside to get my muffin, and when I came back, I heard it again. I looked around, and sure enough, there were two small white transmitters (pictured) emitting the tone, mounted to the underside of the metal roof over the gas pumps.

What are the purpose of these, you ask? Well a couple of years ago, the owner of a small retail store in the United Kingdom got tired of teenagers loitering around his shop and causing trouble. He realized that people’s ability to hear extremely high-pitched sounds decreases with age, and patented a device that emits an irritating sound that most people over the age of 25 or 30 can’t hear.

Apparently this technology has come “across the pond” as they say, and has landed at the neighborhood Wawa. I’ll be the first to tell you it works. It was so irritating that I don’t think I’ll be back to buy gas there unless I’m trailing in on fumes with no other gas stations in sight. That particular Wawa doesn’t really seem to be a hangout spot like some others I’ve seen, so I don’t really understand the need. The only thing I think they’re accomplishing is losing the business of legitimate, paying customers such as myself.

The relentless cat and mouse game between adults and youth goes on, though. Teenagers have hijacked the tone, turning the sound into a ringtone that can be used to be alerted to phone calls and text messages while in school. Teachers, usually over the age of 23 or 30, can’t hear the tone. Pure genius. I knew of several people who frequently used this tone in high school last year. Ready to take the “are you old” test? here’s the tone. See if you can hear it! Click here.