Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Tidings .

Alleluia He is risen, He is risen indeed! For those more secular folk out there, that's the main concept behind this whole Easter shindig. This morning I dragged myself out of bed around 6am (after hitting snooze 4 or 5 times I might add) and got dressed quickly to get myself to 7am mass. It was early, earlier than usual (they were fitting in four services instead of the usual three) but it was nice to get up and at 'em early. While I've been in college, I've never done anything really spectacular with the Easter holiday, mainly because it never seems to align with our Spring Break. I'm okay with that though, as long as I remind myself the real reason behind the joy.

However, I think even more important is the fact that we remember all the people that have to continue with their daily lives, and can't spend the holiday with their families. I went out with a friend for dinner tonight to just have a chat about life and talk about graduation and some other things. We went to Waffle House, a southern staple that prides itself on being open 24 hours, 7 days a week, even on holidays. And so when we walked in, we were only two of four in the entire restaurant, minus the staff. And while I'm sure they get paid time and a half to work, I still feel for them that they don't have a hiatus, they don't have reprieve from the monotony of their daily job.

That being said, as you finish up your Easter holiday, send up a prayer for those that can't spend time with their families today, for those who have to fight paycheck to paycheck to keep going, and for those who just can't afford to time for leisure or a break from their job. It isn't fair, and yet they approach it with such grace. Our server today was still so pleasant, kind, and really took care of us. It's all about the little things sometimes.

Here's to hoping you all had a great holiday, whether you celebrate or not.

Role Models .

As kids, many develop heroes in their lives. It could be a professional athlete, a family member, a teacher. But the coolest thing is when you end up meeting someone much later in life that you just really click with, see eye to eye on, and feel so comfortable opening up every aspect of your life to. I went on a medium length road ride with a good friend of mine, and I had forgotten how nice it was to have what my girlfriend and I would call a life talk with him. After living with him for the entirety of last year, we were never more than about 20 feet apart from each other and while we spent considerable amounts of time doing our own thing, always spent some time debating life.

Today, we touched on relationships, values and morals, the struggles of long distance (both in friendships and relationships), and even acknowledged the fact that it's going to be weird not seeing each other all the time in studio. Even now, we regularly wander over to each others' desks to see what's going on in each others' respective projects, despite being in different studio sections. Having known this friend since the very beginning of my Freshman year, we have had the opportunity for our friendship and grow over the years, from the complete unknown, to acquaintance, to some of the best friends in our repertoire.

But the thing I value most about this guy is how much of a role model he is for me. He has always included me in his life, inspired me in his dedication to his cycling career (he's a professional), never complained about having to ride slower when we ride together because I'm not a pro, and even given me rides to and from the airport (which is about 2 hours round trip, a pretty big deal). Upon telling him today I had pretty much decided where I was going for grad school, he answered without a moment's thought that we'd have to get together sometime so he could buy me a drink. Zero hesitation!

I think these types of people entire our lives for very specific reasons. It's because we are not acting to our full potential, and yet we can be. At a time in my life when I am about to move onto the next big step, it's important not only to remember who I am, but who I want to be, and how I want to introduce myself to others. And so it might behoove some of us to take a moment and write down all the qualities that we want to be -- and then honestly compare them with the ones that we actually are. Acknowledgement of our shortcomings can lead to leaps and bounds in our growth.

This idea actually reminds me of a book called Many Lives, Many Masters. It can be found in that New Era Religion section of B&N, but was recommended to me by a coworker years ago and it's one of my favorite books. The concept is that a spirit or soul goes through many levels of lives -- but that we not allowed to move on to the next life until we learn what we are supposed to in the current life. Each lesson is governed by a different master, who is there to help you and guide you along the way. I love this idea and though it does not align with my religious beliefs, it's still something neat to keep in mind.

At some point, we may change positions from being the imitator to the teacher. If you become the role model, remember that you actually have a responsibility to emulate those characteristics which will inspire and motivate. One of my goals is to be a role model for what I believe in and always stick to my guns, no matter what other people might think. What about you?

Sharing Your Toys .

I don't know about your childhood, but when I was a kid, around the pre-K and Kindergarten age, I actually used to share toys. Granted there was always stuff at school that was the school's property and that was pretty much game for everyone, but there was also stuff that people either brought to school for show-and-tell or sometimes things that they just brought for kicks. Either way, I certainly remember even borrowing and bringing home other kids' toys for awhile, before bringing them back.

What if it were like that today? By my age and beyond, most people don't really like sharing things. If we're being totally honest, I'll pretend I don't have extra pens if you ask because I've given so many out and ended up never getting them back (or worse, I do get them back and discover you've been chewing on them for the past three hours... gross; buy your own pens). Most people are so protective of their personal belongings that they won't let them out of their sight!

Would you let someone borrow your phone for a day? Laptop? Car?

Short aside for the car issue. Sophomore year I was going on a first date with a girl, and back then I was not privileged enough to have my own set of wheels. One of my roommates at the time, without even thinking, offered me his. It was a manual, and I had only driven manual vehicles at work before (that were not cars) and even after me telling him that, he shrugged and told me that if it were him he'd want to be able to pick up the girl and take her out. I don't know if I've ever told him how much that meant, but it did and had a lasting impression on me. As I'm living with him again this year (after being abroad last year) we have swapped cars before so we could do things like bring his boat down to Clemson and such. Though we've only known each other for three years, we have an impeccable bond of trust between us. I value that.

I think we are all really concerned with losing what we have earned and worked so hard for. Especially when the price tags on our "toys" begin to exponentially increase, it gets harder and harder to let it out of your reach and into someone else's. The interesting thing though, is that this sort of distrust of society developed. Naturally, when we were young we didn't know any better, and were happy to oblige to let our favorite toys visit another's home. However somewhere along the way, that mantra changed, only to be replaced by the current cynical and skeptical me.

Today, if someone needs your help, give them the benefit of the doubt, and let them borrow what they may need (even if that something is your time). While the saying "sharing is caring" is cheesy, it actually "can beeeeee, fun."

Friday, March 29, 2013

Draw My Life .

If any of you peruse Youtube often, you are sure to have come across an energetic (and slightly crazy) named Jenna Marbles. I've been following her videos for almost three years now, and every single one is awesome, not to mention that even the description she writes is equally as entertaining!!

It's hard to remember sometimes that the people who entertain us daily on Youtube are real people too. They go to the supermarket, they pay bills, they have their hearts broken and sometimes they just feel lost and confused. Recently (possible yesterday, I'm not sure when the video was posted) Jenna posted a video called Draw My Life. In the video she explains about her entire life up until the present, and does it through pictures with a narration. It's a really cool idea, and honestly must have taken forever to actually put together.

At one point, she talks about how she got involved with Youtube, and after meeting all the people who lived on the other side of the country in LA, saved up enough money to move out there with her boyfriend at the time, Max. But recently, Jenna and Max's relationship unfortunately came to an end. By this point in the video, this is about the fourth or fifth time Jenna has mentioned that things got really hard, and was sad.

For this next part, I just need to quote the video. I can't say that in any better words than she did.

I quote: "As you guys know, Max and I broke up about four months ago. It was really sad, and it's been really hard. 'Cause I don't really know anyone here. But life is complicated and you never know what's gonna happen but, if it's meant to be it'll be, and if it's not, it won't. But, now I'm sad Jenna again and I don't know what I'm doing and I think if I had it all figured out I would be doing something wrong because I think it makes it so that you can't grow. You have to be confused in life or else you won't grow. All I know is that Youtube makes me really happy. And all of you make me really happy.  And without your love and support I would be lost."

The maturity and honesty in this video is awesome. It's things like this that show a person's true character, what they're really like, that they struggle too and they go through difficult times and that even when you feel like you can't go on that there is always another tomorrow for you and another door, and that the hard things makes you a better person and help you grow. It's life.

Here's my two cents, because I'm a thinker and I like thinking about that stuff. I wrote this in a note on my phone this morning after watching the vid: Life isn't about what's fair and what's not. It's about finding something meaningful to you and someone that you love and sticking with it through everything and anything, following your dreams and not losing the passion for what you love and who you care for. There will always be challenges, there will always be mistakes, and you will get hurt sometimes. It's the ability to pick yourself back up and keep going that makes it all worth it.

Video below, definitely worth a watch. Skip to 6:30 to see the part I'm talking about:

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Tips for Up and Coming Bloggers .

So you've just started your blog and you are already finding that you are struggling to think of what to write about. However, you really think blogging would be a cool venture and you want to continue writing. Well I'm glad that you found this post, because I'm going to help you out!

For a lot of people that start blogging, they are not used to sharing their thoughts on the internet in such an extended fashion. While I would venture a guess that most people in their 20's and 30's these days have either a Facebook, a Twitter or both, the tidbits of information shared there are far from the content and thought needed for a blog post. Let's be honest, you can't really write a substantial amount about what sandwich you're eating for lunch (...or can you? challenge anyone?).

Most people sit down at their computer, trying to think about what to write about, and draw blanks. Hell, I still do that a lot of the time and I've been blogging for several years. The key to it all is harnessing the inspiration when it hits you. Now most of us have a relatively demanding schedule and that means that we can't DEAB -- that is Drop Everything And Blog (haha, anybody remember DEAR? Drop Everything And Read in grade school??). So find a way to write down a few quick notes or tidbits so that you can write about it later. I use sticky notes on my computer, written notes on my class notebooks, texts to myself, whatever fits your fancy, is quick and convenient.

Now I know a few people that, when starting a blog, say "Oh, I'm going to get myself on a blogging schedule.." While it's nice to have little reminders for yourself to write down your thoughts, it should be noted that there is no requirement on how much or how often you have to blog. No one is going to judge you if you don't post often, though they may very well implore you to write more often because they enjoy reading about your life! I write every day, but that's because I actually create books out of my blog posts. That way in years to come, I'll literally have an entire volumed set of my life on paper. Pretty cool; I like keeping up with that. It'll be an amazing thing for my kids to read one day, if I have kids. And if not, I can always revisit that later.

If you're struggling with inspiration, just turn the lights off and try to go to bed early. I have so many things flying around my head when I'm trying to sleep it's not even funny, which is usually why I write before I go to sleep.

And most of all? Read other people's blogs. You'll find that not only do you make a lot of connections that turn into great friends, motivators and encouragers and people you can share your success and sadness alike with, but also they will become people that you can draw inspiration from.

There's no need to force yourself to do anything. It's no secret that blogging is not for everything, just as vlogging and Youtube videos are not for everyone. Just look inside yourself and listen really hard to hear your inner dialogue. Believe me, your brain is a lot more active with all these random thoughts than you might think. I hope that if someone is contemplating starting a blog, that this encourages you to get started! And remember, if you really hate it? You can always stop writing! It shouldn't be a chore; it should be something enjoyable, rewarding and exciting! Happy blogging!

**If you know of friends who are looking for a few pointers to get started feel free to forward them to this post!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

On Overthinking .

I'm going to be really vague here for a moment... Just not comfortable sharing exactly what's on my mind yet, partially because I haven't really figured it out myself. So just bear with me, and I'm sorry if this post is a load of crap to you.

There are a lot of times that I totally overthink things. I've always been a worrier, and sometimes when you get that unsettling feeling in your stomach, your mind drives you crazy. Being more of an introvert, I don't talk as much, and I think a lot. In fact, I could probably write a book about all the things I think about in depth on a daily basis. And so lately, I've begun to think about a few specific things more than others. And I noticed those smallest changes that might pass by unnoticed by others. And naturally at that point I get to thinking -- and wondering what happened and what they mean and what it means for me. I do my best to stay positive and hopeful that I am just tricking myself, that I am just being ridiculous, though a few times in the past my over-thoughts have become a reality, and the fact that my neurotic brain's concoctions have even come to life once is unsettling in and of itself. And so for now I stay silent and pray for the best. I do know that no matter what, I won't be dealt anything in life that I can't handle. Sometimes that's hard to accept, as some things will always feel impossible.

Given that a lot of people who blog are introverts, have you guys ever been here? Letting your mind trick you into worrying about something when it's probably really no threat at all? Well today my worry has consumed me and I have felt unable to focus on pretty much anything.

I guess tomorrow is another day and I'll just have to see how that one fares. Asking for prayers, though, friends.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Maybe Meant to Be .

Tonight I got a random call from an unknown number. Now, normally I completely ignore these, assuming they're telemarketers, or people from the Blood Connection chasing after my blood again. Though, for whatever reason I just picked up the phone, despite the odd 514 area code.

As it turns out, it was a professor from the University of Oregon, calling just to see how I was doing, and ask if I had any questions about the program. I was truly touched by the gesture -- and it made it really feel like Oregon is definitely the place to go for me! As I've begun looking at apartments, I have really been getting excited about the possibilities there.

Over the phone I discovered that he had grown up in New York, and worked in NYC for quite some time. We shared a chuckle over the differences in culture around the different parts of the country, and again over an article on ArchDaily about people who put trees on their skyscrapers. Though I am not normally a person who enjoys talking over the phone, it felt really easy, and as I asked about the program in Portland, job opportunities, and living situations in Eugene, I definitely felt at ease. I'm excited at the possibilities at the University of Oregon, and it'll be great when I make all my decisions for sure.

A school and program that takes the time to call each one of their accepted students personally and ask if they need anything else to aid in their decision? Count me in.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Getting on Track .

I am determined to get on track for the rest of the semester. I took a little bit of time tonight to make myself a schedule that I can fill in each day. My Dad always used to rag on me to make schedules, and you'll know exactly where your time goes. You'll also begin to figure out exactly how much time things really take up. Unfortunately, I can't really leave myself a ton of time for fun stuff, but I still fit in things like checking blogs and writing on my own. There is job stuff to do and studio stuff to do and perhaps I'll end up sacrificing some sleep for it. But the important thing is, I'll know exactly where I'm spending my time, and where I should spend my time. If I can keep myself on track, focused, diligent, and efficient, I can do great things. Easier said than done, but I'm feeling motivated and positive.

By the way, a buddy of mine just started a blog, and I have a feeling it's going to be a good one. Figured some of you avid blog friends of mine might want to check it out. The name alone gets me intrigued: Inner Ramblings of a Fellow Human Being. So if you feel so inclined, go check out the first post from The Humble Gentleman.

If you're interested in my schedule template, let me know -- I'd be happy to email it to you. As for now, I'm off to bed -- with an alarm set for 530am!

Forgotten Tragedies .

Today during Palm Sunday mass during the homily the priest reminded us all to continue to pray for the families of the massacred children from Newton, Connecticut. Though this was in the news quite recently, only a few months ago, isn't is amazing how quickly the general public forgets about it?

There are some things that will never really go out of mind, things like 9.11. But for those uninvolved in the more local tragedies, society expresses their condolences for what they may deem an appropriate amount of time, whether that is through donations or otherwise, and they are more than happy to move on with their lives from that point on. Just to make note, I am totally guilty of this too!

It is far too easy to write a check, or write a letter to someone or even post something on Facebook or Twitter recognizing sadness and expressing how you feel to the world. And yet, it seems that after doing one simple little action that we have been acquitted of our responsibility to be there for those people, continue supporting them and encouraging them and sharing in the struggles. There is something very wrong with that and until today, I had never even realized it was happening.

Though it's hard to remember something when it doesn't really affect your daily life. In my case, Hurricane Sandy is something that will affect my daily life upon returning to Jersey. Many of the boardwalks that once existed along the miles of ocean in New Jersey were destroyed, washed away, or damaged. Rebuilding something like that will take years. Now, to put things in perspective, I'm even from this area, and I still have done squat to help. I had intended to volunteer in rebuilding or cleanup efforts while I was home for winter break and let it sit on the back burner the entire time, content to only tell people, "Yes, I'm planning on getting involved."

In so many cases, actions speak louder than words. If you know people suffering from some sort of tragedy in their lives, speak up and let them know you're there if they need you. Too many prayers and cries for help go unheard. Too many souls are lost in their despair, unable to dig themselves out of a hole. But if we all make just a small change in our lives, perhaps we can all lend a helping hand and get those people out of their rut.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Air Delays .

As the title of this entire blog is "Simply, Life," the topic of this post is fitting. My flight was delayed twice, and it's possible now that I might miss my connecting flight. In fact, that likelihood is that I will indeed miss it. Funny though, because I texted one of my friends, and said "it's okay, just life" in response to his condolences about my delayed flight. As of right now, I'm hoping that we can get off the ground early enough (due to the grand total of maybe 20 people who decided to stay on the flight). It is in fact possible that I could still make my second flight, and I'm praying that that is the case.

The situation is not ideal, but as I've said before, I know God would never put me in a situation that I couldn't handle. I've been up all night before, I've sat in airports before, etc. It will be a new record, though, if I spend the night in the Atlanta airport. I believe the grand total of travel time will be around 23 hours, including the drive from Charlotte back to Clemson.

And this, folks, is why we schedule flights the day before break ends, and not the day of. It's so worth it, and these are the types of things that you have to be prepared for when you book your flight in the first place. Delays are what they are, and they happen, whether due to someone's mistakes or just inclement weather. But fear not, the airline will do their best to get you to where you need to be as soon as possible. I'm staying patient, and staying positive. And I know that with both those things, I'll be home in no time.

On Vacationing pt. 2

As promised, this is going to be the second part of last night's post, On Vacationing. This part is going to focus more on my relationship and how it relates to Spring Break rather than vacationing in general, so if that sounds like something that might bore you, I'll give you a solid five seconds to switch to something more entertaining, like StumbleUpon or Youtube. Ready? (1......2......3......4......5......)

Okay for those of you still around here is a blip from last night to get you back in the right mindset:

As tonight is my last night in Florida, I can't help but be a little upset. Leaving tomorrow afternoon means not only a long day of traveling to get back home (estimated time of arrival in Clemson is 3am, after driving my truck back from the airport), but also the beginning of another countdown until I can spend time with my girlfriend again. Thankfully, we only have to wait until my graduation, which luckily she will be able to attend.

Saying goodbye each time you see each other in a long distance relationship is not fun. In fact, I think it really gets harder and harder each time. It's kinda like your mind got all excited that the two of you were reunited finally after all that waiting, and then all of a sudden you have to leave and your heart breaks again.

The distance and time apart doesn't really concern me or worry me, it's more of an annoyance. But if I look at everything with a clear mind, all it is is another challenge in our relationship that we have to overcome together -- a challenge that many others are lucky enough to not have to endure. For those of you who are anywhere under an hour's drive away from your significant other, be sure to count your blessings, for you are truly blessed. Never complain about that drive, because for us, driving is not only a forever-away option, but impractical. And if I end up going to University of Oregon next year, I will literally be on the other side of the country, separated yet again.

It's an interesting time in our lives to be dating someone. The college we attend was already picked, and I had never anticipated or planned getting involved with anyone romantically while I was at home for the summer. In fact, the number of people I still am in touch with from high school is so small that I never bother really to get together with anyone while I'm home, and so I figured there is no way in hell that I would ever have that problem. If anything, I figured I would date someone from Clemson, since  the majority of time we would be together at school. Of course, then there is always the issue of grad school and where I might go for that, and at that point I had basically just told myself that I wouldn't worry about anything until I was settled down and had a job somewhere--

--until I met Courtney. Something clicked, and as we started talking and hanging out, I found myself to be completely and totally entranced by this girl, charmed by her personality, attracted to her sense of responsibility, her maturity and her beauty. Long story short, here we are together still, almost 8 months later, still working around and in between the cracks of long distance. It's not easy, and never will be -- and I look forward to a time when we can finally close that gap and get to share our lives daily. And saying goodbye sucks. And we never take as many pictures as we should when we're together to remember the experiences we had together(I'll have to buy a camera and be a Nazi about taking pictures next time...). And as we look toward the future, as she will most likely be returning to Florida to work while I am still in grad school, well it's just hard. It's a lot to take in all at once and a lot to think about.

So, my friends, if you are involved with someone only a few towns away, or even if you're not, treasure the people in your life that you get to see every day. Treat them with the utmost respect and compassion, and extend your helping hands when they need it. Show them how much you care and remind them all the time how awesome they are, how they have positively influenced your life, and how much you value having them in your life. It will mean the world, and it's worth doing. Because I don't get to say those things in person nearly enough.

So Courtney, here's to us, and an eventual future where we don't have to say goodbye.

Friday, March 22, 2013

On Vacationing .

Vacations are simply just that: a break away from normal life. Unfortunately, all vacations must come to an end, and that means that you must return to your normal (and often much busier) life. No more sleeping in, no more lazy mornings, and that's not to say that there won't be any more fun (though let's be honest, sometimes you just can't find time to fit it in). I've found that the way a vacation works is usually as follows:

You get there on the first day, excited to be wherever you have arrived, and the time holds so much promise, as you have the entirety of your trip to go! Adventure awaits you and excitement is around the corner!

Usually the first night you totally crash into bed, dead beat because of whatever type of traveling you have done during the day. Even a few hours on a plane can make you exhausted, and just the hassle of security and waiting and whatnot.

You awake the next morning, ready to tackle all the things you had planned -- which might very well be nothing at all. Though if you're my family, you have about 8 kajillion things packed into every waking moment that we are at our destination... That's why the occasional golf trip I take with my dad is such a reprieve of a vacation, as our day consists of: wake up, play 18 holes of golf, eat lunch, sit in a hot tub, sleep, dinner, coffee, sleep again.

By the middle of your vacation, you realize that you've already blown through half of it and you ask yourself where the fuck has the time gone?! I just got here!! And you do your best to enjoy the rest of your stay, but nagging you in the back of your mind is that sinking feeling that you'll have to leave relatively soon. In fact, the only time I really haven't gotten this feeling is when I studied abroad for a semester. After arriving in Spain in August, I was so ready to go home in December, probably partially because the holidays were coming up and I was excited just to be home.

The night before your departure from your getaway, feelings can only be described as melancholy. You look back on the time you spent there, and smile at all the great memories you made, and upon realizing you're leaving tomorrow, you frown again. Why couldn't my vacation be just a little longer?

Well I'll tell you why. For the same reason that Christmas happens only once a year. For the same reason that the work week starts back up every Monday. For the same reason that school begins in September. There always has to be an end to the vacation -- or else it wouldn't be a vacation anymore, it would just be your lazy expensive life.

I usually find that by the end of the longer breaks, like summer vacation and winter break that I'm ready to go again; that while I will dread the workload and all the things that I constantly have to do come time for the school year, it'll be a nice change of pace from going to work all the time (though I have to admit, it is SO nice having a nice regular paycheck). It's great to get back to all the friends you have at school, and feel once again as though you are living life on your own. On that note.. living life on my own for real scares me a bit. But that's a topic for another post. Spring break, however, always leaves something to be desired. It's like someone started summer and then pulled April Fool's out on you. Regardless, it's great to just stop working for awhile (or at least going to class -- college kids never really have time to stop working...).

As tonight is my last night in Florida, I can't help but be a little upset. Leaving tomorrow afternoon means not only a long day of traveling to get back home (estimated time of arrival in Clemson is 3am, after driving my truck back from the airport), but also the beginning of another countdown until I can spend time with my girlfriend again. Thankfully, we only have to wait until my graduation, which luckily she will be able to attend. This post will be continued -- probably tomorrow, while I'm sitting in the airport :) Goodnight everybody.

Handling Disappointment .

Last night my roommate called me, as he is back at our house in South Carolina to hang out for the remainder of break. He told me I got mail from Oregon (the package of materials, I would assume, after being accepted) and a letter from Colorado. Colorado has been my number one since I started applying, and so I told him to go ahead and open the letter from them as I assumed that it would be a decision regarding my application.

Unfortunately, as it turns out the decision was a "no". However, despite my initial disappointment, I am still very excited for graduate school. It just so happens that when applying to my undergraduate school, Clemson was my second choice behind Notre Dame, and it has turned out great. Last night I told myself that there must have been some sort of reason; and perhaps it's because I was an out-of-stater, and as such, many state schools give in-state students higher preference. That's totally okay!

I honestly thought I would be more upset if I didn't get in. But I trust that there is a plan for me that is larger than me, and more in-depth than I'm capable of understanding right now. As many of you know, I'm a pretty religious guy, and therefore I really believe that God had some reason that he didn't want me to go to school in Colorado. As it turns out, the school's stats are quite a bit less impressive than the two I did get into (UCLA and Oregon) and as I start doing research and working toward an educated decision of acceptance, I am really starting to like Oregon and all that it and the Northwest has to offer. I would even be able to transfer to Portland for half of my time there (and maybe even all of my time) which would help me learn to design with sustainability in mind, which Clemson has really fallen short on.

While no school is perfect, all a student can do is hope for the best and try their hardest. After all, it is not where you go that makes you who you are, it's what you do and how hard you work while you're there.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Hip Hop Has Saved Me .

If you had told me in high school that by the end of college hip hop would be one of my favorite genres, I would have told you that you were crazy. Now, granted, as with any genre, I don't like everything that's out there but I've come to have a huge appreciation for a lot of the stuff that is.

I have fallen in love with the beat it provides, like a heartbeat to life. It continues to move me, motivate me, and inspire me, over and over. In the little of my spare minutes I have begun to write some raps down (though, in all honesty, lyrics are simply words and rhymes until you put them to music). I love the intricacy of the language, the complexity to beats, but also how simple it can be. You can have one beat the whole time and the song can still be amazing.

These people are the storytellers of our generation -- realists and musicians, artists and sculptors. I am so glad that my mind allowed me to be opened up to a whole new world. Hip hop has saved me.

In the Rain .

I'm quickly finding out that in Florida, much like in South Carolina, when it rains it pours! Last night we decided to make a date night and head out to Outback, one of our favorites. We started with a Bloomin' Onion (I've never had it before) and gosh I never knew what I was missing out on!

But more importantly, the weather has been pretty iffy lately. It'll be really sunny and nice, but then quickly turn sour when we want to do something; or it will be crappy in the forecast and so we don't want to risk getting caught in the rain.

There is something cool about the rain though. It's used a lot in songs, and lately one I've been listening to is See My Tears by Machine Gun Kelly: One line states, "You can't see my tears in the rain". Interesting thought, eh? The rain is so out of our control; the weather in general really is. It does what it wants -- with no regard for plans, special events, or date nights. At the same time though, rain can be really awesome: the sound of it against the windows at night, the pitter patter on the walk, the rapping against the roof of the car as you drive. Sometimes it's better to just embrace it, feel the drops on your face as you walk. Hell, once you're wet, you're wet! I don't run very much anymore, but the few times I do, I actually really enjoy running in the rain. First, you feel like a total badass, but more importantly it's just overwhelmingly refreshing.

Anyways, if a rainy day is headed your way sometime soon, don't be afraid to embrace it. And maybe this song will do wonders for you too:

Also I wanted to make it known -- for those readers out there who have always been deterred to leave a comment by the captchas, I took it off. Though in the past two days, I already have six or seven spam comments, and so I will moderate comments before they are posted. This is strictly to just avoid the spammers getting their nonsense on my page. So comment away! The lines are open.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Smart Phones Suck .

I'm going to sound like an old fart in this post, but I don't care. I hate smart phones. I've always had a "dumb phone" for my entire life, because I have seen first hand how these things affect our lives. Call me cliché but it's true when you say that these things are literally attached to people's arms; with nothing short of amputation necessary for removal. I feel like if I had one, all I would do is check emails, play games, send texts and do whatever else you do with a smart phone. In some ways, yes, it's very helpful: ordering food from your phone, checking your bank account, even depositing your checks or using the mobile scans to check in for flights. But people are consumed by them and often seem to be so much more concerned with their digital world than cultivating the personal relationships around them. It's hurtful to the receiver, rude to everyone around you, and often distracts you from many of the beauties of reality.

Think about the subway. Check out all the people sitting around on their phones, avoiding eye contact with anyone and everyone. The phone is an escape from personal interaction. And while I am sometimes guilty of this, I'd like to think that I'm much better than most. In fact, my phone has a tendency to lag a lot or turn out without reason and that actually makes me use it less (funny as that is).

Unfortunately, the smart phone world is taking over, and due to its popularity, pretty soon it will be the only phone that you can have (as it is, there aren't many phones left that aren't smart phones). Those who lack self control are consumed and can't go anywhere without it. We are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without fail. You can search for people, send pictures videos, and god forbid you're hacked, you are beyond fucked, because your whole life is on there. I remember back when we had one cell phone for the family, and that only if you were going out somewhere by yourself would you take it so that the family could call you if need be. How many of you actually have house phones in your apartment or home? I'd bet that pretty much everyone who has moved into their home or apartment in the past five years or so didn't bother getting one.

At what point does the smart phone (or hell, at this point, handheld computer) become simply imported into your body when you're born? Yeah, that's extreme, but I am just wondering what the future holds given the huge impact they have on a person's life. You can even often see groups of friends that go out together and even though they're supposedly spending time with each other, they're all on their phones. It's a sad sight, for sure. If I ever end up forced to get a smart phone, I swear I'll keep it on silent most of the time so I am not constantly sucked into that digital world, and have to relish in the things and people that are right in front of me.

Have you allowed superglue to bond you and your phone? I challenge you to take a day each week and completely ignore everything on your phone for the entire day, and not check it until tomorrow. I bet 90% of you can't do it. Let hear your experiences.


While health studies have been done to support the fact that laughter is one of the best medicines, it only takes common sense to know that laughter is one of the healthiest things that a person can do. While it generally represents the high points of the best memories, laughter is a great thing to share with friends and family, and of course leads to those awesome "you had to be there" moments.

Laughter is really interesting in its decision to come and go so quickly, though, often the more you shouldn't be laughing the harder it is to stop! Even as adults, everyone has their silliest and goofy and silly streaks, and those are the moments to truly be treasured.

When you're having the bluest of days and the most upsetting of happenings, laughter is the one thing that can really bring you out of a funk (or, in my case, the gym too..). So if you're feeling down today, listen to a comic, enjoy a special shared memory with a friend, or just read some silly things in the news. I find that one of the most hilarious things is reading the airplane safety manuals and purposefully misinterpreting them...

And if you're in a good mood, keep on keepin' on man!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Outliers: Quotes .

As promised! Here are the quotes I found absolutely incredible from this book. Enjoy! Let me know what you think!

1. Those three thing - autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward - are, most people agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying. It is not how much money we make that ultimately makes us happy between nine and five. It's whether our work fulfills us.

2. Work that fulfills those three criteria is meaningful.

3. Hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning.

4. Success is not a random act. It arises out of a predictable and powerful set of circumstances and opportunities...

5. matters where you're from, not just in terms of where you grew up or where your parents grew up, but in terms of where your great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents grew up and even where your great-great-great-grandparents grew up.

6. No one who can rise before dawn three hundred sixty days a year fails to make his family rich.

7. By the age of fie, in other words, American children are already a year behind their Asian counterparts in the most fundamental of math skills.

8. A belief in work ought to be a thing of beauty.

9. Working really hard is what successful people do....

10. We sometimes think being good at mathematics as an innate ability... it's not so much ability as attitude. You master mathematics if you're willing to try.

11. ...success follows a predictable course. It is not the brightest who succeed.

12. Outliers are those who have been given opportunities - and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.

13. To build a better world we need to replace the patchwork of lucky breaks and arbitrary advantages that today determine success - the fortunate birth dates and the happy accidents of history - with a society that provides opportunities for all.

14. The world could be so much richer than the world we have settled for.

15. Marita just needed a chance. And look at the chance she was given! Someone brought a little bit of the rice paddy to the South Bronx and explained to her the miracle of meaningful work.

So naturally, some of these quotes are taken out of context. But I hope that it inspires you to go get this book asap! One of the best reads I've had in my life, hands down.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

"Outliers" .

While sitting in the airport/riding on the plane I finished up "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell; I had brought some books with me to read because I figured it would be a lot more productive and meaningful to read rather than goof around on my laptop or simply listen to music counting the minutes (I'm also not comfortable sleeping in airports when I'm by myself, I'm too paranoid of waking up and having all my stuff gone).

In any event, I apparently read super fast because I read the entire second half or more of "Outliers" in just a few hours, and let me tell you, this book is worth every penny. It is inspiring, eye-opening, and will change your perspective on life and everything that is around you in society. It will change how you view cultural norms and the education system, and will inspire you to persevere toward your dreams... at least it did for me. I got so into it that I whipped out a pen and started underlining things that I loved (which is ridiculous for me because I'm totally one of those people that hates writing in books for fear of tainting the perfect pages in the book). I'm so exhausted at the moment from traveling all day, but one day this week I'll search back through and find all the quotes for you -- and maybe even inspire you to pick up the book for yourself.

Airports and Flight Etiquette .

While sitting in the airport today I heard this kid complaining about what he believed to be "Flight Etiquette 101". Well dude, hate to break it to you but things never work out that way, and you should just shut up. I usually just pray to the good Lord that I don't sit next to someone so large that they are overflowing into my seat, and whose arms are swallowing up mine on the armrest (and yes, that has unfortunately happened before...). It's never comfortable, and my height never allows me to stretch my legs, but flying is what it is and still gets you there in one piece, which is the important part. It sure is easier than driving, but I'm beginning to like driving more and more. I like the little rest stops and podunk towns you end up going through. Wherever I end up going to grad school (the "accepted" list has climbed to include both UCLA and Oregon) I will be driving out there because I really want my car out there with me, and naturally that will be a hell of a multi-day drive. But it's okay. I don't mind putting the miles on my truck (as long as it stays in one piece, which lately has been a struggle) and it's really interesting saying you've actually been to certain states as opposed to just flying over them. It lets you experience more, if only a little bit.

And so we've all been there through crying babies, people who stare at you while you're sitting down, people who want to tell you their life story on the plane, people who treat you like dirt, and everything under the sun that we could complain about at the airport (including waiting for your ride to get there for hours) but at the end of the day the important thing is that you got there safely and soundly, even if it was a little uncomfortable and gross. Happy travels, whenever they may be and wherever they may take you.

Spring Break 2013 .

For the entirety of my college career I have never gone somewhere warm for Spring Break. Freshman year, I puppysat for my friend and just stayed at school (which I guess is warm, given it's South Carolina, but I didn't really travel anywhere). Sophomore year I went home with my roommate Josh up to Jersey, to hang out and visit NYC and all that fun stuff. It was in the 30's and rained a few days too. Last year, I can't really remember what I did (that alone tells you how exciting it was) but I'm pretty sure I went home to work for the week.

But this year is different. After trucking through an agonizing 9 weeks apart, I am finally on my way to visit my girlfriend in Naples, Florida where she is working. 9 weeks is the longest we've been apart to date, and it was not easy. And so this time, I'll be in somewhere sunny and warm for Spring Break. I'm not really much of a beach person, and hopefully it's not too terribly hot (or humid, because I sweat uncontrollably) but I'm sure no matter what happens it will be a break from school and that's what I need most.

Pre-SB Review

This past Wednesday, I had a studio review. Ended up pulling an all-nighter for it on Tuesday, but it paid off and went well. There were some gaps on my boards, but that was to be expected (as in, I knew they were there) and when it comes down to the wire you really need to just sort of decide what you really want to spend time on and what you can push back for later. I've always been pretty decent at explaining what my project is about and how everything comes together, and that ability has truly benefitted me to the absolute maximum when it comes to grading. For those up and coming architecture students out there, take heed: explanation goes a long way.

However, my teacher did tell me that despite the gaps, that I was "on fire conceptually" and that had really thought everything out really well and explained every little bit of why it was laid out the way it was. That's really good to hear, and compliments like those are the kind of thing that drive you to do better, and fuel your aspirations and goals. And so at the end, I was finally able to focus my attention to the upcoming (much-needed) break. Just wanted you all to know that your well-wishes helped!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Crunch Time .

On Wednesday, I have a relatively large progressional review for the museum I'm designing for the city of Greenville (a studio project, not a paid professional one). I've been drawing my floor plans and have a good bit to do before Wednesday -- let's hope tomorrow yields a very productive day that enables me to sleep!

Monday, March 11, 2013

On Focus and Study .

One of the hardest things for many college students to accomplish is to be able to focus and study without distraction. In an age that includes cell phones, ipods, internet and phone games, laptops, twitter, facebook, instagram, foursquare and more (you get my gist) it is increasingly difficult to sit down and unplug yourself from all the outlets of media. Even email could be considered a huge distraction. In fact, I always have my email up and will stop whatever I'm doing to check a new email. My average response time to emails is probably about four seconds... well, maybe not that fast, but it's not unusual at all to get replies from me within a few minutes of your message being sent.

Today, though, I was able to work on things relatively diligently, and I still had time to eat lunch with some friends, and veg out and play a little video games. It certainly helped that I put on Family Guy on Netflix while I was working and doing my drawings. I got, more or less, what I wanted to get done today, at least enough to the point where I can clear my designs with my studio professor tomorrow, and that was the goal. That way I would still have Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning for models; if need be. In fact I worked so much, that I probably went through a season and a half or even two seasons of Family Guy while I worked. It's something that's fun to listen to and entertains me when I get stuck with whatever I'm working on. We are, after all, a generation of multi-tasking. I'm just glad that I pretty much kept my focus today. That bodes well for the rest of the semester, and hell, for life too!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Weather Perfection: Saturday Delight

So I know that lately I've been gushing about the mountain biking, but honestly I can't get enough. My buddy Ryan (who happens to be a professional cyclist) and I went out to Issaqueena today. It was the first really nice day in quite some time, and it was great to spend a good deal of it outside. The dirt was packed down and dry, but still damp enough to gain some serious traction. I also tried out this new portable speaker I bought specifically for biking so I could listen to some tunes while riding and it worked perfectly. Despite the large number of cars in the lot, we only saw a few people on the trails; probably because many were walking or running up and down the fire roads as opposed to the actual trails. Good thing, too, because we were moving at a pretty good clip.

With some of my other friends, I occasionally have to wait up for them just because I tend to ride quicker. With Ryan though, he moves really quickly and it's even tough for me to keep up sometimes. But this is a good thing, as it challenges me to pick my lines quicker and react on a moment's notice to the trail ahead. It really takes a lot more concentration than you might think; it amazes me how the downhillers do it all in milliseconds.

The weather couldn't have been more perfect: sunny, not a cloud in sight, in the 50's and 60's. Now that Daylight Savings time is beginning, I'm hoping to get out there riding more often! And on that note, don't forget to push your clocks forward!

On a side note, I've been realizing that what I write about is starting to sound like journal entries, and that's not really what I intended this blog to be. If you have topics you might want to hear about, or ideas of things to write about, please leave them below! I look forward to getting back to material with some real profundity.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Propane Chronicles: Part III

This morning I awoke to the sounds of a giant truck on the road. Given our dead end road that has all of about 10 homes, it could only be one thing: the propane company. They had called Josh this morning and had come to rid us of cold bundled up nights.

After he was done the guy came to the door and gave us the bill after doing a little inspection to make sure everything was working properly. There was one giant unfortunate mistake... somewhere along the line, the information had not gotten through that we only wanted / needed 100 gallons in the tank. He filled it -- 230 gallons, and a $700 dollar bill.

Now if you're thinking, "That's not bad at all for a year's worth of propane" you're right. The problem is, we move out in May, and now we have all this propane. I guess the company assumes if you run out and want a trip out there that they're going to fill it. Normally this would be the case. However, as broke college kids, a $700 dollar bill is HUGE. Especially when you have to pay rent, internet, electricity, water... (all of which adds up to about $500 a month) plus gas, food and whatever else (if you have some spare change left over you know?)

Every cent counts, and this was totally an unforeseen cost to begin with, let alone filling a tank when we only needed about 40%. But, there's nothing we can do now except scrape together money and call our parents to see if they can help us out. We've decided since we're paying for it, we might as well use it... the house is at an almost too warm 75... Live and learn!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Living Frigid .

It's day two without heat, and we're doing just fine. The hardest part is waking up in the morning when no matter where you move or how you curl yourself up, you're still cold in bed (though it certainly makes you get out of bed quicker and into some warm clothes). I stumbled upon an article today, and lo and behold, it was on people that live sans heat. That means little to nothing. No central heat, ever. Wood stove, maybe, if you're entertaining. They have come to discover that it's really all about attitude. The more you dwell on it, the worse it is. And it's not like these people live in warm tropical climates. We're talking places like New York, Pittsburgh, and other northern areas. Being from NJ, I can attest to the fact that it does indeed get pretty cold up there...

Makes me feel like a snooty b though, if you catch my drift. Here we are, not wanting to deal with a 50 degree house for a few days, while others are choosing to go completely without heat. Pretty nuts! I don't have the link to the article, but I'm sure it's pretty easy to find. Would you ever willingly go without your creature comforts permanently?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Stupidity & Accidents .

Sometimes we get ourselves mixed up in accidents that are based purely on stupidity. Take, for example, my current situation. Just before winter break, we had made sure to get a propane delivery. We figured we didn't need to fill the tank, just get about 100 gallons (that's a little more than a third of our tank). Well, apparently January and February has been REALLY fucking cold, and without even realizing, we burned through all our propane. And so after calling up the company, and discovering that it would be an extra 140 bucks to get an emergency delivery, we are going to have to wait until Tuesday at the earliest to get on the regular route. Not ideal, but thankfully it's not going to be too terribly cold. However, it may make sleeping a bit uncomfortable... We'll be alright. Could be worse! On the plus side, we'll never forget to check propane again!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Asking for Help .

In time of need, we simply cannot do things alone. As a race that thrives on human interaction and interrelation, compassion and love are a necessity, in some shape or form. Emotion is difficult to explain though, and it takes time to even figure it out yourself before you fully understand it. I've had bad days before, but for some reason today just sucks more than all the rest of late. Could be lack of sleep, could be stress from projects and exams. Could be that there is just lots of things on my mind that I can't think through and can't really understand.

I'm sitting in studio and it's the last place I want to be. I feel like I need a smoke in one hand and a stiff drink in the other. When I'm distracted with something else (like working out at the gym this morning) everything is fine. But once I sit down and my mind has a moment to catch up and wander, I sink. To tune out studio for a moment, I plugged in my headphones and played some music. And then I prayed. I prayed for just some sort of feeling to remind me that I still really matter, and that I just needed God to listen to be and sit with me and be with me.

I don't know how religious of a person you are, and I don't know your beliefs, nor am I saying that there is some sort of correct way to live life and cope with issues. I don't know if you have something that you relate to having a connection with God or anything like that. Lately I've been praying to my guardian angel though, as I believe that everyone has one of these and that they are very real. The kind of being that puts thoughts in your head to avoid danger, or when you get a feeling that something just isn't right, you get this from your guardian angel, someone sworn to watch over you and protect you. I want to find a way to really be able to communicate with mine.

But anyways, as I listened to Sweet Disposition rattling through my ears, a warmth came over me. Tingles traveled all down my body and I almost shuddered. That was maybe five or ten minutes ago, and every so often I'm getting those tingles again, in smaller doses and various places all over my body. It's nice knowing that I am being protected. That when I am vulnerable, I have a shield. And it's really nice just escaping for a moment. I need it.

As my Blogger friends, thank you to those who always reach out. To those who communicate. Who humor me when I ask questions, or send emails about my problems, or send me snail mail. Thank you to those who have put themselves out there to share their stories and share a large part of themselves with their readers. You mean so much.

Interactive Companionship .

Of recent, I have been making a point to try to comment on all the posts I read. This means not only writing down some words on the post after reading through, but it means actually figuring out how it touched me, what criticisms or juxtapositions can be made, and even how I can possibly put a smile on the author's face, or raise their self-esteem a little. This is actually easier said than done... it's not always easy to figure out exactly what you're feeling. And when you lean far more towards the introverted side of the scale like me, you spend a lot of time thinking about yourself: analyzing, pondering, realizing, discovering. But just because I spend a lot of time with myself, doesn't mean I actually know what's going on in there.

Regardless, I'm attempting to try to make some new connections. And for those I already know, correspond with, and would certainly consider hanging out with for reals, I'm trying to comment more and connect better. I only have about 20 or 25 blogs I read. I find that there are many out there that just don't really click just right with me. I like lifestyle blogs, but could do without diary entries, fashion tips and makeup. I like stories, inspirational tidbits, etc. I guess most of what I really enjoy are the ones that are about life -- the ups, the downs, the successes and failures, and everything in between. It helps me feel like I'm actually getting to know someone -- and not just peeping through a limited window of what they might enjoy. The only blog I follow that is almost 100% on one topic is a mountain biking blog (fuel the addiction, you know?)

If you've been slacking on the 'feedback' aspect of your blogging career, take a moment today to tell your favorite bloggers what you think of their work. If you're just a shadow of a ghost, and don't write but read lots of blogs, make yourself known. Who knows; you might end up making a new friend.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Spring Break Countdown .

Some schools are (amazingly) already having their spring break. Perhaps Clemson is just an anomaly  just like for other holidays. Most other holidays we either have no day off at all or a shortened day or something like that. But never have we ever had a winter break that was just shy of five weeks. This year, I'll be visiting my girlfriend in Naple, FL. Let's juist say, the countdown is now under two weeks, and I'm definitely counting down the days! It'll be great to spend some time with her; by the time we see each other it will have been almost 8 months! Honestly I don't mind having a later spring break. Just means that there is less time after that before the end of the year!

All-Nighters .

When's the last time you pulled an all-nighter? Were you staying up all night for fun or because you had work to finish? Or perhaps it was just New Years. I remember in sophomore year I used to pretty much never sleep. Each night was 6 hours at the absolute max. I must be getting old because I just can't do that anymore. Though I suppose that it is possible that my body and I got used to them over time. Regardless, I'm thankful that I only ever have to stay up all night once in a blue moon. Naturally, I can barely keep my eyes open now, and it's time to retreat for the night.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


So the beats I found in my last post, upon further research, were made with an MPC (that's Music Production Center). They basically act as a hook ripper, sequencer, etc. etc. Basically, you can make some dope beats with this thing. I already want one bad.. But sadly, no affording that right now; tight budget.

Regardless, I'm trying to get my hands on someone who owns a nice mic so that I can record some stuff. I have a stand and pop filter, but left my mic at home (and it's a really shoddy one at that, so that's okay).

MPC's seem to be one of those amazing pieces of technology that just make music seem easy. Though there is always GarageBand, and maybe I can actually make some stuff of my own in there... At the end of the day, as long as I'm getting back into music again I'm a happy camper.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Music First or Words First ?

It's been an awful long time since I've sat down and written some music. I had planned to get into a lot of hip hop writing and recording over this past winter break, but that didn't happen (and neither did my goal of helping out with the Hurricane Sandy cleanup effort). The other day in my occasional (and ashamedly most often more than occasional) Youtube perusal I came upon some really dope beats. This kid is a drummer first and foremost I think, but also dabbles with making instrumentals. I'm thinking, maybe it's about time that I focus some energy on music again.

But the hardest part for me is whether to write words or music first. Sometimes you really feel the music, but can't find the words. Other times, you write something amazing but can't find the music to fit it. And then you just get stuck. Like all other things though, it takes practice and determination. Ten thousand hours, even, to quote Macklemore. I'll report back if I actually getting around to making something.

Waiting .

After receiving the first reply from a graduate school, I now have gotten in the habit of hopefully seeing something in the mail when I come home. In fact, I got so antsy that I logged back into all the websites of the places I applied again trying to find information regarding when I would hear back from them. Unfortunately some aren't until late March! Poop. I guess it was a bit of an anomaly that I heard back so early from UCLA. Needless to say, I'm excited to see the results from other schools - naturally I'd be more accepted with an "accepted" letter on the front, but still finding out is cool.

Hearing a "yes" from a school got me just as giddy as I was when I got into undergraduate! I started watching Youtube videos and taking virtual tours and just seeing what there is to see. It's neat to think that I get the opportunity to start a new life in a new part of the country and just experiencing something different. The way I see it, the better I can expose myself to more parts of the world, the better I can make a decision of where I might want to end up.

But before I get all into that, I must be patient and wait until I hear back from the other places -- and in the meantime, I can focus on job applications for the summer.

Stressin' Hard .

Boy, what a day. Wake up early, go in to studio and study. Take an exam. Grab a quick lunch. Finish up a project for structures. Go to structures class. Rush home. Finish job application and send it off. Run back to school to go to a play for class. Run home. Run out to get groceries. Then of course there's the emotional things that catch you by surprise and turn into long talks. Finally, it's now midnight, and I'm back at home. Ever have days where you feel like you just never stop running? That was today.

I'm exhausted. And yet I don't want to go to sleep. Sometimes even when your body stops, your mind continues to run at a million miles a minute. It was nice to talk with a roommate and just get a lot of baggage off my chest. Always great to have friends that are there to listen when you just need to vent and bitch. But such is life, and time is one of the most uncontrollable things out there. Can't slow it down, can't speed it up, and sure as hell can't stop it.

On a final note before I sign off, there's a cool post over by Kristin over at Vignettes. It's all about being interactive and leaving comments and such, which is totally spot on. Props to Kristin. I'll be making it a point to comment more on the things I read with what I'm thinking...
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