Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gotta Get a Gible

...And now I have one.

Looks like this is probably gonna be my last blog. Looking back, I don't believe I really said anything important or meaningful in the last 12 or 13 posts, but I guess that's okay. I don't think the point of this was to change the world or come to some huge revelation about who I am as a person; it was probably just to get the ball rolling and get classmates interacting. I think it did that for the most part. Not for me, but I always was way too much of an introvert to be affected much by such things. I've come to the conclusion that I need to have taken a class with someone else at least once before I start opening up to them. Probably goes back to childhood fear of abandonment, I don't know. Nor do I care to figure it out in the next 300 or so words.

What else is there to say? Still pretty much the same nerd I was when I started the blog, so no real progress there. I've caught 50 or 60 new Pokemon since then, but that probably only adds to the nerd factor. Quick aside on that - there is an eagle Pokemon named Braviary. I think that is like the most incredible and creative name ever, I'm serious. I'm like in awe of it. It's like Brave + Aviary, combined in such an incredibly genius way that I can't believe it wasn't done sooner. I have one, I love it. In all honesty, it's not the best Pokemon to have on your team, but come on. Braviary. BRAVIARY! Amazing. This one is going in the next academic paper on Pokemon that I write, just watch.

Anyways, I'm surviving six classes and even doing better than I thought I was going to a couple of weeks ago, which is nice. It's nice to not feel like a total failure all the time. My ribs still hurt, kind of shocked about that. I think my asthma is getting worse, not too happy with that either. Other than that, nothing really new has happened.

So what have I learned so far this semester?

**If you're the quiet kid in a hypothetical prison situation, taking on the persona of a serial killer seems to be a red flag of some sort. I thought I was being original by not being a gang member or drug dealer.
**If you are going to take on a different persona for class or acting, anything stupid, twisted, or gross you do is all a part of the character.  Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
**If I'm never gonna see or interact with most of these people ever again after this semester, why care what they think? It won't stop me from being awkward, but it's food for thought. Last time I thought like this I ended up with a trophy.
**It is much harder to guide than it is to lead, but people don't learn if you do everything for them.
**I am seriously never going to be a teacher.
**Group projects are only fun if your group is competent.
**Sometimes new situations aren't as terrifying as one might think.
**Taking two very similar classes back to back on one night is a recipe for disaster.
**I seriously hate participation grades.
**Renting textbooks > buying them
**People come and go. I just seem to consistently get people who are going rather than staying.
**It is so hard to not care what other people think, especially when you make yourself vulnerable. Vulnerability sucks and will never be intentionally allowed by me again. Live and learn.
**After 10+ years, you have still gotta catch 'em all.

I don't know who is going to read this or who has been reading all semester, but yeah. This is it. See ya later.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hi, I'm A.J. I'm here to defeat you.

Cool title, right? I promise it has a purpose.

I mentioned in my last blog that I went to a karate tournament the day after Spring Break started and got second place in sparring, or kumite. I won my first two matches, surprisingly. Literally. I was shocked. In my last match I went up against a guy who I am about a foot taller than and about ten-fifteen years older than me. This guy is one who is at everyone of these tournaments, and he has a history of winning every division we are both in, or at least coming in second to the not-me person who ends up winning. I think we were about 3-3 as far as points were concerned when he landed a thrust kick right to my ribs. I don't know what I was doing as far as blocking was concerned, but he nailed this kick. A direct hit with one of the most powerful techniques around. Needless to say, he got that point and I recoiled pretty badly. For the record, we wear pads on our hands and feet and head, but nothing for the ribs is required. Additionally, the kick was with the bottom of the foot, mainly the heel, which is uncovered by the pad. Since the first to five points wins, we had to have another round, one which I tried to fight back in but ultimately failed. I tried my best not to show the damage to my ribs, but I really couldn't breathe at that point. Now, over a week later, my ribs are still killing me. I run for a little bit and I'm aware of the stabbing pain there and the three sit ups I tried to do also ended in similar pain. So, I'm still on the mend, but it could have been worse. If he could have reached my nose he probably would have broke that as well.

I guess the point of this post is that I'm refocused now. I forget how fun tournaments are until the moment after it's over; I'm usually pretty buzzed for a while afterward. All the dread and worry before hand is usually gone by the middle of the actual competition, leaving me with the desire to get out there and fight. I'm planning on kicking my training up for the next tournament in April. Honestly, I hadn't kumited since last October, and even then that was the only time I did it in the last two years. I was incredibly out of practice, yet I still managed to make the finals. I've learned not to be cocky, though, so I'm gonna work harder. It's not really even about winning the actual tournament; it's more about beating this guy. That's probably gonna rack up some bad karma for me, but it's the truth. A week and a half of rib pain needs to be avenged with a shiny, cheap plastic trophy at least one place higher than his. Haha. But seriously, it's more about getting better. I know what I need to work on because I had my butt handed to me, and that's all you can ask for in a loss.

I would love to be a state champion, though. My ego would love the recognition. It's also kind of like an affirmation that I've got better during the time that I've been taking karate. I guess I don't really need it; karate has already given me a lot. I've met a ton of awesome people that I would have never known, I've got some semblance of self confidence, and I have lost a ton of weight. I never would have thought I would be competing like this as regularly as I do, so that's a major boost for me. I'm more willing to try potentially awkward situations now because of my experience in karate. So, I guess the state title would just be icing on the cake.

Monday, March 7, 2011

It Was Worth the Wait

So, yesterday, March 6, was the United States debut of Pokemon Black and White. I had originally planned to buy both versions, then I planned to only buy one, then I wasn't going to get either until I got paid on Wednesday. Somehow I ended up having the money yesterday, so I went ahead and tried to find a copy on release day. My first stop was Wal-Mart on Sunday morning; it's usually quick, one stop shopping and I wanted to get some game time in. Wal-Mart, though, wasn't as interested in the release of the game as I was. Despite having huge posters/displays advertising its debut on March 6, the video game attendant notified me that they probably wouldn't have the game available until Monday, as they hadn't unloaded it or whatever. I wasn't happy.
Across the street, though, was K-Mart, but I wasn't really expecting to find it there. Our K-Mart usually has about the fifth of the selection that Wal-Mart does, and this was one of those occasions that I figured that selection would have mattered most. I still went, though; I wanted that game. Turns out they had it. A lot of it. Like ten or fifteen copies of each game as well as limited edition Nintendo DS systems to go along with the release. I ended up getting Pokemon White as soon as I found it and as I went to pay for it, I noticed that K-Mart was running a special on both games: buy one, get the other fifty percent off. Needless to say, I got both. This was both random and awesome.

So, I've been logging some hours on Pokemon. Pretty good start to Spring Break, I've been able to juggle playing Pokemon, karate, and trying to chip away at my pile of homework. I probably won't accomplish much other than that this week, but whatever. This week will end too fast, but I guess that's okay too. I kind of need this semester to be over with ASAP, the burden of knowing that I'm going to have all of these finals and projects due at once is something that I have never been able to get used to. I could normally handle knowing I have a bunch of papers due at once, but this time around I have to do public project/volunteer work for two different classes. Volunteer work is fantastic, but having to do it in a group in addition to everything else is kind of overwhelming. It'll be over in like eight weeks anyways, so there's not much to really complain about. I still will, though.
Oh, and I guess it's worth mentioning that I went to a karate tournament last Saturday. It was the first one of the year, which is usually a pretty good indicator of what I have got to work on for the rest of the year. It was also a pretty good chance to see how I measure up against people with similar ranking from other schools. It wasn't too bad; my performances in kata and weapons weren't as good as they could have been, but somehow I ended up doing really well in both regular sparring and sword fighting, getting second in both. We really never do either at our school very consistently, so it was pretty much just my long arms and legs combining with what experience I do have. In any event, I have a nice trophy and medal from that day. Just another thing to keep working on.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Night Randomness / Week in Review

I'm kind of at a loss for things to say. Last week worked out pretty well as far as content and a pick me up went, but I don't really want this experience to be me recounting events of my life every week. I don't know, something about that just seems like I'm unnecessarily volunteering things about me for the entire Internet to see. So, placing paranoia aside, I'll probably return to that next week. This week, though, I'm going to try and recount the events of last week. A week in review, I guess, primarily because as I sit here, I'm having trouble remembering what I did last week. I'm too young to have such a crappy short term memory.

Let's see.. Last Saturday, or yesterday, I taught the kids' karate class as usual. Pretty good turn out, the usuals were there plus a few extra. This was especially good considering promotions are coming up and it's like now or never to start getting them ready for their next rank. After class ended, though, it occurred to me that I probably won't be there next week to teach class/prepare them for promotions on the following Wednesday as I am planning on going to a tournament that Saturday morning. However, as I sit here, I was thinking I would also miss the promotion ceremony because of school, but I just remembered that next week is Spring Break. So, I guess I'll be there after all.

Speaking of next week, Pokemon Black and White finally come out. Really excited for that and kind of shocked that it fell perfectly on Spring Break. Of course, I'm expecting to be crazy busy next week now. Call it the cynic in me, but I know one of my classes is going to pile on the workload for the break. Either that or I'll try and work ahead on the stuff that I know ahead of time so I won't get buried towards the end of the semester. Anyways....

Last Friday we had that crappy snow weather. I ended up missing the first two classes of the day, which in itself isn't a big deal with email, but this is the second time this semester I have had to use my absences in these classes for weather related purposes. Again, cynical, but I'm expecting to fall incredibly ill at some point and have to miss class, yet be unable to due to my lack of free absences. Just one of those crazy things. Oh, and I think I broke my nose last Friday, too, or at least did some kind of damage to it. I spent like half an hour that night trying to push it back into place; apparently it was really crooked. Long story.

I don't really remember anything else last week. I know there were four other days of classes, three days of work, two days of karate, but I'm blanking on what I did. I guess a week in review is actually two days in review, if that. I may have to start keeping a journal...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Something Different

I don't actually know if this is something different. Whenever I sit down to do this I either want to write about something that pisses me off or try to mask whatever I'm feeling with the fake enthusiasm of Pokemon, which, by the way, comes out in about 2 weeks. I don't really feel like I have the right to complain about stuff that goes on with me or the problems I feel like I have, because I generally am pretty lucky and things could be a lot worse. So, I'm going to close my eyes and write about the first thing that pops into my head, knowing that I only need about 150 words to complete this week. 

When I was in fourth grade we had a field trip to the zoo. It was kind of a big deal; it was a whole day off of school and there really were no expectations for what we should do while there. No lectures, no required visits to an information seminar thing that seems to be at the zoo, nothing. The only real restriction was that we couldnt use any of the rides, I guess because they didn't want the kids to have their own money to ride them, which would have excluded some of the poorer kids. So, no rides. Anyways, my mom chaperoned us and we ended up divided into groups. My group consisted of a friend of mine and two girls that I could talk to but who I wouldn't really consider "friends." We walked around for a while and then we were called back for a group lunch/picnicy thing. If there's one thing I can say for my mom it's that when she does something, she really goes all out. Even though she only went on like three of my field trips when I was in elementary school, she always did her best to make it memorable. Anyways, this time around she brought an entire cooler full of those little plastic juice things you can get at Aldis, the ones that are filled with koolaid or whatever that non-juice flavored water is. I drank like five of these sitting there, which was probably three too many. We got back up afterwards and started walking around once again. About thirty minutes after this, I ended up throwing up a multicolored mess of liquid on the asphalt somewhere in the zoo. I didn't feel good after that, so I wanted to sit down. So, I sat down. On every ride at the zoo. From that boat thing to the safari ride to the horse (which didn't actually make any sense considering I already had an upset stomach and the horse probably would have made it worse). Mom took me and the three people in my group on every ride they had, paying for all four of us at each stop all the while knowing that we weren't necessarily allowed to do that. Good day.

This actually worked well for me. I felt kind of crappy prior to writing this blog entry, but this memory was awesome to relive.

Friday, February 18, 2011

In Between Class Ramblings

So, my COM class let out early for the day and I have a couple of minutes to spare. Why not make a blog post? Problem is, I have no idea what to say really. I guess I'll talk about this week.

Monday I had my second performance for theater class. This one was an impersonation of someone I know, which had me stressed at first but then became easier once I settled on playing my older brother. The character I made of him was perfect because it required no enthusiasm or anything extra; more of the performance was done through body language and tone than anything. I got through the assignment pretty good, I was the first one in the class to go on the first day it was available to be done. Better early than late in this situation.

I dont think the rest of the week was that special apart from Thursday, which was my birthday. I wasn't really expecting anything special, and so I wasnt really disappointed by it. Between work, school, and the karate class I went to afterward, I was freaking tired. I didnt really enjoy much of it because there was way too much going on. In any event, this was the last worthless (sober) birthday I am going to be having for a while, so now that I have that out of the way I guess I feel a little better.

Monday, February 7, 2011

3/6/11 = Christmas

This post really has nothing to do with the last one, so I figured why not make it a separate one. In less than a month, something amazing is going to happen. I've been waiting for this since around October of last year, and its finally going to happen.

Yes, I'm actually a 12 year old and yes, I am a gigantic dork. Glad we have that out of the way. On March 6, Pokemon Black and White come out in America. This comes about five months after it was released in Japan, but you know, whatever. We're close enough to the release date that I don't need to be bitter. And now, with my amazing new job at the Writing Center, I'll have enough money tucked away to be able to buy both versions the day that they come out. This is something I have never done for any video game; I usually wait until a couple of months have passed and the game is cheaper. Not now, though. The first day this comes out, I'm getting it. In fact, as I said before, I'm getting both. I don't care that I'm likely only going to use one (White), I'll just keep Black in the box and look at it.

And I just figured out how this ties into the last blog post I just made. I know that on March 7, right after I have this game, all six of my classes are going to pile on the workload and impose crazy deadlines for me. This never fails, and I totally see it coming now. I might have to alter my procrastination strategy in an effort to have a lot of time for this game after it comes out. I'll need to play through it enough that I at least become tired enough of it to put it down until the end of the semester. Probably won't take long.

Once There Were Greenfields

This will be the first of many posts in which the title has absolutely nothing to do with the content of the blog entry. Oh well, just one of those crazy things.

Right about now, I am having an unusually light flow of homework. For taking six classes, I feel like I have had a remarkably easy time so far. I mean, I'm an English major taking four different English classes, and the first paper I had due this semester was for Theater class. Theater. Really? As of right now, I'm kind of failing as an English major in that degree. But what I'm getting at here is that this unusually easy time that I'm having right now can only mean one thing: I'm doomed. That's right. Things are gonna be easy at the moment, not having anything substantial due for a long time and tons of time to procrastinate. Everything is going to hit me at once, like it always does, and I know I'm not going to be prepared for it. Having this much time usually means that I'm going to fail at managing it and end up with a massive workload in the last six weeks or so of the semester. Oh well, I see it coming and am not actively trying to stay ahead of it. At some point I'm going to need to learn this lesson. Won't be this semester, though.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tongue Surgery and Writing > Talking

I feel like since my last blog post was focused on Pokemon (which I am intensely proud of an have no plans of deleting), I nonetheless owe a more serious one. Also, since I doubt anyone is really going to read this one if they already read the Pokemon one, I feel like I can be a bit more open here. Here we go.

Hold your tongue down to the bottom of your mouth. Now, keep it held down and try to talk. Feels weird, right? Apparently, when I was born, my tongue was attached to the bottom of my mouth. It took until I was around two years old for this to get discovered, when I said "I love you, Mom" to my shocked mother. This led me to having tongue surgery, which was successful. Whenever my mom tells me the story, she mentions that the doctors were having trouble waking me up afterwards, so they called her in to try and wake me up, which she was able to do. Cute story.

However, I feel like the damage to my speech was already done. I had speech therapy for a while when I was a kid and I think it helped for a little while. I am still really conscious of it, though, and when I get really excited, I talk so fast that it is pretty much a language that only my mom and older brother can understand. This is partially why I don't like talking to new people but why I can talk so much when I feel comfortable with someone. I don't feel like its really that bad or that big of a deal, but it usually causes me to avoid small talk and not make long, drawn out statements when a short answer is possible. Shorter is better in this case. I think this is also why I like writing so much and why I end up doing so well in writing class. In writing, you have the chance to go back, reword, and generally rework what you are saying or trying to get across. No awkwardness, no stuttering, no jumbled words. Just one of those crazy things.

I'm pretty sure that a lot of my teachers feel like I'm unattentive or don't care when I'm not talking in class, but that's really not who I am. Even if I wasn't so self conscious about this, I don't like being stared at. I don't have the compulsive need to make sure everyone in a half mile radius knows how smart I am or how much I studied the text book before class. That's just not me. I really hate people who have to do that. I feel like this could end up being a rant deserving of its own post, so I'll leave it there. To sum up the blog post: tongue surgery leads to speech therapy which leads to social awkwardness but enhanced writing skills.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pokemon Blog 1 aka My Lack of Creativity with a Looming Deadline

SPOILER ALERT: I'm a massive dork. You have been warned.

I don't really have anything compelling to say or any massive, philosophical revelations to convey this time around. This doesn't help my 650 word a week quota get filled, so I'm introducing a back up plan for whenever I need to get some posts out there. So, I'm gonna talk about Pokemon, or rather, a specific one. Last I checked, there were over 650 different ones to choose from, so that is like a seemingly endless supply of filler blog posts. Without further ado, let's get this going.

Today I'm gonna talk about Wobbuffet. Wobbuffet is essentially a blue blob that has two eyes that it never seems to open. It also has a black tail which, ironically, has a pair of open eyes on it. Go figure. It is interesting because it can't really do anything for itself. It cannot attack on its own, it can only counter an opponent's attack, but it does so in a way that deals back twice as much damage as it takes. You don't really need a strategy using Wobbuffet in a battle in the video games, just counter the opponent and if Wobbuffet is strong enough to take the hit, you've pretty much won. Yay for cheapness.

Wobbuffet is also fantastic comic relief, as seen in the Pokemon cartoon. Of the over 600 episodes of the series, a Wobbuffet was a part of the main cast for well over 500. It usually did not do much apart from saying its name and getting hilariously defeated, simply because its owner did not know how to use it properly. For entertainment's sake, I loved seeing it on the show.

While I was writing this I thought of something that would probably be more interesting to read by my classmates, but since I already finished this post, you're just gonna have to wait for that one.

... I may or may not have watched this video about 50 times.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Show and Tell

In an effort to try and stay ahead of my six classes of work for this semester, I have been trying to knock off each assignment as it comes rather than wait on a deadline to approach. To try and continue this habit, I'm going to work out the rough draft/bulletpoints of a show and tell presentation I need to give for my theater class. For this assignment, I need to take an item that is significant to me and talk about it for a couple of minutes in front of the class. I pretty much hate talking in front of a group, but I really need the gen-ed credits, so I need to do well on this. So, without further ado, I will now talk about something that means a lot to me. *This is basically what I'm going to try and stick to as far as the presentation goes.*

So, I really hate talking in front of people. Seriously. Hate it. Anyways, about three years ago I started taking karate classes basically so I could get out of the house and do something different. I had been at it for about a year and a half before I went to my first tournament, where in the performance (kata) category, I messed up majorly. It was an incredibly awkward and embarrassing experience which pretty much cemented the fact that I hate having people stare at me/judge me. It took me about a year to go to another tournament where I did  little better, but still placed in the middle of the pack. I think I did another after that, where I finally cracked the top two in the performance category, but still didn't make it to the top. Last October, though, I competed in another tournament, and for the first time I was the only one representing my school. I had worked hard to try to perfect a kata with a weapon that resembled a boat oar, and I felt like I had largely accomplished this. The weapons performance was first, and I ended up panicking and messing up. This effectively killed my momentum and I was pretty much resigned afterwards to leave, not competing in the empty hand performance category. I ended up staying, though, and the division I had for the empty hand category was nine people ranging from 17-39. Since I figured I had nothing to lose, I switched up my kata and did something that I hadn't practiced or prepared. I figured, why not? This couldn't get any worse. I ended up running this kata like a crazy person, yelling, kicking, beating the crap out of myself. When I was called back for my scores, I ended up being the only person who all three judges ranked in the 9-9.5 category; everyone else had at least one judge score them in the 8 range. Long story short, I won the division and the trophy. This trophy isn't that special as far as value goes; it looks like it probably cost about 5 dollars and is mainly made of shiny plastic. I don't care though. To me, this trophy means that I was the best on that day. It also means that incredibly shy, awkward, wallflower me is able to do stuff that I myself would never have thought of ever doing, and even succeed at them. This was the last tournament that I have been to for a while, but the memory of winning has me fired up for the next one.

I'll likely stick to this story in this style of presentation, with the exception of a lot of "ums," awkward laughter, and hurried talking.

Friday, January 21, 2011

I'm the Aggressor

Real quick blog posting before I go to sleep, something just came to mind. In my communication class today we were divided into groups and given a hypothetical situation to work out. Our group would play the role of a medical team with five kidney machines and eight people who required them, essentially meaning that we would kill three to save five. Each patient was given a back story, which basically amounted to a list of pros and cons for keeping them alive or letting them die. To add to this, a couple people in each group were given a counter productive role to act out in the group to impede the progress. Of course, introverted, incredibly untalkative me was "randomly" given the role of "aggressor," the person who basically shoots everyone's ideas down, pushes their own, and is incredibly sarcastic. This was funny to me since it is so unlike my real nature, but I decided to go with it the best way I knew how. A problem with this whole situation was that the room was so loud that no one could hear half of my insulting comments or snarky remarks, which diminished my effectiveness as the jerk that holds a decision process up for their own benefit. Kind of takes away from what I was trying to do. The other, probably larger, problem that existed was every time I talked over someone or threw out my own idea, the group tended to like my ideas. Again, hard to be aggressive when what you are saying is either the right answer or the most agreeable one. In the end, I pretty much failed my role as aggressor, but having this mindset did allow me to step away from myself without fear of coming off as a jerk, so it actually helped my participation. So take note, kids, if you are feeling shy or nervous, act like a complete tool. It kind of balances things out.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Days and Parking Nightmares

As I was driving to school this morning, around 30 minutes before my first class started, I was reminded of how much I hate snowy weather. This was not always the case, in fact, when I was a kid, I really loved the snow. The touch, the cold, looking out the window and seeing that everything outside was blanketed in white powder and clear ice was always a pleasure. Of course, snow days were a pretty significant part of my love of the snowy weather as well. What kid doesn't love a day off of school? Now that I am in college, though, school is rarely ever canceled. I think out of the year and a half or so that I've been going to school, I've only ever had two or three class meetings canceled because of the weather. There is really nothing for me to gain now by having a snowy day, so I guess the selfish kid in me just feels like since I can't enjoy them, no one else should be able to either. I feel like the enjoyment of snow days is just another casualty of growing up.

Anyways, what I was getting at with this story was a particular aspect of the snow that I don't like that just today occurred to me. I absolutely hate trying to find a parking spot on campus during the snowy weather. Today was not that bad as far as driving is concerned; the roads were fairly clear and wet rather than icy, which was better for driving and keeping the flow of traffic. Once I got to campus, though, I found that the first parking garage was full, not only of parked cars, but it was also completely gridlocked with cars looking for a spot. I would later find out that this could be attributed to the fact that half of the fourth floor and all of the top were closed for plowing/salting, thus displacing all the cars that would have parked there. This in itself is understandable, some weather needs to be handled this way for safety purposes. If this had been all that I encountered, I probably would have been able to deal with it.

What I absolutely could not stand about this situation involved the twenty car gridlock of traffic I found myself in five minutes before my first class started. I hate when I'm stuck behind a car that is waiting for a parking spot that someone else is currently occupying or exiting. I get that in some situations, like the one I just described, this is a smart thing to do, but it just irritates me. While I was stuck in this parking garage, I had to have been trapped behind three or four people doing this very thing. Invariably, the person who is entering their car is in absolutely no hurry, taking the time to start their car, get out of their car, open their trunk, put their bookbag in, check their makeup (if applicable), start a phone call, or any number of menial tasks that could just as easily have occurred about ten seconds from then when they were not holding up ten people. I guess the martyr in me says to just bite the bullet and keep moving, rather than wait for someone to pull out of their spot. Because of this added wait time, and the fact that the first parking garage was full, I needed to park in the other one. Long story short, I ended up about fifteen minutes late for the second class session of the semester for this particular class. There wasn't really a consequence to it, so I guess it could be worse. This was just on my mind when it came time to blog, so I figured why not write about it.

A short standard introduction will probably follow this entry at some point. Or not. I'm pretty sure this is around 650 words in and of itself. Yay for being efficient and productive.