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Clean Cars? Really?

This winter has been eventful thus far.  There has been a constant layer of the white fluffy stuff across the entire state and it seems like that it’s snowing almost every week.

I was driving around town yesterday in my messy car, covered in white and brown spots, when a question popped into my head:

How do people keep their cars so clean during the winter months?

I know that most have garages to put their cars in, but even a clean car gets dirty after one or two trips down to the center of town.  Black, white, blue, silver and green vehicles… Spotless! What’s their secret?

They all must own their own car washers.  It’s the only solution.

That is, unless new cars come with their own self-cleaning feature and if so, I want one for my car.

However, the simple thing to do is just to not wash my car until it becomes unbearable to look at.  It’s just going to get dirty again a few days later.  This is what winter does to cars.  Not only that, but if you wash your car at the wrong time of day, it can become a popsicle and that will be most unfortunate.

So, I’m not going to worry about it.  Besides, I’ve seen much worse out on the roads.

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So This Is The New Year… And I Don’t Feel Any Different

Another decade will end tomorrow and, man, how things have changed.

  • We’ve had the worst attack on American soil since the Civil War.
  • The Red Sox won two World Series and finally broke the Curse.
  • Virgina Tech massacre (33 students dead).
  • Cell Phones that are smaller than your hand.
  • High Speed Internet.
  • Google.
  • We have Terabyte (TB) hard drives for dirt cheap prices.
  • iPods and other MP3 Players replaces the compact disc.
  • The death of Pope John Paul II.
  • The D.C. sniper was arrested and executed.
  • We have small chips (MicroSD cards) that are the size of our thumbnail that hold more information on them than an entire gymnasium would hold in the 50’s and 60’s.
  • All the other numerous football changes I could give you that you will be completely bored hearing.
  • Saddam Hussein hung on Dec 29, 06

There’s so much more to add but I’ll stop there.  Those are the biggest I can recall (or care about).  I hope the next decade will bring more technological advances and a New York Jets Superbowl :-).

The dropping of the massive crystal ball will commence at 11:59 and people all across the east coast will be cheering.  I, on the other hand, will be half asleep and listening to Death Cab For Cutie’s song ‘New Year’.

The song embraces exactly how I feel about New Years.  It’s just another midnight (like the rest of them) and you don’t feel any different.  People will tell themselves that they will have resolutions and everything will change with the turn of a number.  There will be clanking of crystal glasses while the explosions of champaign bottles will be heard going off in the distance.

But even though I don’t believe the New Year is a big thing, like the song, I too will put my best suit on.  I’ll believe things will be different and that a resolution will be kept for a few days before they go by the wayside.

And then things will go back to normal come Monday.

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The Christmas Rush

Winter Storm Albert hit the east coast this weekend dropping 1-2 feet of snow across the shoreline.  Even though it wasn’t on Christmas, the storm really makes everything feel a little more like Christmas.

For the last few weeks, even though the temperatures were down, and I was walking around campus in a hat, gloves and scarf, it just didn’t feel like Christmas time.  Now, with a bunch of snow on the ground, we might just have a white Christmas after all.

But this snow kept those last-minute shoppers home.  A decade ago (well, even just five years ago), this would have been a problem.  But no more.  Shoppers spent their time in their snowed-in home and clicked that mouse until their fingers fell off.

Online shopping sales reached an improbable high of 25% more than this time last year.

And yet, stores are still mobbed!  The shopping area near me is always packed with moms, dads, college kids, and grandparents; all looking for things to put under their Christmas trees and stockings.  Supermarkets are also busy with families getting ready for their holiday feasts.

Where am I during all of this?

At home; nice and warm under a blanket watching Christmas specials.

I did my Christmas shopping online in November.  I filled up that Amazon cart and started bidding on eBay for presents long before the holiday shoppers crept out of their caves to ransack the stores.

I told you before not to feed the bears, right?  Well, don’t feed the holiday shopper either.  They’ll just run you over with the cart of Barbies, stuffed animals and Legos.  The holiday shopper is ruthless and will do anything to get that one toy for their little cubs.

But I also understand why everyone runs around the weeks before Christmas.  Maybe they work paycheck to paycheck and have to shop near Christmas.  If my kid wanted a toy, I’d do almost anything to get that toy under the Christmas tree.

However, I do go out to the store just to poke around for the little extra gifts that are more thoughtful than on a list.  I’m not in any rush though.  I let those grab and rush out like the building’s on fire.  If we all shopped a little earlier and didn’t rush around the week of (or before) Christmas, life would just be much more simpler around Christmas.  It might just put the ‘merry’ back in Merry Christmas.

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To Those Who Will Not Be Forgotten

I was killing time earlier this week by playing NCAA Football 2010 on the Xbox.  Lately, I’ve been working on practicing how to cover the wide receivers.  When I normally play defense, I just pick a lineman or linebacker and let the computer do the rest.  So this time, I played all the defensive plays as a corner.

While playing as Michigan, I had a few horrible plays that went for 70+ yard touchdowns.  I figured that I’d start a new game.  This time, I played as UCONN.  After doing a couple plays, I freaked myself out and time seemed to stop for a moment.

I was playing #6.

I was playing as Jasper Howard.

As most may know, Howard was slain earlier this season at a campus event.  I scared myself so suddenly that I turned the Xbox off as fast as the controller would let me and I threw the controller on the other side of the couch… almost as if it was going to kill me.

Here I am, in my living room, playing a guy who was younger than me and was murdered just a few months ago.  I have yet to update the rosters (if there even is a roster update) but I am considering it now.

After collecting myself, I started asking myself, ‘why?’  Why did I have that reaction?  And I think the only way to explain what happened is that it seemed like I saw a ghost.  Games, such as sports titles, have become graphically enhanced enough that they just look real.

But I stopped myself there.  I suddenly realized that it wasn’t such a big deal; it wasn’t a problem that I was playing #6.  It’s the general consensus that humans want to be remembered, or their loved ones want people to remember the dead.  This is the main reason for gravestones and roadside memorials.  For Howard, he will live forever in the game (or until all Xbox’s cease to exist).  Being able to play this man in a game is one of the greatest memorials one could ask for.

He can still be on the football field.

He can still make plays.

He can still intercept footballs and run then back for touchdowns.

So instead of updating the game’s roster and potentially deleting him from the game, I’ll keep the rosters the same.  I’ll play as UCONN and learn how to properly play the cornerback.  I’ll make interceptions and run them back for touchdowns.  And I’ll do it in memoriam to Jasper Howard… Because no one deserves to be forgotten.

-Chris

Writer’s Note:  I wrote this last week and kept it as a Draft.  On the same night, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver  Chris Henry suffered an off-the-field injury and died the next morning.

Like Howard, he too will be memorialized in the Madden games and the next time I get to play Madden 2010, I’ll pick the Bengals and make sure Henry scores a touchdown.

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Don’t Feed The Stephanie Bear

My girlfriend Stephanie was having problems with a computer program so she asked me to fix it.  After her wonderful explanation of the problem (“This program isn’t working”), I sat down with the laptop and did my magic.  Her computer was fixed and she thanked me.

That was three months ago.

Now, every time she has a problem with anything relating to the little bugger, I am now obligated to fix it.  I try to tell her to use google but then the Stephanie Bear comes out.

What is a Stephanie Bear you ask?

A Stephanie Bear: (noun) A being of great evil that arises out of the ashes of hell to slay me whenever I do and/or say something that goes against a Stephanie’s wishes.  There is no escaping from the Stephanie Bear.  Like all bears, she runs fast, swims and climbs trees.  And thus, when you see a Stephanie Bear, there is little hope of survival.

What I’ve learned from the Stephanie Bear is that favors start out as little cute things that eventually morph into expectations.  And I have concluded that doing favors is like feeding the bears.

Feeding the bears is a bad idea.

Expectations are bad.

They will end up killing you.

Just like a Stephanie Bear.

-Chris

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The Course That Might Have Changed My Life

College courses can be weird.

Every semester, students sit down at their computers to register for courses.  Once you get your final schedule set in place, some might start to think, ‘Why do I need to take this course?  How will it help me in the long run?’  You really go into the next semester blind.  What will the workload be like?  How will the professor be?  Nice?  Mean?  Crazy?  I usually think, “My grade, my future, is not only in my hands but it’s really in the hands of my professor.”  What if I write an opinion paper that goes every-which-way against what my professor believes?  Will my grade reflect that?  Usually, professors like different types of writing styles.  Will I need to adapt to a new style?

After thinking of these for weeks, the first day of a new semester begins and you get that syllabus in your hands.  Rules rules rules rules rules and a bunch of work.  You can feel the air in the room become more dense and a heavy sigh comes from the mouths of most of the students.

I just recalled what happened in my Journalism 200 course this past semester.  The dense air could be because the room was in the basement of Morrill Hall but the syllabus was huge and filled with assignments.  The professor came off as a little tough and told us how she expected us to work hard at this course.  It was a W course too.  You know, just to add to the stress of  walking into an entirely new concept of college courses.  As a video major, I haven’t written a proper paper in years, yet alone an article.

Then, day number two arrived and everything took a 180.

The professor was instantly nicer, the lecture was fun, and the first assignment was handed in with confidence.  Writing that first article was like riding a bike.  I knew then that this course was something special.  You only get one of them every few years:  A course that you look at afterwards and know that it will be a course you will never forget.

Not only will this be a course that I will never forget, but it could be a course that changed my entire life.

It’s funny to write that but it is because of that professor and that course which changed my mind about my career.  I wanted to go into media business and broadcast video.  After writing about twelve articles, I put two and two together:  My love for writing and my love for news.  And out came a career change to journalism.

I went into the Journalism 200 course looking for a W credit and came out with the idea to add a BA in Journalism to my college resume.  The good thing is, I’m almost done with my Communication major.  I still have plenty of university requirements and now all I need is nine courses in journalism to get that degree.

By the way, that professor is Helen Bennett (no relation).  It’s because of her class that I have chosen a different career path and it couldn’t have come a moment too soon.  From the brutal revisions to the encouraging emails, Professor Bennett, in just one semester, could have changed my college experience, career, and eventually my life.

It just goes to show that patience and perseverance is a virtue and that one class you may think is awful, pointless and a waste of time at first could just end up being the one course in college you will never regret taking.

-Chris

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When Holding A Door Makes You Look Dumb

I discovered something today that I had not really put any thought into before:  What’s the proper distance to not hold a door open for someone?

Ten feet?  Fifteen?

I don’t want to look like a jerk if I open the door and just waltz right through; leaving the person behind me to open that oh-so-heavy door.  But, I also don’t want to be standing there (waiting for what seems like forever) for that person to get to the door.

I experienced a situation like this today.  Walking back to my car, I opened a door and turned around to see if someone was behind me.  There was and she was a little over ten feet away.  I decided to hold it open.  Now, one would think that she would at least hurry up as a nice gensture to me as I have so given to her by holding the door open.  Just one or two skips is all I ask.

But no, she was as slow as a turtle in molasses.

It was a smorgasboard of annoyance.

So, where is the cut off line?  I’ve decided that it should be at least four or five paces away from the door.  You’re on your own after that and it won’t bother me to open that door and keep on walking.

And maybe, if I’m in a good mood, I’ll hit that big, giant handicap button.

-Chris

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