Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Blog Hop Questionnaire

Where are you right now? (You can answer literally, or you can stop giving boring answers to every question you’re asked, and think outside the box.)

In McKeldin Library, refusing to give an outside the box answer because I don't like being pushed around!

2. What keeps you blogging? Your pride? Your mom? Wanting someone other than your cat to tell you that you’re awesome?

Haha, I appreciate the dedication to outside the box questioning.  Feeling like I have something to say that wasn't being said was my old motivation for blogging.  When I read things and have thoughts that I haven't seen elsewhere is when I want to blog. Blogging is also stimulated by having free time.

3. What blogs or bloggers do you look to for inspiration, ideas, or just to get the blog side of your brain turned on?

My buddy Brandon, from Pittsburgh, and I both used to have blogs where we talked about baseball, sports, and world events.  We would reference each other's blogs, comment on each other's posts, and really get into the entire blogging scene.  Between our group of friends from home we had a pretty good following.  I'd say his posts were the ones I went to for inspiration.  Now, I'm not really sure.  When I read the newspaper I want to blog about things though.

4. What is your most Terp-like quality? Is you’re not a Terp, well, I’m sorry, but you should be. Go out and get Terpy. Then report back with your newly acquired Terp quality.

Really creative question writing...I don't immediately identify with thinking of myself as Terp-like.  Maybe that says enough.  I really like the gym and the library on campus though.  Maybe for me, having a quiet place where I can go to focus and accomplish goals makes me Terpy.

5. If you could pick any celebrity or politician to give your blog a shout out via Twitter, who would it be?

I don't know if Stone Cold Steve Austin has a Twitter, but definitely him. I don't have a twitter, and I would probably respect Stone Cold less if I knew he had one - but if I had to choose the scenario it would be that. Not that I disrespect people with Twitters either, I just don't think Stone Cold is the kind of man who should have one. 

6. Congrats. Wallace Loh stumbled upon your blog and wants to host an all-night party to celebrate your genius. You get to pick the campus building and the two professors who will be in charge of DJ-ing and food/drinks. Go:

This is a creative I understand why you've done better than me in all of the classes we've had together lol.  Martha Nell Smith is in charge of the food/drinks (no that's not an intentional plug to try to get an A in this class), I just know she throws a great dinner party.  I also know that she isn't a great cook, but I'm sure she could bring in somebody who is.  She's more in charge of entertaining the guests anyway.  I would have given her DJ responsibility, but I have to go with the easy choice for that - Professor Patrick Warfield.  He was my History of Popular music professor, so he kind of writes himself into the role of being an awesome DJ.  Plus, if you've never seen a 5'6 full grown man jumping up and down in front of a class of 150 people to Lynyrd Skynyrd's Free Bird - you haven't lived. 

7. And finally, a serious question. What have you learned from blogging? Did you learn about writing? Did you learn about people? Did you learn how easy it is to get distracted on the internet? (But jk on the last one; you already knew that, of course.)

I learned how to be a more relaxed writer.  Somewhere along the way when they are teaching you how to write in school you forget that the purpose of writing is to most effectively communicate your ideas.  You get so lost in the 5 paragraph order, the zingers, the openers, the closers, the transition sentences, the strong verbs, and the structure that you forget that at the end of the day you are communicating your ideas to an audience.  Blogging helped me to discover that for the first time.

For reading the whole thing, here are some old pics I came across that I think are pretty cool.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

3rd Stream: Orioles Baseball

I'm a Pittsburgh Pirates fan, but I like the Orioles.  I can relate to that team.

I think the Orioles have some pretty solid hitting.  I was very impressed with Mark Reynolds last year and his plus 30 home runs.  Adam Jones belongs on any major league roster, Nick Markakis is in the same category, and when Brian Roberts is healthy he's an incredible lead off hitter.  I think the player with the most potential on the Orioles is still Matt Wieters.  When Wieters didn't get hot immediately people turned their back to him, expecting the power numbers that he was producing before he hit the majors to occur right away.

I caution patience for Matt Wieters.  Power hitters take longer to develop than any other player.  To have a catcher that can swing a bat at all is something to be ecstatic about.  Almost every pitcher Wieters has worked with has said that he calls an incredible game.  He also can gun down a runner stealing a base better than any catcher in the league.  Matt Wieters will be an incredible asset to the Orioles in the future and I look forward to watching him progress.

Pitching has just been alright for the Orioles, and that is where they have been killed in their division.  In any other division, a team with high producing bats, and mediocre pitching like the Orioles would be alright.  But they are in the AL East.  They contend with the biggest of big dogs - The Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, and even Blue Jays.  There is no room for error in that division, and the Orioles pitchers are routinely getting shelled by the best bats money can buy in baseball.

I like the Orioles, I feel for them - I hope that a new wildcard spot and hopefully more interleague play will help them in their cause.   I also hope for a new owner, maybe Cal Ripken and Kevin Plank are in the market for a baseball team.

2nd Stream: Grandma Birthday

For 22 years my Grandma has gotten me a gift on my birthday, and asked nothing in return.  She is a cashier at a local grocery store in Pittsburgh, and still works 40 hours a week.  I love her very much.

Year in and year out my Grandma has given me 100 dollars on every birthday, holiday, or other occasion.  I know it's probably not the easiest for her, but she does that for me.  I know she loves me very much.

This year she mentioned to me that her birthday was April 24th, I never knew that.  My whole life, I never knew my own Grandma's birthday.

I wrote the day in my planner, and this weekend I put in an order to Edible Arrangements for chocolate covered fruit to arrive at my Grandma's house.

This morning I got a voice message.  My grandma was thanking me for the gift.  I called and talked to her on the phone and she told me that she loved it.  She said she completely pigged out and ate the entire thing when she got it.  She shyly mentioned that she had cried for half an hour when the gift arrived, and that she was so happy to have gotten it.

All of the love my Grandma has given me for 22 years.  I think it meant a lot to her when she realized I loved her just as much, and that I knew how much she loved me.

That was really nice.

1st Stream: Message to Afghanistan's Future Leaders

This morning my class on Afghanistan had a live video conference with students in Afghanistan - it was really cool.  One of the Afghan students asked us what will happen to the Afghan economy when the U.S. pulls out?  Won't all of the investment and money that the U.S. and international community have invested into Afghanistan disappear with the withdrawing troops?

A student in class answered that international businesses (multinational corporations) see a huge opportunity in Afghanistan, and that U.S. private enterprise see Afghanistan as a burgeoning economy and a potential source of revenue.  He promised that the private investors would come to Afghanistan, and that as long as there is money to be made - Afghanistan's economy will attract investment.

I think private investment is awesome, it's a way for developing countries to attain capital they would not otherwise have.  It has been discovered that Afghanistan is extremely rich with minerals.  It is believed that over a trillion dollars in minerals lie beneath the soil in Afghanistan, and nations have begun to buy those mineral rights.  China, as well as the U.S., have invested a significant amount of money into future mineral rights.

The advice I wish I could have given the Afghan students was to retain controlling power over these natural resources, and to not allow their country to be exploited.  It is my belief that at the end of the day, a country ultimately seeks to benefit itself.  I don't think this is right, wrong, backwards, or forwards - I just think that it is the way that it is.  I caution the people of Afghanistan to claim their rights as owners of this great future mineral wealth, and to not get fooled into deals where they are clearly not the benefitted.

When I was in Ghana, it was clear that the massive amounts of oil the country produced did not go to the majority of citizens in Ghana.  Over 90% of all oil profits went to people and companies over seas.  Less than 3% of the profits stayed in Ghana, and most of that went to the wealthiest 1%.  The common Ghanaian saw no benefit from the country's natural resources, and a case study into Nigeria will show the worst case scenario.

Natural resources can be the greatest curse of a poor nation.  I urge the people of Afghanistan to claim the rights to their natural resources, make sure that they have a say in the deals that are configured with the profits they will be receiving from their natural resources, and to start the process of integration into the international economy on the right foot.  Don't allow the door of open international trade to be kicked open without you having a say in what happens in your country.  Multi-national corporations will come in, and bleed you dry of all profits that could have gone to aid your country.

BEWARE OF FOREIGN INVESTORS.  They are excellent if utilized correctly.  Remember that this is your country, not anybody else's.  Make your country's wealth work for you.

Stream Intro

I'm tired of trying to plan the perfect blog post - the next couple will be an experiment.  I have tried to formulate the perfect blend of what the audience wants, what I want, what it all has to do with baseball, how I will incorporate videos and pictures into my blog, for too long and it has brought me to a creative crash.

These next couple post will be stream of consciousness - whatever thoughts and opinions I have, broadcast to whoever will read them.

I'll fill in pictures and appropriate vids in time, but I don't want to dam the stream too much.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Eric Church: Springsteen

Eric Church's new single "Springsteen" is an instant classic.  It's about the feelings and memories of being 17 and in love that come back to him every time The Boss comes on the radio.  I didn't like this song much at first, but once I started picking up on the "Springsteen-ey" subtleties within the song I was floored and have really fallen for it.  When listening to the song I always flash to whatever Springsteen song he is referencing in my head, and get the essence of a Bruce song from "Springsteen".  There is nothing on the internet that references and tags all of the Bruce Springsteen parts, so this blog will be the start.
Courtesy: John Sayles

Below is the song - below that is the lyrics, and within the lyrics are hyperlinks to all of the Bruce Springsteen songs in the song.  Lyrically the song is rich with references to The Boss, but also musically Eric Church keys in on very distinct Bruce Springsteen type things.  The tinkling piano in the beginning, the "woah oh woah oh oh's" throughout the song, and the reminiscing about a love from younger days all are qualities very distinct about Bruce Springsteen's music.

(The tinkling piano in the beginning reminds me of the piano intro to "Jungleland.")
To this day when I hear that song
I see you standin' there on that lawn
Discount shades, store bought tan
Flip flops and cut-off jeans

Somewhere between that setting sun
I'm on fire and born to run
You looked at me and I was done
And we, were just getting started

I was singin' to you, you were singin' to me
I was so alive, never been more free
Fired up my daddy's lighter and we sang
Ooohh (Sounds like "Thunder Road" and many others)

Stayed there 'til they forced us out
And took the long way to your house
I can still hear the sound of you sayin' don't go

When I think about you, I think about 17 (Reminiscing about young love reminds me of "The River" and "Thunder Road")
I think about my old jeep
I think about the stars in the sky
Funny how a melody sounds like a memory
Like the soundtrack to a July Saturday night

I bumped into you by happenstance
You probably wouldn't even know who I am
But if I whispered your name 
I bet there'd still be a spark

Back when I was gasoline 
And this old tattoo had brand new ink
And we didn't care what your mom would think
About your name on my arm

Baby is it spring or is it summer
The guitar sound or the beat of that drummer
You hear sometimes late at night 
On your radio

Even though you're a million miles away
When you hear Born in the USA
You relive those glory days
So long ago

When you think about me, do you think about 17
Do you think about my old jeep
Think about the stars in the sky
Funny how a melody sounds like a memory
Like a soundtrack to a July Saturday night


Funny how a melody sounds like a memory
Like a soundtrack to a July Saturday night
Woah Springsteen

Ethan Miller, Getty Images
"I'm on Fire," "Born to Run," "Born in the USA," "Glory Days," "The River," "Jungleland," and "Thunder Road" were songs that I picked up on.  If you picked up on anything else, leave comments.

By the way, partially because this post is rock themed, and partially for the contest - here is my personal entry to the video or photo of ourselves.  This video was taken on St. Patrick's Day around 3 pm - St. Patrick's Day started for me around 7:30 a.m.  Here is me air guitaring the "Free Bird" solo at the College Park Looney's.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Blog Birth Announcement: Why Life and Baseball

It has come time for the blog birth announcement.  Why Life?  Why Baseball?

For the first 20 years of my life - I did not like baseball.  I played as a little guy, but by the time I was in 8th grade I couldn't do it anymore.  Between the anger of the baseball dads, 3 games a day in the summer time, and constant pressure and anxiety to perform on the diamond - I was done.  The game had lost any fun that it was supposed to provide, and at 8th grade I walked away from the game.  (As a side note I cried every time I struck out until I was 12 years old- I did not like baseball.)

My dislike for baseball was more than baseball dads though, I am from Pittsburgh - home of the team that has more consecutive losing seasons than any other team in professional sports history.  For 18 years the Pittsburgh Pirates have not won more than half of their games.  I am factually not old enough to remember a good baseball team in Pittsburgh. 

Why Life?  Why Baseball?

Spring semester of my sophomore year in college I studied abroad in Ghana, a small coastal country in West Africa.  Ghana was a beautiful country to experience life.  Why is Ghana a beautiful country to experience life?  Beauty comes from experiencing life, and experiencing life comes from adversity.  To experience life is to inhabit the present - to love the sad and diffiicult moments as much as the good ones because they are all part of life.  We only get one shot at being human.  Ghana is a beautiful country to experience life.

I experienced a lot of adversity in Ghana.  The climate, rashes, food poisoning, mosquitos, and isolation that comes from being from a different culture all contributed to the beautiful experience that I had.  I would not trade those months of pleasure and pain for anything.

After a couple of months I was homesick... I used to carve American flags into desks.  I was walking home from class one day with my eyes closed listening to a song that I listened to in America when I would walk home from class, and imagining I was making the walk from Tydings to Leanardtown when I heard something familiar:  Crack! Crack! Crack! It was the unmistakable crack of a wooden bat against a baseball.  I looked up and 20 Ghanaians dressed in full uniform had created a baseball field and were practicing.  I stood and watched them for 45 minutes; the pitcher awkwardly lobbing the ball to the batter, the batter swinging with all of his might, an apprehensive fielder turning away from the ball as it entered his glove, and throws that rolled and sputtered around the diamond- I loved it. 

America was what I missed, and America was baseball.  The story of my love for baseball is a story much deeper than a love for sport.  It comes from a love for life, a love for the country that allowed me to experience so much of life, and a love for the country that I call home.  To separate life from baseball is to discredit both - the events of the world and those involved in it are as much a part of the story as the baseball.  This blog isn't about baseball, it's about people, life, and the story of humanity.  Baseball is just a part of that story. 

Why Life? Why Baseball?  For me, the two are the same.

For your enjoyment, here is an actual video of me - dancing -- in Africa.  I'm the one in the blue shirt.