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Squared Sevens Blogging Corp.
Saturday, 14 May 2005
Graduation Day
I typed this up a couple of days ago but I decided to wait to put it up. As you know, I'm graduating tomorrow. This brings an end to my college career as well as my time as a student. Now, it's time to move on to bigger things. You'll have to pardon the length of the post, once I got started I just kind of kept typing until I was finished. I think it's all pretty important though. Well, here it is:

I'll be honest, I had been putting this one off for awhile- the official 2005 College Graduation Post. The reason is because this is such a major event for me, and I'm not quite sure quite how I can put my feelings about it down into text properly. Eventually I just realized I can't write the perfect entry, so why bother. I'm just gonna put down what I've been thinking and go from there.

First of all, it's really great that I am getting to graduate. Even if I always kind of took it for granted that it would happen, even if more and more people are graduating these days, it is still a significant accomplishment. I know a lot of bright people that haven't made it to this point. Another good point is that I will graduate in four years, with a pretty good GPA (3.4) especially in my major. That is, of course, after going on academic probation my first semester here. So at least being a nerd will pay off in that respect. Also thanks to my parents, I don't owe anyone a dime and I've got a good base for starting my life in the workforce.

But I'll be honest, I was bumming a little bit about graduation too. College has its fair share of difficulties but overall we all know it's a pretty cushy way of living. Also, this marks the end of my period of education in my life. For 17+ years, basically my whole life, that's all that I've been doing. When I look back at elementary, middle, and high school, and back through college, it seems tough in a way to see that it's all coming to an end.

What's been tough recently is that a lot of the people that I've met this year I will probably never see again. For whatever reason, this problem seemed really pronounced this year. Still, that's part of life, you can't keep up with everybody, but that doesn't mean that I have to like it. The fact that a lot of the people I've met in the last two years live in Japan has compounded the problem. I guess I've just got to try to stay in touch with the good ones as much as I can. But people move on in life, and that's just how it is it is.

Well while we're at it, let's take a look back at my life in college. High school, of course, was terrible. I applied to UNCC, NC State, and UNC Asheville, and I got accepted into all of them. I decided to go to UNCC, starting in the fall semester of 2001. I distinctly remember on the day I was to move into school, driving with my Dad on 485, and I almost panicked and told him to turn the car around, I'm going home. Fortunately, I kept my mouth shut and eventually settled into college life.

That was August 2001, and we all know what happened soon thereafter. So my whole college experience has kind of taken place under the cloud of 9/11 and terrorism. It couldn't be ignored as a cloud that hung a pall over everyday life. And to be honest, developments after 9/11 heightened my interest in politics and very likely contribited to me becoming a political science major. From there last four years and beyond, this is a topic that isn't going to go away anytime soon, unfortunately.

The rest of freshman year, I don't remember doing too much other than being on the computer all day and scraping by grade-wise. I actually ended up on academic probation after flunking Calculus my first year. Somehow I managed to pass it with a C the next semester, but the damage to my GPA was done. Sophomore year, I finally made up my mind to get off my ass and get involved, even if at first it was just small stuff like playing intramurals. By that time, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Japan, and getting bored by living at UNCC, I decided to take it.

So on September 16, 2003, I arrived in Narita Airport near Tokyo. This would be the start of one the most challenging and rewarding times I've had in my life. It was difficult at time to adjust to a new language and culture, but in doing so I learned a lot about the world and myself. Sounds cliche, but its true. The university I studied at, Obirin, was full of cool people and being close to Tokyo and Yokohama there were always a ton of things to see and do. Homestay was tough, but I found out a lot about everyday life in another country. Later, staying in an apartment was fun but it brought its own set of challenges like cooking when you can only recognize half of the foods in the supermarket. Eventually, it was time to come return to NC. While I was starting to miss everybody at home, it was still tough to leave, and I definitely need to go back as soon as I can.

I started my last year, my senior year, with high hopes that it would be the best one at Charlotte yet. To be honest, I'll feel kind of let down that I wasn't able to do more this year. Sure, I was able to get excellent grades, but there were a lot of missed opportunities like not being able to make it to the beach for spring break. I joined up with Model UN in the fall, but that ended kind of awkwardly and I didn't take the class in the spring- no Scotland trip for me. I did write for the school paper, which was rewarding, but in that I could only do it for one semester it was kind of limited. And for whatever reason, classes were particularly challenging this year. I specifically remember a couple of instances where I was about at my wit's end finishing up papers and studying for tests. But as it looks like I will get very strong grades my last year, it appears that everything worked out.

It's tough to leave what's familiar for a whole world of uncertainty. But I decided that it's key to have a positive attitude through all this. Again with the cliches, but it is one thing that I will have control over. Now as a college graduate I've got a world of opportunities and choices to make. I've just got to make sure I choose the right ones.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 1:57 AM EDT
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Friday, 13 May 2005
New Xbox Revealed
Yesterday, the design, features, and specs of the new "Xbox 360" were officially released by Microsoft. As expected, it contains all of the necessary bells and whistles to make gaming a gajillion times better than it was before. Two of the best rundowns I found on it were here at Game Informer as well as the basic AP story at Yahoo! news.

Comments: Overall, I like the design and think the system has plenty of power and features to make things interesting. Of course, we can still expect the over-the-top hyperbole common with every system launch these days about how it will change life as we know it. But still it would appear to be a good start.

Second, the controller. There's a good overview of the controller at xbox360.com. It looks like a massive improvement over the current Xbox's controllers, much more smoother and finally replacing the stupid black and white buttons with shoulder triggers. As an added bonus, they're wireless and the controller itself can turn the system off and on.

Finally, the fact that the system was formally unveiled during a half hour show on MTV! This is some really interesting marketing here and of course only someone with pockets as deep as M$ could pull this one off. As of course I don't have cable I'm going to have to wait to see it, but I still think it was an interesting tactic from a marketing point of view.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 10:45 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 13 May 2005 10:54 AM EDT
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Monday, 9 May 2005
How I'm Living
Things are going alright here as school winds down and graduation nears. I finished my Middle East Politics exam on Friday, and I thought it went well. I knew pretty much every thing the teacher asked, so I should be looking at a decent grade for it. Problem is, Dr. Piazza uses a seven point scale, so pulling out that "A" will be tricky. I only got a B on a book report in that class for some reason, so I'm looking at an uphill battle to get all A's this semester.

I had dinner with a bunch of Japanese students Friday at Chen's Bistro. It was fun, but a little sad too as a lot of them will be leaving to go home shortly. I know how that feels. Still, it was good to see everyone one more then even if I ate too much at the buffet. After that, some people got together for a party me and Sammy had at our apartment. It was for sort of an unofficial premier of our friend Carlos' movie, "Death of a Paddleboat Lover". Don't ask. Those guys have a seriously cracked sense of humor is all I gotta say.

Sunday, I stopped by Tom and Lib Philips baseball field one last time to watch the Niners play and say goodbye to some people. It's a bit sad to go, I had a good time overall covering baseball for the school paper and I would definitely consider doing it again. Unfortunately, I don't think the Niners are going to have enough gas in the tank to make it to the CUSA tournament this year. But they've got a good group of players who should be able to step it up next season and really make an impact in the Atlantic 10.

It was also Mother's Day, so I got to meet up with the parents and go out to dinner. We went to Logan's Steakhouse on Harris, it was the first time I'd been there and I'd have to say overall that I liked it. It was nice to chat with the parents and of course getting a steak is a rare treat for me. After that we went to Target, and I told my mom I'd buy her a DVD. So which one does she choose? Con Air, starring Nicholas Cage. An interesting choice from a mom to say the least, but whatever she wants. Then we went back to the apartment and talked a little bit more, then they went home. I spent the evening cleaning up and making a powerpoint presentation about Hidetoshi Nakata. Fun Times. Well, I'll talk to you all again later.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 2:28 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 3 May 2005
Long Day
Today was just epic for me today. First I woke up, ate breakfast, and immediately went to work finishing a book report for Middle East class at 11. After that, I came back, and had a couple of hours to make up a speech for Public Speaking Class at 4. Somehow, I managed to pull that one out, then I went to study in the library for two and a half more hours before taking a 90 minute online exam. Finally, it's all done. I'm tired.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 12:26 AM EDT
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Thursday, 28 April 2005
Lack of Updates
It's exam season again, and you know what that means- time to disappear into the library for awhile. Ah, seems like old times. Bottom line is, things will be light around here for awhile. I've got a ton of reading to do though for real and I'm not looking forward to it at all. Well, at least after this it's summertime- oh, wait.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 12:05 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 28 April 2005 12:09 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 26 April 2005
Thoughts on Train Accident near Osaka
I'm sure many of you have heard by now about the terrible train accident that occured yesterday. It's a real tragic situation, with many people possibly still trapped under the rubble. The train driver was only 23, not much older than me. I wonder if they will establish an age limit after this.

When you go out on a train, a lot of trust is involved. You're going at a high speed in what can be a very crowded car. Once when I was on a train that was leaving Machida, it had to stop abruptly for some reason. It was a crowded car during rush hour and every body flew forward on top of each other. Even at a low speed, it was a rough jolt- I can't imagine what this accident could have been like.

I send my condolences to the families of anyone who lost or injured in this tragedy.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 12:13 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 26 April 2005 12:23 PM EDT
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Monday, 25 April 2005
Interesting Weather Today
I was out and about enjoying the weather today, but I kept noticing something seemed a little out of the ordinary- then it hit me. The weather was like a cool fall day, but all the trees and flowers were in full bloom. After a couple days of heat and humidity, it was a nice break. Still, I'm ready for the warm spring weather.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 6:46 PM EDT
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Friday, 22 April 2005
21st Century Technology
Thanks to Google Maps, you can now see satellite pictures of just about anywhere in the United States! Neat! Of course, both MapQuest and Microsoft have had these features for a couple of years, but since it's Google, it gets all the press. Go ahead, check it out- type in your address or the city where you live and odds are good it will show up.

Just like anything else on the internet, this has led to some, ah, interesting applications. Check out this webpage for sights to check out.


Edit: Be sure to click on the "Satellite" link in the upper right corner at the Google Map webapge!

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 4:45 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 26 April 2005 12:21 PM EDT
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Monday, 18 April 2005
Sad News to Report




Sam Mills, 1959-2005


Posted by nc/frodaddy at 10:20 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 18 April 2005 10:34 PM EDT
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Atama ga Itai
It seems I've gotten a rather intractable migraine-ish headache going on today, and I can't say that I'm too happy about it. In fact this whole semester I've been getting them regularly every few weeks or so. In trying to figure out what causes them, it seems that I always come to the conclusion that it's somehow food-related- too much sugar, not enough sugar, eating too little, caffeine-related, etc. I'm still not entirely sure what it exactly is though. I used to get migraines pretty often when I was a kid, so living with headaches is nothing new.

But it's strange now, instead of puking like I did with migraines, I normally just fall right to sleep for about 10 hours, no matter what the time of day. If I get one of these bad headaches it's not uncommon for me to sleep from 8pm or earlier until the next morning. Now I'm all about a good night's sleep, I just wish that it wasn't forced on me by a headache, you know?

Why aren't I sleeping now, you ask? 24 comes on at 9, and you know I can't miss an episode. Silly question.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 8:38 PM EDT
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