November 07, 2007

I Swear to Drunk I'm not God

I never know what to do around people who are seriously intoxicated.

I have no problem with drinking. There are, in fact, a few drinks that I quite enjoy. I enjoy certain wines. I'm a big fan of mixed drinks and other things that don't taste like pure alcohol. (I still can't stomach beer, though. Blech.)

While I enjoy those drinks, I've never enjoyed them enough to become plastered. I restrain myself partially because drinks are expensive, partially because I'm afraid of what I would do or say if I lost my inhibitions and mostly because I have to drive.

It's still a relatively new experience for me to be around friends (and others) who not only do not share my restraint but also regularly exhibit that lack of restraint.
As such, I start to feel slightly uncomfortable when speech begins to slur and random laughter titters across the table.

Usually, once my companions are clearly no longer sober, I just sit back and watch. I will talk with them if they try to talk to me, but it's difficult enough to talk in a noisy bar without the added liquid barrier. I try to prevent them from doing obviously stupid things, but I mostly relax and enjoy the (metaphorical) ride.

Posted by Randy at 01:19 AM | TrackBack

June 05, 2007

I'm Back!

After a long struggle with Longview Cable, I have finally attained access to the glorious digital lifeline we call the internetz. I've spent several hours striving to catch up on the many things I've missed. Primarily, of course, that task consisted of reading lots of webcomic and blog archives.

On the job front, I've started my internship. Because I have an additional intern to compete with for stories, my work load has been a tad lighter this summer. That may change in the near future, however, as I have just convinced the editors to let me take over one of the beats normally covered by a full-time reporter. As this will be my first attempt at real beat reporting, it should be a learning experience.

My roommate and I are getting along rather well. For those who don't know, my new roommate is also a reporter with the paper. While I work a "normal" day shift, she works the afternoon/evening shift. As such, we may see each other for an hour or two outside of the office. For most of the day, one of us is either asleep or at work. Since we each have our own little room, it's very convenient. I'm starting to like the quiet.

Anyway, that's all for now. More stuff will come later, I'm sure.

Posted by Randy at 11:13 PM | TrackBack

March 28, 2007

Rambling Reflections

I have been thinking a great deal in the past few days about my sister's death and the times both before and after the accident which took her life. I am not sure why exactly this has haunted my mind, but I suspect it may be because the fourth anniversary of her death is only a couple of weeks away. I decided a few nights ago that I wanted to write out some reflections, but I intentionally delayed sitting down and writing. Part of me wants to deal with these thoughts, and part of me wants constantly wants to flee from them.

I apologize if this post seems disjointed or strangely written. I have no unifying theme or purpose other than just to reflect. It's sort of like stream-of-consciousness but a tad more organized.

The first time I realized I was focusing on my sister's death occurred when I discovered I could not remember the exact date of her death. I knew it happened in April, and I thought it was most likely April 11. This turned out to be the correct date (I checked my blog post about it to be sure), but the fact that I had any doubt whatsoever about the date of the accident made me feel as if I were an absolutely worthless human being. For the first time since shortly after her funeral (that I can remember), I began to cry about her death.

Perhaps not surprisingly, what I remember most vividly about the night she died is hearing the news. I remember sitting down to watch the mini-series "Storm of the Century." I remember telling someone (I think Chris) pick up and immediately hang up the phone the first time it rang. I remember the frustration I felt when it began to ring again. I remember not recognizing my mother's voice because she was still in tears. I remember her telling me that there had been an accident and that my sister had not survived. I remember my mouth opening in disbelief, and I remember crouching as I held the phone. I remember my mother asking me if there was someone else she could talk to, and I remember almost yelling for someone else to take the phone. I remember Mark taking it as I moved to sit on my bed. I remember being left alone (and I'm fairly certain I asked everyone to leave). I remember Nathan walking into the room later after he got off work, oblivious to what had happened, and I remember not being able to tell him, instead telling him to go ask Mark. I remember finally emerging from my room (I do not remember why) and finding everyone who was currently on Dorm Four meeting in third-floor lounge. I never asked, but I've always assumed that was to share the news and pray for my family. I remember at one point sitting on a table in the second-floor lounge staring blankly into the night, and I remember making eye-contact with a group of guys walking into the building who were unaware of what had happened and minutes later being asked by that group if they could pray over me. I remember waiting for what felt like hours for a family friend to pick me up and describing to some of the guys what his truck would look like, and I remember feeling annoyed when a different person arrived in a different truck because I felt like I had misled my friends.

After almost four years, I doubt those memories will leave me any time in the near future. What had been hidden, however, were precisely what happened when I went home. Were it not for my other blog entries about that time, I am not sure my memory would have been jogged. Most of that time is lost in a fog that descended some time after falling asleep that first night/early morning. I'm very glad now that I did write something during that time.

At the same time, though, I don't really recognize the person who wrote several of those entries. Despite my "cynical" attitude I remember supposedly having, a good deal of my writing had quite a bit of hope mingling with the note of despair or bitterness. I do not remember that hope, and I certainly do not remember at what it was directed. Did I possess that hope, or did I express it in an attempt to fill a role I thought I had to play? I may not be that great of an actor on stage, but I have long been able to suppress emotion. I have been doing it all my life. I am fairly certain none of my roommates thought anything was wrong as I said goodnight and climbed into bed to cry privately the other night. I've been wanting to talk about this for days, but I refused to let myself show it even though I am surrounded by people who would be more than willing to talk with me about anything. Was I doing the same thing after her death? Was it all part of my attempt to be "strong" for my family?

I remember grieving. I remember mourning. I remember weakly smiling and thanking people for their concern. But, I do not remember hope.

Which, of course, does not really answer what is important. If I truly felt that way even after the death of my sister, what has changed within me, and what provoked that change? I look back now and think of my past self as a naive fool, and I felt a twinge of embarassment as I linked to those previous posts.

I also can not remember the last time I visited my sister's grave. My mother and my grandparents visited it daily for quite some time after the funeral, and I am fairly certain they still go to it at least once a week. I could probably count the number of times I have been there because I wanted to be there on one hand. Some seem to see it as a way to honor and remember her, while I came to view it as a waste of time and energy. Ironically, this is also when I began to develop an interest in cemetaries in general, and I a few months later I encountered "Dead Like Me" for the first time. Yet, I now find myself wanting to visit her grave. I've even been tempted to make a special trip from Longview just for that purpose.

I'm not exactly sure where this desire is coming from, but I suspect that guilt may play a heavy role in it. Guilt over being given a new car after my sister's death. Guilt over becoming an only child and accepting that descriptor for myself. Guilt over having the audacity to actually enjoy getting more attention from my family and seemingly being more valued by my relatives. Guilt over knowing I could use that attention and love to my advantage and, yes, even doing it. Guilt over simultaneously painfully missing my sister and forgetting how she affected my life. Guilt over moving on and mostly not looking back.

Regret for the future is also mixed with much of that guilt; however, most of that regret is selfish in nature. I regret not being able to see my sister grow and mature past the age of 15. I regret not being able to know her as an adult. I regret not being able to meet the man she would have married or know the children she would have eventually have mothered. (Despite my views on children, she seemed quite fond of them.) I regret her becoming a memory, and I regret allowing that memory to be so small.

I'm not sure what I want from writing all of this out, and I'm fairly certain I could ramble on for a good deal longer. I'm not looking for a solution to any perceived problems one might find from this. I think I just needed to get this off of my chest so I can breathe again. So that I can go to sleep without once again reliving the night of my sister's death.

And that's not meant to sound nearly as melodramatic as I know it does.

Posted by Randy at 11:53 PM | TrackBack

February 27, 2007

Mail Me Money

Today, I received a letter from Hillary Rodham Clinton. The return address on the envelope was simply "Hillary Rodham Clinton. It was a fundraising letter for her presidential campaign, naturally. The letter's salutation is addressed to "Friend."

The letter contains a great many things. Jabs at the formerly Republican majority and the Bush administration. Allusions to the so-called American dream. Emphasis on the need for new leadership. Promises about "develop[ing] a coherent Iraq strategy" and "cutting the deficit and balancing the budget." Reminders of Clinton's experience and track-record in the Senate.

However, only two sentiments of the letter truly caught my attention, and both were rhetorical flairs in an otherwise uninspiring letter. The first is the subordinate clause: "After eight long years of an administration that created as many serious problems as it failed to resolve." This appears to be the most direct and arguably vicious attack in the letter, and it is added as a forethought to a rather boring main clause of the third sentence.

The second sentiment is actually a full paragraph describing her victory over Republican campaigns. The letter explains almost a hundred million dollars has been spent "against [her]" and she still won two "strong victories for the Senate." It also explains she received 60% of the vote in counties which were carried by Bush in New York. She says she knows "how Washington Republicans think, how they operate, and how to defeat them." She needs to stress this point because it seems many Democrats hesitate gravitating towards her because she is seen as too divisive.

The letter concludes with an appeal to the future of America. At the bottom of the last sheet, a post-script in what is presumably her handwriting declares, "Together, I know we can do this! Hillary." The evelope also contained a form for a donation attached to a small survey asking what the donor believes are the most important issues facing the nation.

This is the second fundraising letter I have received in the last few weeks. Not too long ago, I found a letter from the Cato Institute in my CPO box. While Hillary's letter was only three pages, the Cato Institute's letter reached a gargantuan eight pages. While the Cato Institute's smallest donation box was $50, Hillary's requested donations went as low as $25.

I'm not sure how either Hillary or Cato got my address, but I am highly amused that they both asked me for money. I would like to get unsolicited mail from more politicians running for President, though. I find it most interesting.

Posted by Randy at 10:44 PM | TrackBack

August 20, 2006

The End of an Internship

Yesterday, I drove to Tyler, briefly interviewed Congressman Louie Gohmert, checked the police beat, wrote two briefs based on police department media releases, called police about a drive-by shooting that afternoon and wrote another brief about it, and tried to get information about a woods fire that happened in a different county.

I also cleaned out my desk and said my final farewells as a summer intern to the newspaper staff.

It's weird. This is the first time I've had a job where leaving was actually bittersweet. Everyone there told me I did a fantastic job over the summer. I'm assuming they were sincere in this since the editors told me they would be happy to hire me part-time during the school year.

At the moment, that part-time opportunity seems appealing. It will take a few weeks before I know if I can handle part-time work with my current schedule.

Posted by Randy at 11:00 AM | TrackBack

August 04, 2006

22!

Gratuitous happy birthday to me post.

That is all.

Posted by Randy at 10:05 AM | TrackBack

July 30, 2006

It's Official

I really am a nerd. Yesterday, I purchased two books off of Amazon.

The first book is about media law and how it directly relates to journalism. The second is a collection of essays about journalism from the Poynter Institue.

Neither of these books are necessary for any class, but, since I've already taken LeTourneau's one journalism class, I decided it would be a good idea to further my journalism education through other means.

I'm hoping they will arrive around Friday.

Posted by Randy at 05:58 PM | TrackBack

July 24, 2006

Yet Another Work Related Post

Random thoughts from work:

1) It's odd for the county judge to know me by name.
2) It's odd for the chief of police to know me by name.
3) I've encountered at least three LETU grads working for/with Longview.
4) There aren't mediocre public information officers/public relations people. They either rock or suck. There is no middle ground.
5) Many journalists are left-of-center politically, but they generally hide it really well.
6) Staying objective in the face of stupidity is much harder than most would think.
7) Interviewing a child (or teenager) that will say something more than "It was fun" or "I like it" makes me feel happy.
8) My favorite leads are always the ones that would result in a stern lecture if I submitted them to an editor and in a lawsuit if published.

Posted by Randy at 10:12 PM | TrackBack

June 07, 2006

And You Are. . .?

One of the more interesting aspects of journalism is that I must talk to multiple people for every story I must write. Occasionally, I can gather all the information I need over the phone. Most of the time, though, I must actually meet and talk with people face to face.

Some stories only require me to talk with two or three people, and some require me to talk to more than five. As such, I generally introduce myself to at least four people every day while working. Since I have done quite a few "human interest" stories, I believe I can accurately say most of these people have never spoken with a reporter before. That fact, along with my long hair in this conservative area, helps many of them remember who I am. I doubt they remember my name for very long, but they definitely remember I am a reporter.

I, on the other hand, have a rather difficult time remembering who they are unless they were the main subject of the story itself. Covering one story today, I saw at least four people I knew I had met previously through other stories. I only knew the name of one of them. I struggled to remember at the very least what story I was working on when I met the others, and I think I know what I was doing when I talked with one.

I mentioned this to one of the other reporters. He laughed, and he told me I should "get used to it." He said it is even stranger when you meet them outside of a professional context. He had a man walk up to him while he was eating out the other day. The guy asked him if he had written any big stories lately. They spoke briefly, and he spent the entire meal trying to remember who that man was. He finally remembered as he finished eating, and he spoke with the man again before leaving.

Other reporters in the office have joked about names during work. When one reporter told me that I "look like a Steve," a few of them began to laugh. Seeing my slightly confused facial expression, he explained that we work with so many names they totally run together.

It's kind of tragic, really. I'm bad enough about forgetting names as it is.

Posted by Randy at 10:26 PM | TrackBack

May 24, 2006

Randy the Reporter

For the duration of the summer, I am working with the Longview News-Journal as an intern reporter. Tomorrow marks the completion of my first week of work. I am loving it.

I walked into the newsroom a few minutes before nine in the morning on my first day of work. The city editor gives me a tour of the newsroom, which takes about five minutes at most. He takes me to a computer and tells me that I will not have a permanent desk because I am an intern. In essence, I will be moving desks every time a regular employee needs his or her desk back. I have used five different desks thus far. Occasionally, I use more than one a day.

After briefly explaining the computer system (I have never used a Mac before), he decides that I should not spend my first morning sitting around looking bored while waiting for the managing editor to give me a more formal introduction to the newspaper. He assigns me a story. In twenty minutes, I have to be at the Longview Public Library. I go, get the story, and come back. By this time, the managing editor has arrived. I spend the rest of the day either writing my first story or having certain things about the newspaper and their procedures explained to me.

The next day I am assigned another story. For this one, I need to call various people involved in city government and ask them questions about National Hurricane Week. Once again, I get the story and try to write it while also being introduced to various people and departments. The city editor also explains to me the Saturday schedule rotation. Essentially, I will occasionally have a Monday off, but I will have to work the following Saturday. My turn through the rotation is this week, of course.

The weekend rolled by too quickly, naturally. It always does. Anyway, I am assigned two stories on Tuesday. For the first one, I must drive to another town. For the second one, I must walk two blocks. As I finish these stories, I discover that I have five stories assigned to me already that I must finish before next Wednesday.

Today, I completed one of these stories as well as interviewed a man for another one. Additionally, I was given another story this morning which I had to complete for tomorrow's paper. Today was the first day where I felt I might not have enough time to finish everything I was assigned.

What I find strange is that I do not find this to be stressful and I am not feeling overburdened. Instead, I'm finding it exhilerating. I'm finally learning what is required of an actual journalist. Like I said earlier, I'm loving it.

Posted by Randy at 10:14 PM | TrackBack

January 06, 2006

Nightmares

Yesterday evening I purchased The Nightmare on Elm Street Collection. Later that night, I watched the original A Nightmare on Elm Street. Five movies later (I skipped the second one because it is the worst of the series in my opinion) and I am writing this before I go to sleep.

The Nightmare series, starring the infamous Freddy Krueger, will always hold a special place in my heart. The third installment of the series, Dream Warriors, served as my introduction to the horror genre. I don't remember how old I was at the time (probably somewhere around 10-12), but I remember my father watching it one weekend night and inviting me to watch it with him. Shortly after that night, I devoured the series. Every time I had a chance to rent a movie, which was rather frequently, I would grab a new Nightmare.

When I finished with the series, I moved on to Friday the 13th and all of its sequels. Following that series, I grabbed the Halloween movies. After that, I just sort of grabbed random horror movies that looked appealing. This was how I found George Romero's Night of the Living Dead and other zombie movies.

Were any of these movies of great quality? Of course not. They are horror movies. It's hard to find any horror movie that isn't campy in some way or another. That is part of what makes them so much fun.

This horror background also allowed me to enjoy Scream and Shaun of the Dead much more than some others. The latter is a movie I definitely must own.

Anyway, the point of this is to say that I will most likely try to force some people to watch the original Nightmare this semester. If I ever purchase the Friday the 13th collection, I'm sure I'll do the same for its original.

Posted by Randy at 06:29 AM | TrackBack

November 06, 2005

Memory

Yesterday, the fifth of November, was my sister's birthday.

I do not think I would have remembered this at all had my mother not called and reminded me last night.

I remember shortly after my sister's death that I was afraid of eventually going an entire day without thinking of her. Now, I can't even remember her on her birthday.

Happy belated birthday, Jessica. I miss you.

Posted by Randy at 02:39 AM | TrackBack

October 21, 2005

Shocking Discovery?

Tonight, after eating at Fazoli's, I went to Wal-Mart with Doug because we both needed to re-stock on a few things. Typically, my trips to buy food/Dr Pepper/whatever is rather boring. This trip was special though, and it was all because of one little kid.

As Doug and I walked through the guantlet of the main aisles, we passed by a young boy being led by his mother. This kid had to be four at the oldest. The only reason I even gave the kid a second glance was because he seemed to be staring at me intently. He had a strange smile on his face, as if he had seen something incredible. Naturally, I was a little confused.

Almost immediately after we passed the kid, I heard a small voice cry out. "Mom," it exclaimed, "that man has girl's hair!"

I stopped, turned around in the aisle, and just looked at the kid. I couldn't help but laugh because the kid was still staring at me. The mother, who I can only assume was mortified at her child's exclamation, never even slowed her pace.

As Doug had pulled slightly ahead of me when this happened, he didn't hear it. When I told him, he practically collapsed in the middle of an aisle with laughter.

Posted by Randy at 08:32 PM | TrackBack

September 18, 2005

Alien

(Warning: Typical family rant below, followed by family and personal introspective rambling.)

There is no place I know of where I feel more out of place than when I am at my cousins' home.

The same things seem to happen every time. My father and his siblings immediately begin to bounce conversation between them, and my cousins have developed the ability to jump in and participate. I might be able to do so if the topic would drift away from hunting, my deceased grandparents, or far-right conservatism.

The food is eventually ready to eat. Someone will offer some idiotic prayer thinking it remains funny ("Good food, good drink. Good Lord, let's eat.") Everyone then fights for the food, which is generally some variation of BBQ.

While eating, conversation remains on its typical course. Usually when I'm in the middle of eating, someone will make some racist comment or bring up some political untruth that makes my insides begin to boil. Occasionally, the two are combined. Last night, they were. ("Those damn n-----s in New Orleans stayed so they could take control of the city.") When this happens, I finish eating as quickly as I can and then excuse myself. I would confront most of my family if we were speaking privately. In a crowd, however, I am definitely the minority.

While I may not enjoy the company of my extended family, I do envy one aspect of their life. Their family talks to one another. They joke and play around. They are comfortable with one another.

The accident that killed my sister also killed one of my cousins. Their family pulled together. While they still have their problems, they have one another.

My family, on the other hand, drifted apart. I spent the night my sister died at the house of a family friend because I could not handle my family. The next few days, it seemed as if we all suffered on our own. We didn't really speak to one another. When we went to see the mother of another kid (Justin, my sister's boyfriend) that died, I remember my mother finding Justin's jacket in my father's truck, picking it up, and holding it to her chest while sobbing to herself. I didn't know what to do, so I just sat in the backseat of the truck quietly. I have no idea what my father was thinking, but he started driving. I don't think we said a word to one another during the drive.

My family never was very close. I don't think my sister's death tore us apart, but I do think it constructed a barrier between us. Most of this weekend, my father watched television in the living room, my mother watched DVDs in their bedroom, and I was on my computer in my room. We usually even eat in separate locations.

Most of the time, I am happy with this arrangement. I'm a private person, and I enjoy spending time alone. However, when I want to engage in a deep and serious conversation with anyone, I don't really have anyone to speak with.

I have surrounded myself with an impenetrable shell. Most people are aware of what is outside it, but only very few have I allowed inside.

This is mainly because I have a severe trust deficiency. (I blame my father for that, but that's a totally different story.) I'm afraid to really open up, even to the closest of my friends.

As a result, I always end up feeling like I don't belong. Like everyone is just tolerating my presence because they don't want to be mean. When I hit that point, I start to withdraw. I slowly pull myself away. And then I never know what to do.

. . .

You know, I am blaming Martinez and Dr. K. for this post.

Posted by Randy at 05:47 PM | TrackBack

July 31, 2005

And I'm Back!

Well, I have now returned to Texas. I'm back at home, and I am once again using my own computer.

I can hardly contain my excitement. (Please note sarcasm)

I've started unpacking. I probably will finish unpacking just in time to move back to LeTourneau. I am far too lazy for my own good.

I loved DC. I want to go back.

Posted by Randy at 03:21 PM | TrackBack

July 27, 2005

Slightly Surreal

Two things occurred today that made today feel a little strange.

First, Wonkette, everyone's favorite political gossip blog, linked a Washington Times article co-written by fellow Institute of Political Journalism student and intern Ed Cen. I ride the bus with to work with this guy every morning.

(By the way, can someone explain to me how that story got on the front page of a major newspaper? I'm happy for Ed, really, but I think that was crappy editing.)

Second, a cold front finally hit the DC area. A storm came with it. When the storm subsided, a gorgeous and eerie light filled the sky. It made everything look slightly odd. I loved it.

Posted by Randy at 10:58 PM | TrackBack

July 25, 2005

What A Day

Today has been entirely too long, but quite a few good things happened.

I went to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building (which is right next to the White House) this morning to listen to Dan Bartlett and the deputy press secretary of Bush speak. I received a random compliment about my hair from a woman as I was going from the "White House briefing" to work. At work, I completed two papers and had time to do actual work. I "led" a debate team in arguing the "con" side of a national shield law for journalists, and we won.

I am now completely finished with classes for the summer, and I have three more days of work ahead of me.

Posted by Randy at 11:14 PM | TrackBack

July 23, 2005

Coulter = Dahmer?

People seem to wonder why I am so vehemently despise people like Ann Coulter. Well, for these people, I would recommend reading this little comic.

I hate to say it, but this really is how I see many of the well-known "conservative" talking heads. Of course, the fact that it seems to focus primarily on Coulter makes it all the sweeter.

I know some will argue that Coulter is the equivalent of Micheal Moore, but I think rhetorically she is much, much worse.

Posted by Randy at 01:01 AM | TrackBack

July 16, 2005

Priorities?

What I need to be doing: Writing an Economics paper, writing a journalism paper, and studying for two finals

What I am actually doing: Reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I blame J. K. Rowling.

Posted by Randy at 06:46 PM | TrackBack

July 08, 2005

STRESS!

I have about three weeks left in DC. I have two weeks of classes left at Georgetown. As such, my professors and employer have decided to give me an obscene amount of work.

This weekend I need to research and write a seven-page minimum Economics paper because I won't have another long stretch of time to work on it before it will be due. I must begin studying for the second Economics test on this upcoming Thursday.

I need to write an op-ed piece, which will include quite a bit of research into the topic of my choice (most likely national shield laws for journalists), for my Journalism Seminar. I must also conduct an interview with a professional journalist in the DC area and begin writing a seven-page paper for the same seminar.

Over the weekend, I will need to create five story ideas (and write a "brief" description of each) for the magazine at which I intern. If my supervisor likes any of them, I will get to write one of them. I also have just less than a thousand stories I need to organize before my last day of work.

Thankfully, my ethics professor has decided not to add to this burden. Yet.

If I can survive this week, which I believe will be the busiest and most stressed of my educational career, the rest of the summer should be practically easy-going.

On the plus side, I do have a White House briefing at some point in the next few weeks. I am quite excited about that.

Posted by Randy at 08:48 PM | TrackBack

July 05, 2005

The Fourth in DC

How did I spend my July 4th? Let me tell you.

I slept in until about noon. I then watched Spiderman 2 with one of my roommates.

Around four o'clock, we left for the National Mall. On the way, we stopped to eat at a Subway.

When we got to the Mall, we met some friends and sat around for about thirty or so minutes. After this, I left with some people to go watch A Capitol Fourth, the PBS concert special. After the concert, I watched fireworks explode behind the Washington Monument.

I then came back to my apartment and slept. All in all, it was a good day.

Posted by Randy at 08:48 PM | TrackBack

June 29, 2005

My Time in Philadelphia

Or, The Budding Salesman

Yesterday morning, my three intern coworkers and I stumbled onto the street outside of our apartments at six in the morning. We were adorned with our "Sunday best," so to speak, and we were waiting for one of our supervisors to arrive. He arrived, and we loaded our bags and ourselves into the rented Trailblazer.

We were on our way to an educational technology convention in Philadelphia. I was not entirely sure what to expect. I knew that we were going to be salespeople/marketers for one of my employers' websites, but other than that I was practically in the dark.

I was quite surprised when we arrived.

At ten o'clock (after riding for four hours), we arrived at the convention center. We signed in and collected our exhibitor badges, and we walked into the convention. My jaw then hit the floor. We walked by displays and booths featuring Microsoft, Macintosh, National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, and many more household names. We met people from California, New York, and everywhere in between (including Canada and Mexico).

This convention was featuring new educational technology and electronic resources. Teachers, librarians, and school board members from across the United States and several other nations were in attendance, and my job was to introduce our website to as many of them as possible.

That's right. For this convention, I was a salesman.

For those of you who know me, I'm sure this thought must be entertaining. Can you seriously see me walking up and starting conversations with random people who linger for an appropriate time near my booth? Thankfully, I was not alone with this. Two of the other interns seemed really natural in this type of situation, a fact which surprised both ot them.

Anyway, we worked our booth and the convention from 10 AM to 5:30 PM, with a break for lunch somewhere between those times. We then walked to our hotel, walked to a Chinese food place, walked to an ice cream/cupcake shop, and walked back to the hotel.

Today, we worked at the convention from 9 AM to 3 PM. We left Philadelphia around 4:30, and we arrived back in DC at about 9:30.

Altogether, we probably spoke to a couple of thousand people. I feel completely drained. Fortunately, we do not have to go to work tomorrow.

Of course, I do have a briefing at the State Department tomorrow afternoon. I'm looking forward to that, but I can't wait for the weekend.

Posted by Randy at 10:00 PM | TrackBack

June 19, 2005

Concerts in DC

I saw 10,000 Maniacs and Lifehouse last night. I have photos to prove it.

My ears still hurt. I had fun, but I still don't understand why the music needs to be so loud.

Posted by Randy at 12:50 PM | TrackBack

June 15, 2005

Seminars in DC

Tonight, the IPJ program had the priviledge of listening to a couple of professional journalists speak about their experiences in journalism.

The first speaker was Carl Leubsdorf. He is the Washington Bureau Chief of the Dallas Morning News. I was able to speak with him briefly after the seminar.

The second speaker was Bret Baier. Some of you may recognize that name. I knew immediately that he worked for the Fox News Channel, but I could not recall what he did for the FNC. Baier is the national security correspondent. He was practically smothered with questions (some more about his channel than his work). Unfortunately, I did not get the chance to ask him anything.

Fortunately, I have the office and home/cell phone numbers for both of these journalists. It is quite likely that I will never use them, but it is nice to have them nonetheless. I also have their emails.

:)

Posted by Randy at 08:22 PM | TrackBack

June 11, 2005

Classes in DC

("DC" will be in the title of every post I make while I am in Washington.)

As of now, I have had two classes of ethics, two classes of economics, and an introduction to the "Leadership Scholars" class. I have started to get a feel for the classes.

"Ethical Perspectives on the Media" is going to be a great class. This is basically a secular ethics class which will eventually focus on ethics in the media. The professor has been focusing on a general overview of ethics thus far. I am excited about this class because I am actually going to hear the thoughts and insights of people who are not necessarily from the background to which I have grown accustomed. The fact that it is a discussion class makes it that much better.

"Economics in Public Policy" is going to be interesting. The professor is a fanatic in regards to economic theory. I do not much like his style of teaching, but he definitely seems to know economic theory. This is my first "real" economics class. I can't wait to start reading Regulation, the Constitution, and the Economy. It just sounds fascinating.

"Leadership Scholars Seminar" can only get better, I hope. The syllabus claims that this is a class designed to facilitate discussion about our internships, current news, and our other classes. The introduction to the class was a three-hour workshop that would make any IMPACT retreat planner salivate. I took a "color personality profile" (I'm yellow, apparently) and a political spectrum profile (I'm center-left). Supposedly, this was the favorite class of last year's students. Unless the class itself is quite different from our little workshop, I am going to be greatly disappointed with this program's alumni.

Posted by Randy at 03:44 PM | TrackBack

June 09, 2005

It's Great to be in DC!

It really is. However, the travel to get her really, really sucked. Thank you, Continental, for not loading my most important suitcase onto the plane. I really appreciate having to wait six hours to get my luggage. Thank you for that wonderful experience.

My roommates are . . . interesting. I am living with three people with personalities quite different from my own. My actual roommate is from Baltimore. One of the others is from Slovakia, and the other one is from Orange county. All three are rather outgoing and semi-athletic.

My internship is off to a rather slow start. I am responsible for the reorganization of a project of one of the websites. The website itself can be found here. I will be creating a new category system and sorting somewhere between 1500 and 3000 news stories.

I'm typing this on my roommate's computer. He has gone out to meet some friends who are in the area. I think his sleeping habits thus far have rivaled this guy's.

Anyway, I need to get to sleep. I have an ethics class in the morning. I'll talk about it and rant about my economics class at another time.

Posted by Randy at 11:54 PM | TrackBack

June 03, 2005

DC!

I shall be leaving shortly to go to the international airport near Houston. From there, I shall fly to Washington, D.C. Two days later I shall take my first class, and one day after my first class I shall have my first day of work.

For those not "in the know," I will be interning at an online magazine that is a subsidiary of the Washington Times. I found this internship through the Institute of Political Journalism, which is an off-shoot of The American Studies Foundation. Mr. Payton, wonderful professor that he is, brought the IPJ program to my attention in the Fall '04 semester.

I plan to make at least a few posts while I am in Washington, but I am not making any promises. I will be returning to Texas on July 30.

Posted by Randy at 07:27 PM | TrackBack

May 13, 2005

Guilty Pleasures: Music Edition

Normally, when I am at home, I have the television in my room set to a music channel for background noise. The channels range from MTV (if it's late enough that they actually play music videos) to VH1 (if I have an urge to catch up on pop culture between the occasional music video) to FUSE (if I want to listen to music and/or watch music videos at almost any time). Currently, FUSE is my favorite channel.

As I've had this background music going practically since I've been home, I have had the unbearable misfortune pleasure to catch up on all the music that is currently popular.

This generally raises a number of musician-oriented questions. "What was Gwen Stefani thinking?" "When did Rob Thomas become a solo pop singer?" "Why is Akon singing a duet with one of the Chipmunks?"

Some of the music I have enjoyed. For example, I love Breaking Benjamin's "Sooner or Later." I've also really liked Story of the Year's "Till the Day I Die." Green Day's "Holiday" is an obvious favorite.

Some of the music I have despised. Gwen Stefani's latest abomination "Hollaback Girl" and Black Eyed Peas' horror "Don't Phunk With My Heart" make the screeching of nails on chalkboard seem pleasent.

Some songs, however, I feel like I should hate, but for some reason I really enjoy. A few weeks ago I was introduced to Slipknot's "Vermillion," and I immediately fell in love with the song. Slipknot is generally too "hard" for my taste. System of a Down has traditionally created music that I hate. The lead singer's voice normally irritates me to no end. However, I like their song "B.Y.O.B." "Feel Good, Inc." by Gorrilaz is lighter than I generally like my music, and it has a small rap interlude in the middle of the song. Strangely, that doesn't seem to matter. The majority of what I have heard by My Chemical Romance I have despised, but "Helena" just grabs my attention somehow. (If you want to see a delightfully morbid music video, check out "Helena.")

My taste in music has always been strange. I'm occasionally surprised by what I like and hate as far as music is concerned.

Posted by Randy at 09:52 PM | TrackBack

May 07, 2005

Art!

Due to the demands of a certain friend, I am providing a link to my online photo gallery. If you are interested in seeing my amateur attempts at artistic photography, you can see my Deviant Art gallery here.

Posted by Randy at 01:09 AM | TrackBack

May 03, 2005

Packing & Moving

I hate packing. I loathe moving. Consequently, I despise the work necessary at the end of a school year.

Every time I ask myself the same questions:

Why do I have so much stuff? Why did I bring this crap with me? Why did I never unpack certain things? Why am I putting some things into boxes instead of throwing them away? Why am I such a packrat?

How is it that I am able to fill three boxes with books not related to my schooling?

Where am I going to put my textbooks? How am I going to get all of this stuff to my home? What am I going to do with it once I get it there? Am I really going to bring it all back next time?

These never seem to get answered. Instead, they are pushed to the back of my mind. They are ignored.

They resurface every semester. They are ignored again. It's a vicious cycle.

I hate packing and moving.

Posted by Randy at 10:27 PM | TrackBack

March 31, 2005

Note to Self

Dear Self,

You need a hairdryer. You really need a hairdryer.

In fact, I must inquire as to why you have not yet bought one. Your hair now takes far too much time to dry on its own. I would not be writing to you after 1 AM if this was false.

Please attempt to find one the next time you are in an area of commerce. If you continue to forget, I may be forced to take drastic measures.

Thank you for your attention,
Myself

Posted by Randy at 01:21 AM | TrackBack

March 19, 2005

I Have Returned!

Edit: I have days 0-3 posted! I'm sure I'll finish the entire trip before the end of next week.

Day 0 (Friday)

My mother, my aunt, and I drive to a hotel a few miles away from the Houston airport. While driving my mother's Navigator I accidentally drive on a curb while travelling around sixty miles per hour. I don't think my mother has ever woken up so quickly.

We arrive at the hotel and go to sleep.

Day 1

We wake up at a hideously early hour and travel to the airport. I should point out that my aunt has had both hips replaced. She is stopped by security every time we attempt to board a plane on this trip. We have a two or three hour plane ride to the Atlanta airport. We have an eight-hour layover in Atlanta.

At the airport, we meet my uncle's partner, Will, and begin to go around the city. We go to eat at one of my uncle's favorite places to eat. It had a tropical decor (complete with parrots!) and a variety of exotic foods. We all had hamburgers. When leaving, we witness a lady almost get decapitated with a small windmill. The metal windmill fell off of its post and passed within a couple of feet of the woman's head.

We then drive to an art museum in Atlanta. The museum did not have a large variety of art, but they did have an impressive collection of an African-American artist from the 1960s (I think).

We spend the rest of our eight-hour layover at Will's house. While there, we were introduced to Rita and LG. Rita is pictured below. Remember her. She will come back into this story later.

Rita

We return to the airport around six in the afternoon to prepare for the nine and a half hour flight to Buenos Aires. I did not get much sleep on this flight. I remember that the movie shown was Shall We Dance? and that I actually watched it because I could not sleep.

Day 2

We eventually arrived at the Buenos Aires airport. My uncle was supposed to meet us there. We waited for him at the exit to which we were directed. We waited some more. We kept waiting. We waited. He finally finds us. It turns out that our flight did not take us to the normal terminal because all of the gates at that terminal were full.

We took a taxi to the apartment we were renting for the week and deposited our luggage. We then began our time as "tourists." We covered quite a bit of the city on this day.

One of our first stops was the "Casa Rosada." This building is basically a giant office building for the Argentine government. One of the first things I noticed about the building was that it had a large number of blockades in front of and near it.

Pink HouseProtestBarriers

We then travelled to the equivalent of a giant flea market. Apparently, this flea market takes place every Saturday and Sunday in Buenos Aires. We did not buy anything, but we did see a number of entertainers attempting to squeeze money out of the tourists. I saw more people trying to earn money by dancing the tango than I can count.

After the flea market, we went to eat at a popular restaurant, the name of which I can not remember. We ate outside underneath the shade of a gigantic tree.

BigTree.JPG
That is one tree. One giant tree.

After eating, we walked a short distance to a giant ten-acre cemetary packed with crypts. I literally mean "packed." Excluding a few narrow walkways, there is no empty space in the cemetary. Many of the crypts are only a few feet wide.

Entrance.JPG
This is the entrance to the Recoleta Cemetary. The Recoleta contains the crypts of some of Buenos Aires' most famous people. For example:

Evita's CryptEvitaPlate.JPG
This is the crypt in which Evita is interred. Supposedly, flowers are always on the door of this crypt.

Evita's crypt is an excellent example of a well-kept crypt. Many old crypts in the cemetary look as if they were recently added. Unfortunately, not all crypts are that well-maintained. The following photo is of a small statue that had fallen off of the inside wall of an old crypt.

Crucifixion

If anyone is interested in seeing photos of the more famous crypts, I have a book about the cemetary. I also took a large number of photos of the cemetary.

After the cemetary, we went to another large flea market. While here, I purchased two small paintings from a local artist. My aunt also bought my older cousin (the one that is married and has two kids) a painting.

We returned to our apartment for a short time. We then went to eat. We ate at a closer restaurant this time. This became our favorite restaurant during our stay. We returned two more times to eat at it. After eating, we returned to the apartment and collapsed.

Day 3

We woke up (relatively) early in order to catch a boat to Uruguay.

The boat we took across the seventy-mile wide river was rather nice. It could travel about seventy miles an hour, had a larger version of airplane seats (without seatbelts), and had its very own snack bar at the back. I think it could seat a couple hundered people.

We went to Uruguay in order to see "Colonia." Colonia is a UN protected "World Heritage Site." I do not know exactly what that means, but I am assuming that no scyscrapers will be built there any time soon. Most of the city looked quaint, for lack of a better word.

We took a taxi to the "old wall" of the city to pass through the old gate. The gate is pictured below.

Colonia.JPG
See that curve the top left of the wall? That part was supposedly knocked off during a siege. I say supposedly because I only know what my uncle told me about this place.

Once through that gate, we walked through the ancient part of this town. There were streets and buildings dating back to the 1600s. A large wooden plaque on the side of one of these buildings had a quote fron Don Quixote in old Spanish.

We had lunch in Colonia. I think that the food we had at that restaurant was the best food we ate during the trip.

We continued exploring the town until about four or five in the evening. We had to return to the dock in order to ride back to Buenos Aires. The boat ride had the same "entertainment" on the way back. "Entertainment" should be read as "boring series of commercials in Spanish."

Once we returned, my mother wanted to watch a movie. She wanted to watch Alexander. However, since it did not play for a few hourse, we watched Meet the Fockers instead.

On the way back to the apartment, we took a detour in order to through a mall. I'm not sure why, but we did. The mall had a large mural on its center ceiling, but this mural was not worth the trip.

Posted by Randy at 09:49 PM | TrackBack

January 04, 2005

25 Hours

That is how long I have been awake. Whee!

There is just something odd about staying awake all night and going to the dentist in the morning. For some reason, everything feels so surreal.

Posted by Randy at 02:54 PM | TrackBack

December 25, 2004

Happy Holidays

[Insert cheesy "Reason for the Season" or "Why I Love Christmas" post here]

Celebrate!

Posted by Randy at 12:20 AM | TrackBack

December 21, 2004

'Tis the Season, Part 2

For some reason, I have been feeling incredibly antisocial lately. I have been basically staying in my room reading, doing crosswords, and playing Silent Hill 3.

My parents have already had some friends and relatives over, but I only came out of my room to say hello, to get food, and to say goodbye. I am not looking forward to Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at all. I'll be spending those three days at three different Christmas celebrations (two with family, one with family friends). If still in my current mood, I may accidentally bite off someone's head.

Happy holidays.

Posted by Randy at 01:02 AM | TrackBack

November 20, 2004

ATTN: Females

Can someone (anyone) please explain to me why walking down a church aisle in a white dress to have a ring put on a finger is the biggest event in a woman's life?

I have nothing against weddings, but it seems to me that most people--male and female--put way too much effort into it. I understand the symbolism of it and everything, but most people spend too much money and get way too stressed.

People waste money on special napkins (and other little "keepsakes"), special decorations, and about three or four thousand special photographs. In my opinion, anything other than the clothing, jewelry, and food is superfluous.

Then again, what do I know? What better way to start a new life together than by spending hideous amounts of money on a ceremony that lasts maybe a couple of hours?

Posted by Randy at 06:51 PM | TrackBack

September 19, 2004

A Message...

Despite what it looks like, I have been doing quite a bit of writing lately. In fact, I happen to think I have been working on some of the best compositions of my life. Sadly, they are far too personal for me to share here.

As soon as I finish working through some personal issues I will get back to my normal semi-frequent posting.

I apologize for any inconvenience.

Posted by Randy at 12:39 PM | TrackBack

August 10, 2004

And I'm Back!

I have returned home safely. I got home Monday evening.

I am now twenty years old.

I had an incredible trip.

More details to follow when I have the time.

Posted by Randy at 11:15 AM | TrackBack

July 02, 2004

And I'm Off!

At least, I will be very soon.

First, I'll be headed to LA for almost a week for "intense" training. Then, I hop on a plane headed to Beijing. After maybe a day in Beijing, I have a fourteen hour train ride to...somewhere. I don't remember the name. Anyway, after that I have another few hours on a bus before I arrive in Jingzhou.

Technically, I'm taking eight books with me. These books are collected into two volumes, of course. I'm taking the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy set for when I just want to sit somewhere and laugh, and I'm taking the Charles Williams reader for when I'm looking for something a bit more serious. I've wanted to re-read all of that for quite some time now.

E-mail me! I don't know how frequently I will be able to check it, but I would like to hear from some of you. Some of you may be hearing from me. If you want my address and don't have it, ask Martinez for it. If that doesn't work, you know the Cynic won. Try out his suggestions until something goes through. FOLLOW THE CORRESPONDENCE GUIDELINES! I can not stress that enough.

Well, I'll see you when I return on August 9.

Posted by Randy at 11:06 PM | TrackBack

June 26, 2004

Eep

In less than a week I will be arriving in Los Angeles to begin training to teach teach English in China.

How did so much time fly by so quickly?

Posted by Randy at 05:51 PM | TrackBack

June 20, 2004

Cruise Anger

NOTE: Please read the note on the previous entry first for semi-important information.

--------------------------------------------------

For the majority of the trip so far I have greatly enjoyed myself. Occasionally, though, I am reminded rather brutally of the collection of ignorant hicks that are travelling with me.

BACKGROUND: Today the ship had its first art auction. These auctions are an entertaining way to get high quality artwork for up to sixty percent off of gallery prices. My parents purchased three painting that were unframed. My favorite two pieces of art at the auction had starting bids of $400 and $650 and each included a new frame. I was unable to convince my parents to get either painting, of course.

SETTING: The time and location of this latest brutal reminder was approximately eleven o'clock at night in the ship's casino.

CHARACTERS: This reminder involved my mother, my father's best friend, and me.

Now, my mother was doing quite well at a slot machine. Seeing an opportunity, I reminded her of the cheaper of the two paintings that I liked. Naturally, she once again told me that there was no chance of her buying me that painting.

Upon hearing that I would like to have a $400 painting (price including new framing), my father's best friend rather rudely spat out that paying $400 for a "pretty picture" was one of the stupidest things he had ever heard of. This ignorant outburst immediately caused my blood to boil with rage.

One would think that I would have heard enough ignorant tripe from the hicks I live around to have built up a fairly strong defense against it. Sadly, the opposite seems to be true. I was so angered I let a curse word slip out in the presence of my mother (who either did not hear it or understood exactly why it slipped out). I had to battle back a rather fierce and nasty retort.

After much inner debating, I have decided to share the retort in its edited version. I have decided that, since I did think it and I almost said it, I should share it.

"You know, name here, I might have actually put some weight behind that remark if it didn't come fram a dumb*** who has probably spent multiple thousands of dollars over the course of his life to suck on sticks that have been proven to cause both cancer to those who smoke them and discomfort to those around them. So, why don't you keep your f***ing ignorant hick opinions to yourself."

I keep telling myself that I was placed with these people so that I will learn patience. Unfortunately, it would appear that a lack of stupid thoughts being thrown at me lately has caused my tolerance to decrease greatly.

Posted by Randy at 11:55 PM | TrackBack

June 19, 2004

Cruise Musings

NOTE: Both of the followings pieces were written while on the cruise ship on which my family is currently vacationing. As the price for internet access is ridiculously high, these will be the only two posted. The dates and times have been changed to reflect when each piece was written. As these are typed at a furious pace, please ignore any mistakes for the time being. I will review them when it isn't costing me an arm and a leg.

-----------------------------------

I've noticed a rather interesting motif spread throughout the ship. In several places, one can find a smiling full moon etched into glass or metal with a cascading trail of its other phases that has a striking similarity to an old woman with pigtails in her hair. One can also find a variety of five point stars which are actually door handles. While I happen to like this "night sky" decor, I must say that I believe it contrasts a great deal with the overall feel of this cruise.

Think about it. This is a cruise set in the middle of the summer. This is a ship full of younger peole who both willfully and frequently expose their bodies to slowly bake in the sun and older people who seem to be in their rooms shortly after darkness falls. The room in which I am currently relaxing is even lined with paintings of various ships sailing during the day. I just can not believe that moons and stars truly fit on this ship.

With the cloud cover we have at the moment, however, the moons and stars inside will be the only ones that I see tonight. Before I came here to write this, I was standing on the top front deck. When I first walked out to the deck I could see only darkness. This darkness was quite possibly the purest absence of light I have ever seen. The wind at the front of the ship was quite strong, obviously. As I stood there, having declared the wind the dominant force and letting it have its way with me, I simply let my mind wander.

After several trivial and inane thoughts danced merrily through my mind, I noticed a difference in the darkness. I could suddenly see two different black colors on the horizon. It was as if someone had decided there was simply too much black in the night and took some of it out of the sky. This observation caused my thoughts to turn both much deeper and more introspective.

In the past five years of so, my family has experienced a great deal of tragedy. These past two years could easily be called the darkest time of my short life. Yet, though the times were often black, I never felt despair. I felt more than enough sadness and a great deal of grief, but despair never entered into my life. As cliche as it might sound, I knew that no matter how dark my life became there was Someone there that could reduce the darkness. This is a comfort that we as Christians have, and I believe that it is quite easily on of the greatest of God's gifts.

As Christians, we should want to spread the Gospel not only to share follow the Baptist battlecry ("Repent or BURN IN HELL!") but mainly to share the enormity of God's love for us. There are a number of people out there today who say things similiar to this, but I am not sure how many people actually believe it. This truth rooted itself deeper inside me tonight.

It is also a wonderful thought to stumble across a couple of weeks before my China trip. It may be cliche, but it still gives me comfort.

Posted by Randy at 01:21 AM | TrackBack

June 08, 2004

Bliss

I have just picked up a copy of Stephen King's The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah. I have put my current reading list on hold in order to re-read the final few chapters of part five, Wolves of the Calla. Once I have sufficiently refreshed my memory, I will be losing myself in the world of Roland of Gilead, Eddie Dean, Susannah Dean, and Jake Chambers. This makes me so incredibly happy.

In other news, I noticed today that I have fingernails. By that, I mean that I have long fingernails. I have ten separate long fingernails. This is the first time this has happened in an extraordinary long time. I hadn't even realized that I had stopped biting them. Strange how that works.

Posted by Randy at 07:57 PM | TrackBack

June 03, 2004

Flash! Bang!

Reason I Hate Living in the Middle of Nowhere #582: Storm Aftermath

For the past two nights this area has had a rather severe storm blow through with its full-force. I like the actual storms. I find it exhilirating to have a tremendous force of nature wailing about while I am sitting safe and dry indoors. What I hate about storms here, though, is trying to do anything after them.

Once a decently big storm passes through, our house becomes almost totally isolated. We usually lose electricity at some point during the storm. Ideally, we get our power back within five or six hours. If the wind is blowing rather hard, trees fall across the roads in several locations. There are three different roads we could travel from my house if we needed to leave. Naturally, all of these become blocked by rather large trees. It takes sometimes three or more people to move some of the trees if nobody has a chainsaw with them. Then, of course, there are all of the smaller branches and limbs that are just ripped off of the tree by the wind and rain. After this last storm, there were enough of these small branches on the road that it appeared to be green in some areas.

It's all very annoying.

Posted by Randy at 06:45 PM | TrackBack

May 28, 2004

Absurd

This afternoon I was driving my car listening to music when I had a sudden epiphany. There I was driving a convertible with the top down listening to a band called Garbage perform "Only Happy When It Rains." Thinking about that made me laugh quite a bit.

Posted by Randy at 02:13 AM | TrackBack

May 21, 2004

Crazy Week

This had been an interesting week.

On Monday, my mother had a doctor tell her that she had a suspicious lump in one of her breasts. They decided that they wanted to remove it. On Tuesday, I found this out while driving my parents and another couple to Lufkin to eat at Red Lobster. On Wednesday, the surgery took place. The lump was successfully removed, and the doctors believe it was benign.

Before all of that happened, my mother, her parents, and her sister decided to go to Vicksburg, Mississippi, to see her brother. My mother decided she still wanted to go on the trip. I decided to tag along. I will not be doing that again any time soon.

We left Wednesday afternoon (after her surgery). I was driving. I ended up driving the entire trip to and from Vicksburg. My uncle drove while we were in Vicksburg. While some people seem to enjoy driving, I am not that big a fan of it when I have two or three old relatives trying to tell me how to drive. Unfortunately, the did not only give me driving tips. I was also bombarded almost the entire trip with their curious (read: ignorant and racist) views on a variety of subjects. I will not be reliving that in order to divulge more specifics to you. Let it suffice to say that I had to try very hard to not pull over the car and scream accusations and insults at them. "Could you please stop that bigotted tripe and at least pretend that you are a decent human being for a few minutes?" almost passed my lips on more than one occasion. I was able to hold in my rage. I wonder how much would have changed if I had not done so, however.

We visited the Vicksburg battleground park and museum. We went to the massive cemetary near it and to a separate museum about a boat sunk during the Civil War that was salvaged from the Mississippi River. I took a number of photographs from each location. My family then left me at the hotel so that they could go to the casinos in Vicksburg. While I was irritated, I was able to get some reading done.

I am ready for a vacation away from my family.

Posted by Randy at 10:46 PM | TrackBack

May 18, 2004

Photographs from a Cemetary

Using a disposable camera, I took twenty-seven photographs on Sunday when I went to visit the graves of some of my recently deceased family members. Of those twenty-seven, I scanned fourteen into my computer and made an effort to reduce their size. Of those fourteen, I have chosen ten that I want to share with others.


This is a bench that someone placed in front of the graves of my sister and the others who were killed in April 2003.

For the sake of those of you with slow bandwidth, the rest of the photographs can be seen if you continue to read this entry.


This is an angle view of the four headstones for the four who died in April. The headstone for my grandparents can also be seen.





These are individual photographs of each headstone of the four who died in April '03. The names are Mandy Ross (cousin), Jessica Ross (sister), Justin Roeber (sister's boyfriend), and Ples Kropp (Justin's half-brother).


This is a better view of the stone book that is between my sister's and her boyfriend's tombstones.


This is an angel that was placed at the foot of my cousin's grave.


This is a little sculpture thing placed in front of Justin's headstone. There is a sculpture similar to this near each headstone.


This is a cross with roses that was placed in front of my grandparents' headstone.

I took a number of other photographs of the cemetary itself that I would like to share, but those would be best saved for a future post. I actually had an interesting time walking around the cemetary taking photographs of things which caught my eye. I'd like to do it again.

Posted by Randy at 12:18 AM | TrackBack

May 11, 2004

Crash

It finally happened! The computer at my house has FINALLY crashed!

*Dances out of complete and utter glee*

I had to set up the dial-up to run through my computer. The difference is amazing. Despite it being the same connection it is about three times faster. I thought I had cleaned out the majority of the junk on that old piece of crap, but I was obviously wrong.

Now maybe I can convince my parents that a new computer is needed. Maybe I can convince them that a better internet connection is also needed. Maybe I am finally rid of Windows ME.

*Continues dancing*

Posted by Randy at 12:47 PM | TrackBack

May 07, 2004

Done

I have officially completed my sophomore year at college. I know all of my grades except for one class (Comp. Sci. I). I've gotten an A in everything so far except Human Anatomy and Physiology. Naturally, I get a B in the class worth four credit hours. This is going to raise my GPA, but it doesn't raise it enough for me to keep my current scholarship. It is going to be bumped down from the Presidential. It is going to be raised a great deal in this next year, though, and the scholarship will be restored eventually.

The majority of my things have already been taken to my parents' house. Basically, everything that was too big to stuff into my car and a few boxes filled with things I knew I wouldn't need was loaded into my mother's Navigator Wednesday. This leaves me without a television or a refridgerator until Saturday evening.

I must say that this has been an interesting semester. I've become friends with people I never would have expected, I've had conversations I never would have imagined, and I've experienced things I never will forget. It is all too possible that some people might be walking out of my life forever.

There is quite a bit I am looking forward to this summer. I have two months with no responsibilities at all. I have a good number of books that I want to read. I have a trip to China that I can't wait to start. This summer is going to be a much-needed break.

Unfortunately, this break means separation from some of the best friends I have had in my life.

Posted by Randy at 02:03 AM | TrackBack

May 04, 2004

Unanswered Questions

At what point does trusting in God's plan degenerate into spiritual apathy? This is something I've been churning around in the back of my head for several days now, but a conversation I had with Michelle (girl on China team) earlier today forced it to the front.

When my sister died last year, I had a spiritual crisis. The easiest way to explain it is to compare it to the way C. S. Lewis' character in the play Shadowlands feels after Joy dies.

Paraphrased:

"God knows, yes, God knows. I've no doubt that God knows, but does God care? Did he care about [her]?...We're the creatures. I've no doubt that the experiment is for our own good, eventually, but that still makes God the vivisectionist."
It took me a good bit of time before I finally accepted that God does have a plan and that I am most likely not going to be told it ahead of time. Crap is going to happen to me, but, if I am going to make it through life with my sanity, I have to trust that God knows what He is doing. Once I accepted this I felt good. I felt prepared for whatever was in store for me down the line.

My acceptance of this surprised me over this past weekend. As I was preparing myself to go home, I thought that some of that old anger and bitterness would return at some point during the visitation or funeral. Neither anger nor bitterness visited me over the weekend, though. Instead, I felt mostly acceptance of my grandmother's death and respect for God. I almost felt as if I was betraying my grandmother for not being mad at God for her death, but that thought did not occupy my mind for very long.

Total acceptance brings another question to my mind. Why should one pray if God already has a perfect will? This is also addressed by Lewis' character in Shadowlands:

Paraphrased: "Prayer doesn't change God. It changes me."

It's good advice, but it isn't all that comforting. At least, it isn't to me. If it's true, I find it depressing. If it's true, the only thing prayer can really do is affect our spiritual life.

At what point does this acceptance turn into apathy? Where does acceptance of God's will change into despair over a total lack of control? When does believing in an omniscient being change to not believing in free will?

I don't have any answers.

Posted by Randy at 01:46 AM | TrackBack

May 01, 2004

Morbid

I think I am becoming numb to death. I must say it is a very weird feeling. Why do I believe I am becoming numb to death, you ask?

As I was sitting at my grandmother's house with the rest of my father's family, a strange thought kept running though my head. It shocked me at first, but I started thinking through it and it kept me occupied for quite some time.

As I sat there gazing at my relatives, I was thinking: "Who's next?"

As I'm sure you've picked up by now (if you come here often, anyway), a large number of people I've known have died in these past five or so years. I started to wonder what relative of mine would probably be the next to pass away.

Turning my eyes toward different family members, I analyzed risk factors surrounding all of them (including me) with a degree of coldness and a sense of objectivity that frightened me. The amount they travel, the content of their diet, the amount of exercize they get, the unhealthy things they do, and the risky things they go through formed lists in my head at an almost uncanny speed. Based on those lists in my head, I have guesses on which family members of mine will pass away next.

This all seemed to be very natural and calming when I was doing it. Looking back at it, however, makes it feel morbid and quite disturbing.

Posted by Randy at 01:09 AM | TrackBack

April 30, 2004

Sad Awakening

When I finally returned to my room last night, I was told by my roommate that my mother had called a good number of times trying to talk with me. She had finally decided to call me some time today. She did finally get in touch with me...at 7:30 this morning.

My mother calling me at 7:30 AM was enough for me to know that something had to be wrong. Both of us are well-known in our family for not enjoying mornings at all. I knew something tragic must have happened. I was right.

It turns out that my grandmother on my father's side passed away yesterday evening. They don't know why as of now, but they believe it might have been her heart. My grandmother had been a diabetic for as long as I knew her. After she had not answered both people knocking at the door and people calling her house, my uncle kicked the door open and found her slumped over on her couch. I would be willing to bet that the Sci-Fi channel was on her television (she loved science fiction).

And now my family must experience yet another visitation and funeral. Five years ago my dad had to help bury his father. It has only been just over a year since he had to help bury his daughter. Now, he has to help bury his mother.

I am going to be heading home right after my last class this afternoon. I want to be there for my family, but I am so tired of death. I'm tired of dealing with grief. I'm tired of mourning.

Posted by Randy at 09:35 AM | TrackBack

April 28, 2004

Current Reading List

I'm bored, and I believe my muse (Melpomene according to Wheeler's quiz) is on vacation. The result? You get a list.

These are what I'm hoping to read (as of now) before I go to China in July:

The Darker Side: Generations of Horror by various authors
The Inferno by Dante Alighieri
The Purgatorio by Dante Alighieri
The Paradiso by Dante Alighieri
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Choke by Chuck Palahniuk

I'm currently halfway through The Darker Side. I'm fairly certain I can get through all of them. Those three by Dante might slow me down a bit, though.

This list is subject to change for any reason by its creator.

Posted by Randy at 01:12 AM | TrackBack

April 14, 2004

China

I just spent an evening with the China team. This was our first time together as a full group. We've been meeting for the last few months, but the is the first time all of us managed to be together at the same time. It's quite an interesting group. We all went to Buller's apartment and watched Rush Hour 2. Now, I'm not sure why someone thought Rush Hour 2 was an appropriate movie to watch for exposure to Chinese culture. Isaiah Koh was also there.

Some of you may know some of the others that will be going on the trip. A good portion of those who read this probably think a few of them are rather unusual individuals. I would be lying if I said that I didn't share some of the same thoughts. However, after spending time with these guys, they have managed to change my original opinions of many of them.

They most definitely have their quirks, but every single person on the team desires to serve the Lord. I believe that team was pulled together by God. The team consists of multiple different personality types, a wide variety of majors, and several different perspectives on life. Since the team will be teaching English, I am glad that there will be at least one English major going with them (that's me). The team also has the minimum number of people needed for a team and, finally, more than one female in the group. It amazes me how well the group meshes together considering how different we are from each other.

I can't wait for this summer to get here.

Posted by Randy at 12:25 AM | TrackBack

April 12, 2004

The Day that Doesn't End

Ugh. I haven't slept since yesterday morning. I'm tired and I want to go to sleep. Unfortunately, I can't. I still have far too much work and too many classes coming up today.

The "candle-light vigil" in memory of my sister and the others who died a year ago yesterday went well, all things considered. Despite the cold, rainy weather, a nice-sized crowd came to the cemetary around ten o'clock at night. Songs were played, things were said, tears were cried, and people were consoled. I managed to stay at the perimeter of the crowd for the majority of the time. I ventured into it occasionally to check on certain family members and to say hello to certain people. Unfortunately for me, spending over an hour in cold, wet weather and staying up all night doing homework will probably wreak havoc on my immune system.

I guess this means that this is my first "real" college all-nighter. I've stayed awake quite late into the morning before, but never so late that I could not grab some sleep before my class. At least I've made progress in my homework tonight.

I completed three chapters in my biology workbook. The definitions for that workbook take far too long. It is entirely busy-work, anyway, but it eventually counts as a test grade. Valuable busy-work? Ha. I've also got a nice chunk of my biology lab report finished. I've still got quite a bit left to do with it, but I need to get help from those who have done it before. I'm still not sure what I need to do. I have found all necessary sources, though. Before class at 8:15, I still need to find and complete a quiz that I missed on Wednesday. At some point today I should also try to do my Calc. III homework. At the moment, however, keeping my biology grade an A is much more important than trying to bump my B in Calc. III up to an A. If that grade jumps up it will be because of my test grades.

All in all, I'm ready to climb in bed and sleep until Saturday. Sadly, it won't be happening.

Posted by Randy at 06:10 AM | TrackBack

April 11, 2004

Day of Mourning

It's finally here. I've been dreading this day for well over a month now, but time decided to keep going forward so here I am.

My sister died one year ago today. This day is going to pass by smoothly, of course. At seven all of the families will be eating together somewhere. At approximately ten-thirty (about when the accident happened) probably half of the town are going to light candles at the cemetary. At midnight everyone is going to light more for my cousin who died the next day in the hospital. After all of that, I get to return to LU and probably stay up all night doing homework (Sorry Codepainter).

I didn't expect this day to pass uneventfully, of course. That thought itself probably never entered the presence of my parents' brains. I don't want to be there. I'm tired of mourning, of grieving, and of comforting. I'm tired of everyone in my town looking at my sympathetically and attempting to cheer up my sad little heart. I'm tired of these families being stared at like animals in a zoo while they grieve for their losses.

None of that matters, though. What does matter is that my sister is dead, my parents are having a memorial service for her and the others, and I will be there for my parents and the rest of my family. What matters is that I'm going to be there.

Posted by Randy at 01:12 PM | TrackBack

April 08, 2004

Tragic Memories & Ramblings

A strange realization hit me earlier this week. I am sure that I have known this for quite some time, yet the thought never moved to the front of my mind. It seems quite odd to me the number of times that happens in my head, although I'm sure it is a common occurrence.

The realization, as I said, is more like the admittance of a thought that has been with me for some time now. While I am sure that I will always remember my sister perished on April 11, 2003, I have forgotten the last time actually I saw my sister.

Now, don't misunderstand me. I remember what took place the last day I saw her. Specifically, the last glimpse that I had of her was through my rear-view mirror as I drove away from dropping her off at my cousin's driveway. I'm fairly certain that it was a Saturday evening. I remember that a track meet had taken place earlier in the day. However, I can't remember anything more specific than that. I don't remember the way she was wearing her hair. I don't remember anything that we said to each other. I don't remember what was playing on the radio. I don't remember what she was wearing. I don't remember why she was going to my cousin's in the first place. I can not remember any single specific thing about the last time I saw my sister.

And that truly was the last time I saw her. I did not go home the next weekend because I wanted to work on a paper. I had not planned on going home the weekend she died until my mother called with the news of what happened. Though everyone who did see her body said it was unscathed, my parents insisted on having a closed-casket visitation and funeral. I never had a real chance to say good-bye to my sister's body. I don't think having that chance would have changed many of my experiences and thoughts in the next few months, but I do believe it would have helped me in those first few days.

Not remembering the details of my last parting with my sister is most likely perfectly normal. After all, I didn't know that it would be our last time together. Why would my mind memorize what happened with photographic detail? There was no reason for it to do such a thing. Nothing memorable happened going to or returning from my cousin's house, and my sister and I left each other as we always did. It was probably even more boring than usual since my sister had returned recently from a track meet and was tired.

While the anniversary of my sister's death is rapidly approaching (and falls on Easter, in fact), the anniversary of my last moments with my sister has already passed. I think it probably happened on March 27. If I really wanted to do so, I could research it with my high school to find out when the track meet occurred. My parents might even know when it happened. The thing that feels weird to me, though, is that I do not want to know. I'm a bit curious about the date we said our last good-byes, but other than that it doesn't matter to me.

And that fact makes me feel like I'm being callous towards my sister's death. It makes me feel like I was a horrible friend to her and an even worse brother.

There is more I would like to say, but I don't want to say it right now. I need time to collect my thoughts. This may be continued in a day or two.

Posted by Randy at 01:56 AM | TrackBack

April 04, 2004

Mood Swings and Putt-Putt

What the crap is wrong inside my head? Seriously. Today has provided me with all the evidence I need for me to believe I am borderline bipolar. Let me fill you in on some details.

I had (yet another!) play practice today around three o'clock. This was after I had slept in until almost one o'clock. I almost had to crawl out, but I knew that I needed to get out of bed. My sleep cycle does not appreciate vast changes in it. Anyway, once it was almost time I went to see Spaulding and we walked over to the Education Building in order to run through the play yet again. I wasn't exactly thrilled about the practice, but I wasn't angry about it either. I enjoy spending time with the people in Stage Right. Pat even redeemed himself by having us run through only the second act of the play.

After that was over with, I returned to my room and caught a couple episodes of my roommate's current anime project, .hack: sign, and I even read a bit more of Out of the Silent Planet. After a while, my brain got tired (it still hasn't fully recovered from this past week's stresses) so I stopped and did nothing for a while. Eventually, the idea of playing putt-putt golf was thrown out for consideration. After some initial doubts, I was convinced to go and waited for the others to try and get as many more people to go as they could. Finally, twelve people in total climbed into four cars and traveled to the putt-putt course.

About ten minutes before we left, however, I felt something happening inside me. A depression seemed to be falling around me and it apparently decided to take root inside of my head. By the time we were actually on our way (which took far too long for reasons that aren't important), I actually felt some tears wanting to form. I fought them back valiantly, but a couple people noticed that something was wrong. I have absolutely no clue where this mood came from, but it struck hard and fast.

After arriving at the course, I decided that I was going to have fun. Due to the entertainment of watching certain people attempt to play golf, I did have fun. The depression that had threatened to take over my mind earlier had seemingly vanished. The ride back was most entertaining and overwhelmingly embarassing. I don't believe I'll ever take a few people riding around in my car. They are insane.

Unfortunately now, I can feel that mood start to creep back towards me. I'm trying to fight it away, but I can feel it sneaking around my defenses. It's been quite some time since I've felt really depressed. I'm just wondering if I am feeling it now because of my mental exhaustion. I joked earlier today that maybe it is caused from stress withdrawal.

Whatever the cause, I hate feeling depressed. I hate it. The timing of these feelings isn't very helpful, either.

Posted by Randy at 02:31 AM | TrackBack

April 03, 2004

Exhaustion

I still feel completely mentally drained. This week has been a complete nightmare. I'm hoping that my mind will fully recuperate later and I can write something semi-intelligent.

Posted by Randy at 05:20 PM | TrackBack

March 15, 2004

Spiritual Ramblings

Today was rather interesting. I had to go back to Longview twice.

The first time was around 9:00 in the morning. My mother had to go and see an accountant. Why we use an accountant in Longview I will never know. Apparently, he was finished with all of the taxes that my family had to file. Unfortunately, his superiors were not finished looking over them or something. He couldn't give them to us just yet. After that disappointing news we headed to LU so that I could get a couple of things I forgot. I spent ten freakin' minutes looking around the room to make sure I didn't forget anything. Naturally, I forgot several things. Anyway, I had forgotten my keys, but fortunately for me I was able to get in another way. After that we went and practically forced one of the financial aid people to fill out a FAFSA for us.

On the trip home, my mother and I got on the topic of Anne Rice. Now, I have always felt blessed with my mother. She didn't freak out when I played Magic: The Gathering, she has always been a fan of horror movies, and she, generally, shares my reading tastes. Therefore, I feel perfectly comfortable discussing and debating literature with her.

I started with how I thought Anne Rice was a good writer. She explained how one of her co-workers has read everything written by Rice. I explained that I could see why some people (read: Christians) have problems with her and how I thought she had anti-religious rhetoric in her novels. She countered by saying she understood why Christians were upset with her writings. I replied with my beliefs that Christians should read these "controversial" things because many non-believers read them and that these novels can help a Christian find new angles to explain things to non-believers.

At this point, my mother threw out a statement which dazed me for a moment. This dazed me not because of the idea in the statement but because I had believed the very same thing not too long ago.

"I don't believe that Christians need to argue and explain our position. I think that every religion is worshipping the same God, just in different ways."

I told her that I had once believed that, too, but I do not anymore. I then explained why I knew that was not the case. That thought, however, caused my mind to wander back to when I first believed in it. I remember I was around ten or twelve and I was listening to my parents and a couple of their friends discussing religion. At one point, I piped in with that idea and it didn't leave my head until I had become a semi-atheist.

Ever since my sister's death I have seen God working in my mother's life. She has read a great number of books about God and grief. She is listening to Christian music. She is willing to have theological discussions. She isn't finished working her way towards God, though. She still has a ways to go. Looking at that makes me realize how far I still need to go and how spiritually lazy I have been around my home.

Was my naive comment seven or so years ago what put that thought into my mother's head? How many of my actions have caused Christians to stumble in their walks? How many of those Christians have caused others to stumble? These are all some very frightening thoughts to me.

Posted by Randy at 08:33 PM | TrackBack

March 11, 2004

Spring

Spring. The time of year
when sweet-smelling air
takes tons of pollen
to just everywhere.

Spring. The time of year
when all drivers are
washing the yellow
off of idle cars.

Spring. The time of year
when gentle breezes
carry the soft sound
of steady sneezes.

Enough of that. All to say:

I hate spring. I hate plants. I hate pollen. I hate sneezing.

Posted by Randy at 03:53 PM | TrackBack

March 05, 2004

You Know...

I really should try to get my old entries over here. Maybe I can convince someone to help me out tomorrow/today...

Posted by Randy at 01:26 AM | TrackBack

March 03, 2004

Randy vs. Chapel, Round 2

(Edited because this was written rather hastily and I felt like changing a few slight things)

Before I begin, let me say that I completely agreed with almost everything that Mr. Cahill said in Chapel today and that I will probably be attending the evening chapel at seven o'clock. I am not complaining about his message. With that clarified...

I did not like Mr. Cahill's presentation of his material. Despite his probable good intentions, he did manage to come off as a bit of a braggart to me. I'm sure that wasn't what he was trying to do. The snapping of his fingers got extremely annoying incredibly fast. I understand he was making a point. That doesn't change the fact that it was loud and high-pitched. How a finger-snap can sound high-pitched is outside of my knowledge, but his did to me. I was also rather annoyed by his constant need for repeating a word. "Yes!" "Disobediant!" "Disobediant!" "Yes!"

Those things, however, I can just ignore as being annoying quirks of a speaker. I can not do that with this next point because I have heard several speakers do this exact same thing.

For about two years before I became a Christian I considered myself an atheist. Not many people know this about me because I don't really talk about it. I was absolutely convinced that every single Christian was a moron, and I was fairly certain that the majority of them were hypocrites. I believed there was an almost ridiculous amount of evidence to show that life began without the help of any all-powerful being. All of this caused me to despise anyone who tried to "guilt-trip" others into becoming a Christian.

I would not talk with anyone about Christianity or Christ unless I was ridiculing it. I could not stand people who would walk around practically saying "Praise God" to anything. Nothing could have convinced me to actually listen to someone who was serious about God. This continued up until I did convert to Christianity.

My conversion to Christianity was not the result of some random Christian walking up to me off the street and asking something along the lines of "Do you know Jesus?" I would not have taken that person seriously. My conversion was the result of actions that I took. I went to a church camp for the sole purpose of being around my friends for a couple weeks of the summer. While here I met actual intelligent Christians who earned Christianity a lot of respect in my eyes. They presented evidence against evolution. The end result of going to this camp was my acceptance of Christ.

The point of this is that witnessing to me directly did not work during my short time as an atheist. This is a fact that many people neglect to mention. Mr. Cahill made it sound as if anyone can just walk up and ask anyone "Where are you spending eternity?" and almost immediately convert the person. If this were an ideal world it might be like that. The truth of the situation is that many people react extremely negatively to anything dealing with any religion. I know that I did. I expected to go to that camp and mock it the entire time.

My conversion came about because people cared about me as a person before bringing religion into our conversations. They got to know me. They took my opinions seriously. They listened to me. It was very obvious that they cared about me. This happened after several conversations. I can't believe that someone honestly cares about me after a ten minute to one hour conversation.

I find it irritating that so many speakers make it sound as if a Christian to walk up to an atheist, talk with him or her for a couple of minutes, and walk away with a brother or sister in Christ. While it can and does happen sometimes, it will not happen all that often. Most people don't like mentioning that, though.

Posted by Randy at 02:48 PM | TrackBack

February 28, 2004

Death and Pain

Tonight in the weekly Bible study I attend along with certain other people, we studied Amos chapter four. The following verse was included in the study.

Amos 4:10:
" 'I sent plagues among you as I did to Egypt. I killed your young men with the sword, along with your captured horses. I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camps, yet you have not returned to me,' declares the Lord."

This (along with a few other verses) led to a discussion I found rather interesting. It started with the general agreement that God was killing certain people in order to get the attention of others. The discussion pretty much continued with whether or not God still took the lives of some people to grab the attention of others. It seemed that the response to this was that He does. Given the recent situation that my family has gone through, this quite naturally grabbed my attention.

The possibility that God may have taken the lives of my sister, my cousin, and two other people I knew in order to grab the attention of certain people has more than once entered my mind. Normally, I try not to think about it simply because this train of thought is painful. It causes the selfish side of my personality to become enraged at God. This rage then seeps into my relationships with the people around me. I remember the amount of anger that I expressed over this last summer and during part of the fall semester. I don't want to do that again.

Unfortunately, when my thoughts wander again to this possibility, the anger towards God does return. I can't help this. What's worse (for my mood, anyway) is that I know that I'll never know why He took my sister and the others so early in their lives. I know that He had a reason for it, and I know that I would probably never be able to comprehend it. It brings to mind a short passage from the play Shadowlands:

"God knows. Yes, God knows. I don't doubt that. God knows. But does God care?
...
We're the creatures. We're the rats in the cosmic laboratory. I've no doubt the great experiment is for our own good, eventually, but that still makes God the vivisectionist."

It describes how I start to feel every time these thoughts surface in my mind. I can't stand these feelings. They hurt.

Posted by Randy at 12:50 AM | TrackBack

February 25, 2004

My Family...

"I'll never be able to buy a Japanese vehicle. I would have already bought me one of those Toyota pick-ups if it hadn't been for Pearl Harbor. I just can't forget that."
--My grandfather

Thus began my hour spent dining with my mother's parents. Throw in a few more remarks like that one, additional "er" sounds in every other word ("How're ya d-er-ing?"), and a steak from Outback and you have pretty much got the gist of the entire event.

Posted by Randy at 06:32 PM | TrackBack

February 22, 2004

A Social Life?

Last night I attended a performance by the Longview Symphony Orchestra. This has been the second time I have attended a performance of classical music, and I believe that I enjoyed this time more than the first.

I happen to enjoy classical music, but only if it is being performed live. I do not understand why, but I am not a fan of classical music if it is on the radio, a tape, or a CD. Does anyone else feel that way or am I just weird? Either way, I believe the selected music for this performance was better than the first one I attended.

I also had a lot more fun this time. I went with more people, and I've also become a bit more outgoing since the first time I went to the symphony. There were about eight of us who left together. There was me (naturally), Mark, Jonathan Spaulding, Kyle, Lisa, Cara, Lindsey, and Caleb. Kyle and Lisa went together in Kyle's car, of course, while the rest of us piled into Jonathan's van and prepared ourselves for the journey that lay ahead of us.

After spending about five minutes looking for a place to park, Jonathan finally found one. We climbed out of the van and started the hike to the building. Once we finally got to the building, we valiantly struggled against those unfortunate souls who, for one reason or another, had an extra ticket they were trying to sell. Some of our group recognized these poor people and sympathy began to fill their hearts. The rest of us had to remind them of our mission and push them forward. We then had to battle through the crowds of the lobby and the lady who asked every single person in our group if he or she was with the person standing behind him or her. These two problems were resolved thanks to the incredible courage of whoever was in the lead and the quick-thinking strategy of answering "no" to every question. The hunt for enough seats for all of us soon began. Thanks to a masterful bit of persuasion by one of the group, an older couple was kind enough to move down a row so that we had enough seats. Victory was ours!

Sort of, anyway. I happened to enjoy the performance which followed. A certain female in our group, however, fell asleep during the second half of the performance. I believe she was awakened with a jolt when people began to clap at the end.

After the symphony ended, we all climbed back into the van to seek out Applebee's. We found it, and after a relatively short wait we sat down to eat. It was when we sat down that I noticed our numbers had increased by nine people. This made for some rather interesting, and probably loud, discussions. Despite my most valiant attempts to avoid it, politics were brought up at the table. This normally isn't a problem for me. It becomes a problem when the "discussion" consists of things like "Liberals suck" and "I agree." I then had to restrain myself from verbally decapitating someone who remarked that the bad thing about LeTourneau was "we are all right and we all agree."

After the fun of Applebee's, we returned to campus and some of us accompanied Cara and Lindsey into the biology labs (all still in formal dress) and watched them do whatever they needed to do for their respective experiments/jobs. This was entertaining because I was also able to show those who went down there a dissected fetal pig by going into the lab across the hall.

We then finished the night by dropping off Cara and Lindsey at their respective buildings, parking Jonathan's van, changing into clothing that is comfortable, and singing "Happy Birthday" to a guy on the floor. I would like to do something like this again sometime.

Posted by Randy at 02:16 PM | TrackBack

February 17, 2004

That Sweet Sound...

"True silence is the rest of the mind; it is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment."
--William Penn

Right now I'm experiencing a phenomenom that I rarely get to appreciate on this floor. I never began to appreciate the value of this until I began to live on a dorm floor. I am sitting in a silent room.

My roommate is at work; therefore, I hear no music coming from his computer or the television. My door is shut and locked. This makes it more difficult for people to stop in and start talking and helps to muffle any noise from other rooms. The window is shut and it is effectively keeping out the majority of outside noise. All I can hear is the hum of the computer, the tapping of the keyboard, and the rattle of the A/C unit. It isn't perfectly quiet in here, but it is as close as I have gotten to complete silence in quite some time.

Most people do not appreciate silence. Some people almost seem to fear it. I have learned to love and cherish it. My room has practically become the floor lounge. There are several reasons for that, but I don't particularly care to rattle those reasons off at the moment. This means there is almost always some kind of background noise around me. It might be someone sitting on the couch watching some ridiculous television program. It might be some inane conversation that no one really cares about. It is always something.

But not right now. Right now, silence is music to my ears.

Posted by Randy at 07:24 PM | TrackBack

February 09, 2004

Long Days

If you had to describe the past few days with a single word, what word would you choose? I know my choice.

Blah.

That's right. These past few days have just been one big "blah" after another. Calculus III homework, Circuits II homework, Gen. Biology II homework, and all sorts of applications have taken up the majority of my time. Seriously, how do these things always get piled up like this? Sunday night was extremely stressful, and Monday has just been a very long day. To top it all off I may be getting sick. Again. I am going to be extremely pleased when I crawl into my bed in a few minutes.

These past few days haven't been all bad, though. I have decided that I will be going to China this summer. That is, of course, if they accept my application. Over the weekend I managed to secure both of my references for the application. Unfortunately, I am going to have to ask one of them for a separate reference letter so that I can apply for LSM funds from LeTourneau. Argh.

Another thing I am happy about is that a committee has accepted a paper of mine and I will be presenting it at the C. S. Lewis conference at LeTourneau in April. From the sound of the email Dr. Solganick sent me, he may still need papers to fill time slots. Even if that is the case I am still happy that I get to present a paper I worked on for a long time. Unfortunately, I now have to fine tune and format the paper so that I can read it aloud easily. That shouldn't be too hard. However, since this might be presented to a good number of people, the perfectionist in me is going to be screaming at me up until I actual give the presentation. I can't complain about that, though. I knew what I was doing when I submitted the paper.

Anyway, I'm crawling into bed now. Maybe I'll ramble more tomorrow.

Posted by Randy at 11:55 PM

January 25, 2004

ER Observations

I'm going to try posting something again. Hopefully, this one won't be eaten.

Early this morning/late last night I had to go to the emergency room. Relax, I was just driving someone else. A little before two o'clock in the morning Andy (friend on floor) came into my room and was watching a show on my roommate's computer. After standing there for a few minutes, his knee started to hurt. He looked at his knee and discovered that something was swelling underneath his skin and causing a strange shaped lump near his knee-cap. After a minute or so discussion, it was decided that I was going to take him down to the hospital to have someone take a look at it. It should be noted that Andy was not in much pain at all. He said it only hurt when he put pressure on it.

So, Mark and Andy climb into my car and we head down there. We arrived at about two o'clock. I dropped them off at the front and then parked. I entered the hospital as a nurse was getting information from Andy. After that was finished, we were sent to the waiting room. It was here that Mark and Andy discovered the fun of typing stuff into a Pocket PC. After some time, a nurse called Andy to a separate room, got some more information from him, and sent him back into the waiting room. After a few more minutes, Andy was called into an examing room while Mark and I waited outside. During all of this, the waiting room television was on AMC and playing a rather stupid movie. Now, I didn't see all of the movie--only the last thirty or so minutes of it--but I saw enough to laugh quietly when I heard a guy tell this other woman he had seen the movie about a dozen times.

After about thirty minutes, the janitor came and mopped the waiting room area we were in for the second time since we had been there. We took this excuse to get up and walk around to move to another television. I found one broadcasting the Winter X-games on ESPN. This was interesting for a while because the tricks those people can do on snowboards and motorcycles are quite impressive. There was also the occasional cringe as someone fell and rammed into something at a high speed. After about twenty or so minutes, we went to look at another television. This one was broadcasting Looney Tunes on the Cartoon Network. This led to a discussion in which Mark and I agreed that Bugs Bunny is really the bad guy in almost all of his cartoons. We also agreed on the futility of guns in a world in which the characters are practically immortal. Bullets don't even pierce the skin, so what's the point of using them? During all of these things we had also been playing solitaire on my Pocket PC. I learned that I am horrible at three-card draw and that Mark kicks ass at it.

We soon realized that Andy had been back there for over an hour and we hadn't been told anything. Mark went and asked what was going on and the nurse let us back to see him. We found that he was sitting in Exam Room 11 all by himself waiting for a doctor to come and see him again. He tells us that the doctor thinks he has bursitis in his knee and has prescribed a knee immobilizer and some pills. Over the course of about 15-20 minutes in the exam room, a nurse comes in a few times and gives Andy something he needs. After the last time, Andy is checked out of the ER and has to give them $50. We leave.

On the way out, we began a discussion about the patients that can be found in an emergency room. Andy said he had heard a little kid crying and felt sorry for him (or her, I don't remember which it was). I think Mark mentioned an unconscious man in a wheelchair we had seen while in the waiting room. I mentioned that working in an ER forces the nurses and doctors to develop a detachment from most emotions where patients are concerned. Because my mother is a nurse in an emergency room and I have visited her there several times, I have seen this first hand. The frequency of visits has also cause me to start to develop this detachment in order to carry on a conversation with my mother or another employee when I do stop by her workplace. Mark commented that he didn't think he would ever be able to do that.

Earlier today, I started to think about this discussion and I discovered a question I can't really answer. Is being able to detach and avoid emotions a good thing? Sometimes it is necessary in order to maintain sanity, but if it is done too often can it have detrimental effects in certain areas of your life? Is it better to be forced to deal with emotions when they arrive or to be able to push them aside and deal with them later? I can see beneficial and detrimental side effects of each action. Is one better than the other?

Posted by Randy at 04:37 PM

January 07, 2004

Generic Update

Don't worry. I am still alive. I've just been doing a lot of stuff this last week and haven't really had anything to say. I also hate writing anything with this crappy computer because the monitor is going fuzzy. It gives me a headache if I stare at the text for too long.

Since my last post I have read all of Desperation, The Da Vinci Code, and Lord of the Flies. I have now started The Jungle. Sometimes I think I have too many books. I know for a fact that I can't bring all of the books that I own with me to LeTourneau. I will be bringing back over a box full of them anyway. If I wanted to bring more I would need more shelving, and I'm just not motivated enough to build anything.

I really don't know why I am so lazy and unmotivated so much of the time. Both of my parents are hard workers. My mother has a huge Type A personality. So, why am I so close to a Type B personality? Am I subconsciously rebelling?

Posted by Randy at 01:23 AM

December 29, 2003

Why Can't I Just Be Bored?

Drama, drama, drama. Next time I think about blogging about how boring it is here at the house I am going to hurt myself. Let me see what I can say without naming names (in case anyone from my town other than Katy reads this).

Shortly after I woke up, my mother comes home from a couple of errands and starts to make phone calls. From her side of the convesation I soon learn that a girl (age 16, I think) who was one of my sister's closest friends is over two weeks late for her period and believes she is pregnant. The girl's father doesn't yet know about it, but a lot of other people do and it is only a matter of time before word gets far enough around town that he learns about it.

Wait, it gets better. I learn a couple of phone calls later that the son (age 18, I think) of some of our close family friends is the father. Not only has he also not told his parents about this but he also has a girlfriend who he really likes (reporting what I know, don't ask why he was fooling around because I can't answer). My parents decide they want to talk to this kid so they call him, tell him to come over to our house, and send me to another town--because, you know, if I'm not at the house for this conversation it won't make things feel weird between me and this kid later [/sarcasm].

So I go and come back and it turns out the kid did not come to the house at all because his father called and said the kid could talk to my parents after the basketball game that will be played today. This upsets my mother because she now has to come up with a reason why she wanted to talk with the kid without giving away the real reason.

Wait, it isn't over yet. My mother goes to the basketball game and discovers that the kid doesn't even get to play (supposedly because he missed a practice) and that the girl is also there. She wants to talk with both of them but wants to be alone with each of them. Naturally, she talks with neither of them.

I don't want to talk with either of them because (a) I've never liked the girl and (b) the guy was (supposedly secretly) dating my sister a couple of years ago and has now knocked up a girl who was one of her closest friends.

All in all I guess this makes the perfect end to a perfect year. (and if you can't catch the dripping sarcasm on that sentence you probably shouldn't even be reading this)

Posted by Randy at 11:23 PM

Reading Update

Since this break has started, I have read:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire--J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix--J.K. Rowling
1984--George Orwell
Fahrenheit 451--Ray Bradbury
One Door Away From Heaven--Dean Koontz
Swan Song--Robert McCammon
The Regulators--Stephen King

Before I return to LeTourneau, I still want to read:

The Jungle--Upton Sinclair
Lord of the Flies--William Golding
Desperation--Stephen King
The Da Vinci Code--Dan Brown

If I finish all of these it will be the largest number of books I have ever read in less than a month's time. I wonder if this is how Jared feels...

Posted by Randy at 12:24 AM

December 26, 2003

My Immortal

My Immortal by Evanescence

I'm so tired of being here
Suppressed by all my childish fears
And if you have to leave
I wish that you would just leave
Because your presence still lingers here
And it won't leave me alone

These wouns won't seem to heal
This pain is just too real
There's just too muh that time cannot erase

When you cried I'd wipe away all of your tears
When you'd scream I'd fight away all your fears
And I've held your hand through all of these years
But you still have all of me

You used to captivate me
By your resonating light
But now I'm bound by the life you left behind
Your face it haunts my once pleasant dreams
Your voice it chased away all the sanity in me

These wounds won't seem to heal
The pain is just too real
There's just too much that time cannot erase

When you cried I'd wipe away all of your tears
When you'd scream I'd fight away all your fears
And I've held your hand through all of these years
But you still have all of me

I've tried so hard to tell myself that you're gone
And though you're still with me
I've been alone all along

[end]

I'm sure that most of you have heard this song. If not, I would recommend that you do so because simply reading the words does not do the song justice. When I first heard this song earlier in this last semester I was almost brought to tears.

The song seemed to capture several feelings that had been swirling around inside me since April 11 and release them. I was given Evanescence's Fallen CD as a gift and listened to it in my car this evening. This song once again brought up those emotions, but they weren't nearly as strong.

"There's just too much that tme cannot erase." I don't think emotional wounds ever fully heal. Hearing family members speak about my sister automatically causes my defenses to start.

Thinking about this caused an image to come to my mind. Strong emotional wounds are like physical wounds that won't heal. All you can really do is keep the wound protected, keep it clean, and occasionally change the bandages. Sometimes the pain will be unbearable, but most of the time you learn to ignore the pain and go on with daily life.

And if that sounds depressing, I'm sorry. I'm not exactly full of holiday cheer at the moment.

Posted by Randy at 01:39 AM

December 23, 2003

PDA Happiness

I have a new toy. My very own PDA. I've been playing with it for hours today. When you people see me expect to be barraged with questions. I've got a contact list to fill up and I'm already well on my way.

I've also been playing solitaire and jawbreaker (the only two games that came with it, I am going to try to get that remedied), messing around with the different ways to put in text (touch screen keyboard, letter recognizer, transcriber), and setting up my calendar.

My thoughts today have generally been:

"I've got my new PDA! I've got my new PDA! I've got my new PDA! I've got my new PDA! I've got my new PDA! I've got my new PDA! I've got my new PDA! I've got my new PDA! I've got my new PDA! I've got my new PDA! I've got my new PDA! I've got my new PDA!"

I think I'm going to go pop a pain pill and go to sleep.

Posted by Randy at 02:13 AM

December 19, 2003

Painkillers and Movies

So, guess what I did today. Go on, guess. I am not going to continue the story until someone guesses. Don't look at the screen like that, I can keep this up all night.

Thank you. About time.

Well, you are wrong. I had all four of my wisdom teeth cut out. My mouth still aches a bit (they were cut out at 11:15 this morning) but I have pain medicine if that gets out of hand. Also, if this post seems a little weird to you at any point, blame the painkillers.

Last night at 11:45 I saw The Return of the King. I got home around 4:30 in the morning and crawled in bed. The movie was incredible. I think they were closer to the book in this movie than in either of the other two. The last scene of the movie was absolutely perfect.

The one major thing I was worried about for this movie was Shelob. They did the fight with Shelob masterfully. I seriously hate spiders (I'm not arachnaphobic, I just really don't like them...something about them terrifies me), so I knew that if Shelob didn't strike fear into my heart it would be a failure. It was a success.

I agree with Jared about one thing, though (which is strange since he hasn't seen it yet). I will not have closure until I own and watch the Extended Edition. I recognized a few things that will have to be in it.

Posted by Randy at 12:02 AM

December 15, 2003

Stupid Legal Crap

Here's an interesting little story.

I was supposed to have my wisdom teeth cut out today. I woke up this morning, took a pre-surgery pill to get some anesthesia into my system, and rode up to the place with my mother. Upon arriving we were questioned about certain things. One question was if I had anything to eat or drink in the previous six hours. I answered that I had drank a little Dr. Pepper in order to take the pill. I drank Dr. Pepper because the water at my house is horrid. We get our water from a well and it has become horribly sulfuric over the past few years. We have a water filter attached near the well so that we can use the water for bathing, but we don't use it to cook or drink.

Anyway, because I had a sip of Dr. Pepper over an hour before they were supposed to cut into my jaw, we had to postpone the operation. My mother was infuriated. She is a nurse who works in an emergency room so she knew there were practically no risks whatsoever from a sip of Dr. Pepper. She has also helped in operations with the same IV anesthesia in which they didn't even bother asking if the patient had eaten or drank anything recently. After arguing with the doctor for a while, we rescheduled the appointment for Thursday. He refused to do the surgery because if anything did happen he would be legally responsible.

Quote: "I know nothing will happen and you know nothing will happen. But if something did happen I wouldn't have a legal leg to stand on."

Now, if two very well trained individuals both know and admit that there is practically no risk whatsoever of anything bad happening, and if something did happen it would be a case of pneumonia at the very worst, why is this a problem?

It's all very annoying.

Posted by Randy at 02:15 PM

The Mt. Enterprise Curse?

I've heard many people talk about the curse of LeTourneau breaks. I think that someone from LU has died every summer and Christmas break that the school has had since I have been there. I'm hoping that the curse will be broken this semester, especially now since I think that the curse has followed me home.

This morning I learned that Mr. Tim English, a teacher from my high school, had a heart attack at 9:30, arrived at a hospital over an hour later (have no idea why it took so long), and died a short time later.

LeTourneau hasn't had crap compared to Mt. Enterprise these last few years. If this keeps up people are probably going to start leaving town. This makes at least ten people directly related to the school who have died over the last five or so years.

Posted by Randy at 02:03 PM

December 14, 2003

Tragic Skills

One learns many things when a family member dies. When my sister died I learned a lot about myself and a lot about other people. These are valuable lessons which should not be forgotten easily.

One can also learn a lot of new skills. The most important skill combination to master is the "smile-and-nod" techniqe with an "I-have-been-comforted" face followed quickly by some "Thank-you-for-your-kind-words" expression. This skill may be tested months after the death of a family member by someone you have never met before.

For example, yesterday I was pumping gas into my car when I was approached by a woman who I don't believe I have ever seen before. I immediately recognized the look on the woman's face ("oh-you-poor-dear-let-me-comfort-you") and quickly braced myself for what was coming. Sure enough, she launched into the requisite speech about how much everyone misses Jessica and the others and how sorry she was for what happened. She then proceeded to tell me that her daughter was naming their new dog "Jessica (something) Angel."

During this speech I once again had to smile, nod, and look comforted. I then thanked her. She smiled, turned, and walked away probably feeling quite pleased with herself. I looked into the car she walked out of and recognized her daughter. Her daughter looked horribly embarassed about what her mother just did, so I smiled at her and waved.

I'm not sure why this woman decided to approach me and tell me these things eight months after my sister died. I'm also not sure why she thought telling me her daughter was naming a dog after my sister would make me happy.

I really don't understand people.

Posted by Randy at 07:29 PM

Book Plans

Books I plan to read over break:

1984 by George Orwell (almost finished)
Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
The Regulators by Stephen King
Swan Song by Robert McCammon
One Door Away from Heaven by Dean Koontz

This will make up for all the reading I wanted to do during last semester but was unable to do for one reason or another.

Posted by Randy at 03:11 PM

December 07, 2003

Avoidance

Why? Why, on the weekend before finals, do I wake up hearing a voice inside me practically yelling at me to go home? Why is it that I had an undeniable urge to get in my car and drive home when I have all of my finals on Monday and Tuesday? Why?

This question has been floating around in my mind ever since I left campus around two o'clock on Saturday. The answer eluded me. I could not understand why I would feel a sudden unbearable case of homesickness one week before Christmas break. The fact that I live only an hour away from my house and that I go home practically every weekend only added to my confusion.

Strangely enough, the answer came to me at 1:30 in the morning as I was making some popcorn and reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

This is the month of December, Christmas season. This is going to be the most joyous time of the year...and my sister is dead and buried. For some reason, I just realized that I have been feeling guilty about staying away from my family. I avoid them because they almost always bring up my sister in conversations, and it annoys the crap out of me. Although I have gone home more this semester than any other one, I believe I have spent less time with my family than at any other time in my life.

I find excuses to get away from family get-togethers, leave houses as soon as I can, and generally shudder at the thought of staying over the night with any of my relatives. I have been being a complete and utter asshole to the people who I love.

That has to change.

Posted by Randy at 01:54 AM

November 22, 2003

Friendship

I have been thinking a lot about friendship lately. Specifically, what is it? How is it defined?

There are many definitions of friendship. Some people only consider a person a "friend" when they are close enough to tell that person anything on their mind. A "friend" in this sense is also someone who is called in times of need. Others would consider a person a friend after talking with them a few times. Still others have a constantly changing definition of the word.

If you consider the first definition to be true, I have probably had ten real friends my entire life. If you consider the second definition to be true, I think the number would increase to about a hundred or so people (Please remember that I'm from a small town. I'm not anti-social).

But, when one is trying to determine who his or her friends are, is his or her own opinions enough? If a person considers someone a good friend, but they think the person is simply someone that they know, are the two friends?

How is a friendship formed? I don't believe that a couple of common interests are enough to start a friendship. They may introduce you to new people, but I don't think friendship begins with an interest in something. Is it a combination of personalities that cause both individuals to value the time they spend together, or is there just something in each person's brain that tells us when we have met a potential friend? I don't know.

When a friendship is formed, what responsibilities does that add to each person? People have said that friends should be loyal to each other, but what does that really mean? Does that simply mean they should support each other, or does it go much deeper? If it does, how much deeper does it go? Loyalty can be taken to mean two very different things to different people.

One thing I have a hard time giving people is trust. Partially the fault of my father (an amusing anecdote and my earliest memory, maybe I'll tell it another time), I have developed a problem trusting anyone. It takes a large amount of time for people to earn my trust. I believe, however, that trust is very important in any friendship. I think that this might be part of the reason I'm not very "approachable." When people come to me with problems, I don't start by giving them any form of sympathy. Instead, I wonder how they plan on trying to use me to solve their problem(s).

Honesty is another "responsibility" one takes when a friendship is formed. I strongly believe that friends shouldn't lie to each other. I have had very little experience being lied to by those I consider my closer friends, but I know that I have been guilty of little white lies occasionally. Do these little lies really matter that much? What does it say about the person gives them and the strength of his or her friendships?

Well, it's almost 4 AM and I'm rambling. I'm going to sleep. If anyone has any strong opinions, or even any small comments, feel free to leave them.

Posted by Randy at 03:54 AM

Friendship

I have been thinking a lot about friendship lately. Specifically, what is it? How is it defined?

There are many definitions of friendship. Some people only consider a person a "friend" when they are close enough to tell that person anything on their mind. A "friend" in this sense is also someone who is called in times of need. Others would consider a person a friend after talking with them a few times. Still others have a constantly changing definition of the word.

If you consider the first definition to be true, I have probably had ten real friends my entire life. If you consider the second definition to be true, I think the number would increase to about a hundred or so people (Please remember that I'm from a small town. I'm not anti-social).

But, when one is trying to determine who his or her friends are, is his or her own opinions enough? If a person considers someone a good friend, but they think the person is simply someone that they know, are the two friends?

How is a friendship formed? I don't believe that a couple of common interests are enough to start a friendship. They may introduce you to new people, but I don't think friendship begins with an interest in something. Is it a combination of personalities that cause both individuals to value the time they spend together, or is there just something in each person's brain that tells us when we have met a potential friend? I don't know.

When a friendship is formed, what responsibilities does that add to each person? People have said that friends should be loyal to each other, but what does that really mean? Does that simply mean they should support each other, or does it go much deeper? If it does, how much deeper does it go? Loyalty can be taken to mean two very different things to different people.

One thing I have a hard time giving people is trust. Partially the fault of my father (an amusing anecdote and my earliest memory, maybe I'll tell it another time), I have developed a problem trusting anyone. It takes a large amount of time for people to earn my trust. I believe, however, that trust is very important in any friendship. I think that this might be part of the reason I'm not very "approachable." When people come to me with problems, I don't start by giving them any form of sympathy. Instead, I wonder how they plan on trying to use me to solve their problem(s).

Honesty is another "responsibility" one takes when a friendship is formed. I strongly believe that friends shouldn't lie to each other. I have had very little experience being lied to by those I consider my closer friends, but I know that I have been guilty of little white lies occasionally. Do these little lies really matter that much? What does it say about the person gives them and the strength of his or her friendships?

Well, it's almost 4 AM and I'm rambling. I'm going to sleep. If anyone has any strong opinions, or even any small comments, feel free to leave them.

Posted by Randy at 03:54 AM

November 16, 2003

I...Need...Sleep!

I finished two of those books last night/this morning. Damn you, Stephen King! I meant to get sleep tonight! Now I'm going to bed at 4 AM.

For the second night in a row. Argh.

Posted by Randy at 04:05 AM

November 11, 2003

Happiness

I'm so happy right now. I just picked up the newest book in the Dark Tower series by Stephen King, Wolves of the Calla. Now I have to find time to read it.

Just so you know, I now have five different books lined up that I want to read. While I am sure that's practically nothing for certain people, that is a good number of books for me to have going at the same time.

Posted by Randy at 06:46 PM

November 05, 2003

Happy Birthday Jessica

Today would have been my sister's sixteenth birthday. If my sister was still alive, I would probably have gone home to see everyone for an hour or two. I am not sure what kind of car my parents had been planning on getting her before she was killed, but I know that I would have gone for a short ride in it. Today would be very different.

I knew that this day was coming. I've been trying to brace myself for it for a couple of weeks now. I had thought, "Ok, Randy, it is fine if you want to be sad or grieve, but you are going to not even think about it until after your Circuits test." I had been doing fairly well at staying focused during my walk down to Glaske. Every time any thought dealing with my sister entered my head I quickly pushed it to the back of my mind.

And then I saw "Happy Birthday Jessica" written in chalk in front of Glaske. I felt like I had just been punched in the stomach. I stopped and stared, and I successfully fought back tears. Since I had walked down early to do some last minute studying, I had time to fight back the emotion and keep it under control for my test.

From other chalked sidewalk squares, I have learned that it is Jessica White's (aka Pixie) birthday. I have no idea who this person is. I don't know her age, her residence hall, her major, or anything about her. All I know is that her birthday falls on the same day as Jessica Ross's once did, and there is the possibility that I will have to face "Happy Birthday Jessica" chalk messages every November 5th. Is this just a coincidence, or is there some subtle message I just haven't picked up yet?

I miss my sister. I miss her more than anyone but those who have lost siblings can imagine. The worst part is that I know this feeling will only grow stronger over time.

Posted by Randy at 12:19 PM

October 29, 2003

Fall Fest

Idiots are running rampant around campus. Morons dressed in ridiculous costumes, chalk messages written on the sidewalks and other things, and photos of people doing unusual things can be seen everywhere. This can only mean one thing.

Fall Fest is back.

From my own floor's decision concerning a queen ("Save the cows! Vote for chicken!") to 41's horrible idea for their queen ("Erin in Wonderland"), my general disdain for this joke of an event (the climax of which is a banquet that costs $10 to attend) has greatly increased since last year. 4B's tradition concerning bodyguards around their king and queen and the decision of Quad 1 to nominate Ashley Ross (no relation that I know of, but I now see "ROSS" everywhere I look) aren't helping my opinion of the week.

Some people say Fall Fest just breaks the monotony of the last half of the semester, and I have to admit that is true. Even if you don't participate you still get a slight change of scenery. However, I still think the whole thing is a waste of time.

Two other things:

1. If you are reading this, you should either vote for Ardith for Fall Fest Queen or write-in "The Chicken" (or Chikin) to win.

2. Happy 18th Birthday Katy!

Posted by Randy at 06:28 PM

Fall Fest

Idiots are running rampant around campus. Morons dressed in ridiculous costumes, chalk messages written on the sidewalks and other things, and photos of people doing unusual things can be seen everywhere. This can only mean one thing.

Fall Fest is back.

From my own floor's decision concerning a queen ("Save the cows! Vote for chicken!") to 41's horrible idea for their queen ("Erin in Wonderland"), my general disdain for this joke of an event (the climax of which is a banquet that costs $10 to attend) has greatly increased since last year. 4B's tradition concerning bodyguards around their king and queen and the decision of Quad 1 to nominate Ashley Ross (no relation that I know of, but I now see "ROSS" everywhere I look) aren't helping my opinion of the week.

Some people say Fall Fest just breaks the monotony of the last half of the semester, and I have to admit that is true. Even if you don't participate you still get a slight change of scenery. However, I still think the whole thing is a waste of time.

Two other things:

1. If you are reading this, you should either vote for Ardith for Fall Fest Queen or write-in "The Chicken" (or Chikin) to win.

2. Happy 18th Birthday Katy!

Posted by Randy at 06:28 PM

October 19, 2003

Lack of Willpower

I have no willpower.

This weekend I was sucked into a realm so addictive that I lost track of time on multiple occasions and woke with thoughts of it on my mind. I started playing the game on which I based a screen name. This is the same game I refused to bring with me to college because I was afraid I would spend too much time with it.

That's right. This weekend I started playing The Sims, again.

I hadn't really played this game for quite some time. I knew that my sister and her friends had practically taken over all of the neighborhoods when I left for college, and I realized that sacrificing the game would help me keep peace with her and free some time up for myself to do other things when I was home.

Knowing this, I started up the game, went through and deleted all of the saved information in all eight neighborhoods, and started playing again. I kept playing. I want to keep playing, but I need to do homework.

I need more willpower.

Posted by Randy at 11:31 PM

October 08, 2003

Life and Death

My grandparents drove to Longview today in order to take me out to eat. I had the pleasure of eating a twelve ounce steak and a great baked potato.

As always when my grandparents come up here, I was told all about things that have been happening at home. Most of it was the same old crap that I'm sure every family encounters. Gossip, speculations, negative opinions, and all that other good stuff. However, I'm not writing right now because of any of that boring information.

The reason I am writing is because they told me that my high school is raising money for a memorial to all of the kids who were killed in some way or another in the last few years. From what they said the memorial will be for the eight kids who died in the past four or five years. While I am sure that number is normal for a large number of schools, it isn't for mine. The town has 525 people in it. There are approximately 120-130 students that make up the junior high-high school buildings. When one of those students is taken away, the entire school is affected. Even the people who didn't know the kid personally would know enough about him/her to be affected by his/her death.

This re-realization (I had known how many kids have died, I've just never really thought about it) caused me to think of the number of LeTourneau students that have died since I started here. So far there has been a memorial service chapel at the beginning of every semester. I have known only one of the students who has passed away since I've been here, but I know people who knew almost all of them.

I guess the point of this whole thing is to ask if these statistics are normal. They seem wrong to me. This few people should not be experiencing this much death. I know that I feel like I've dealt with enough death in my life to last for a while. My grandfather, the only great-grandmother that I knew, my sister, and a cousin have all died in a span of five years. I have also had three people I was friends with and two other people I knew die within the same time frame. I'm tired of dealing with death.

Posted by Randy at 08:17 PM

October 07, 2003

Question

Ok, I have a question. Maybe you guys can help.

As most of you know, my sister was killed in April. I no longer have a problem discussing it with people, although I still do not enjoy talking at length about it. This is important for you to know because it may help explain my confusion.

Today in Inklings the professor asked the class if anyone had any siblings. Almost everyone in the class raised their hand to say they did. I started to raise my hand, but then I thought, "Wait a second, I had a sister, but now she is deceased," and sort of left my hand half-raised with a look of confusion on my face. A second later everyone put their hands back down and the class moved on with the professor. I put the confusion out of my mind and followed along with the discussion.

The question about whether or not someone has any siblings has never been a problem for me to ask or (until April) answer. I've never thought about asking that to someone who had a sibling who passed away, and I'm sure that possibility doesn't occur in the minds of most people.

So, how do I answer this question now? In a normal conversation (i.e., I am talking with someone who simply doesn't know), I would probably answer, "I used to have a sister, but she is deceased." (Or something along those lines.) However, if I'm not in a conversation where I can answer the person asking directly, what do I do? It feels wrong to say that I do have a sibling but so does saying that I don't have one. Since I did have a sister I can relate to the experience the speaker may be trying to relate, and I am also fairly certain that they wouldn't need to know that personal information. Saying that my sister is dead would probably also distract them from their main point. I understand this.

The only problem is it feels wrong to simply imply "Yes, I have a sibling," nod, and continue with whatever we were conversing. It feels as if I am disrespecting my memory of her by not saying anything.

Posted by Randy at 01:51 AM

September 30, 2003

Mad

How mad have you ever been? Has your anger towards something ever increased so rapidly that the tone of your voice changes drastically between two words? Has this anger ever caused you to wish bad things not on a person but that person's family? Have you ever wanted to see that person when he learned of tragic news just so you could laugh in that person's face?

I was in the middle of just such a seething rage against a certain class and a certain professor when I suddenly realized the extent of what I wanted to happen to this person. I was wishing things against this prof that were so horrible that I am ashamed of myself for even thinking them. I am not going to give examples of those wishes because I am deeply ashamed of them. This feeling of shame is not helped by the realization that all of my problems in the class are really my own fault.

If I am upset about something, most of the time I will let people know about it. However, I am the type of person that when I am absolutely enraged about something I become extremely quiet and I sort of zone out. This is how you can tell if I am upset about something or if I am literally wanting to kill someone. I once sat and stared at a wall in my room for hours after the most aggravating day of high school I ever had. Some people yell, scream, or want to hit things when they are enraged. I just stay still and stew in it. I was once accused of savoring my anger, but I don't think I do that.

It isn't the big things that can send me off into one of these paralyzing rages. It is always a combination of small things, and it is always the "straw that broke the camel's back" that gets the majority of my anger. Thus, my anger was directed towards University Physics II and the creator of the CAPA problems.

Why have I been getting so angry lately? I don't understand it. It is as if every single ounce of patience that I had for other people has been drained out of me somehow. Maybe I've just been too stressed lately.

Posted by Randy at 08:07 PM

September 23, 2003

Anger

I don't know what has happened with me. It seems that this year it is becoming increasingly easier to make me mad.

Here is a list of a few recent things that have upset me:

1. A person walks into my room, stands behind me as I play a game on my computer, and begins to belittle a game I enjoy. Continuously.
2. I'm doing homework. A person walks into my room and talks loudly with my roomate. Eventually getting bad enough that I have to leave my room to do my work even after asking him to be quiet.
3. Morons who walk by and occasionally slam the door to my room.
4. People who are patronizing and condescending.
5. People who are loud and obnoxious and enjoy being loud and obnoxious.
6. People who blame anything bad about their personality on ADD or ADHD.

This could easily be lengthened, but I don't want to do that.

So, I guess my question is simply has it just become easier to make me pissed off or are there just an increasingly high number of assholes in the world?

Posted by Randy at 10:39 PM

September 12, 2003

Tragic Anniversary

I just realized what yesterday was. Yes, I know it was the second anniversary of [sad and overly dramatic music] 9/11 [/ music]. But it was also something else.

Yesterday marked six months since the date of my sister's death. Half a year. I can't believe that it has already been half a year since my sister died. It seems like just last week I went home for her funeral.

I am starting to believe that time never passes slowly. I can remember when I was in the audience of a high school graduation my freshman year of high school and I thought that I would never get out of that place. Now I am a sophomore in college and I know that in just a few short years I will graduate from this place (or another college, no one can predict the future), move away from the friends I have made, and, seemingly, start building relationships all over again.

You can try to put a positive spin on that fact. You can say everything from how a person is affected by the people he or she builds relationships with and vice versa to how, if nothing else, making friends simply makes the time you spend here enjoyable. But in all honesty, knowing that friends will be leaving me practically every semester (not yet, but soon) and I will eventually be leaving a good number of friends behind is very depressing.

And yes, I know that I can still contact friends in email, etc. However, we all know that writing an email or talking on the phone to a friend is not the same as living with them on the same floor, eating with them almost daily, or piling into a vehicle to go to Wal-Mart.

Posted by Randy at 11:49 AM

September 08, 2003

Family Birthdays

This has been a busy, busy, busy week. It was hideous. I've had a huge amount of homework (which I still haven't completed, but I'm tired of it now), a large amount of floor stuff, and I've taken a trip home. There was also Longview Blitz. Not really worth talking about except to say that I painted some and was able to stay away from a dirty, filthy attic.

The reason I went home was because my aunt was having a little family get-together to celebrate the birthdays of my father, mother, and uncle. It wasn't until I got to my aunt's house and saw the little stack of cards that were going to be distributed to the birthday trio that I realized this would be the first birthday in several years that my parents would not be receiving some kind of home-made birthday card from my sister. I am quite certain that my mother knew this because she looked close to tears on several short occasions, but even if she needed to cry she held back the tears (at least while she was at my aunt's house). This trip made it very clear to me that my parents are still having difficulty concerning my sister's death (I know my mother is and I think my father is simply better at hiding it). I want to help them, somehow. But I don't think I can just go up to them and ask, "So, how are taking Jessica's death?" This desire to help but inability to do so makes me feel slightly nervous around them and I force myself to be slightly more upbeat that usual.

I really don't know anything else I can do for them except go home when I am able and pray.

Posted by Randy at 01:32 AM

August 30, 2003

Saturday

Today is a good day. I have been able to do nothing and have greatly enjoyed doing it all day. The network problems have been greatly lessened in Mabee (and I assume all of Trinity), and I also received some good news from my family. As much as I would like to ramble on about the good news, I don't want it on here. If anyone is really interested feel free to talk to me about it.

I have Circuits homework I need to do and I will probably start on Differential Equations homework eventually. But right now, I'm doing nothing. I love Saturday.

Posted by Randy at 02:58 PM

Saturday

Today is a good day. I have been able to do nothing and have greatly enjoyed doing it all day. The network problems have been greatly lessened in Mabee (and I assume all of Trinity), and I also received some good news from my family. As much as I would like to ramble on about the good news, I don't want it on here. If anyone is really interested feel free to talk to me about it.

I have Circuits homework I need to do and I will probably start on Differential Equations homework eventually. But right now, I'm doing nothing. I love Saturday.

Posted by Randy at 02:58 PM

August 24, 2003

Personal Observation

I have discovered something interesting about myself. I don't like writing on this thing if another person is in the room. Even if I know that the person will be reading it later, I still don't like the thought that he could read over my shoulder as I am typing it. Does anyone else have this quirk or is it just me?

In other news, orientation is almost complete. Just a few more things to do with the group before it is over. Of course, I still have a large amount of crap I have to do before classes start on Tuesday.

Posted by Randy at 12:13 PM

August 17, 2003

I'm Back

I am actually back now at LU again. I am happy to be back. Between packing, unpacking, arranging, rearranging, retreats, and (starting Monday) training for senate and Themelios, I don't really have much free time. Of course, my training doesn't last all day so I will get some time and I have a few things I would like to mention/discuss/ramble about for a while. Of course, at the moment I am busy with Penny Arcade.

Anyway, I'm still alive and well, just busy.

Posted by Randy at 12:37 AM

August 04, 2003

Birthday

According to the clock on my computer, it is now August 4, 2003. Do you know what this means? I'm sure a large majority of you do not, but a few of you might. For those of you who do not know what today means to me, allow me to elaborate.

Today is my birthday. I am now officially nineteen years old. Although I will not be nineteen to the second until sometime around one o'clock in the afternoon, I think that it is close enough that I can say something about it.

Anyway, happy birthday to me.

Posted by Randy at 12:07 AM

July 28, 2003

Eastman, Financial Aid, and 28 Days Later

Today was a busy day.

I had to get up around 8:30 and go back to Longview to meet with the Eastman Community Advisory Board. I got to eat some decent Mexican food and listen to pro-Eastman propaganda concerning their safety procedures. Boring. For some reason, they had a Longview Transit bus come and take us two blocks into the factory to look at the computer they had been talking about in the meeting. It then took us back to the company entrance and left. I wonder how much they had to pay to get that bus out to Eastman just to carry twelve people a total of four blocks.

Then I had to deal with LU's infamous Financial Aid staff. Somehow they had it in their computer system that I chose to reject a student loan. How they got that information I do now know because I accepted all financial aid both in the email they sent to me and in a letter sent to my parents. My mother and I just got finished with the Sallie Mae people and finally got pre-approved for their loan.

After that, I finally got to watch 28 Days Later. I had been wanting to watch this movie for a while, but no theaters in Nacogdoches or Henderson were playing the movie. I was pleased with the movie, although I do believe that it was not nearly as scary as people made it sound. The movie did need better (or any) music to set the tone in several scenes. I would recommend this movie to anyone who likes horror/sci-fi movies. I will be getting it when it is released on DVD.

I think that this movie needed more character development. Yes, we learn that Selena is a ruthless woman who is deadly with a machete and willing to do anything to survive, but is this different from how she was before the tragedy happened? Yes, we learn that Jim is a fast-learner and good at adapting, but what was he like before he woke up in this nightmare?

Also, if you go see it, make sure to stay to watch the alternate ending after the credits. I think that the alternate ending fits better with the rest of the movie than the one they decided to end it with.

I think I will leave you with these opinions:

If you bring any kind of kid to any kind of movie, I don't care how you are related to them, make him SIT DOWN and SHUT HIS DAMN MOUTH! I think that it should be legal to shoot anyone who walks into a movie theater and asks loudly "Is it scary?" during a scene where you are trying to listen to what the characters are saying. It should also be legal to bound and gag anyone who will not keep his damn mouth shut so that someone can beat the crap out of him after the movie is over.

Posted by Randy at 07:51 PM

July 24, 2003

Introspection

Have you ever just been sitting somewhere doing something inconsequential when you see/hear/think something that causes you to completely re-evaluate a part of your life? Something big enough to cause a certain piece of the great mixed-up puzzle of your mind to fall into place with enough force that it feels like you were just slapped and knocked off your feet?

I just had one of those while watching television. This realization seems to explain the reasoning behind a lot of things that I have done in the past.

If you don't look back at things you have done, I want to suggest to you to try to look at your past actions objectively. You often see things in a new light and may even be looking at yourself with a new pair of eyes. It also can be an entertaining way to spend a few minutes that would otherwise just be a boring waste of time. Of course, I may think that simply because I was almost a psych major.

Posted by Randy at 12:27 AM

July 21, 2003

Musical Taste

The opinions that I have of music are extremely fickle. It amazes me how much my taste for music changes.

Way back in elementary school I liked country music. I think the main reason I liked it was because it was practically all I ever heard on any radio. My father usually took me and my sister to school and he listened to country.

About the time I started junior high I had started to like pop and light rock. This started because a friend of mine listened to it and he usually had a radio on when I went to his house. This lasted for a few years.

Then in high school I was introduced to actual rock music. This transition was due to the Linkin Park song "Crawling," which a friend said he hoped would be a "gateway song" to other rock music. It was. I eventually liked Metallica and other "heavier" rock bands.

I think that I have always liked certain classical music as well. However, I couldn't name you any classical music.

My opinions of certain singers seem to change as well. I remember that I once almost shuddered every time someone mentioned Marilyn Manson. However, while I'm still not what I would call a fan of his by any means, I do like a couple of his songs and really like his cover of "Tainted Love." I once hated listening to anything by Eminem. Now there are a few songs of his that I can listen to without cringing.

I wonder what kind of music I'll be listening to in ten years.

Posted by Randy at 02:26 PM

July 15, 2003

Stupid Dentist

I don't like the dentist. Today I was the unlucky recipient of two fillings in two teeth on my lower jaw. I don't like anesthetic because I hate not being able to control my bottom lip. I absolutely loathe getting anesthetic applied because the dentist holds a freaking two foot long needle in your gums for about thirty seconds. Yes, all of that could have been prevented if I had taken better care of my teeth. Shut up.

I was also informed that my wisdom teeth are probably going to have to be removed.

I don't like the dentist.

Posted by Randy at 11:53 PM

July 06, 2003

True Story

True story I just heard that I thought I would share.

Remember a few posts back when my seven-year old cousin stayed over at my house? Well, my mother took him to his house the following morning when she had to go to work at the hospital. He was exhausted since he stayed up half the night playing video games. My mom decided to bring the pillow he was using with her and let him sleep in the car. When she met his mom, she transferred him over to her car and let him keep using the pillow. Well, the next day his mother called and asked if that was Jessica's pillow. My mom told her that it was and asked why she wanted to know. It turns out that my little cousin could smell Jessica on the pillow and had been using the pillow to lay on, sleep on, etc., since he had returned to his house and he doesn't want to give it back. My mom told his mom that it was fine if he kept the pillow.

When I heard it the first time it almost brought tears to my eyes.

Anyway, just thought I would share that.

Posted by Randy at 03:29 PM

June 24, 2003

Late Night Ramblings

Rambling thoughts at three in the morning.

Tonight I couldn't sleep so I decided to watch a movie (I chose Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets because I finally read all of those books. They are actually quite good.). While walking back to my room after I put the DVD back where my parents keep them I noticed a sheet of paper taped to the side of my father's gun safe (Yes, it is a gun safe, get over it). I couldn't help but wonder how many times I had walked by this piece of paper since I had come back from LU without actually looking at it. This piece of paper had scribbled on it phone numbers of the various phone numbers of the friends that my sister and I have had.

That's all background. Looking at that sheet of paper, I quickly noticed what number had been added most recently. The number, which was written in my mother's handwriting (the only legible handwriting in the family), was my sister's cell phone number. Why, you may wonder, am I rambling on about seeing my sister's cell phone number? I believe the Christmas before last my parents gave me a cell phone. I almost never use it. I sometimes need to call my parents and have occasionally needed to call other people on it, but other than that it doesn't get much use. My sister, on the other hand, wanted one of her own immediately. Knowing how much she used the phone at home, I can only imagine that she used a large amount of her minutes talking and sending text messages. I know for a fact that the last text message she sent was on the night of her death. It was to Levi (the one eventually going to the Marines). She was telling him she didn't want him to go because "I'll miss you."

Anyway, the point of all of this is that seeing that number caused me to realize it was a totally foreign number to me. I don't have it in my cell phone's phonebook, I've never written it down, and I've certainly never called it. Assuming that she was given it for her birthday, she had the phone for six months. Never once did either of us call the other on our cell phones. That realization made me feel a sharp pang of guilt. My sister and I weren't the closest siblings, but I would have laughed in your face had you told me that she would get a cell phone and I wouldn't call her once on it in six months.

These thoughts, along with a few others that are too long to type up right now (I'm sleepy), are really making me feel like a total asshole.

Posted by Randy at 03:19 AM

June 16, 2003

Depression

The longer that I live the more convinced I become that I am bipolar. Take now, for instance. Earlier today I was overjoyed at the idea of driving my new car to Longview to pick up my liscence plates and registration. I enjoyed the trip up there and the trip back. Now, I feel depressed.

I have absolutely no reason to be depressed. Yes, my sister was killed in an explosion a little over two months ago, but I refuse to believe that it is just now causing me to become depressed after no depression (after the initial mourning) for almost two months. In fact, I have more reasons to be happy right now than I have had in quite some time. I got a new car, I just returned from a trip to the Florida Keys, I get to keep my scholarship, I was able to catch up on a lot of reading that I had been intending to do, and I even have older relatives coming to me for advice. Yet, I feel horrible depressed. I don't understand it.

I also just realized this is my third post to this blog today. I think that maybe I am just thinking too much about everything in my life right now.

Posted by Randy at 11:48 PM

An Observation

I made a realization today that I can't believe I didn't see earlier. Looking at it, this thought should have surfaced long ago and I can't help but wonder why I am just now seeing it. The thought is this: my new car will always be a reminder that my sister was not able to reach sixteen.

Reviewing past conversations with my mother, I remember her telling me that she and my father wanted to buy me a new car. It is only now that I have realized that they could afford to get me a new car because they would not have to buy my sister a car. In fact, if she had not been killed, my mother would probably have given my sister her car and she would have got something new. Instead, I got a better car and my mother is keeping her Beetle.

The reason I felt this was worth mentioning is that I don't know if I simply failed to notice this fact or if I blocked it out in order to not have to think about it. If I did block it out, I can't help but wonder what other things I might have blocked out just because I don't want to think about them.

Posted by Randy at 09:43 PM

June 15, 2003

Return from Key West

I'm finally back! Although I enjoyed my time in Florida, a week and a half just seemed way too long to stay down there. I brought a little notebook down there with me so I have several different things I want to write about but I will need to spread all of that stuff out over several days. I also absolutely love my new car and I am overprotecting it with a zeal that almost border on obsession.

However, before I tell you about all of that, I would like to ask that you would keep my friend David from LeTourneau in your prayers. Yes, this is the same David who has an eccentric obsession with all things banana. He was in a car wreck and was banged up fairly badly. For more information, go to David's blog and read all about it.

Now, for the first of my rants.

Travelling with little kids suck. I went to Key Largo with my cousin, her husband, and their family. They have an almost four-year old daughter, Hannah, and a a seven-year old son, Logan. Before I went on this trip I thought that Hannah was a sweet if slightly spoiled child and that Logan was an intelligent and tough, if small, kid. How little did I know that my impressions were almost totally and completely wrong. Shelli, if you ever read this, I'm sorry for bashing your kids but this is how I see them.

Hannah (if you can forgive my harshness--words can not accurately describe the tantrums she could throw) now appears to me as a conniving, manipulitave, spoiled, lying brat. In order to try to get people to buy her things, she would go through little phases. First, she would ask nicely. If that didn't work, she would throw a tantrum. If that didn't work, she would try to be so cute that you would buy it for her. When she threw tantrums, she would cross her arms, stomp, and start screaming silently. You know what I mean? That open-mouth-but-no-sound-only-air scream. After a few seconds of that, she would go into yelling and crying. Eventually, you could tell she was forcing herself to keep screaming because the tone of her yell would end. She lied to her parents several times during the trip. On the way home from the airport, she cried and yelled for at least thirty minutes for "Momma to sit by meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee." Usually, when everyone ignored her little fits, she would eventually shut up. Not this time. During that time, Logan was aggravating her, which probably caused her to keep going. Her mother eventually compromised and leaned across the car to hold her hand. After a few minutes of that she fell asleep.

Logan turned out to be a hard-headed, whiny, argumentative, wanna-be know-it-all crybaby. He argued with his parents about everything. EVERYTHING! He argued about what people said, he argued about what people saw, he argued about facts in books and movies, etc. No matter what you were talking about he would try to push his way into the conversation and pretend that he knew about it. He actually said to his mother on two different occasions with all seriousness, "I know everything." It is impossible to convince him he is wrong. You have to prove it to him. When he wasn't arguing, he was whining. About everything. He was hungry or thirsty. He needed to use the restroom. He didn't want to leave. He didn't want to go somewhere. He wanted to go somewhere else. It is important that you note that saying something once and then repeating it several minutes later to make sure the driver doesn't forget is not whining. Repeatedly saying it over and over until either what is being said is fulfilled or your get spanked is whining. As for being a crybaby, crying after you are spanked does not make you a crybaby. Crying for fifteen minutes after your mother spanks you once on the leg is being a crybaby.

Solutions for these problems? It seems to me that the two children above no longer respond to any kind of threat from their parents. Occasionally they will try to act decently, but that is only after being told several times, threatened with a spanking, and either parent actually walks over to the kid like he (or she) was going to be spanked. If I were those two parents, the next time either of them didn't do what I asked, whether it was something as trivial as picking up a piece of paper to something important like not playing in a street, I would grab the kid and spank him (or her) until he (or she) could not sit down. You would only have to do this a few times and several of the above behavior problems would be solved. Would this work on every child? Probably not. But there is a difference between disciplining your child and abusing your child. Corporal punishment would work with these two.

That's all I'm going to talk about concerning the trip at this time. However, I have one more thing to say.

Katy has a post in which she talks about having a really weird dream and dream analysis. I once had a really weird dream which resulted with me waking up in the middle of the night in tears. This dream was so strong emotionally that I still have a vivid memory of it. It was so strong that I did my own little analysis of it and wrote it down. I'm hoping I can find that analysis somewhere and I will share it. If not, I'll try to remember everything I thought about that dream and re-create it.

Coming Soon to a blog near you:
Thoughts about dreams, air travel, recently read books, freedom of speech, sleep deprivation, seasickness, and selfishness.

Posted by Randy at 01:13 AM

June 03, 2003

New Car!

Wow. Interesting day, today. For the second time this week I returned to Longview to go to a car dealership with my parents. After much waiting and telling them what I wanted, long (presumably thoughtful) pauses by my parents about what to buy, what price to pay, and what they thought I needed were held in front of the car salesman (who was very young for a car salesman, it seems). Eventually, they decided to buy me the car. I do not have this car in my possession as of now because they had to get it from a place near Houston. They didn't have the car I wanted in the color I wanted with the options I wanted. Apparently, there were only three such cars which fitted all of my conditions in the state of Texas. I can't help but feel a small twinge of pride about that. The car will be anxiously awaiting my return from Key West. Anyway, if you want to see the car, go here.

After I got back from Longview, I had the absolute joy of taking care of a few animals for my grandfather while he is in Arkansas. Why, you may ask, is this an absolute joy for a person who despises taking care of outside animals? The answer is very simple: he pays me $20 a day to do a job that takes less than an hour to complete. After the obligatory "you don't have to pay me that much" objection, I gladly took the money and, today, went to work.

And now I need to type up some stuff that I promised some people I would type up in order to not feel like a lazy piece of crap.

Posted by Randy at 04:16 PM

May 23, 2003

Strange Laughter

I'm really happy at the moment. Somebody came across this blog while searching on Google for Stephen King. Being the Stephen King fanatic that I am, I can't help but be honored. A shame that all that person found was his name mentioned with a few books or television series.

I saw The Matrix: Reloaded again. This time I only paid $4, but I hate the seats in that theater. I believe that the Cynic was right when he told Katy that it was better the second time around. I noticed a few more things that I liked about the movie and caught a few things I hadn't noticed the first time around. I tried to look more carefully for the computer animated scenes as well. I still think that they used that too much in this movie. I think that I would have sacrificed a large amount of the fight with all of the Smiths to have used less animation, but I wasn't directing the movie.

I saw it this time with a friend from high school. This friend shall remain nameless at this time because I don't want him to be embarassed by the following story. Anyway, I was at his house around the time our old high school gets out for the day. He had asked earlier if it had gotten out yet so when I saw that it had I told him it was out. Shortly after this he asked something that sounded like, "Do you have to pick up Jess--." As soon as he said the first syllable of her name I'm assuming he realized what he had just done because he mumbled, "Oh shit," and turned red. I didn't hear at first what he said but when I saw his reaction it clicked in my mind. For a second I just stared at him, and then for some reason, I just started laughing. I felt horrible for him because I'm sure he felt like a total ass, but I couldn't stop laughing. After a few seconds when my laughing subsided I told him not to worry about it because I had also forgotten what had happened and had a few slip-of-the-tongue moments.

I have been trying to figure out why I started laughing. It didn't feel like nervous laughter, but it wasn't really a "someone-just-told-a-funny-joke" laughter either. I think that it may have been from relief. I'm thinking that part of me still felt guilty after my own experience with forgetting my sister's death, even though both of my parents have done it as well. This was my first encounter with someone else forgetting about it in my presence. I think my mind was very relieved that someone else made the same mistake I had made and showed that relief through laughter. But then again, what do I know? I'm not a psych major.

Posted by Randy at 12:59 AM

May 16, 2003

Busy Summer Day

Today (Thursday) was an interesting day. I woke up earlier than I usually do, received a phone call saying that I have another interview to go to on Friday, picked up my late sister's late boyfriend's sister from school and carried her home for her mother, attended my old high school's athletic banquet (my family was given my sister's basketball jersey), and finished it off by watching a full lunar eclipse.

The lunar eclipse was cool. I don't know if Moore watched any of the eclipse, but at one point the moon looked just like a banana. If he didn't watch it I felt that someone should tell him about that.

I also heard something else which great. Katy, a girl from my high school, will be receiving the R.G. LeTourneau scholarship to come to LeTourneau. She is getting a whopping $56,000. Congratulations Katy!

I still haven't seen The Matrix: Reloaded yet, but I am hoping to see it this weekend. I've heard mixed reviews.

Posted by Randy at 12:26 AM

May 13, 2003

Generic Life Update

Time for a mood change on this blog. I've been talking too much about my more somber feelings. So, I'm going to try to change subjects.

Job Search: Summer '03 has yet to reach its end. No word back from anything as of yet, and it is starting to aggravate me. I haven't really wanted any of the jobs I've applied for, but that isn't the point. I doubt that I would find a temporary job that I would want here anyway. I'm aggravated because I hate filling out those stupid job applications. They all ask the exact same things. There needs to be a univeral application form for all companies and, if needed, they can add on separate pages as they see fit. It would save everyone a lot of time.

Today ABC showed the movie version of The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer, which is the prequel to Rose Red. Quite naturally, they extremely screwed it up. They added things which made the story more sexually oriented, left some things out (some of those things I was very happy they did leave out), and even changed things that were shown happening an entirely different way in Rose Red. Why can't they just produce the story like it was told in the novel? Would it really be that hard? I'm not saying it should be exact because some things have to be edited or changed; however, when the changes approach the degree of crap they did to that story, they should be ashamed of themselves.

The Matrix: Reloaded is coming out very soon. I want to see it opening day, but I know that won't happen. My mom wants to see it as soon as she can. My dad wants to see it when it comes out on DVD. I know that some people view movie prices as ridiculously high, and I definitely agree that there concession prices are outrageous, but I don't really have a problem paying seven dollars for over two hours of entertainment. However, if the quality of entertainment approaches zero, my anger towards the movie and theater approaches infinity. (That math reference was just for you, Anna)

Posted by Randy at 01:26 AM

May 11, 2003

Thoughts a Month After...

Quoted from this blog on April 17, 2003:
"I miss her so much already, and it hasn't even been a week since she has been gone. I can not even imagine what this will feel like next week, next month, or next year."

It has now been almost exactly one month from the time my sister was killed. It is hard for me to imagine, but one month ago at this very moment my sister was living out the last few hours of her life. I still miss her horribly. It also doesn't help my mother much that one month to the day of her daughter's unfortunate death is Mother's Day. The amount of memories I have of my sister are greater than ever, and they seem to grow every single day. I start thinking of something, someone says something, or I see or hear something and another memory is sparked.

Quoted from Pet Semetary by Stephan King:
(Louis Creed's thoughts while tucking in his young daughter Ellie after his toddler son Gage is killed. They just discussed Ellie's reaction to the death.)
"'Keep him alive, Ellie, if that's what you want,' he thought and kissed her. 'The shrinks would probably say it's as unhealthy as hell, but I'm for it. Because I know the day will come--maybe as soon as this Friday--when you forget to carry the picture and I'll see it lying on your bed in this empty room while you ride your bike around the driveway or walk in the field behind the house or go over to Kathy McGown's house to make clothes with her Sew Perfect. Gage won't be with you, and that's when Gage drops off whatever Hot One Hundred there is that exists in litle girls' hearts and starts to become Something That Happened in 1984. A blast from the past.'"

I am terrified that I am slowly letting my sister and her death become Something That Happened in 2003. I suppose that it is natural to stop thinking about her as often as time goes by and I'm fairly certain that that is actually what happens to most mentally healthy people after a loved one's death. As natural as it may be, I hate that there will probably be a day in the future where I don't think of my sister at all, where no memories of her make me smile, where no sorrow-filled part of my soul cries out for her. That scares me.

Why am I seemingly punishing my mind with Pet Semetary this shortly after my sister's death? So far it has had two funerals described in painfully vivid details along with some commentary about what goes on behind the scenes. Well, I bought it and I decided that I had better read it. Getting close to finishing it now.

Posted by Randy at 08:34 PM

May 10, 2003

Silence

Another after-midnight post, but it doesn't matter because my parents are in Austin at the state track meet supporting Keith (Levi' brother) and the rest of the people from my high school that made it there. So I am home by myself.

Irony is extremely cruel. Especially when it comes around the corner and kicks you in the ass. I've spoken about that fact with my parents, but only now do I experience it in full force. They talked about it because of the amount of arguments my sister and I had which almost never left the house quiet. I speak of it because of how many times I wished that everyone in my house would just go away and leave me alone for a night.

Another strange thing, to me anyway, is the number of times I have encountered themes in either movies or books concerning death in these past few weeks. Of course, I do read quite a large amount of Stephen King novels, but the number of times I've encountered it is still shocking to me. From the novel The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red by King to the game Final Fantasy X, I can't seem to escape it. It is likely that I have always seen it with this frequency but am only now actually paying attention to it. It makes me wonder if I was always morbid and actively sought out books, movies, etc., concerning death or if this has all just been a coincidence.

Posted by Randy at 12:28 AM

May 08, 2003

Job Search

It seems that if I am to update this thing frequently and without my parents' notice (I don't think they should be reading this right now for several reasons, none of which I'm going into right now), I will have to post either late at night when both of them are asleep or during the middle of the day when neither of them are here. As my dad is at work and my mother is gone somewhere (Without leaving a note I might add. When she gets home I should say something about that.), I thought I would ramble a bit.

As far as my job search is going, I've turned in a few applications yesterday and I am [sarcasm]anxiously[/sarcasm] waiting a response. Still haven't heard about the job I want yet, so right now the applications I turned in are for "back-up" jobs. My mother is pushing me to get a job almost as much as Mark was. She is just adamant about me having "spending money." Translated to mean: "I am tired of giving you money, so get off your lazy ass and start working for it." While she may or may not mean it quite like that, that is how I'm interpreting it and I partially agree with her. I need my own job.

Insomnia sucks. I have not been able to go to sleep before 4 AM at all these last few nights. It isn't because I wasn't tired or because of my newly acquired sleeping habits, it is because the second I lay down in bed I become wide awake. Once I'm laying down, I start thinking. Once I start thinking, I might as well get back out of bed and go do something else. If only sleeping pills gave you "natural" sleep and weren't addictive...

And I am very glad that I decided to come home instead of staying at LU to get credits or work. A few of the cynic's comments about his experiences thus far should more than explain why.

Posted by Randy at 02:38 PM

May 05, 2003

My Exciting Life

Well, I've been alone at the house almost all day now. My mother woke me up at 11 to tell me she was leaving for work, and my dad left sometime around 6 or 7. Too bad once I get my job I probably won't be able to sleep in any more. Stupid real world.

Anyway, I've done practically nothing all day. I went to eat with my grandfather around one o'clock, but after that he needed to go pay some guy for some timber or somthing. We don't really have that much in common, but I try to spend time with him anyway. Do you have any relatives who, no matter how hard you try to listen, they almost always cause you to start daydreaming? I try to listen to him speak, but it is like trying to swim with cement shoes. No matter what I do, I almost always go under. However, he either doesn't notice or doesn't care.

Still don't know about the job I want. Mark, before you say anything, I'm working on getting the job. I should know relatively soon whether or not I'm getting it, so shut up already.

I also went with my mother yesterday to see X-Men 2. She wanted to see it and my dad didn't want to go (he was tired), so I went with her. I noticed a few things which improved my opinion of the movie. I'm not going to say anything because I don't want to spoil the movie for anyone who hasn't seen it.

Posted by Randy at 05:29 PM

May 04, 2003

Quick Stats

Time: 2:45 AM
Place: Levi's house
My current form of entertainment: Resident Evil: Code Veronica
Levi's siblings' current form of entertainment: How High
Sleep wanted: 8-12 hours
Sleep likely to get: 6-9 hours
Current job opportunities: 2 possibilities, 0 confirmations or denials
Chance of getting job I want: 75%
Current GPA: Unknown
Amount of stuff out of boxes: 85%
Amount of stuff where I want it: 60%
Amount of time needed to organize the closet from Hell: 2+ hours
Amount of time needed to create the closet from Hell: 20 minutes
Amount of prayer I will need for patience with family members: All that I can get

Just some current stats in my life.

Posted by Randy at 02:55 AM

May 03, 2003

Return to Home

Well, I'm not home at the moment, but I did go home and unpack a large amount of stuff. I am currently at a friend's house because my parents, my friend's parents, and Justin's (my sister's boyfriend who was killed at the same time as she was) parents are all celebrating an anniversary. I believe that it was Justin's parents' anniversary, but I'm not sure and it doesn't matter enough for me to try to find out.

I already miss LU's internet connection. I was trying to add some sites I visit frequently to the favorites on my home computer for quite some time today. I hate dial-up. The next time I hear somebody complain about LU's crappy connection, I think I will hit them. These people should be forced to used dial-up for a week. I don't care if you are used to a T3 or something like that. I don't care if you have a better connection at home. I don't care if you could download something "thirty times in the time it takes this POS to download it once." You don't realize how freaking bad it can get.

There are still plants all over my house from the funeral. I'm impressed with my mother. She hasn't killed all of them yet. She constantly tells people she has a "brown thumb," and, for the most part, that is true. My mother has a gift when it comes to killing plants. She also has extraordinary clumsiness, but that is a whole different story waiting to happen.

I'll probably be heading to Nacogdoches later tonight to try to find a movie or game or something so that I am not bored out of my mind tonight. I love these guys, but we have such vastly different interests it is amazing to me that we are friends at all. They are athletic; I like to think of myself as academic. They like rap; I like rock. They are very social; I sometimes seem hermetic. They have blonde hair; I have brown hair. One of them is going into the Marines; I am almost anti-military at times. (Don't ask. Please. I really don't want to go into it. Maybe I'll write it out later if people are interested.)

And I've been rambling again. I'll stop now because I'm going to go find a movie or game.

Posted by Randy at 08:21 PM

May 02, 2003

Reflections

I had a very interesting night last night. Well, it was interesting to me, anyway.

At around midnight, almost everyone on my floor decided to go to sleep. I can understand why those who were leaving in the morning wanted to sleep, but not everybody else. I couldn't sleep, so I played a few computer games (with the sound completely off) instead of lying in bed for a few hours trying to fall asleep. Around 2 AM, I still was't sleepy, so I decided to walk around the floor to see if anyone else was awake. There might have been someone awake, but all doors were closed. I looked outside a window from my floor and saw that several people were still running around outside packing, cleaning, etc., so that they could leave in the morning. At about 3 AM, still unable to sleep, I decided to walk around outside for a while.

I walked some erratic paths just randomly choosing which sidewalk to walk down. I believe I circled past my dorm about three or four times during this entire period. On my way around the campus, I said goodbye to two other honors students I happened to see. Both of them have already left campus. The number of people I saw walking around decreased with every loop I made. On the last loop, right before I went back to my room, I only saw a few cars and saw nobody walking.

During this time, I had several thoughts which seemed to bring me both joy and depression. At one point, I was standing near the belltower and I discovered that there is a plaque which contains the names of students and staff members who died while attending or working for LU. The plaque begins recording names in 1971. I was shocked to see that four people had died in 2002. The plaque did not have as many names as one would expect it would gain in twenty-two years. However, standing there and looking at the names of college students who perished, college students who had their own hopes, dreams, aspirations, and goals just like all of us do, was very sobering.

Looking at that plaque (along with other things) caused me to think of my late sister, my cousin, and their two friends. Their lives were taken at a young age. Many people, as I once did, proclaim this to be unfair, unjust, etc. Thinking about it now, three weeks after the accident happened, my perspective on this has changed greatly. My sister will never have to experience the death of our grandparents, our parents, our cousins, our friends, or my own death. She will never have to live through someone breaking her heart or go through the stress of four finals and three final projects all due in the same week. Although she will miss some of the better experiences in life as well, I don't think that she would switch her current position if she could in order to experience them. The pure happiness and joy she now experiences is greater than any I could imagine.

I also thought about how much I have grown since I have been going to LeTourneau. I try to imagine how I felt about a year and a half ago and I canít do it. I know that I had much less self-esteem and that I was terrified of what I was going to do in the future. Part of that terror is still there, but Iím not much affected by it. I probably wonít be until the semester before I graduate. At that point, it will most likely be there in full force.

I think that this is the longest post that I have ever written. I guess I will end it now that all of my (current) thoughts have been written out. My next post will probably be from the computer at my house.

Posted by Randy at 04:30 PM

April 29, 2003

I Forgot...

Something happened to me today (yesterday, whatever) that I was sincerely hoping would never ever happen. For one brief moment, I forgot that my sister was dead. I was standing in line to get a drink in Saga when I ran into my peer advisor. We said hi, and for some reason I started wondering what college my sister would go to and what kind of peer advisor she would get. As soon as I finished that thought, the realization of her death hit me and I just almost dropped my tray. I actually had to force myself to move away from the drink fountain and go sit down. The feeling I experienced was almost as bad as when I first heard about what had happened to her. I'm blaming the whole incident on the lack of sleep I received the night before.

I remember reading a book in which the main character forgets that his mother was killed in an accident and tries to call her. He realizes what he has done the moment someone picked up the phone on the other end of the line. I remember thinking something like, "How could anyone forget that someone they loved died?" I then thought either they would have to go through an extremely traumatic experience as the guy in the novel had or they would have had to have not loved the person as much as they thought they did. Now I realize that the most disturbing thoughts can and will go through your head if you are tired.

Posted by Randy at 02:07 AM

April 24, 2003

The Good and the Bad

To steal the quote from Anna, the glass is both half-full and half-empty. Lots of progress made today, lots more needs to be made tomorrow.

Today has, overall, been a living Hell for me. I slept through my last Fundamentals of Engineering Design class, I skipped Engineering Graphics and discovered he gave a review for the final, I did not do a Calculus assignment because I didn't know about it, discovered I had a crapload of English homework due Thursday, and I had to make up a missed Physics I lab. I only had about an hour to work on Manufacturing Processes Lab stuff, and I almost lost my temper while working on Engineering Graphics. Mechanical Desktop makes me so mad that words can not truly express my anger and frustration with it. I have also had little time to study for the make up English test I'm taking tomorrow.

However, today had its good moments. For most of the day, my allergies have not been aggravating me; partly because of the rain, I know, but it still made today easier. I found out that with no studying and a few notes in my calculator, I made a 64 on the replacement comprehensive Calculus II test. It wasn't great, but I think it was good for no studying the night before. Except for printing it out on a huge sheet of paper, I have finished my Engineering Graphics final project. I made a small amount of progress in Manufacturing Processes lab, completely finishing the nut. When I went to make up the Physics lab I missed, another student walked in to make up the same lab, and working with him made it a bit easier and faster. My parents also came to the school today and we went to Texas Roadhouse to eat. They also brought me some more photos of my sister.

And speaking of my sister, I have found that my mind wanders to thoughts and memories of her more often than I wish it would at the moment. I hope that that statement doesn't sound as heartless to everyone reading this as it does to me, but I have too much to do over these next few days to be thinking about what my sister will never get the opportunity to do, what she had done, what she liked, etc. (Before you think anything, the reason I'm blogging at the moment is to take a break from English) However, at the same time, I am scared about getting to the point where I don't think about those things. The thought that one day I will go an entire twenty-four hour period without thinking about my sister is even more disturbing to me than thinking about her so much that it becomes a distraction. How I long for those happy mediums that are almost never a reality.

Posted by Randy at 02:26 AM

April 23, 2003

Schoolwork and Morbid Thoughts

I hate being jealous of other people. I have heard several people now talk about how they only have one major project left to complete. Really irritating. I would probably only have one left if I hadn't needed to go home for a week. I did a lot of engineering graphics tonight. Printed out a lot of crap. Will probably print out more crap tomorrow. I have to make up a physics lab tomorrow afternoon, and directly after that I have to go and work on catching up with Manufacturing Processes Lab. I have today and tomorrow to try to finish that stupid nut and bolt. It's probably not going to happen, but I'm going to try. After that time tomorrow, hopefully I will finish my engineering graphics and have one less thing to worry about. Once again I reiterate: "Work sucks."

I'd like to apologize for any readers with which the paragraph may be offensive, but thoughts like these have been in my mind lately due to recent events in my family.

Now for today's morbid topic: if you died right now, would you want to be buried with anything that is "special" to you, and if so, what? For some reason I started thinking about this today. It might have been the memory of my parents planning my sister's funeral, but the thought has been stuck in my head for a while now. Also, if something did happen to me and my parents had to plan my funeral, I would like to think that this would make it a little bit easier. Unless they are touchy about the subject, it can also reveal insight into a person's personality. I would probably want my hardback copy of The Stand by Stephen King, the green Ty Beanie Babie bear I bought for my sister, and a copy of the photo of my mom and dad dressed up in leather when they went to a Harley-Davidson rally. I would have no objections to anything else being added to that list, but my sick mind likes the idea of those things being buried with me when I eventually die.

Ok, I know that most of the people reading this will think that is disgustingly morbid to think about, but I told you in my title that all thoughts placed here come from a weird mind. Besides, we all will die (unless Jesus comes back sometime soon) and thinking about these things makes it easier on those still alive. Of course, at the moment I would never tell my parents these thoughts were in my mind because I could imagine what it would cause them to start thinking.. I wouldn't want them thinking that I was thinking too much about death. However, if it is here in writing, they would eventually get to it and make plans accordingly.

Posted by Randy at 02:12 AM

April 19, 2003

Return to LU

"The more things change the more they stay the same."

I have no idea who said that, but it is frightening how true it really is. Here I am, one week from the date of my sister's death, and I am back at LU doing homework and messing around on my computer. Altogether, though, I feel like I have been really just going through the motions.

It is almost creepy how fast a person can truly recover from such a tragedy with the help of the Lord. I'm sure that Jessica would want me to get on with my life, but thoughts of her are always in the back of my mind. I feel like there is a hole inside of me where she once was. I brought four of the Beanie Babies that she had collected with my to LeTourneau, along with two photos of her and a token somebody left near the guestbook at the visitation. It says: "Follow the footprints of the Lord. They will lead you through troubled times and brighten your life." On it's back (or front, whatever) it has a little drawing of two footprints in what I am assuming to be sand. If anyone wants to see the Beanie Babies and hear the story behind each one I picked out, my door is open.

I've also decided that I want to place a photo of my sister on this blog with a caption that says something like "In loving memory of Jessica. November 5, 1987--April 11, 2003." That will take some HTML manipulation, so I'll probably have to have a friend help me with it.

Posted by Randy at 02:13 AM

April 17, 2003

Privacy

What a day. This has probably been the best day that my family has had since this thing started. After my post early early this morning, I went back to our living room and found my mom, Bonnie, and Levi looking over old photo albums. I joined them. I highly recommend going through your family's old photo albums. They are a lot of fun.

Today I was left alone for the first time I can remember since I came home. Nothing personal against anybody, but I enjoy being by myself so that I can actually collect and look over my thoughts. My parents when to some track meet in order to show their support for the girls' track team. I didn't go because Stephan was over at my house. I was going to head over to Levi's house with his mother, Bonnie, but on the way I found out he wasn't home, so I had her drop both Stephan and I at his house. After seeing Stephan's uncle for the first time in about a year and talking with Stephan's family, I had Stephan take me back to my house so I could go and see family members before I leave to go to LU tomorrow.

As far as thinking things over when I was alone, I wish I had gotten that opportunity earlier. Thinking by myself really helped me today. I made some decisions, which I will not reveal here at this time, and hope to carry those decisions out in the near future. I also looked through some of the photo albums that I hadn't had a chance to look through yet.

I've got four days worth of schoolwork to make up once I return to college, but I have Friday afternoon, Saturday, and Sunday to work on all of that. It really is amazing to me that I feel like I do now. I miss my sister Jessica so much, but I do have to get on with my life. I will never forget her and she will always have a special place in my heart.

If any of you reading this have siblings, tell them how you feel. I would give anything for a chance to speak with my sister for five minutes just to tell her how I feel about her. I may not have a chance for those five minutes, but you do. Don't waste them.

Posted by Randy at 09:57 PM

Memories and Reflections

Well, I meant to update this thing every day that this was going on, but I happened to miss both Tuesday and, technically, Wednesday. Oops. Anyway, I have had several thoughts these past two days. These thoughts should be preceded by the fact that all four were buried today.

The first thoughts are all sad ones. I am currently typing this on the computer at my house. Sitting at this computer and thinking about my sister almost brings me to tears. Never again will I try to get on Yahoo Messenger and have to log off of her name or tell her friends that she is eating. Never again will I come home and change the background because she changed it to a picture of Vin Diesel or some other "hot" guy. Never again will I have to try to uninstall any stupid thing that she downloaded onto the computer. Never again will I argue with her over computer time. I have so many memories of her surrounding this piece of crap computer. I miss her so much already, and it hasn't even been a week since she has been gone. I can not even imagine what this will feel like next week, next month, or next year.

The next thoughts were slightly more happy thoughts. If you remember, previously I stated that I was mad at God. While I am still upset at my sister's death, I am now thankful for the fifteen years that I was able to spend with her. These same thoughts were reflected by some of my family members in the past couple of days. Even though I miss her as much as I do, I believe that she is in Heaven, and I would not want to take her from there.

My next thoughts were those of gratitude. Gratitude towards my town, gratitude towards my friends, and gratitude towards my floor (which in a way could be part of both of the former ones). All have been incredibly supportive of my family and my sister's friends. Either in prayer or in (a large amount of) food, all of the families involved have felt so incredibly loved. If you have been a part of this in any way, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

For those of you on my floor, my parents will be taking me back to LU on Friday. I will see you then unless you are gone for the three day weekend.

Posted by Randy at 12:43 AM

April 14, 2003

My Sister's Friends' Visit

Before I was able to go and search for a copy of FF10, I was informed that two of Jessica's friends were on their way to come and talk to our family. I decided to stay and wait to talk with them. They are still here while I am writing this. Earlier this morning, one of my sister's friends called the house and asked for Jessica. She knew what had happened, she had just been hoping it wasn't true.

The bodies have been returned to the funeral home and they are being prepared for the visitation and the funeral.

I still don't want to go home, but I do need to go and talk with my cousins. I have no idea how they are handling this, but I haven't seen them at all since this has happened so I need to go down there.

More will come later.

Posted by Randy at 06:50 PM

Mind-numbing

It is really weird. When you don't allow your mind to think of something, you can be entertained by almost anything. I spent twenty minutes today watching a bee fly around outside of a window. I need something to keep my mind occupied.

What I have decided to do is borrow my friends Playstation 2 and rent Final Fantasy 10. Mind-numbing, but entertaining. What more could a person ask for in a distraction? This probably means I won't update again for a little while, but if anything important does come up I'll be sure to write about it.

Stephan, if you are still checking this, I want to thank you. You have really helped me through this.

Posted by Randy at 05:36 PM

Thanks

I'd like to thank everyone who has been reading this and praying for my family and friends.

For all Dorm 4 and anyone else from LU, if you want to come to the funeral, you are welcome to come. If you want directions or whatever, find a phone book that has Mt. Enterprise in it and call some of the numbers concerning Landmark Baptist Church. They can probably give you better directions than I can since I have never been to where we are having it.

For Alicia, if you read this, thank you. Your support does mean a lot to me. I will continue to keep your family in my prayers as well.

Posted by Randy at 01:34 PM

Memory Stream

Warning: The following is a display of very deep and powerful emotion. This has nothing to do with what is happening as far as my family is going, but consists of what my thoughts have been the past two days. I've been wanting to write this stuff down on paper, but I really don't trust myself to do it right now. I'm not sure I would be able to read my handwriting afterwards anyway.

I miss my sister so much. Emotions seem to come and go in little outbursts. I damn big one hit me a few moments ago. I can't believe she is gone. I've been writing about for two days now and I still can't believe it. I see her everwhere I look. At my friend's house, I see her sitting in front of this very computer, checking her email and chatting online. I see her upstairs, messing with Levi, Keith, and Dustin. I see her sitting in the hot tub outside on their porch. I see her swimming in their pool. She loved swimming so much. Going to their bathroom to change. Getting sunburned from staying in the sun too long. Playing with their dogs. Playing basketball outside. Play-fighting with Levi. Walking on the road. Playing in the pasture. Making herself food. Sleeping on the couch or in one of the beds.

My last truly coherent memory of her was last Saturday. My grandma and aunt were taking my sister and I home. All the way home I was fucking with her about wearing her seat belt. She got so aggravated with me. We stopped in Carthage so my aunt could pick up some plants. My sister and my aunt went to look at plants at Wal-Mart, and my grandma and I went to buy drinks and snacks at HEB. My aunt bought Jessica a chocolate bunny and she ate it on the way home. Later after we got home I took my sister to my cousin's, where they would spend their last weekend together. I can't remember anything about dropping her off except that, like always, I dropped her off at maw's and made her walk the rest of the way up the driveway. All because my selfish ass didn't like taking my car up that rough piece of shit driveway.

The car itself brings its own flood of memories. We always fought over the radio station. She liked rap and R&B, I liked rock. If a lighter rap song came on, I would usually let her listen to it, but she liked so many songs. I took her to her friends' houses countless times. She would always tell me how when she got her car and she had to take me anywhere, she would pump the music up and make me suffer through it. She had just recently gotten her driver's permit. I would never let more than one person sit in the front seat. I always tried to make her put her seat belt on, but it almost never worked. I probably still have some of her makeup in my car. My car is still in the Trinity dorms parking lot because for some reason I didn't get it when I went up there.

Mom and dad went to the house to stay the night. I don't see how they can do it. Right now I think that I would almost die if I went there. The memories there are everywhere. Playing basketball outside when Levi, etc., came over. All the times she and her friends came over. The amount of time they spent in the hot tub. All the arguments we had over the computer. The number of movies we watched together. Her watching television in the back room. Me making fun of her because she was still watching the Disney channel. All of the beanie babies she had collected. Her horse figurines. Her asking me to take pictures of her and her friends when they dressed up. Her getting ready for all of the formal dances that they had. All of the times she came back exhausted from her basketball games or track meets, which I almost never went to. Her making fun of me because of all of the books I read. The number of photos she took with the webcam at home and has saved on their. All of the vacations that we had. Her taking Sonic, her little stuffed bear, with her on almost all of them. Her downloading rap music, and then me going and deleting it when I saw what some of the titles were. The number of times she came and complained to me when she was pissed off at my parents for something. The times when I found out that she had done something she wasn't supposed to and I promised not to tell.

Getting that phone call from mom has been playing through my mind constantly. Why didn't I stay home longer last weekend? That damn paper wasn't that fucking important. I had already done most of the work anyway.

I'm not going to lie. I'm pissed at God right now. Not as much for what is going through my mind, but for what my family and her friends are going through. I know that everything will happen according to God's will, but to be perfectly honest, that isn't very comforting at the moment.

Please, keep my family and our friends in your prayers.

Posted by Randy at 12:08 AM

April 13, 2003

Memories and Funeral Planning

Today has been rough. Not as rough as yesterday, but not near anything resembling easy. I don't think that I have the words necessary to describe what it is like helping to plan the simultaneous funeral of four young teenagers.

I had a long talk with my friend Levi (the oldest son of the friends we are staying with) today. He is the one who took me up to LeTourneau to pick up clothes to wear to the funeral. Jessica was like a little sister to him and his two brothers. He is taking it hard, but he isn't showing it to many people. Like me, he is trying to not get too emotional around groups of people. I'm especially trying to not get emotional around my parents. They are having such a hard time that I don't want them worrying about how I am taking this.

Levi, unintentionally, sparked so many memories concerning Jessica. There are too many to try to write down right now, though I'll probably try to start writing some of them soon. Levi was also the last person from here who had contact with her before it happened. They were text messaging each other. They had been talking because Jessica hadn't wanted him to join the marines. Her last message to him was "I'll miss you."

My mother has pretty much taken over everything surrounding the funeral and visitation plans. She went to our house with my dad and the friends we are staying with to pick up pictures of Jessica and clothes for her funeral. Afterwards, they went to the funeral home to plan out the visitation. As of now, it is planned to be on Tuesday night, with the funeral on Wednesday morning. Because Mandy died Saturday afternoon, she was sent to be autopsied after Jessica, Justin, and Pless were. We don't know at the moment if she will be back at the same time as the others.

Naturally, the newspapers have messed up all the information around this. One even said that all of the kids belonged to one family. This has, quite obviously, pissed off a lot of people in my family. Hopefully it will get straightened out without any threats or harsh words from my relatives.

I said earlier in the week that writing stuff out was therapeutic. I know now just how true that statement really is. It is making me actually think about everything that has happened. As much as I hate doing it, I think that writing all of this has really helped me cope.

Posted by Randy at 08:32 PM

Visiting the Accident Site

This morning, my family, my cousin's family, and Justin's family all went out to where the explosion happened. Here I learned, or maybe I just now registered, that there was a fifth person with them that night. He was killed instantly, just like Jessica and Justin. We saw where everyone landed. It is amazing how far the explosion sent them. The only blood that I saw there was from the fifth guy, Pless.

I'm about to head back to LeTourneau to pick up some things. If anyone from my floor actually is reading this, don't be surprised if you see me there. Mainly what I'm going to be wearing to the funeral. All four of the people who died, Jessica, Justin, Mandy, and Pless, will have their funerals at the same time. Visitation is going to be Tuesday night, and the funeral will probably be around 11 on Wednesday.

I'll talk more later.

Posted by Randy at 02:22 PM

April 12, 2003

Personal Reactions

And so ends the first day of this Hell. I went to see both my grandmother and Justin's mother today. Both were taking this very hard. However, of everyone not in my immediate family, my poor grandfather is definitely taking this the worst. I can't even speak to him without tears welling up in his eyes.

I'm exhausted. I want to go to sleep, but right now I can't. I need to sleep. I only got somewhere around four-five hours since I woke up yesterday. Although I don't want to, I may have to take one of those sleeping pills my mom bought. I am worried about my mom. This has been very hard for her. She hasn't slept since yesterday, and I don't think she has eaten anything since yesterday, either.

I went to my house for the first time since I've been back. I've been staying with my parents at the house of a friend of the family. My mom isn't able to go back to the house yet, and looking through it, I see all too clearly why. My sister's swimsuit is still in the bathroom, hanging up from the same place as it always has. The shirt my sister slept in is still laying on the couch from when my mom was doing laundry. My sister's rabbits were still outside in their cages. They had been fed and watered by other family members who had stopped by to take care of some of the animals my family has.

And then there was her room. My sister was the kind of person who loved taking and having her picture taken. She cut out the parts of photos she like and put them all over her wall. Three years worth of pictures of her, her friends, our pets, our vacations, our families, and all of that. My mother will not be able to take that right now, but she doesn't want anybody to touch any of Jessica's things. I think that I am a bit stronger than my mother emotionally, but I could not take it for very long. The best analogy that I can think of would be rubbing in salt into a fresh wound.

This is going to be a hard year, and I am almost 100% certain that any plans that I had for this summer have just changed.

Posted by Randy at 10:07 PM

More Bad News

Unfortunately, I have an update.

My cousin Mandy died about twenty minutes ago in the hospital. We were holding out hope that she would make it. Sadly, she didn't.

I feel so sorry for my grandmother on my father's side. She has lost her only two granddaughters.

I just realized I haven't really told you about my sister. She was 15 years old and a freshman in high school. Justin, her boyfriend, was the same. Mandy was only 14, and she was in the 8th grade.

I have been told that they were on top of the tanker when it exploded. I have also been told that the tank held saltwater, and when the saltwater was brought up it brought several natural gases up with it. They think that they may have opened up a lid to look inside, and when they put it back down it caused a spark. That is the theory at the moment.

Posted by Randy at 04:58 PM

Family Tragedy

(Edited to inform that all titles to this have been added long after the events that are described took place.)

Well, since my last post I have some very bad news.

Last night, at around 1:30 AM, I was watching a movie with some of my friends in my room. Shortly after it started, I received a phone call. At first, I thought it was one of Nathan's friends calling about playing Counter-Strike again. So, I told my friend to pick the phone up and set it back down and that I would pick it up if it rang again. It did, so I went and picked it up.

This next part has been playing through my mind repeatedly all day. My mom was on the other side in tears. At first, I didn't recognize her voice. After asking me whether or not I was alone, she told me that my sister had been in an accident concerning an explosion at an oil tank. My sister had been with her boyfriend at his grandfather's hunting lease along with some of her friends. They had arrived late enough that the grandfather wouldn't let them ride their four-wheelers, but he said that they could walk around. For one reason or another, they made their way to this oil tank thing (the details about this are a bit sketchy at the moment, I may explain this more in detail once I have the correct information. We don't know how at the moment, but the tank exploded.

Of the four that were there, my sister and her boyfriend were both killed. My cousin Mandy, who was also there, was severely injured. At the moment she is in the hospital showing no brain activity. The fourth person there not only survived, but only suffered a large bruise on his chest. Supposedly, he was running and jumped right when the explosion occurred. This made him fly farther or something. I am not sure of the details around this, but I thank God that someone survived the explosion.

Currently, my sister's body is in Dallas and we are waiting for the people there to determine what the exact cause of death was. Plans are being made for the funeral now, but we don't know when the funeral will be. I also don't know how long it will be before I return to LeTourneau. To be honest, I want to go back so that I can lose myself in my schoolwork and stop having to think about this right now.

Posted by Randy at 03:49 PM

April 11, 2003

Blog and Life Updates

Another late post, but honestly, do you expect much different? On a technical update, I'm hoping the links I've added actually work. When it comes to manipulating html, I'm a very stupid person. Considering I've done everything here on my own, I don't think I've done too bad of a job. Of course, since I only had to click a template and say, "I want my blog to look like that," it would be fairly hard to mess this up. Hopefully, I'll eventual get a message board running. Then maybe if anyone is actually reading this, they can make a comment or two. Of course, I have found that just writing out my thoughts is very therapeutic. I highly recommend blogging to anyone who may be reading this and thinking about starting one.

By the way, I strongly suggest that you do not go to the Something Positive link unless you have a slightly twisted sense of humor. It is very funny, but there are often lewd comments, sexual references, and violence. You have been warned.

I am now finished with my English research paper. My group gave the presentation today, and I would like to think that I did a fairly decent job. Shortly afterwards, I had another University Physics I test. Considering my performance on the last few tests, I believe I did exceptionally well on this one. I answered every problem and I am confident in the majority of my answers. I guess I'll find out how I did on Tuesday. As long as I am on the topic of my classes, I would like to say that I greatly enjoy the machine tool part of the Manufacturing Processes Lab class. The welding class was, in my opinion, a waste of my time. However, working with the lathes is very interesting to me.

FINALS WEEK IS COMING!! FINALS WEEK IS COMING!!

Finals week itself isn't so bad, but I absolutely hate the preparation for it. Especially when I have to prepare for classes such as Calculus II and Univ. Physics I. Not to mention my English-class-from-Hell. With my sadistic English professor, I'm terrified of the lengthy amount of stupid material he is going to give us a "test" over. I hate memorization tests over pointless material. I hate memorizing and regurgitating stupid facts that I will immediately erase from my mind. The class is supposed to be over creativity, but for his tests he hands us worksheets he gave to us previously with the blanks moved around. His idea of being "creative" consists of changing the way we line our desks into an semi-circle instead of a line and passing out to us multi-colored handouts instead of white ones. Why does this man teach that class? I can think of several different profs off the top of my head, and all of them could do better than him.

It is so easy to go off on a small rant. Anyway, a lot more thoughts are bouncing around in my head, but I'm sleepy. I'll probably post some more tomorr...I mean, today.

Posted by Randy at 02:10 AM

April 09, 2003

More General Updates

I have now officially read all of the Chronicles of Narnia. I highly recommend them if you need something to read and don't mind Christian beliefs being placed in books. Now that I have finished them, I will probably try to move on to The Stand by Stephen King, but that will have to wait for a few days. After all, I have a major English presentation to prepare for as well as an upcoming Physics test that I am not ready to take. Sometimes I wonder what possessed me to decide to be an engineering major, and sometimes I can't think of doing anything else. Although, I have been told by someone that I would make a good English major. I can't even imagine doing that. At the moment, I do not want to become a teacher.

The Themelios meeting went well. Themelios is a greek word that means "foundation," if you were curious. It looks like I will be in a group with Amy. Amy is another student who is in the honors program here at LeTourneau. She is intelligent, funny, and outgoing, which makes her a perfect person to be a Peer Advisor. I don't think that I could have been assigned to work with a better PA. Unfortunately, she has decided to not apply to be the PA for the honors students. I really don't care that much about whether or not I am with the honors group during orientation, but I think that Amy would have been a great person to lead one of their groups.

Unfortunately, I am also becoming accustomed to being the last person on my floor left awake. It does get annoying sometimes. Especially when I am tired of doing something in front of my computer, but can't really do anything other than go to the lounge and read. I guess that problem would be solved if I would just go to sleep earlier, but I think that I will survive. Tomorrow, however, I will be doing a large amount of work, so I probably should go to sleep. Stupid semi-insomnia. I suppose the caffeine doesn't really help much either, but bottled water is too expensive and I don't really like how the water tastes at this university. I'm sure that there are other alternatives, but I don't like milk and most juice just doesn't taste good enough. I guess that probably sounds silly, but I am very picky about what I put into my body. And even more so when there are several different options.

Posted by Randy at 01:50 AM

April 04, 2003

School and Other Things

Well, I'm about to go and take a Calculus II test. Hopefully, I can do as decently on this one as I have with the previous ones. I've realized that I've done a lot of complaining about school work, so I'm going to talk about something different.

Lately I've been reading the Chronicles of Narnia. So far, I've read throught the first four of the seven books. C.S. Lewis is a genius. In the first two books (chronologically, The Magician's Nephew and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, the parallels of the creation of Narnia and Aslan's death and resurrection with the creation of our world and the death and resurrection of Jesus are amazing. He continues with Christian parallels throughout the series. These books may have been written for children, but I would highly recommend them to anyone.

In Chapel today they school invited a bluegrass band to come perform. Why? Well, they were a gospel bluegrass band. I'm not a very big fan of bluegrass. Never really have liked most forms of country music, although, like every type of music, it does have some good songs in it. Apparently, however, a large number of students did like it. Which probably means that good ol' Chaplain Carl is going to be bringing back more like that group. As long as I keep up on my Chapel attendance, I don't really have to worry about having to sit through another hour of bluegrass anytime soon.

I have also decided what I want to do this summer. I'm planning on going to Brazil with a group of students from other colleges for a summer mission trip. I'm really looking forward to it. The trip was highly recommended from the RA of my floor, who went on the same trip last summer. The only thing is this trip is going to cost money. Lots of it. I will be getting money from LeTourneau Student Missions, but I will also be writing letters asking for support to practically every relative I have. Maybe even to some other people I know.

Posted by Randy at 12:44 PM

March 31, 2003

Sleep

Another interesting fact that I've noticed: my body is slowly becoming accustomed to not getting as much sleep as it used to get. Back in high school, I always went to bed by at least 11:00 PM. Now, I usually don't even think about sleep until around 1:00 AM. I'm sure somewhere along it will catch up to me, but so far I like the change. It is amazing some of the things that people can think of around two in the morning. I suppose the best proof of that is the LU student-operated forum. It usually gets interesting at those message boards late at night. One can also use this time to get work done, and use the earlier hours to spend time with those with less work who go to sleep earlier. While I've never been a morning person, I can hardly believe that I have turned into a night person.

My sleeping habits are almost awkward now when I go home. My parents go to sleep early, my sister goes soon afterwards, and then I am awake by myself for a few hours. I may have to readjust my sleeping schedule over the summer. Although, then my sister will also be staying up later as well so I won't spend the entire time in front of my computer screen fighting pop-up ads.

Posted by Randy at 01:27 AM

March 30, 2003

Trip Home

Well, I'm back at here at LU after going home for the weekend. It's strange, really. No matter where I go, I always seem to miss the things I left. I guess that is just how life is. It's usually either people or familiar places. This weekend, I missed having a half-decent computer.

I usually don't complain about the computer at my house because I don't expect much from it. After all, I live in the middle of nowhere. Naturally, my (dial-up!) internet connection is horrible. But I've grown accustomed to that and have become grateful for the much faster speed at LU. I know there are plenty of people here who would laugh at the speed of our connection here, but I am not one of them. However, the real reason that I missed the computer I have here at college is the incredible number of pop-ups that appear while I'm on the internet. Thanks to my sister's constant downloading of stupid crap, I am now knowledgeable about home loans, insurance, and penis enlargement ads. Doesn't matter if I delete the crap, it is always back the next time I go home. So, next time I go home, I will probably spend most of my time searching for a decent pop-up blocker.

Honestly, what are these companies and people thinking? They can not honestly believe that the benefits of interesting a few people into purchasing an item is worth the consequence of so many people who will forever have a connection between their company and an annoying pop-up ad. I will never purchase anything from one of those things. Never.

Posted by Randy at 07:20 PM

March 29, 2003

*The Beginning

Well, I finally did it. After lurking around and reading the blogs of several different people, I decided to try and do my own. This probably won't be updated every day, but I'll come here whenever I want to rant/talk about something. I'm going to leave at this for the moment because I want to play around with the settings.

Posted by Randy at 02:32 PM