Archive for May, 2009

Lets pat ourselves on the back.

May 9, 2009

I’ve never blogged before and I don’t think anyone in this group has. All in all, it was a worthy experiment and I think I might actually keep maintaining this blog. If not, it would be a waste of a great .wordpress name. 355 hits, people out of this class actually reading our work, 2 real authors leaving comments, me getting ripped apart by expert archaeologists for a poorly researched blog post on stonehenge… priceless.

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In Search of Bacchus

May 7, 2009

For my final entry, I thought I would share with you all an eccentric hobby of mine. While I travel, I am always on the lookout for Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and theater. Allow me to share with you a very small bit of my collection of images documenting my encounter with the god. These are from my Florence and Paris collection:

One of the statues is that of a Maenad, one of Dionysus’s followers.

This is a fun little hobby, and I suggest you try it out.

Well… I guess I’d better get back to packing.

Cheers,

-Michael

A Scene from Gubbay Hall

May 7, 2009

We spend all of our lives trying to move from one place to the next. Or at least I have so far. I cannot be satisfied where I am. I move in to a place, I unpack, I sit in the chair. I stare out the window. Make a cup of coffee. Sigh. Go outside. Have a smoke. Watch the sun set behind my new neighborhood. The next day, the room is a mess, I’ve accidentally blown out the power, and I need to get the hell out of there.

The dorms over in Middlesex University in the northern suburbs of London were called halls. I know the difference in language is slight, but the little changes in terms added up over time. I found myself constantly jingling from the large amount of change that the British use in their currency system. I was not sure what the difference was between one quid and one pound; it turns out they meant the same thing.

Simon cracked open another tall can of Stella and looked at me with a dim twinkle in his eye. The room was a chaotic mess of rubbish, bitter, and wankers (which was our lot). I was finally starting to understand more than three words at a time that came out of Simon’s mouth; his accent was thick, but not nearly as indecipherable as Alex’s, who was from Manchester. We were discussing the differences between American and British slang. I was trying to keep up with the Brits as they spewed out talk in their strange code.

“Yeahp, Alex is a chav,” Simon mumbled, smiling.

Alex hit him on the arm. “Ye best not listen to this bloke,” Alex laughed, reaching for another beer. “He’s a bloody tosser.”

I frowned. “Tosser?”

Alex laughed. “Ye know. A wanker.”

I was still confused. Alex, sensing that his insult was lost in translation, made a vulgar gesture with his free hand. “Ye know, when there’s no tart around, ye have a wank. Yer tossing. Simon is a tosser.”

I nodded. The room erupted with laughter.

It turns out that a chav is a derogatory term for someone of the lower class. Chav seems to be the British equivalent of the American white trash. When I was hanging out with that crowd, generally I did not hear them refer to each other as blokes or chaps. But there were a hell of a lot of tossers and chavs. Oh, and of course, I was the token yank of the group. They flattered me.

Selective memory, I suppose. Paired with some wanderlust.

-Michael

And On That Note…

May 7, 2009

The semester has ended. The blog will probably not be updated or read for a while or ever again, which is sad 😦 but it’s okay. For those of us who are taking the summer off, don’t forget to write! You’re going to be doing crazy things–getting a mean sunburn while on a yacht, poison ivy while hiking up the Palisades, maybe getting burned after your friends dare you to jump over the bonfire at  a party… either way, crazy things make great stories. 

So, not to sound like a Mom, or a nerd, or your sophomore English teacher, but enjoy your summers! Read some wonderful novels, and write anything; if not for educational purposes, then just simply to soothe your soul.

Ciao!

Crimes in Cyberspace

May 7, 2009

A news article posted by the Wall Street Journal got me thinking, who woulda thought? The article discusses internet privacy in the workplace, apparently two co-workers at a New Jersey location, and countless other employees around the country have been getting in trouble, suspended from their jobs, or even fired because of something they posted on MySpace of Facebook. 

In one instance, a supervisor somehow hacked into the account of two employees and read a private conversation of the two bashing their workplace. The emplyees were fired and now the supervisor is being charged for invasion of privacy.

“While private conversations might be covered under those laws, none of the statutes specifically addresses social networking or blogging,” (WSJ)

There are privacy laws in our country, I’m sure of it. They are what prohibit some snoop from reading your snailmail. But with the accounts of internet privacy, and the comotion it’s causing, where is the line drawn? If someone can’t read your mail, but they can hack into your Facebook account and read your inbox messages, is that okay? I don’t think so, actually I think most of us have a more personal connection with our inboxes than we do with our mailbox.

Packing, packing, packing.

May 7, 2009

Well, the time has come, my friends, to saddle up and hit the dusty trail. One thing a backpacker needs to know more than almost anything else is how to pack. This is a skill I still need a bit of work on.

Being an aspiring travel writer, I usually wind up packing way too many guidebooks and notebooks. This is silly. It is impossible to get lost in Europe, as long as you stay in the main, touristy parts of the city–and that’s what the guidebooks detail, anyway. But if I am going to become a real travel writer someday (I hope so), I have to go off the beaten path. I think that the most valuable resource you can have with you is another person.

I’ve always valued traveling alone, but if I am really going to sink my fingers into my destinations, then I’d better grow a pair and skip the changing of the guard (overrated). I’ve done a lot of bizarre things in my travels, and I’ve noticed that simply being with another person gives me the strength to venture into so pretty unusual situations and places. Fortunately for me, I will not be traveling across the continent on my own this time.

This list is a good starting point for any aspiring traveler. My advice, however, is to pack what you can–and cut it in half. The sage wisdom of my fellow backpackers is finally starting to rub off on me. My biggest problem my first few times around was that I packed like I was going off into the wilderness. Like I said… it’s Europe. In some ways, they seem a lot more civilized than we are. I may have to bring a few Moleskines with me, though. I can’t resist.

Can’t wait to go make some stories.

-Michael

Kaboom

May 7, 2009

I am going on a trip with the Geology department out to the West over the summer to get a “hands on” experience with geological formations. Today, I spent a whopping 7 1/2 hours with the Geology professor getting a crash course in Geology 101. It was intense, and a little excessive, but the information I learned about the cool places I am going to see was worth the time.

The National Geographic has reported that a volcano underwater is spurting out highly toxic levels of molten sulfur. The interesting part is that two species of shrimp thrive on the chemicals being belched out into the water, even as the body count of other marine life climbs.

Here’s the story from the National Geographic.

From the National Geographic

From the National Geographic

I learned today that volcanoes are responsible for massive amounts of land growth, most notably in places like the Hawaiin island chain. As tectonic plates shift, the volcanic “hot spots” stay put underneath the Earth’s crust, creating the chain of islands over time.

-Michael

In Bruges

May 7, 2009

My trip back to Europe is only two days away. A city I am staying in, but know absolutely nothing about, is Bruges in Belgium. For a bit of relaxing piano and a neat little tour of the canals, check out the video below. Can you spot the horse and buggies?

It comes across as very Medieval. Rapture!

This is from the Wikipedia page. Nice, huh?

This is from the Wikipedia page. Nice, huh?

According to Wikipedia, it is called the “Venice of the North.” I can see that, but those canals, along with the architecture of the buildings, reminds me of Amsterdam more than anything else.

When I stayed in Amsterdam, I decided to do something a little different. I was getting pretty tired of staying in cities, so I booked a hostel that had an interesting twist: every room was its own caravan. I spent my days biking the countryside and kayaking through the canals, but at night, I slept in a caravan somewhere in the middle of the Dutch countryside. It was pretty surreal, but definitely worth the commute back into the city.

The Lucky Lake Youth Hostel outside of Amsterdam

The Lucky Lake Youth Hostel outside of Amsterdam

Unfortunately, it looks like I am going to be flying out on Friday into some thunderstorms. I’m not afraid or anything; flying is the safest way to travel. But I don’t like the idea of my flight being delayed eight hours. Oh well. On one of my flights, the wing practically scraped the ground during landing.

-Michael

The Writing Biz

May 6, 2009

I learned today in a presentation by alumni of Rowan University’s Writing Arts program that I can get a job!! It was music to my ears. I think that many students who study writing feel overwhelmed by the oppurtunies out there. Since writing is such a general category, it’s overwhelming to think of what industry you want to work in, or send your first job application to. Every company needs a writer or an editor for something, and as was mentioned today by the speakers, new age writing is creating even more jobs for writers–some which can take place without even leaving your MacBook. 

But I’ve had an epihpany, if you will, today. Yeah, every company needs a writer, but as writers we have the ability to choose what interests us outside of the wrtiting sphere, and build a career based on it using the skills we’ve learned. For example, I’ve always wanted to work in fashion, but when I started out my college experience at the Fashion Institute of Technology, I learned that fashion wasn’t all I wanted from my career. Writing was too. 

With the skills I’m learning, I will (hopefully) be able to work in the fashion industry, but instead of dealing hands on with the catty, technical, bitchy aspect of the runway or the showroom, I can just sit back, observe, and write about it all. 

So write on, people. There’s something out there for all of us.

Got Text?

May 6, 2009

Texting is the new way to communicate, and I have no doubt it’s here to stay. Personally, I have a theory that people use text as their primary source of communication because they don’t want to talk on the phone. 

Anywho, texting plans vary, but I go with unlimited texting. That way there is no risk of me going over my limit.

Here’s a link to an article on girl who went a little crazy with the texting….

http://newsfeedresearcher.com/data/articles_t16/phone-text-dena.html