Monday, August 25, 2008

Blog moving?

I've decided to jump on the WordPress bandwagon and am in the process of transferring everything from here over there. You can check out the site here...we'll call it the beta version. So in the future, direct your readers over that way. You can also subscribe to that feed here.

Things to do with Athens-area free time

My tennis PE class got canceled today. I have had nothing to do all day. So I took a run this morning from my place (it's actually lime sherbet, not blue) to downtown (it's scary running down MLK without any sidewalks), watched (am watching) multiple episodes of Entourage with our sweet On Demand in the living room and basically puttered around the cottage.

And, as usual, it got me thinking. What is there around here to do with my free time? As my last post pointed out, I finished my pleasure reading book recently, so I figured the first thing that I wanna do around Athens is find a hole-in-the-wall bookshop. Anyone know of any?

Feel free to comment below with any suggestions for other things to expand my knowledge of Athens in bits and pieces...I'm pretty much up for anything I guess, the more adventurous the better.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sitting on my futon pretending I wasn't

I just spent three hours finishing up John Grisham's Playing for Pizza, a book that was surprisingly engaging and non-lawyerly. It was delightful really. Basic synopsis: a washed-up NFL quarterback lands himself reluctantly in Parma, Italy and plays a season for the hometown Panthers who literally play the game of football americano for pizza and pride. Great book. Even a great shoutout for all the lovely UGA girls -- and AXO specifically.

And the book reaffirmed the fire that I feel for traveling. I don't think I've ever been pulled as much to do something with my life as I am being pulled to travel in the near future. I want to see Italy. I want to "spread my wings" as the saying goes. I want to feel out of place. I want to step off a train in Europe with a map, a couple Euros and no plans whatsoever. I think I'd need clothes as well, but those can always be acquired on the way.

In short, I'm inspired. It's weird. I should be excited for senior year football season here (face it, who isn't in Athens?). But I'm honestly more excited for what the world holds for me afterward. Where will it take me for Christmas break even? Then May after commencement? Will I actually intern in Australia? So many questions...we'll just have to wait and see.

For now, below is a copy of the email I sent my family. Since they're usually the only ones reading my blog anyway, this will be a rehash. Oh well. It's a lot of rambling, I know.

First off I want to apologize for stalking both of you so doggedly today on my roommates' phones, but it was a stressful day not being attached to my own phone. I think the AT&T support lady summed it up beautifully this way when I spoke with her: "I can see how your buttons not working would be a problem." I thought that qualified as a massive understatement.

I just finished off Playing for Pizza, that John Grisham book that y'all had at home -- I took the liberty of stealing (borrowing) it because I didn't have anything else to read. And with my phone playing dead for the day, I decided that today was as good as any to spend time reading. For lack of a better word, the book was delightful. All about Italy, football, finding yourself somewhere else and generally meandering through and enjoying life. Oddly enough the girl who enters the book 2/3 of the way through it as the sort of heroine rescuing our wandering, washed-up quarterback with her "miles of tanned legs," her insatiable curiosity, her enthusiasm and her youth is a UGA girl on an extended study abroad trip with some of her Alpha Chi Omega sorority sisters. I laughed and decided that it's definitely good PR for UGA and it's gorgeous "scenery." Just made the book that much more enjoyable. And also made any personal excursion over that way seem that much more plausible.

Are we still planning on/trying to go to Italy in May? Because if anything, the book has made me want to spread my wings over the country even more. It all just seems so romantic (in several senses I guess). I know it probably isn't nearly as I'm picturing it, but if any place would be, I have a feeling it'd be Italy. So regardless of whether we decide to make a family trip of it, I want to finagle my way over there somehow sometime soon. Maybe Christmas? That's probably much too soon though. Just thinking (typing) aloud (without restraint). I'm sitting barefoot out on our porch right now with my new favorite (linen) shirt, my iPod speakers playing some Counting Crows -- they were playing a little calmer Amos Lee while I was reading -- with my propped-up legs supporting my oh-so-hip(pie) Apple laptop. I'm trying to imagine that my futon is instead some cafe on the corner of some Italian intersection, my cup of water instead a glass of local wine and my iPod tunes instead the soft arias of some opera in the background. Or maybe the music would still be coming from my iPod. Either way. I think I could pull off the traveling-American-attempting-
to-blend-into-the-local-scenery part fairly well.

I thought the free time on every day but Tuesdays and Thursdays this semester (and probably next) would be a great time to catch up, work out, run, whatever. But it seems that it gives my mind a lot more idle time to think about the near-term future. Near-term as in I'm applying to be a Terry Ambassador this week, but also near-term in the fact that I can't get over the traveling bug that seems to have bitten me (and hung on for dear life). The stress and constant going of life in college/America gets tiresome...and I know that rings fairly hollow when you're working an 8 - 6 full-time job. But I'm beginning to feel the press of the end of school even these several months away, and I want to do something radically different to broaden my mind. Instead of being engaged in a textbook in Athens, Georgia in the US of A, I want to see if I can't apply whatever I've learned in a different setting. Something to keep me on my toes. Maybe literally. I don't know. The idle ramblings of someone deprived of sleep and overwhelmed with the reality that life decisions happen in my own life and not just others'.

I'll sign off now to let y'all return to whatever you were doing before I ambushed you electronically. Just a few thoughts I guess. I had no real point in writing this.


PS: What are your thoughts about Barack-Biden '08?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Senior Project

I've decided that my newfound interest in photography and my lack of time on UGA's campus create a perfect storm for a sort of senior project. I've decided that I'll be taking a single picture each Tuesday and each Thursday -- the only days of my classes on campus -- at the exact same spot on North Campus at the (relatively) exact same time until the end of next semester. Then I'll compile all the pictures, shrink them down and put them all in a frame as a sort of chronological mosaic of my senior year.

The catch: I haven't yet decided the place or the time. It'll have to be between 9:30am and 3:15pm because that's my class time, but I'm flexible (as long as it's during class change). And I have no idea about the location...the Arch has been overdone, the bell wouldn't bring in any nature, etc.

Any suggestions?

Pictures should begin next week, as I have to get my camera replaced at Best Buy today.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Matt Stafford...all growed up

Chris Low over at ESPN has an SEC blog going on that's worth a look or dozen. He recently sat down with our quarterback for a two-part interview (Part 1...Part 2). And I've gotta say, it's quotes like this...
"I talked to the guys last night and told them, 'From here on out, it's just football 24-7.' We're locked up in the dorm and the hotel now, and it's 100 percent X's and O's all the time, and we're out there working hard. Everybody was on the same page when we talked about it. We had a walk-through this morning, and it was the same thing."
...that give me confidence for the upcoming season.

It'll be a good one, Dawg fans.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A few thoughts from Philadelphia International

We're sitting in Philadelphia International with a flight delayed an hour (so far), and I figured I'd share a few thoughts on what's going through my head nowadays:
  • I really want to go to Tuscany, Italy. Or Napa Valley. It needs to happen.
  • Philly Int'l is the most unorganized airport I think I've ever been in, and I've even flown into and out of African airports. At least people there smile at you. "City of Brotherly Love"? I don't think so.
  • Funny how you can feel out of place at a family reunion. Don't get me wrong, it was a blast. But it's difficult to socialize when the only cousins close to your age don't seem to give you the time of day. I'm ready to get back to Atlanta now.
  • I have a Florida Gator fan in my family! And he didn't even go there. And he probably will never go there. He's going to a community college near Panama City. Oh well.
  • My sunburn is successfully peeling its way off my body.
  • I finally got a linen shirt yesterday -- we were all looking for them in Africa, but nobody seemed to be selling them. It's incredibly comfortable, and I feel so relaxed and laid-back.
  • There was a really hot girl in line at security right behind my mom, but we all got split up for a minute and she was gone. Unfortunate. She was the prettiest girl I've seen in this, I miss Athens.
And that's all for now. I'm gonna go enjoy the free wireless here.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tanzania: In pictures and in thoughts

So I finally put some of my Tanzania pictures up for all the world to see -- and not just for you Facebookers now. I put some of my favorites into slides using Keynote and put in some of my own text and some borrowed, but you'll see that for yourself. Enjoy!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Frontloading this week's fun

This is a cover of Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" (watch the original's weird) that Dave and the boys performed this past Monday. AND I WAS THERE!!!!!111!!1!1 The concert was mindblowing. I got emotional and was on the verge of tears during the encore (I blame it on the heat and the dancing). It was an intense cardio workout.

LeRoi, the sax player, was injured earlier this summer in an ATV accident and is still in a Virginia hospital, so Jeff Coffin from Bela Fleck and the Flecktones (and a lot of guest DMB spots) was filling in. Dave got the whole crowd to chant "We love Roi" for the cameras, so maybe this show will make it to DVD sometime. It was great.

There's a bunch of YouTube clips from the Lakewood Amphitheatre show here, and a bunch more from the tour itself here.

Things to accomplish in my life

My previous post got me thinking on I topic I've actually given a lot of thought to lately (follow that?). It's one that I'm shamelessly taking from the phenomenal Morgangster, but it's also one that would be useful for everyone I think.

So here we go. My I-don't-know-how-many-items-long-and-ever-expanding list of things I want to accomplish in my life, great or (more likely) small. Call it my bucket list if you will.

1. Compose elevator music
2. Ride an elevator more than 100 stories tall
3. Attend the TED Talks
4. Give a TED Talk
5. Taste the local wines in Tuscany
6. Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro
7. See a James Taylor concert
8. Play guitar with JT
9. Run the bases at the current Yankee Stadium
10. Run the bases at the new Yankee Stadium if I don't make it in time
11. Walk to work
12. Get a dog
13. Learn Swahili
14. Bench 300 pounds
15. Run a 6-minute mile
16. Lose ten pounds
17. Own a vineyard
18. Raise a family (wife and kids...just a dog doesn't count)
19. Meet Dave Matthews
20. Not faint or cry when I meet Dave Matthews
21. Balance my checkbook
22. Get a credit card
23. By a Ferrari...with cash
24. Go on a mission trip for longer than a week
25. See a UGA football national championship
26. Meet the Gym Dawgs
27. Catch a pass from Matt Stafford and/or tackle Knowshon
28. Be on ESPN's top 10 plays
29. See the world (whatever that means)
30. Read the whole Bible
31. Sing
32. Laugh
33. Do stand-up comedy (and get booed off stage)
34. Have someone actually read my blog
35. Be humble
36. Not settle
37. Graduate
38. Appreciate sushi more
39. Be good at photography
40. Complete a triathlon on my own
41. Be like my dad
42. Be like my grampa
43. Be someone's Best Man
44. Meet "the one" and know it
45. Drive a motorcycle
46. Get LASIK
47. Spend a summer hiking the Appalachian Trail
48. Learn to play golf
49. Figure out what to do with the rest of my life
50. Go back to Tanzania for an extended period of time with the locals

"The conductor doesn't make a sound!"

I watched another TED Talk that was linked up on the ol' Presentation Zen that I seem to talk so much about, and -- as usual -- it was awesome. It's the one sitting right above this paragraph if you didn't already notice. You can also watch it on the TED website here. But this one was a little different because the presenter, famed classical music conductor Benjamin Zander of the Boston Philharmonic, spoke all about classical music. And his love for it. And everyone else's love for it ("They just don't know it yet!"). There's a lot of great stuff to take away from the talk -- he hits on everything from Nelson Mandela to 7-year-olds struggling at piano -- but I wanted to highlight just one idea: "awakening possibilities."

Zander speaks in the latter portion of his talk about his realization that the conductor never makes a sound (all grunting and everything aside, I guess) during an actual performance. He relies on his players to realize his dream and vision. And the only way he says to do that is to "awaken possibilities" in them, to make them believe in themselves and to enable them along the way. It seems pretty basic, and it probably is, but it's a different way of looking at the idea of executing a strategy or vision, especially in the business world today. To make your followers' eyes shine.

For more on Zander from PZ, check Garr's book review here.
For more on the TED Talks from my boss EJ, click here.

(h/t as usual - Presentation Zen)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy fireworks and freedom!!!


I love the 4th. There's no better reason to sit around, grill some burgers, watch some fireworks and bask in everything that is America. God bless America, and God bless all of us in it. Today, tomorrow and every day forward.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

You can begrudge them their money...

(image: The Last Word)

But you can't say anything about their patriotism.

Yes, I know, that might be a little exaggerated, but say what you will about NBA players -- and professional athletes in general -- but they're doing exactly what we've set them up to do. We've glorified their existence to no end, we've snatched up any and all of their memorabilia, we've even watched them in the tabloids. But now we're sending them overseas to represent us. To represent everything that America stands for. And this round of Olympic Games is the perfect stage.

We're coming off stunning defeats in both the 2004 Summer Games and the FIBA World Championships. The world believes that they have caught up to us in the sport that we invented (yeah, he was Canadian, but he invented it in Springfield, Mass.) and have dominated since. They have the chance to come together as a team instead of simply a group of individual stars. And they can show the world how basketball was meant to be played.

I was inspired by tonight's installment of "Road to Redemption," a series about Team USA's preparations for Beijing, and I've gotta tell you...there's a great vibe going around that team. They seem to really have bought into Coach K's philosophy. They even listened to wounded American soldiers (from Iraq) speak about "selfless service." And there were tears coming to their eyes.

So here's to you Team USA. Bring it home for us this year. We're behind you.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A little tour around my summer sub-lease

I had a little free time after hitting happy hour at On the Border today, so I decided to walk around my apartment and apartment complex -- 330 McGill Place -- to snap a few pictures. And here are my favorites. The rest are in a Picasa slideshow that you can view here or at the bottom of the post. There were people in the swimming pool, so don't expect any creeper pictures of them. A little too awkward.

Starting out on the little balcony outside my room. There isn't any furniture, but it's how I first saw that band at Butler Street Baptist, and it gives a good view of the Atlanta skyline at sunset, too.

Still out on that balcony, this is the porch light right outside the door.

I liked the porch light so much I decided to do a black & white also.

This is an illustration of what I do for most of the time when I'm not at work. Sad, I know, but I just can't get enough of SportsCenter sometimes.

I discovered that we have a mini fan on the floor by our TV as I was wandering around. I couldn't get a good action shot of the blade, so this will have to suffice I guess.

Yes, we have a beer pong table. But it does provide a good view out to the first-floor porch, which does have some furniture on it.

Here's a view up our staircase. Only one of these switches actually works, and that's the far one. It controls the stairwell lights, which also cannot be controlled from the top floor. More than a minor annoyance when the stairwell becomes pitch black at night.

I'm trying to teach myself how to cook, which means that I've basically lived off of frozen pizzas, Ramen, macaroni & cheese and sandwiches. But I'm surviving so far.

This warning reminds me of the movie Groundhog Day, and specifically the scene(s) when Bill Murray tries to kill himself repeatedly. If you haven't seen the movie, it's not nearly as morbid as it sounds.

It was raining outside yesterday.

My address. Fairly self-explanatory.
Who's ever heard of a speed limit of 9 anyway?

The first left inside the complex leads to my apartment. And that arrow is almost pointing directly at my door from this angle.

A pretty flower near the pool area.

I had to stretch pretty high to get this shot, but I think it was worth it. The view is looking out the front of the complex to Ralph McGill Blvd next to downtown Atlanta.

The latch to the BFI dumpster was left open. Looks a little more artsy than it actually was I think.

You have to hit this button to get out the front gate. Then you have to scan your card to re-enter. I, unfortunately, forgot my card, so I had to stay within the confines.

Perched on the bricks of the gate looking out onto Ralph McGill.

I still got a spectacular view of the sunset from inside the confines.

And again, this time with the sun playing a star-ring role. Get it?

I absolutely love the clouds in this picture.

This picture makes me want to have a dog that much more.

I hung on to the fenceposts by the gate for about 15 minutes getting various shots. Right as I was about to jump down I realized that I hadn't gotten a picture of the actual posts. So here you have it.

And I almost forgot this one on the other side also. That's an apartment building across the street in the background.

And finally, the entrance to the complex. Good ol' 330 McGill.

I hope you enjoyed looking at the pictures as much as I had taking them. I got a few weird looks by cars passing by and pedestrians. I never would have imagined that so many good pictures could come simply from walking in a line about 150 feet from my doorstep. It all depends on whether you focus on the little things or not.

And here's that slideshow:

Monday, June 30, 2008

Things the world can get together over (or Heaven on Earth part 2.5)

(image: Mail & Guardian Online)

I'm sitting on the couch watching vh1's "Top Songs of the '90s" and we're on number 6, which happens to be Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back." Maybe that's important, maybe not...but I digress. Number 2 is U2's "One"; much more fitting and beautiful.

The next show on vh1, though, is 46664, the concert for Nelson Mandela. And I'll admit, I never really had an appreciation for Nelson until I read "The Pursuit of Happyness" by Chris Gardner. Yes, the same Chris Gardner as I got a picture with and posted right here and here. If there's one book that could successfully guide you or me or anyone through life (besides the obvious one), this would definitively be it. It's one of those stories that will give you chills as you read it. Hang on every word, and cherish his story, because it's more than likely a far cry from any story that you will have to live out personally.

And now Chris is one of Wall Street's most successful investment bankers, and a banker with a mission (I just can't find a link to it). He's a guy who'll tell you exactly what he believes, and as such he's one whom you will trust from the outset. And when he credits Nelson Mandela as an outstanding influence in his own life, it's worth another look.

Even if you have no real idea of everything Nelson's been through (unfortunately, mostly speaking to myself), the words "Nelson Mandela" still hold an intrigue and an inspiration hardly rivaled by any others in any language. He lives the idea of Heaven on Earth everyday, constantly trying to improve not only his own life but the lives of everyone around him. The world is in each of our hands each and every day. And if you set out every day to "spread love," you just might be able to change the world (h/t EJ). I'd like to say the world could use thousands more Nelson Mandelas, but that might be dangerous. I don't know if this world could hold that much love at one time.

But if any of us could even approach Nelson-levels of love, the world would certainly be a much better place. A little closer to its perfection, Heaven.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Heaven on Earth, Part 2

There's just nothing like holding a guitar in your hands and just letting the music come to your fingertips. In those moments all of your emotions can come out however they want. It's almost uncontrollable, but it's a catharsis, a release. Hours can pass without you knowing it. And in honor of those moments -- the moments when you get a glimpse of Heaven on Earth -- I give you my guitar.

If you notice, there's actually one broken string on my guitar, which is absolutely demoralizing whenever it happens. But it's very fitting in this setting, so bear with me.

Several months ago when I was just beginning my journey with my Athens Church community group, our leader gave us all blank sheets of paper and pens. He told us to draw a picture of our current relationship with God. Seemed like a pretty elementary exercise, but it worked. My picture was of a beat-up acoustic guitar with three broken strings. And since that night I've steadily (read: two steps forward, one step back) worked to restring those broken strings and return the "guitar" to its former working order.

It's an apt analogy the more that I think about it because the guitar had once been shiny and new, invigorating and energizing. And that typifies my continued relationship with God. I've been there before, in the "shiny and new" phase, the phase where you're simply on fire. Exuberant. Overjoyed. When all the strings were tight and the music was playing every day. For no other reason except that you feel so close to the Savior.

But that was many years ago in high school, and the years have loosened and broken a few strings since then. Life has come with its distractions, and I've gotten wrapped up in them far too many times. But in these past few months, months when I have decided to pursue a deeper relationship, it's very reassuring to know that I've been there before. That there's still a foundation under there somewhere. That I can do it, no matter how difficult it seems in each single moment.

So that's where I'm at now: restringing the guitar and trying to play the beautiful music of my life. The key is realizing that I am not the conductor, but He is instead. And he can compose some very, very beautiful music for sure.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Could this week get any worse?

We already had to deal with this earlier in the week and this yesterday, now this. Uga VI, you were certainly a damn good Dawg. This next season's for you, buddy.

Final tallies:
88-27 record (76.5% winning percentage)
52-23 SEC (69.3%)
7-2 bowl games (77.8%)
(h/t Westerdawg)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A dark day...

It's a wretched day for UGA baseball fans. My gameday-pants-at-work ploy didn't work. Gordon Beckham's solo shot in the 8th didn't work. Nothing worked. This one hurts.

At least it gives our football team a chance to fill the void.

Photo courtesy of the AP and

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Heaven on Earth, Part 1

This past Sunday at Athens Church, we listened to a message about how close heaven really is. Jeff Henderson, the Campus Director over at sister Buckhead Church, spoke about how heaven is not a reflection of this life as much as it is the perfection of this life. And whenever we experience a closeness to God through his creation -- or anything else for that matter -- it's just a tiny glimpse of what awaits us.

So without getting into the actual theology behind what's going on in this verse, I'd like to dedicate a few posts to pictures that typify the phrase "Heaven on Earth" to me. Here's my first submission:

This is Mt. Kilimanjaro as seen from a rice paddy about a mile or so from our hotel in Moshi, Tanzania (Kilimanjaro region...obviously). Funny thing, none of us really wanted to go on our rice paddy nature walk, and look how it turns out. Surprise, surprise.

These kids were at the Kili Centre orphanage that we visited. And if I had half as much life in my heart as each of them does, I'd count myself lucky. Heck, I count myself lucky just to have interacted with them. Just look at those smiles.

This candle was the only light in the holding cell of a former slave market in Zanzibar. Sobering to say the least, and awfully symbolic with any Jesus/light in the darkness parallels you might find.

I can't quite put this picture into words. Or explain why I think it fits. But at the moment I snapped it I felt so connected with it all, the sunset, these two girls and the whole of Africa. All of which are beautiful facets of God's creation. And I will always wonder what they are running toward...or from.

There are so many pictures I could pick from the Zanzibar sunset, but I like the effect of this one with the unmanned boats saluting the sunset, awaiting the night and the following sunrise. Even looking at this picture makes my heart skip a beat. Marvelous.

What a beautiful creature. Such a mirror of God himself (see: many places in the Bible), beautiful, powerful, fearsome.

If I had to give this an official title, it would be something along the lines of "The Fingers of God." It reminds me of the circle of life from the Lion King.

So that's what I've got for now. If UGA wins tonight or tomorrow in the College World Series, I'll put money on a picture from that appearing soon. Hope you enjoyed, and let me know what you think!

Monday, June 23, 2008

I think I'm going to outlaw the word "gamer" forever

I swear, if I hear it one more time (or 6,2154 before this game is over, I'm sure) I'm going to [insert gross/angry/ridiculous action here] all over ESPN. These announcers are ruining the game for me. Here's how I think their pregame run-through probably went:

Orel "Bulldog" Hershiser: Looks like it's my dream College World Series! Now, who to root for on national TV without any attempt to hide my bias?

Mike "I wish I still did college football so I could make this kind of verbal love to Tim Tebow too" Patrick: If Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso and the rest of our mother company's college football (and basketball, OMG!!11!!!!1!) announcers can do it for Tim Tebow, then I'll do Fresno State the same way.

Orel: Oo, oo, I call dibs on the word "gamer." Every time I use it during the game, you owe me $5!

Mike: Well, fine then. I'll just lavish any and all praise on them while ignoring Georgia all the while. Maybe then Fresno State will pay me for hyping them up and I can pay you back, O.

This is really getting ridiculous. I think ol' Orel's made almost $100 so far. If he doesn't have anything good stats-wise to talk about a Fresno kid, he just talks about how tough he is. Or how he's so athletic. Or how people always counted him out. Or how his coach is the only one who believes him. And Mike will chime in profoundly with something like "That's why they're a Cinderella. Against this nationally seeded UGA team. Boy, I'd take any one of them for my team." [Emphasis added only in font, not in voice]

Poythress just beat a throw to the plate with a tremendous facefirst slide, and all Mike can talk about is how great of an arm the rightfielder has. IT'S FREAKING RICH POYTHRESS THAT HE'S TRYING TO THROW OUT!!!! Rich - bless his heart - had hardly even rounded third, and the hit was a grounder the rightfielder could easily run in on.

And Lyle Allen made an incredible catch, leaping up and crashing into the leftfield wall, and (guess what?!) Mike and Orel were talking about how great the Fresno kids were at hitting balls well to the opposite field.

And when pitcher Trevor Holder took an only-PING!-with-PING!-aluminum bats shot off his shin and still threw to first for the out, you say? No mention of how Trevor came back to get the next two outs easily. They went back to how hard the little freshman shortstop had hit it. Great work.

And against Stanford, if you'd actually listened to Mike and Orel, you would have thought Stanford had two of their guys playing outfield for us. Mike did it several times over consecutive innings, even with the roster sitting right in front of him.

It almost almost (actually not even close) makes me wish for the days of Fox's Sugar Bowl announcing. I still don't know who "Nomar Moreno" is.

Oh well, in the words of the immortal Chad Hume (I just got off the phone with him):
"We don't need the popular vote anyway!"
Agreed. Let's go, Dawgs!

UPDATE: ESPN now has shown an all-Fresno State game highlight video montage after commercial break complete with a priceless scowl from Trevor after a home run, I'm sure. They've also debuted a series of interviews with the Fresno players that they showed before another Fresno at-bat. No sign of UGA as of yet.

UPDATE #2: Suck on that.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

If this doesn't describe a lot of my feelings in Tanzania...

...then I have no idea what does. From one of my favorite bloggers, Garr Reynolds of Presentation Zen fame:

"Note: The digital postcard was made in Keynote (three slides). The video was shot with a tiny Nikon Coolpix. Video is imported as a Quicktime movie. The images of masking tape are set to about 70% opacity in Photoshop (could have been done directly in Keynote as well) and sit atop the video. Recorded with "Record Slideshow" feature (File menu) and exported as a Quicktime movie. Simple. The final slide says "From Oregon with Love" (Oregon Kara Ai) which was the title of a famous TV show in Japan in the '80s."

(major h/t: Presentation Zen)

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Picture courtesy of

This game was breathtaking. Back and forth and back and forth. For starters, Miami is an incredible team. They have power from every spot in the lineup, they have 3 first-round MLB draft picks and they are head and shoulders better than any other team in America. At least that's what I'd heard.

Here's a little stat to ruin the ending (even more than my title): Miami WAS 45-0 this season when leading after 8 innings. Now, you can take that goose egg down. 45-1 sounds much better. The Dawgs did it.

We scored 4 in the top of the ninth, led by the bottom of the order no less. It involved just about everything a baseball fan could ask for (except that the home runs came earlier in the game): a passed ball 3rd strike single, a throwing error, a slap bunt attempt, and an underdDAWG clutching it out in the 9th. And in the rest of the game there were 4 home runs, a 2-strike bunt single, 98-mph fastballs (just from Josh Fields) and dedicated Dawg fans.

Those sure are some damn good Dawgs. So proud right now.

UPDATE: The Red & Black chimes in.
Not all Georgia baseball accolades come on the field. Congrats, Gordon and Josh!
Paul Westerdawg loves him some David "Jerry Bruckheimer" Perno.

My rowdy neighbors

If you've followed me on Twitter then you know that I realized earlier that there was a "gospel/soul/jam band" playing across the street from my apartment. Here's the rest of the story.

I just went on a little run through downtown Atlanta -- by the way, there's some Beerfest going on in that area right now -- and realized that the band across the street is actually a jazz band fronted by one of the members of Butler Street Baptist Church. Which happens to be across the street from me. As I ran by on my way out, I waved and the band members smiled and waved back. I didn't think anything of it.

But on my way back I made sure to cross to their side of the street to wave again. And the bass player waved me over, saying that I should come enjoy some music and a hot dog or two. Not one to turn down free food and/or music, I gladly obliged.

So I hung out for about ten minutes, met the pastor and a few of the other members, who all invited me to come back for tomorrow's 11 am worship service. It was great! They were all smiling and welcoming me. Apparently it's their Men's Month, trying to get everyone in their congregation to celebrate the male leadership in their church and enjoy some good times together. I told them I'd definitely stop by some Sunday -- tomorrow I'm planning on heading to Buckhead Church. And they said they'll be having more gatherings on the lawn for the neighborhood and congregation to join together. I'm already looking forward to it.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Minor update

So since the last time we talked -- or since I typed and you (whoever you are) read -- a lot's happened. I've met an Olympic sprinter in the Amsterdam airport (where I also paid $13 for a quarter pounder meal), landed successfully back in the States, dealt with major jet lag, recuperated in Athens and headed to Atlanta.

And in Atlanta I've moved into an apartment that I technically share with three Georgia Tech guys (I'll have to show a picture of the key I have to deal with this summer now), but none of them really live there for any extended period of time. So I've almost got the whole place to myself. And I started my internship with Marsh USA in Buckhead. It's an amazing experience, even only two days into it.

Be patient, I'll have plenty of things to say about Africa in the coming weeks as I sift through my pictures. Patience, my friends. And I'll keep you updated regularly on Marsh happenings -- those that I can talk about at least.

Until then...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

And the Tim Anderson watch begins

Tim, one of my former coworkers at the VC and a fellow OL '07, is taking "a year on" to work at Martha's Vineyard and backpack through Europe. He's currently planning to keep a blog updated on his adventures, so check it out periodically. It's fittingly called "Nomad for a Year."

Should be some cool stuff.

My post on the ILA blog

Here's a repost of my blog entry on our ILA blog in its entirety. Feel free to read all of it if you want, or just head over to the official blog. The comment is from my dad.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Back on U.S. Soil

We started off like any other morning: omelettes, pastries, coffee, baked beans, ox tongue. Wait, your mornings don't start like that in the States? No ox tongue? Hmm...TIA, this is Africa. Chris LeCraw Sickness Update (CLCSU): Took medicine last night. Looks to be receding. Shirt collars still hurt. Anyway, we all piled in the bus and headed to the US Embassy. When we arrived, we stepped outside and smiled. Yes, that was American air we were breathing. Close-cropped American grass on which we were treading. American cement under our feet now. And American people greeting us. Okay, maybe none of that stuff is actually American. And we were actually greeted by Tanzanian doormen/guards. Details, details. We were semi-home again!

After the obligatory awkward moment when I set off the alarm -- Even plastic sunglasses have little metal pieces. At least it wasn't an improvised explosive device, which is expressly prohibited. -- we all grabbed our American badges and headed inside. The first man to show us around just so happened to be a friend of the Ambassador from way back in Green Bay. Yes, that's right. Home of the Cheeseheads, Brett Favre (not really anymore I guess), frozen grass and dairy products. That Green Bay. He said he came over here with Ambassador Green (more on him right...down...there) for a trial year and might end up staying longer. Douglas had a minor scare when he drank the fountain water, assuming it would be clean, safe American water, only to realize that, once again, TIA. No worries, it was safe.

The Embassy got right down to business, and Ambassador Mark Green strolled in, blue suit/green tie (with elephants I think) and all. He even had a coffee mug that was a gift from a local university. And his mannerisms were impeccable. A staunch Republican and defender of Dubya, he executed the thumb point perfectly, but he followed it with a very Obama-esque thumb-to-forefinger-to-form-an-O move. Pandering to both sides, eh?I could bore you with details of the talk -- which, from my third-row in the conference room of an American oasis/embassy weren't actually boring -- but I'll just give you some highlights. He said Tanzania is already one of the leaders on the continent, but we need to "lock in leadership" at the highest levels. In other words TZ must take the initiative both ideologically and politically in this part of the world. A few facts to take into account that will be a hindrance to such thrusts are the 100,000 Tanzanian malaria deaths per year and the 400 HIV/AIDS deaths per day. GWB and the TZ government, President Kikwete mostly, have already done a decent job addressing these issues through policy initiatives, but the problem (not problem, challenge, but we'll get to that a little later) is the Tanzanian people don't realize it. When Green first came on board, his sponsored events had banners from the CDC, USAID and others. But Tanzanians have no idea what these signify, so Green has now replaced those with a dozen banners that say simply, "From the American People" in both English and Swahili. Funny how Americans can seem so united from the other side of the world.

After outlining a few initiatives and goals, Green took questions. My question -- the only one I'm mentioning because it's my blog, sorry guys -- illuminated a point that has been present in several meetings this trip. Competitiveness. Tanzanians just aren't. When Kenya's Mombassa port closed due to the warring factions in the country, the ships housed there headed for Dar Es Salaam port in Tanzania. At this point the American embassy has this to say: "Hooray! Let's treat these ships better than Kenya ever did and earn their business permanently!" The Tanzanians responded in kind: "But we wouldn't want to hurt the Kenyans' feelings. Let's all be friends." There are certainly advantages and disadvantages to both responses, but the easiest way to expand the national economy is to gain more business. And they missed the opportunity. Just an example. The final point that Green made related directly -- maybe too directly...he might have plagiarized -- to my personal journal from last night. What Africa needs is not charisma. She doesn't need words. She needs actions. And not only actions, but results. I called it the "fierce immediacy of now" in my journal, but I'm pretty sure I heard that somewhere. Here's what I wrote in my journal:

"It's the idea that everything becomes magnified if it must be immediate. If it's on a time crunch. If it's crucial. If it can't be done at any other time. The people of Africa deserve results. They flat-out need them. And the effective leaders realize this. And they realize that their time horizon is very much abbreviated."
After a speaker about the politics and economics of the country -- not much we hadn't already heard -- we toured the whole facility. Even the warehouse, where "they store all the stuff." A fairly direct quote from our guide. Did you know that if you work for the embassy in TZ you can shop at the embassy warehouse and get all-American furniture and electronics? Even tires? Wow. CLCSU: The second speaker has a medical degree. Thinks it might be shingles. "Couldn't help" because Chris isn't an embassy employee. I guess Chris must have stolen that cream discreetly.

Then came lunch. At one of the nicest hotels in all of TZ. Where Dubya and his posse stayed on their visit. Where suites are actually only $200 per night (hat tip to Bryan Pruiett for in-depth research). It was a six-course meal hosted by Mr. Reginald Mengi. Think Ted Turner of TZ. Or the physical embodiment of General Electric. The man has his hands in Tanzanite prospecting, Coca-Cola bottling, broadcast news, print media and many other things. Incredible guy who came from nothing up in Moshi. Dirt-poor at birth, through childhood, and through teenagedom (made up the word in order to not sound repetitive). Here's a laundry list of quotes and observations from the lunch:

"Business is just organized friendship." Tanzanians are very generous...with hospitality, with wine and with thank-yous. "You must tell yourself 'I can, I must, I will.'" R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly" comes on as a sort of theme song. The same R. Kelly that had the legal troubles, but I still think of Space Jam every time I hear the song. "And if you fail, turn on Destiny's Child 'Survivor' and just survive." I love that song. Karaoke 101. "Your world must be your honor." Tanzanians don't rely on contracts like we do. So their word carries a lot more weight. Hence: "I can forgive you if you break a contract. But I won't forgive you if you break a promise." Wow, how non-American! But refreshing to say the least. "You must give back." Spider-Man knew that with great power comes great responsibility. The same goes for money in a developing country. Mengi's responsibility is to the whole country, and his philanthropic reach covers most of the land. "Put God first." Now, I've heard this before, but from Chick-fil-A mostly. It was interesting to hear it so matter-of-factly halfway around the world. He made constant references to his Christianity, and it definitely gives an example of faith interacting positively with business. Serious business. Moneymaking business.

Then off to the hotel again, where we were informed that Hon. Gertrude Mongella would not be joining us for dinner. If you want info on her, go to Google. She's pretty incredible. So we hung out at the pool. Douglas and Addie climbed on the roof. I bathed in bug spray. CLCSU: Remember when Luke was recovering from injuries in The Empire Strikes Back? Or when Keanu Reeves was injured in "real life" in The Matrix? That's Chris LeCraw. He even cut the collar of a t-shirt to make it more open. I think he should make up some stories to go along with it.

Now off to watch the finals of the UEFA Champions League! Pretty chill night in TZ. I love you Mom, Dad and Kevin! And give yourself a hearty pat on the back if you read all the way to here.

[Editor's Note: Unfortunately, Ambassador Mongella was called to a meeting in Mwanza and had to cancel. Plus, the UEFA Championship is tomorrow night, but the meeting with Mr. Mengi was featured on the national news and the newspaper. check it out at]
Posted by ILA Study Abroad Program in Tanzania at 11:00 PM 1 comments

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A few quick notes from the other side of the world

Hey everyone! Sorry that I have been so incommunicado. I didn't really get much of a response from my first email, so I figured the ones who are on the list I'll just encounter when I get back. Then I can fill you all in face to face. Which I'd much prefer anyway because I can show lots of pictures that way also.

Regardless, if you haven't already, head over to our official ILA TZ blog. My post should be going up later tonight. I won't spoil it by giving you details here early, but it's been a great day. I'll leave it at that.

Also, for those of you who know Brittany Lee (and for those of you who don't also), check out her blog right here. She's keeping a running tally of her personal wit and cynicism wisdom throughout the trip. It's even got some pics. Of her own. Note: I tried to jack a picture from Chris LeCraw's computer -- this one -- but the internet is too slow to allow me to upload it. It's of me playing with a kid at the orphanage who happens to be oblivious to me because he's playing with my camera. I haven't actually read her blog yet, but from what I know is on there, it should be a good read. I'd encourage it. And I'll put it on my blog roll over...there also.

I hope to talk to some of you guys soon. We're halfway done with the trip now, and it's absolutely flown by. So many stories. So many pictures. I've decided I'm going to Rosetta Stone Swahili -- if I can afford it -- when I get home and come back sometime. Anyone down?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Blogging from another continent!...?

As of 4:40 pm EST tomorrow, I will be headed to Tanzania, Africa, for three weeks. Because I will not be carrying my laptop with me and because we will have our own blog for which we are responsible, there won't be much content to be seen on this site for a while. I'm traveling with the Institute for Leadership Advancement contingent along with Dr. G, one of my professors this past semester.

We will all of us students be responsible for posting on the blog, so I can't guarantee a certain amount of info from myself, but I'll guarantee that all of the posts will be interesting, insightful and humorous. Mainly because all of us fill all of those three traits. So head on over here to check it out, and let us know what you think!