Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Merry Christmas and Short Update

Well, it has definitely been a while since my last post, and for that I would like to apologize. I just haven't taken the time since I came home to sit down and type out anything, so I guess it's time for me to get y'all caught up.

I left school on Thursday around 3:00 PM, after finishing my Theology exam and other necessary errands. The exam went very well, especially considering that we knew almost all of the material that was going to be on the test. There were four objective sections of the test, of which we could choose to complete three or try all four and she would take the highest scores. Then there was an essay in which we had to discuss major topics from the entire course, and we were able to bring a prepared outline with us to the exam. This final went very well, and only took about an hour and fifteen minutes out of the two-hour time frame. I felt very confident about that exam, and it was nice to be able to go home feeling good, you know?

After I left the classroom for the exam, I went over to the bookstore to sell the books I didn't need any more. I was only able to sell a few of them, since most of my classes for next semester use the same textbooks. I then got all of the books I needed for next semester, hauled all of those back to my room, and got everything ready to leave. I had already packed up my car with my suitcase and some other necessities, but there were still a few things that needed to be loaded up. So, I got all those things packed up, and made sure that the room was all in order. Since we have more than three weeks for Christmas Break, the University requires students to leave campus, unless you make prior arrangements. Also, the rooms must be in good condition, with all plugs pulled, refrigerators defrosted and opened, windows closed with blinds open, lights off, and doors locked. Since I was the last one to leave (my roommate left just a little bit before I did) I had to make sure everything was checked off and taken care of, which for the most part it was, with the exception of course of all my stuff. So, after that I headed out on the road for the drive home.

This time around the trip went very well, and I don't think I hit any real traffic the entire way. I will say though that it was pretty busy and there were a lot of cars, but no wrecks or traffic tie-ups to report. I did stop at the Kentucky welcome center and picked up a postcard for Adrienne, which by the way has a lot of information about the state of Kentucky on it. I didn't make any lunch stops or anything like that since I ate lunch before my exam, but I did stop to get a soda or something like that, and didn't really make any other significant stops. I made it home around 7:30 PM, safe and sound.

Since I have been home, I have been working most nights, but I have still had some time to spend with my family. In fact, the weekend after I got home, we went out and got a Christmas tree (they waited for me to come home, since I'm usually the only one that wants to decorate it). Other than that, there really hasn't been anything significant on the home front.

Well, there are still quite a few things that have occurred since my last post, but it is getting close to work time for me. I will be posting again sometime later this week, since I do have a couple of days off coming up. Then I can update everyone on all the other goings-on in my life. Before I go, I do want to wish all of you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS! I hope you all are able to be with friends and family during this most joyous time of the year, and I hope your Christmas is everything you expect it to be.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

First Three Finals Are Finished

Well as you can tell by the title of this post, my finals are almost finished!!! I took two of them yesterday and one today, and then I will have one more on Thursday. Yesterday morning I took Chemistry, which was probably the final I was most worried about. This class had covered quite a bit of material over the semester, and I hadn't done especially well on some of the previous tests. So, I decided that I would do more studying for this one than any of the others, and let me tell you, it really helped! My professor told us to mainly go over the tests (he had posted the answer keys online), which is exactly what I did. Most of the questions on the final covered the material I had gone over, and anything that I didn't know I was able to skip. This was because we only had to answer 5/7 or 5/6 on the short answer section and 3/4 out of the problem section. This ensured that I would answer the questions I knew the best, and that really worked to my advantage. I feel pretty confident that I did well, so I'll just leave it at that.

Later that afternoon, after lunch of course, I had my Spanish final. Now I've done very well in that class throughout the semester, so I was not too worried about the final. I just had to look over vocabulary, cultural information, and some of the new grammatical structures we learned and I would be all right. So, I did look over all of that briefly, and that's mainly what the final covered. There were a few listening comprehension questions that were a little tricky, but the rest of the exam went just beautifully. I had to conjugate verbs into the different tenses we learned and create my own sentences, which is something I've had to do all throughout high school, so that was no problem. So, I'd have to say that this final also went pretty well.

And finally, so far, I took my Biology final this afternoon. This would be a unique final, because the first part would cover the last two sections we studied, since we didn't have time to test over it individually. The final itself didn't take very much time at all, and the entire test was multiple choice, as all of her tests have been. This covered cell parts, systems of the body, the scientific method, and pretty much any other topic I've mentioned in previous blogs. This exam was tricky in points, but I think overall I did pretty well. Some of the answers helped lighten the mood a little bit, like "with a corn cob pipe and a button nose and two eyes made out of coal" and "Dasher Dancer Prancer Vixen Comet Cupid Donner Blitzen Rudolph." So, as you can see, my Biology professor has a sense of humor!

Well, tomorrow is my day away from exams, so I will probably sleep in and get everything ready for coming home on Thursday. I will probably put up a post on Thursday or Friday after I get home and tell everyone about my final final: Theology. Until then, hope you are enjoying your week!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Pictures of First Major Snow

Hello again! Well, as promised, I've taken some photos and posted them up here. Just a note though, our snow totals weren't anything like they had predicted, despite the fact that the snow was coming down like nothing else for a while. But we did get a little more than four inches, and that's good enough for me...for now. So for all of those in the South or in sunny California, maybe these will put you into a more wintry or Christmas mood.

:Out on the Residential Mall

:Across the way from my dorm room window

:The Gallagher Student Center, the most prominent building in the center of campus

:More from the Residential Mall, with a view of our giant Christmas tree

:Another from outside my dorm room window

Well, that's it for now, so I hope you enjoy them! Until later, I guess I'll try to get studying for those big exams next week. I'll give y'all a full report later.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

First Major Snow of the Season!!!

As you can probably tell by the number of exclamation points in that title, I'm very excited about our first major snowfall this winter! We have been expecting this for several days, and it actually seems like it is living up to the hype the forecasters were giving us. At times, this snow has been coming down at around and inch to and inch and a half every hour, and everything just looks so beautiful. We are expecting anywhere between three and six inches, but from what I can tell, we have already hit four inches, and it is only 8:00 PM. This is supposed to continue into Friday morning, so I wouldn't be surprised if we see six or even seven inches by the time all is said and done.

I have been out walking in it a little bit (not too much...Don't want to freeze!) and it really puts me into a festive mood. Being from Knoxville, seeing a big snow like this (and for all of those from Michigan or other northern areas, yes, six inches is big for me) is very rare, and something I haven't seen in many, many years. But why do you love it so much you ask? Well, it is just so beautiful and is so much fun, especially for people my age! Oh, and not to mention the fact that I personally don't have to go out driving in it! All those miserly people (I'm sorry to offend you if you are one of those) are complaining about having to go out in the weather. Well, here's what I have to say to that: why are you going out anyways?! Already there have been several wrecks and backups on the Interstate, and I do understand that people are trying to get home, but that's not why everyone is out and about. If people would just be more careful and not go out into this kind of weather, we wouldn't have anything to complain about, now would we? That's enough preaching for now.

Well, I'd love to put some pictures up here from around campus, but since it has been so dark I haven't had the chance. Sometime tomorrow morning I'll make sure to take some, and I'll post them then. Until then, I will be enjoying this, and I hope you all are having a good week (it's almost over!!!).

Monday, December 05, 2005

Hard Week Ahead and Singing Reindeer

As you can tell by the first part of the title (I'll explain the second part later on...), this week is going to be very stressful for me. Since this is the last full week of classes this semester (finals are next week, and they don't count as actual classes), most of the instructors are testing or quizzing us before the finals. Most in my case means four out of my six classes, and the other two have the final quiz/test and the final exam on the same day. My Theology and Biology classes are the latter case, with my Biology test and exam on Tuesday the 13th, and my Theology test and exam on Thursday the 15th.

As for tests and quizzes this week, I actually had one of those this morning. This was a Chemistry test, which covered one of the largest sections of the entire course! (I'll let you know more about how it went later this week.) Tuesday I don't have any tests or quizzes, but I do get the Biology test back that I took on Friday, which I feel fairly confident about right now. Also, right after my Biology class, I have an oral interview with my Spanish teacher, in Spanish of course. In that we will discuss any random issues that she can think up, meanwhile using new vocabulary and grammar structures. On Wednesday I have a quiz in Spanish, which is really just a minor deal and only covers one or two sections that we just learned. Later that day I have my final Biology Lab test (there are no finals in Lab classes), which covers development, the nervous system, sensory organs and perception, and the skeletal system. Finally, as far as assessments go, I have a final Chemistry Lab quiz/test on Thursday afternoon (again, no final Lab exams) that covers pretty much the second half of the course. Then on Friday, all my non-lab classes will go over a review for the final exams next week. Busy, busy, busy...

Apart from tests, nothing has really gone on in school, apart from one special event in Spanish class. Everyone in my class was assigned a particular Spanish-speaking country, and at random I drew Venezuela, which was a country I knew nothing about at all! Luckily for me, I had almost three weeks to find something interesting about it, which was the assignment, and I looked up some of the recreational areas and points of interest in that country. The deal was that each student would grade each other student on a scale from 1-9 (nine being the best), the teacher would average those together, and then average in her personal grade with the student grade. This worked very well, since as one can imagine, the students tend to be a little too generous, so the instructor made sure to have her say in the whole thing. I, of course, am a very strict grader, so no generosity from me, unless they deserved it! After I did my presentation on Friday, which by the way I was very nervous about, everyone told me I did very well and spoke well too. So, today I got back my grade, and I was very surprised that I earned a 93%! Boy, was that a confidence booster! I guess I'm more fluent than I thought I was...

Ok, now to the question I'm sure you're all asking: "What's with the singing reindeer?" Well something I didn't mention about when I came home from Thanksgiving Break was that I brought a little bit of Christmas with me. A few years ago, my family visited Greg and Janie (I mentioned them in my last post), and Greg showed us this great new "toy" he had just bought. It was a moving, singing reindeer that sang "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer," with a hysterical "Murry Christmas" ending! (That's right, I said "Murry!!") Well, I just thought the thing was the greatest invention ever, and made it a point to ask about "Reinie," as he called it, every time we saw them. Much to my surprise, when we got together for Christmas that year, that was the gift Greg and Janie gave me! So, I decided to name mine "Deerie" to go along with his reindeer's name. Now, since I didn't have anything remotely Christmas in my dorm room, my mom suggested I bring it with me, and now it sits atop my desk. Below is a picture of it in it's current location.

:Here it is, my hysterically funny little stuffed singing reindeer! Maybe sometime I can upload a sound bite, so all can join in the hilarity.

Well, that's really all I have to report for today. As usual, I will have to report to everyone how all those tests and quizzes go, as soon as I have some results. Until then, have a great week, and for all of those students out there, just hold on; Christmas Break is almost here!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Post-Thanksgiving Update

Now it has been an entire week since I went home, and I suppose it is time to report on anything significant that occurred. I left around 10:30 AM on Tuesday, right after my Biology class, and made excellent time up until Lexington, Kentucky. When I arrived there, traffic was backed up for miles, since they were doing construction on the Interstate, which included closing two entire lanes of traffic. I then had to wait more than half an hour in what seemed to be maybe a two or three mile stretch of highway, which is very frustrating to someone who is traveling a good distance, like I was. I tried to remain patient, but after a while, my patience was being tried. One of my biggest pet peeves is being stuck in stopped traffic, so this was extremely frustrating to me. But as soon as I got past the construction sites, traffic was moving freely again, and I didn't hit any more traffic on my way home. This allowed me to get home around 2:15 PM, which at a little less than four hours is still very good time.

Since I haven't had a job, or income, for the past several months, and the fact that I haven't secured a job here in Cincinnati, I decided to work part of my break at my "old" place of employment, Ingles. I had thought all along that I was still an employee and that everything would just be "reactivated" once I came back. Boy, was I wrong about that. Understandably though, they can't keep me on the payroll if I don't work for more than three months, so the only way I could work was to be rehired. This required filling out the same paperwork I completed upon hiring, but since it was a holiday week and they knew me well enough, I wasn't really rushed into completing it. So, I filled out parts of it that day and turned everything in on Friday, including driver's license and every other necessary component. I decided ahead of time, before my trip, that I would work five days while I was home. Since Ingles is open on Thanksgiving Day, and since I figured many people would ask for that day off, I decided to volunteer to work Thanksgiving morning, which would allow me to take care of a good amount of customers and still get home for my own Thanksgiving dinner. Here was my work schedule for that week:

Tuesday 4PM-12AM
Wednesday 4PM-12AM
Thursday 9AM-4PM
Friday 4PM-11PM
Saturday 4PM-11PM

My boss had requested that I work until midnight on Tuesday and Wednesday, since those would be the busiest days. (I had originally only requested to work until 11, but I was more than willing to work the extra hour.) I had also expected (silly me) that I would have the same job I had when I left. Alas, this was not the case, since there were two people who were already scheduled to do that job, and since there had been some changes since the last time I did that job. Ingles recently built a Fuel Center, which the bookkeeper had to handle, and I had no idea how to do that. So, my manager scheduled me as a cashier, which I was more than willing to do, just as long as I didn't have to be a bagger!!! Everything went very well that week while I worked, and I was very surprised about how much I actually remembered. Running a register will always be something that I can do, but produce codes and other special functions become a little bit hazy when you don't have practice. I hadn't actually run a register in more than six months, since I had been doing the bookkeeping job before I left, but I found out that I remembered more than I forgot...

Another surprise to me was that the current bookkeepers asked me to help them, and I performed many of the same tasks that I hadn't done in several months, and with great proficiency. I counted money, fixed the tills for later, ran reports, and other various tasks that I used to do every night. Also, on Thanksgiving Day, my Front End manager gave me the bookkeeping keys and made me in charge of giving out change and keeping track of the office while she was doing other management duties. At one point it became so busy that she called me to the office to do some management duties, since she was scheduled to leave (and had already worked overtime) and the other manager on duty was already up to his ears in stuff to do. So, since I had a good amount of experience with office duties, I helped a customer send a bunch of Western Unions (I suppose to pay his bills...), all of which added up to like $600-700! I was very proud of myself and remembered everything to do correctly and in a timely fashion.

After that shift was over, I got to go home and help prepare Thanksgiving dinner. I had already made two pumpkin pies on Wednesday morning, and the turkey and the potatoes were almost finished, so there were only a few things left to make. The cranberry sauce was easiest, of course, and only involved opening the can and putting it on a dish. I then made the green bean casserole, heated up some rolls, and helped set up the table with all our wonderful dishes. My mom then made the stuffing and the gravy, my dad whipped the real mashed potatoes, and my brother carved the turkey, as per his request to do so. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner together, and everything was delicious. I actually didn't eat that much, but I was definitely stuffed after dinner. Then I did something I have never done, or at least in recent memory: I took a nap! I was so tired from work, and that Tryptophan was definitely not helping. My family had started a movie, and I barely made it through the first 10 minutes. But it was a wonderful nap, and I woke up just before the end of the movie.

After that nap, we had some of that delicious pumpkin pie, complete with "sploosh," the whipped topping in the can. It was so good, and I had added just the right spices... We then watched some Jay Leno and went to bed, and for the first time since I got home, I slept very well. I didn't have to get up very early, so I slept at least 8-9 hours...ahh that felt good. Then I went back to work Friday night and started over again.

Saturday was a great day for me, since again I could sleep in a bit. I had originally planned to meet up with my friends on Saturday, but that didn't work out, since my friend never called me back... So, my family decided to go see a movie, and my mom and I decided to go see the new Harry Potter movie. It was a great movie, but somewhat depressing at the end. I actually haven't read any of those books in their entirety, but seeing these movies has definitely inspired me to read them. I would probably need to start at the beginning, since there is a lot of background information you can't get out of the movies, and then just move on to each subsequent novel. This would probably take a good amount of time, but as long as I read them all at some point, I should be happy.

Sunday was my last day back home, so obviously I didn't work that day. We got up to go to Mass at 11:30 and decided to meet up with Greg and Janie, some very close friends of ours, for lunch. We went to our favorite meeting place, Burger King, ate lunch, and sat and talked for almost three hours! I hadn't seen them in several months, so it was great to catch up and tell them about my own life up here. We talked about all the major events over the last few months, and also discussed some plans for Christmas vacation. I was so glad to see them, but if I wanted to get back to Cincinnati at a reasonable time, I needed to leave. So, we said goodbye, headed to the store to pick up a few things, and then back home.

I then got everything packed up and had to get my car ready for the trip, which included checking the oil and other fluids. Everything was a go, but I didn't end up leaving until almost 6:30PM. This meant that I wouldn't get in until 10:30-11:00, but this would allow me not to hit as much traffic. Actually, there was hardly any traffic the entire time, and I made pretty good time. I stopped just north of Lexington at a rest stop to eat, since my mom had packed me a turkey sandwich (with our leftover turkey!) with chips and a dessert. I finally got into town around 11:00PM and unloaded everything. By that time I was so tired, but I needed to get some stuff done online before I went to bed. But, when I did finally go to bed, I went to sleep right away and didn't wake up once through the night. Now I'm back to classes, and we are in the busiest time of the semester right before finals. I'll do a separate post later on about school, since this post is already starting to runneth over...

Well, that's all from me for now. As usual, I'll post if anything interesting happens later on, and I hope you all will let me know how your holidays were. I love comments on my blog, so if you are so inclined, I'd love to hear from you. Until then, have a great week, and finish up all those leftovers!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Sharon Selby Part II

All right, now where did I leave off??? I think the last thing I talked about was when Sharon and her aunt visited for Easter and we all went to the Knoxville Zoo. Anyways, I think we may have had one more holiday season with the both of them, but soon after that Vange passed away. She lived in Toledo, Ohio, and there was no way we could get there unfortunately. She had suffered for quite awhile, but lived a long, good life to be over the age of 90. It was very sad to all of us, and I can imagine Sharon was crushed to lose her last living family member.

Soon after the funeral and all the formal arrangements back in Toledo, we got a card from Sharon thanking us for everything we had done for her and Vange. Inside the card was the notice from the newspaper, which actually had sort of a lengthy biography. In that notice, I found out some very interesting facts, such as that Vange was in the Navy during World War II. She never actually fought in the war, but she was here in the States doing electrical work for the Navy. She was one of those women that stepped in to work while all the men were at war, a very noble thing to do back then I'm sure. It was very sad that she was gone, but I felt glad to have known her.

As I began to get older, we saw Sharon less and less, mostly still at holidays, but not nearly as much. Now we were only seeing her maybe once a year, and sometimes not even that. Despite that though, we would still talk on the phone with her every once in a while, especially at holidays. She even began a sort of tradition of calling us on our birthdays, and this became a very happy tradition. Now the conversations didn't focus as much on computers and games, but on politics, religion, literature (reading was her biggest hobby!), and school.

Politics for Sharon was influenced somewhat by her profession as an attorney. She had very firm beliefs about the Law and justice in this country, and her political stance showed that. Sharon was a "devout" Democrat, and there was no issue big or small that she wasn't fully knowledgeable about. As I became older and started looking at politics, we would have a few political discussions about what was going on the world and how the politicians could fix it. I began to see that I agreed with a lot she had to say, and I think she was a major influence on my choosing to be a little more liberal. Our biggest discussions occurred before and after the 2000 presidential election, when we would discuss the major issues at the time and the candidates' views on those issues. Sharon was outspoken in her dislike of Bush; I would go so far as to say she despised him with all her heart. (not hate; I don't think Sharon ever hated anyone) We would criticize everything he did and said (not that either candidate was perfect, of course), and give reasons why he shouldn't be elected. Alas, he was elected, but Sharon accepted this and we moved on from that.

We still had those political conversations, mostly just discussing what should be done with this country and how to fix it if we could. We would discuss tax reform, health care, the War in Iraq (and anywhere else there was a war going on), and all the other major issues. This carried on up to the 2004 election, where again Sharon was totally against Bush, and wouldn't hesitate to tell anyone that. We again had the same sorts of conversations about the candidates, and criticized the entire Bush presidency. But, again, Bush won the election, and we were both very disappointed. I would like to think, though, that her political views have been passed on to me, which maybe in the future can make a difference in this country.

As far as religion goes, Sharon was as you could say, a born-again Catholic (not the same as a born-again Christian; just making a point). She had been non-practicing for a very long time, and we had tried for years to have her come to Mass with us while she visited. We did succeed at one point, and boy was she glad to be back. This time, though, she was fully engaged in everything the Church did, and became very involved in the adult groups at her local parish. This marked a major turning point in her life, and she seemed to be happier than ever now that she was back in the Church. I think even at one point she was teaching an adult faith class about Scriptures, but I'm not sure about that. She also began volunteering more in the community, especially with the local Sisters of Mercy. Now we were having more and more religious discussions about morality and social justice, which actually tied in with what I was learning in school at one point. She showed compassion for the poor and homeless (which actually ties into political stuff, mostly tax reform) and we discussed that at one point also. Because she was an avid reader, the Bible was a good thing for her. She began reading it more and reflecting and meditating on those Scriptures more. It was amazing how she had become such a spiritual person. And to think, my mom may have been the one to catalyze that!

Now, if you asked anyone who knew her what her most precious hobby was, everyone would say that Sharon absolutely loved reading. As far as I know, she would read about anything, from mysteries, medical fiction, historical books, and even the Harry Potter books. There was always something to read for her, no matter what it was. Apparently, her home was filled with shelves and shelves of books, almost all of which she had read at one point. She could name off anything that she had read in order to make a point or entertain, and that was a great quality. Most Christmases (and even at other points in the year) she would buy us books that she thought would interest us, so that we could broaden our minds and entertain our curiosity. This became another sort of tradition over the years, and I still have most of those books. I don't think I ever received a book that I didn't like from her, so she must have figured my taste out pretty well! She also used her love of reading to catch up on current events and history, and I was amazed by her wealth of knowledge about any given topic. If she didn't know something, by golly if she didn't read up on it and report it back to us! This was surely a great talent to have, and everyone loved that quality about her.

And finally, the discussions about school. To her, nothing was more important for us than to get a good education and learn as much as possible. This was especially important when I was in high school, and we would discuss just about anything I had been learning in every class. We discussed the books I read in my English classes, and Sharon had a particular fascination with Shakespeare. Since every year we read a new Shakespeare play, we would always discuss them, and then she would reminisce about when she was reading those plays in school. She enjoyed hearing about all the stuff I learned in science, since there have been so many new discoveries since when she was in school obviously. We liked to talk about the future, and she wanted so badly that we get into good colleges and make something of ourselves. That's why she was so excited (and yet very nervous) when it came time for me to apply to colleges. At one point, I had absolutely no idea whatsoever where I wanted to go, and that was a little disheartening to her. But she said to just keep looking and to apply ASAP. Well, when I mentioned applying to Xavier, she was really excited. She knew a lot about the quality of education here, and what a great influence the Jesuits have on college students. So, when I told her about my acceptance here, she was really excited for me, and very proud. I would be able to further my education at a great institute of higher learning, and she was so happy to hear that. It was great to have someone else out there that was rooting for me and praying for me every step of the way.

Well, in the past few years, we actually didn't get to see Sharon really at all, since she had been staying home more and more. She had many health problems, and was on a plethora of medications, which kept her from traveling across the state. This also kept us from going to visit her, since she really didn't feel that she could keep company for any length of time. So, we just relied on the telephone and e-mail to keep in touch, which wasn't the same of course, but we all understood. It was still great to get e-mails, phone calls, and the occasional card in the mail from her, just to say hi or how much she cared about us. We would think about her even more around her favorite holidays, especially Thanksgiving, and we would always get a call from her to wish us well during those times. And even though we didn't get to see her in person, we always felt her presence and thought about her all the time.

Over the past two years or so, Sharon underwent several operations to correct some of her health problems. One in particular was a shortness of breath, which had been caused by a build-up of fluid around her heart. She has several procedures to remove this fluid, but time and time again, it kept coming back. For the most part, she was still doing her day-to-day activities, but the shortness of breath began to hold her back. Finally not too long ago, she had the same heart procedure again, but this time the findings were different. Apparently there had been tumor cells in the fluid, which were left over from when she had breast cancer so many years ago. Those cells were still wreaking havoc on her body, and it was beginning to show again. Now she was kept mostly at home and was having a lot of trouble breathing to the end. After more than two years of this, Sharon passed away at her home, with all her comforts and some of her friends around her. This was a great shock to everyone who knew her, and I took this especially hard. It has been very difficult to believe that she is really gone, but I do think reliving these memories has helped ease that pain a little bit. I hope this has also been therapeutic to her many other friends, who were indeed her family. Now I think more about how she is watching down over me and smiling, and hopefully still rooting for me to make something good of myself.

Before I close this post, I would like to attach the newspaper notice that I found in The Tennessean the other day:

Sharon SELBY
Davidson county
Age 61
November 15, 2005
Age 61 of Nashville, passed away at home November 15, 2005 after a long and courageous battle with breast cancer. Ms. Selby was a graduate of Hollins College and the University of Tennessee College of Law. She was an avid reader and a passionate follower of politics and current events. She used her intellectual abilities to engage social issues, helping others to see the importance of being politically active. Her devotion to Catholicism and her scholar's grasp of the Bible and church teaching, gave her a deep love for the poor and disenfranchised, so much so that she devoted the last years of her life volunteering at the House of Mercy. Her final wish was that her body be donated to science. A Memorial service will be held at St. Edward's Catholic Church at a later date. Contributions in Sharon's memory may be given to The House of Mercy, 4903 Tennessee Ave. North, Nashville, TN 37209. Sharon will be missed by all who knew her.

Well that's really all I can say right now. For all of Sharon's friends out there, I hope these good memories have made you think about your own good memories of Sharon, and please keep those good memories around. Do this especially during this week, as it is Thanksgiving, Sharon's favorite holiday.

To Sharon: your family is thinking of you every day, and we miss you with all our hearts. Please watch over us, and rest in peace. We love you very much and we look forward to the day when we can be with you again.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Sharon Selby

Many of you have already received an e-mail about this, but for the rest of you who either didn't get an e-mail or haven't read it yet, I wanted to let everyone know that a very close friend of my family's, Sharon Selby, passed away on Tuesday, November 15, 2005 around 11:30 AM. She had recently had several health problems and was in a sort of hospice care for the last few days of her life. I personally have not taken this news very well and have been struggling with this the past few days. After talking with my uncle Tim shortly yesterday, he suggested that I write about it, and that's what I've decided to do. I'm writing about all the good memories, and I hope this will cheer me up and help me, and the others who knew her, feel happier and more at ease.

For those of you who don't know who Sharon was, she was a very dear friend of my mom's, and was actually very helpful in getting my parents to meet. Sharon and my mom met when my mom was in college at the University of Tennessee, which was over 20 years ago. They became very good friends and stayed friends despite the fact that Sharon moved to Morristown, TN (about an hour and a half away). My parents were married soon after, and Sharon, of course, was one of my mom's bridesmaids. I was born the next year, and obviously don't remember much from that time, and the next two years for that matter. I have seen pictures of that time and heard some stories, and found out that Sharon visited us for birthdays, holidays, etc. One picture that really comes to mind was one of Sharon, Greg (another very close family friend), and myself in our downstairs "family room." The three of us were playing with toys and stuffed animals, and there is a picture of the three of us on a couch, all wearing stuffed animals as hats. (Apparently I was a rather humorous child!!) Some time in between the time I was born and the time I was about three, Sharon moved out to Nashville, TN (about 4 hours away), and again despite the distance, she and my mom remained very good friends.

Sometime around when I was three (it might have been four), my mom and I (not sure if Dad was there) went out to Nashville to visit Sharon. I don't remember anything about this trip, but I have heard stories and seen the pictures. We traveled all around Nashville seeing some historical sites. A couple in particular included the Tennessee Capitol Building and the Parthenon, which are both prominent buildings in Nashville. We actually have some pictures of the three of us on the steps of these, which I got to see not too long ago. The only other major detail that I remember hearing about this trip was that I drew Sharon a picture while we were staying with her, which she in turn hung on her refrigerator. According to Sharon herself, in one of the most recent times she visited us, that picture was still hanging there, and this was about five years ago. I would not be surprised if it was still there, considering she practically treasured that drawing!

After that visit, I have no recollections of any other visits until about five years later (I was either seven or eight, but I'm not too sure). This time however, she was the one who visited us. Sharon's favorite holiday had always been, and remained to this day, Thanksgiving, because of family getting together and all the wonderful foods we got to share. Now, Sharon had very little family, and the only family I know of that was still alive at that time was her aunt Wanda (whom everyone called Vange), so we were essentially family to her. My mom invited her to spend Thanksgiving with us that year, and Sharon accepted that offer. At the time, I had no recollections of her, and as far as I knew, this was the first time I had ever met her. We had a lot of fun that year, and I really enjoyed having Sharon around. She brought lots of fun and mentally engaging games, and I really had a lot of fun with them. She also helped cook Thanksgiving dinner, and introduced my family, or at least my brother and myself, to squash casserole, which turned out to be very good. It then became a nice tradition thereafter to have Sharon over every Thanksgiving, and I enjoyed that tradition.

The next couple of years, Sharon had been having her aunt stay with her during the holidays. This time, my parents invited both Sharon and her aunt for Thanksgiving, and they both accepted. This was most probably the first time I had ever met Vange, and she was a very enjoyable person. She played all the games with us and helped with dinner, and we all enjoyed her company. Also during those visits, we found out that every Thanksgiving morning while Sharon was in town, she would go to a fox hunt that was about an hour away. Sharon was really into horses, so this was really her kind of thing. She was always so excited about it, and loved the fact that she could go to it while she was with us. For the longest time we never went to those, since it came so early in the morning. But, one year when we were a little older, we decided to go with her. It was very early in our opinion (I think it was around 6 or 7 AM) but we really wanted to go. It was like I said around an hour drive, but it was a really nice drive through the country. We got to the site and watched all the people get their horses ready and ride around a little. I remember that it was very cold, but we tried to stay as warm as we could. Finally around an hour later, the people set out on the hunt. (Now in this sense, a fox hunt didn't actually include foxes, since that was forbidden. Really what they did was ride around with the other riders and have an enjoyable time.) It was a great experience for us, since we had really seen nothing like it. I believe there were pictures of this also, but I haven't encountered any of those yet.

Sometime during these visits I just mentioned, Sharon brought us our very first computer. It was one of the first Dells with an early form of Windows, Windows 3.1. Sharon was always upgrading her computers, and instead of selling the old ones or throwing them away, she gave them to us. This became another "tradition" over the years, and we received a total of three computers from her. This computer just blew our minds; we had never had one of our own, and back then I had maybe only seen a very old-fashioned one in school. We quickly began to play the games on that computer, and I think at times we would have contests with Sharon to see who could get the highest scores. Again we played more of those fun games, and this was supplemented with the "new" computer games. Sharon was highly knowledgeable about computers, and taught me most of what I know now. She then took it upon herself to teach us as much as possible about our new computer, and I caught on the fastest of my entire family. It then became a running thing between the two of us to discuss technology and troubleshooting our new computer problems.

After one of those first times both Sharon and her aunt visited for Thanksgiving, I think I suggested that we should have them over for other holidays. We suggested Christmas of that year, and they both accepted again. It then became a tradition to have one or both of them for Thanksgiving and Christmas, or at least one of those holidays. So now we were seeing her twice a year for the holidays, and it was great to have her around then. Again, we played more games at Christmastime, but then we also enjoyed all the Christmas traditions that I have come to cherish. We got to go shopping for my family, and this time we added Sharon and Vange to our lists. As always, we picked out gifts at Wal-Mart and the Dollar Store and were given a certain budget for our gifts. I enjoyed picking all those out, wrapping them, and watch everyone open them on Christmas morning. Then it became a tradition for Sharon to come at Christmas, and I think we had about four Christmases with her, and maybe two with Vange.

Some time a couple years later, we didn't get to have a visit for Thanksgiving or Christmas. We then suggested an Easter/Spring Break visit, and Sharon and Vange again accepted. Now we had even another tradition of having them over for the holidays, but I don't think we ever had them for all three major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter). This time it was much warmer outside, and we were able to do a lot more. One experience that I remember quite vividly was a trip we took to the Knoxville Zoo. Both Sharon and Vange wanted to go, since it was a beautiful day and we wanted to get out of the house. Vange couldn't walk for long distances, so we brought a wheelchair so that she could go around with us. I remember pushing her up and down the winding paths of the Knoxville Zoo and enjoying all the animals and exhibits. I think we did take pictures of this event, but I've not seen any of them. I do know that we had a really great time, especially Sharon and Vange. They really didn't get out too much, so it was a great experience to get out and do such a fun thing with friends.

Well, seeing as this is going to be a lot longer than I thought, I will cut this off here and continue tomorrow or Sunday. It really has been therapeutic for me somewhat, and I enjoy reminiscing about these times. Until later, please pray for my mom, myself, and all of Sharon's other friends during this time. Her friends were indeed her family, and she will be greatly missed by all.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Not Too Much to Report...Just Felt Like Blogging

Since the last time I updated my blog (I think it was Sunday?), nothing really exciting or interesting has occurred in my life; only the constant stress and work involved in a college student's life. As per the suggestion of a certain individual (and you know who you are!), I'll try to make this more interesting for myself by including something besides school, etc. For the first part of this post, I'll put something original and interesting, and for the last part, I'll do the same old humdrum school stuff. So, let me think of something...

Lately I've been trying to keep up on my blog reading, just because they seem to be getting more and more interesting. Of course, I'm talking about those posts from my family members, mostly my grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Lately, most of them have been about past experiences, and family history is something that really interests me. I love hearing stories about when my relatives were younger, because it really gives me a perspective I've never witnessed. Obviously, I wasn't around when my grandparents and their siblings were young, so I like hearing about what was happening when they were my age and younger. Right now, I've been trying to fit in reading at least one blog into my hectic schedule, just to read for pleasure for once. So far, I've been able to accomplish this, and it's really helped me to relax a little bit from my stressful day. So, if you are one of those telling those stories, keep 'em up, because they are really helping me out! hahaha

Okay, that's the interesting part for today. I'll promise to put some more in my next post, maybe tomorrow. In school recently, I had a Biology test last Friday and it was actually a pretty good test for me. I reported not too long ago my other most recent test grade, and let me tell you I did about ten points better. So, on this one I got a high B! I was really glad to get that grade, since it will bring my average a little bit. So, now I can try even harder on the next ones and get even better grades. We'll see...

Oh, and we did some more dissections in Biology Lab this week. We finished up respiratory and circulatory in our pigs, which were really interesting. Then later on we got to look at sheep hearts to map out the flow of blood through the heart. That was really neat and we actually got to follow the path with a probe (or even a finger!!). We also got to map out the flow of blood through the body, like the aorta, carotid artery (to the brain), and some of the others that I couldn't exactly spell out for you.

Well, that's pretty much it for school and anything interesting in my life. I guess I'll have to find another interesting activity to discuss tomorrow for you! hahaha Well, we'll see. Anyways, until later, enjoy your Friday. It's almost the weekend! YAY!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The End of a Hard Week

Sorry that I haven't had another post since Monday, but this has been a stressful week for me. I don't know why, but it seems like most people I know have had a stressful week. I guess it's because the holidays are so close (which means breaks are coming up!!) and the fact that there have been a lot of exams lately. At least that's why I have had a stressful week. I won't bore you all with the details of the stressful week; instead I'll just tell the high parts of my week.

As I mentioned in my last entry, we have been dissecting fetal pigs in my Biology Lab, now that we are learning about the different organ systems in the lecture class. Every person in the class gets their own pig, and we get to go through all the major organ systems in the body. So far we have explored the integumentary system, the digestive system, and the respiratory system in great detail. In smaller amounts we have discussed (and witnessed) parts of the endocrine and cardiovascular systems. I think we have one or two more lab periods with the pig dissection, and following that we will be going over any other organ systems. As of yet we still need to discuss and witness the nervous, lymphatic (immune), reproductive, and urinary systems. Parts of this will come from the pig dissections, but there will be other dissections in the future, and possibly other lectures about these systems. All very interesting stuff, if you ask me!!

Besides that, nothing really has happened this week that I want to report about. As I write this, I am watching the Notre Dame-UT football game, and it's really turning out a lot better than I had imagined! UT has had a pretty bad season this year, and it's nice that they are trying a little bit harder. Right now the score is 28-21 Notre Dame, but this is a lot better than some of the games UT has played recently. There is still one quarter to go, so we'll just have to wait and see what happens. I'm hoping that we can pull it out in the last quarter, but I don't want to get over-confident, given UT's history. I'll have to let y'all know the outcome tomorrow.

Oh, and another note of interest: I have just put up a picture of myself for my profile. It is a picture my dad took as I was leaving for Senior Prom this past May. I will have to update when I get a more recent picture taken, but I think this one will definitely serve its purpose for the time being. Enjoy! hahaha

:Here's the picture I've put up in my profile. After a long battle with my profile, I finally got it in there. I just put it here for you so that you can see it full-sized.

One more interesting change: I have changed the "ticker" at the top of my page. Now it counts down to Thanksgiving Break (which for me is the 22nd) and to Thanksgiving Day. Hopefully this will give y'all something to look forward to.

Well, that's really all I have to write for now. I'll continue watching this game and then find something to do with the rest of my weekend. I'll post anything new that comes up. Until then, have a great weekend, and keep on bloggin'!!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween and Ramblings...

Hello all! I just wanted to start out this post by saying "Happy Halloween!" As you've probably realized by now, I've started putting a "ticker" at the top of my blog, plus at the bottom. I thought that this would add a little more color to the blog, plus give everyone something to look forward to! I guess now that it's Halloween I ought to change it, so look for a brand new one tomorrow.

Well, I've had a few more disappointments lately, mostly from tests and test grades. I earned a low grade on my Chemistry test, like I had predicted, so it wasn't as big of a disappointment since I assumed the worst. But, on the good side, we still have several tests before the end of the year, so I'll have time to bring up my grade. Also, my average for all the tests this semester is in the "B" range, which is still good for a college Chemistry course.

The other test that brought my mood down was my Biology Lab test. I had anticipated a high grade, at least a high "B." It seems like when I try to predict a certain number or letter, I fail to meet that expectation. Maybe from now on I won't try to predict and just wait on the actual grade. Anyway, I got a "C" on this test, which is still okay in my opinion. Again, there are still several tests left in the semester, so I'll have time to bring that grade up some. I had a "B" average in that class for mid-term, so I should be able to keep that if I keep working. I'll talk about that more when something happens.

But, one good thing did happen today. Despite the fact that I got a bad grade on the test, we did do a great experiment in Biology Lab today. We got to start on out fetal pig dissection, and I must say I was very excited! Dissections are some of my favorite parts of Biology, and this is going to be a fun experiment over the next week or so. I'll let everyone know any interesting parts of this, unless there is someone out there that is opposed to such dissections. Just let me know if you are, and I won't mention it.

Well that's really all for now! I'm kind of tired right now, so I'll probably either go to bed or lay down and watch TV. Sorry that this entry didn't contain very much information or detail, but I wrote it in a hurry. I'll write more either tomorrow or Wednesday, whenever I have time. Until then, enjoy Halloween!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Job Hunt Continues...

Today was the beginning of another job search, but I was excited about that prospect. I decided that I'd also check out our local mall (local being about ten minutes away), since I checked their website and found many job openings. I found the mall fairly easily, but trying to get in was a challenge. I thought Knoxville's West Town Mall was difficult! Parking was horrible, and people were fighting for spaces. Luckily, being the patient person I am, I found someone backing out and got her space. But now was the other tricky part: the stores aren't all connected to the main mall. They have three department stores (Dillard's, Macy's, and Parisian), and I entered the Dillard's entrance. I found out that this particular floor didn't go to the main building (I later found out I had to go one floor up, but I didn't know that initially) so I went back out the way I came and found a main entrance. It is a fairly large mall and has two floors in the main building. There are a lot of high-end stores from New York and Hollywood, etc. and there is a food court with many different types of food in it. I was taken aback by how many people were there shopping, but I guess people start shopping for Christmas earlier and earlier with each year that passes. (By the way, if you must know anything about me, my favorite holidays are Thanksgiving and Christmas. Also, anyone that tries to hurry into Christmas in November is crazy in my opinion! At least wait until the day after Thanksgiving; if you really want to get on my good side, wait as late as the first of December!)

Anyway, to the subject at hand: jobs. I did look around to see if any of the stores were hiring, and there were a couple of signs. A couple were from fast food stores and coffee shops, but I want to avoid that kind of business for now. Since I have no experience with food, I just want to find a job in retail right now. Unfortunately, most of the retail stores that are hiring are either high end stores (meaning I'd have to dress up for work...and I don't have many nice clothes here) or are geared towards women (like beauty supply stores and the Hallmark store). So, working at the mall was pretty much out of the question for now, unless there are other positions that open up in the future.

After going to the mall, I went a little bit closer to campus and checked out Wal-Mart, which coincidentally is just a few miles down the road from Target. It is not one of the Supercenters like I'm used to back home, but it seems to be very large size-wise. I went over to the little "Career Center" where there is a computer to fill out an application. And let me tell you, I'm definitely not comfortable with filling out a job application on computer. I'd much rather do a paper one, when I can be sure the manager or hiring person will actually see it. But, I filled out the electronic one and answered all the preliminary interview questions. They did say they would hold the application for 60 days, but I'm hoping that since it's getting busier, they will be calling me pretty soon. (Let's hope they are more flexible with me going home on breaks...) After that, I did a little shopping and set out again.

Finally I went to check out the Sam's Club which is right next door to Target, ironically. They have the same little computer application thing, so I went over there again. Apparently the computer system saves your application to every store, so it was already filled out when I got there. The only thing that was different was there were a few additional questions and a totally different questionnaire than the other one. But, I was a little bit more optimistic since I was introduced to the hiring person while filling out the application. He apparently saw me over there and introduced himself, and then asked me about why I was applying. I really had no idea who he was, so I probably came off a little bit cold to him... He then told me he was the one that would be interviewing me, and that they would definitely need some cashiers, so I was glad about that. I'm hoping I'll be getting a call or two sometime soon, and of course I'll let everyone know.

Well that's really all I have to report as far as jobs go. In other news, I met with my academic advisor for the first time to discuss classes for next semester. That meeting went very well, and she said I was progressing very well, as far as grades go. Because of my major, most of my classes are pretty much already chosen for me, but I did have a choice for one of them. Instead of taking another Theology course I will be taking either Philosophy 100 or English 115, which will make next semester very different. This time, there will be a lot of reading and writing involved, but I think I'll be able to handle that. We don't actually register for classes until November 8, so I'll let y'all know how that turns out.

Besides that, nothing interesting has happened since my last post. So, I guess that's all I have to write about tonight. Now, I will go and watch the UT/South Carolina game which is already in progress. Until next time, have a restful weekend and GO VOLS!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

More Disappointment

Today I received even more disappointment, in a series of disappointing events that have come up lately. The first one for today came from my Biology class. I mentioned the other day that I felt pretty confident about the Biology test I took last Friday. Too bad I was wrong about this one. Instead of doing well like I had initially believed, I missed way too many questions and got a disappointing grade. I had been expecting at least a "B" and was hoping for an "A," but I guess I didn't deserve it. I made a "C+," which still isn't horrible, but not good enough by my standards. I am trying to study a little bit harder for the next tests, which there should be one coming up next week. I'm not too discouraged about this grade since we still have five more tests, but it is still disheartening, and that made my day start out with a bit of sadness.

And for the second and largest disappointment for today, this one has to do with Target. Like I said, I had left messages with the HR department, and I made another call this morning. Apparently the person who told me that other woman would be in was mistaken, and I decided not to leave another message. Maybe this woman would be in later, I thought. Well, I was right about that, and since I got out of my Chemistry Lab class early at around 4:30 PM, I decided to call again. Success! She was in the office, but was apparently buried in employment paperwork. She said she was reviewing my file, and would call me back later. So, I took a little nap and woke up around 7:00 PM. It just so happened that she called right then, and I was nervous, but very excited. She asked me a couple of questions, and got to the main issue at hand. Since I am living away from home in a different state, she figured (correctly obviously) that I would be going home for the holidays. I told her that yes, I would, and I pretty much knew what she was going to say next. So, she told me that she was reviewing other applications to fill three positions, and that these people could work during the holidays. She said that until those positions are filled, she couldn't hire me because of the whole holiday thing. I went silent and kind of sat there for a few seconds. She did say if those positions were filled and if they were still hiring she would let me know, but I've pretty much had it with Target right now. I had been really excited at first, but it's been almost a month since I turned in an application, and I have put up with way too much from them.

I've pretty much decided to try somewhere else, but, if by some chance I don't have a job and they call me back from Target, I will definitely consider it. If, however, I do have a job at that time, I will think about it, but not seriously, unless they plan to offer me more money. We'll see in time, but for now, I am feeling very depressed and extremely angry. Not anger towards this woman; I can't just be mad at one person. I'm extremely angry at the store and the whole system, which is greater than any one person. I'm trying to get over this anger and mini-depression, but it will just take some time.

Well, I guess that's really all I have to say (or should it be "vent") for now. I'm still pretty angry and depressed and worn out, so I'll just watch some TV and go to bed. I've already done all my homework for the night (I only had a few exercises for Spanish class), so I'm done with all the necessities for the night. I'll let everyone know if anything new happens, as always, right on this blog. Until then, would everyone please pray for me? I need some guidance and assurance from God that everything will go all right for me, both in school and as far as a job is concerned. Thank you all very much.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

More Tests, Disappointments, and Other News

For all of those die-hard blog readers out there that were expecting pictures by now, I am very sorry. Due to the rain and the cold weather, I haven't been outside for longer than a few minutes, just between classes and on the way to meals. I think those pictures will just have to wait for a while, possibly until the weekend, if that's okay. I'll let y'all know later.

As for updates since my last post, I've had the two tests I was talking about, actually both of them today. The Chemistry test was the first one, and boy was it a doozy! I thought I knew most of the material, but alas, I did not. I went blank on a couple of the sections, but I tried as best I could just to get partial credit. Funny thing time, though; it seems to go by really quickly when you need it to go slowly! I ended up leaving a question or two blank with no idea how to answer them, but that's my own fault. I can only hope for a "C" on this one, and even that might be too judicious for this test. (This happens to be the "disappointment" I alluded to in the title.) Since I have an "A" in there before this test, one bad grade won't condemn me for good, just as long as I do better on the next tests. We'll just have to wait and see.

Before I refer to the other test, I just wanted to report the result of my Spanish mid-term that I took on Friday. You could only imagine the look on my face when I saw at the top of the paper: 100%! What an accomplishment! A perfect score on a major test is not something one usually sees, but I am grateful nonetheless. Of course, my teacher made a point to tell me, jokingly, that this was very rare and not to get used to it; we'll see about that! ha ha ha

Ok, now back to the tests from today. My second one was in Biology Lab, and I don't have the best track record when it comes to these tests. I have gotten "Bs" on the last two, which are still good for that class, but I'd like to get an "A" on at least one of these tests. I actually think this one went pretty well, since I seemed to go through the material with some ease. A lot of the questions were regarding genetics, which just so happens to be one of my favorite parts of Biology so far. I could do Punnett squares all day, and find genotypes and phenotypes just as well! So, I'm pretty sure I did well on those parts. As for the rest, the test involved DNA technology, like using gel electrophoresis to do DNA mapping, which I think they use for solving crimes and paternity suits. Overall, I think I went through it extremely well, and I'm hoping and praying for an "A"; Good Lord Willing...

In other news, I still haven't heard back from Target regarding my second interview. I was supposed to receive a call from someone on Monday to let me know one way or another, but that never happened. So, yesterday I proceeded to call the same Karen to whom I was initially referred, since it was the conversation with her the first time that got me that interview. Apparently she either didn't work that day or had already gone home, so I left her a voicemail. Now, in the past I think I have left that voice machine too many messages that haven't been answered, so I wasn't content in just leaving a message and waiting. I waited until today to get a return call, and when that didn't happen, I called her again. Again, she wasn't in the office, but it was late so this was to be expected. So, instead of leaving another message, I just asked the phone operator when she would be in, and she told me "tomorrow from 8-4." Great! Finally some progress on the issue. If I can actually talk to a real person, that will actually accomplish something. I'll let y'all know after I talk to her tomorrow.

In other news, as some of you may know, my room was recently turned into a fiery furnace. For as long as I've been here, the heating and air system in this room has boggled the mind. It doesn't work merely by turning a dial or flipping a switch; it is much more complex. You have to maneuver ever so slightly just to get it to work. Actually, that's the reverse of what happens. When it was summer time, the air blasted to no end, and now it was blasting heat! We had no idea what to do, and I was having to open a window and leave the door open. Finally, someone from down the hall fixed it for us. Apparently you have to place the switch in between the low and medium settings in order to get the system to shut off completely. Now the room is nice and comfortable, just as it should be.

And finally, to wrap up the "Other News," I wanted to tell everyone about the new addition in my life: a Discover credit card! Now I know what y'all are thinking, but this card will really be an asset to me. What really drew me in was the 0% interest until April 2006, which will be really great around the holidays. I actually won't be using it that often, but with 0% interest, that would be a great way to build up credit once I have a job and a cash flow. So, we'll just have to wait until I get my job and then I'll try to use it.

Well, that's all from me for now! I'll let everyone know what's going on later in the week, if anything happens. Until then, enjoy the second half of the week!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Weekend and Interview Update

Another week has come and gone, and I guess I'll write about it a little. As I said in my last post, I had several tests and quizzes coming up, and I have taken a couple of them already.

Thursday was the first day of testing for me last week, and this was a first for this particular class. It was a Chemistry Lab test, and since we only meet once a week, we only have like two tests for the entire semester. Well, this was the first one, and I think it went pretty well. I didn't really know what to expect since it was the very first assessment of any kind for this class, but I got through it just fine. It mostly had questions about safety rules and procedures in the lab, and then some questions about the labs that we've already done. That test only took about half an hour to 45 minutes, so we still had plenty of time to do the next lab.

Oh, and by the way, during this lab I was crowned the "Duke of Titration!" A titration, for those of you who don't know, is a Chemistry experiment that involves adding one liquid or solution to another one by dripping it slowly over time. The components in the two solutions interact with each other (possibly forming a new compound) and when the reaction is finished, there is a noticeable color change. One has to be very careful not to let the liquid drip too quickly, or one will miss the color change when it first appears. The reaction is complete when just one more drop of solution changes the color, and then you stop adding that solution. When this happens, one must read how much solution was added and do some calculations. By the end of all the calculations, we have to compare our experimental results with the given theoretical results. After doing these calculations, we determine the amount of iron in the compound, which is determined by how much we titrate into the unknown solution. For this experiment, my average results (I did the titration twice to get an accurate reading) were about 14.26% iron, where as the given/theoretical results were 14.24% iron. So this gave me a percent error of only 0.14%, which was the lowest in my class! This was really exciting for me, so I know I'll get a good grade on this lab!

On to Friday, which would be one of the hardest days of testing coming up. I had a Spanish mid-term and a Biology test, one right after the other. The Spanish test was all review for me, mostly vocabulary and conjugating verbs into different tenses. Most of it was pretty simple, but there were parts that required a little bit of higher thinking, like deciding which form of the verb is needed in a paragraph and which tense it should have. But, I think I did pretty well on that, and I was actually the first to get finished! My teacher let me leave early, so I had about fifteen minutes to prepare for my next test.

This Biology test would cover several large chapters that dated back about two or three weeks, so I had to go over some of it in greater detail. It mostly covered genetics, Punnett squares, chromosomes, DNA replication, RNA transcription, and finally protein synthesis (translation). I've had most of this before (stressing most), but I haven't had Biology since freshman year of high school. This required that I decompress this knowledge from the back of my mind and bring it forward to use now; not an easy task! But, I looked over the material as much as I could without over-doing it, and got through the test just fine. Everything on the test covered what was discussed in class, so that was much to my advantage. Sometimes it's a lot of the material from the book on the test, which we don't discuss directly in class. I do better with material discussed in class, since I've found I learn a lot from what the teacher says instead of what is written. But, I'll have to wait until later this week to find out the grades to all these assessments.

Now to the other major development this past week. Like I said in the last post, I had a first interview at Target with their Human Resource people. I got there a few minutes early since I really didn't know what to expect, and they led me to the back of the building. I waited for about fifteen minutes, and a woman took me into an office. She asked me a bunch of general questions about work experience, etc., but then I was surprised when she asked a bunch of hypothetical questions and stuff like that! But, I went with the flow and answered everything to the best of my ability. At the end of that, she seemed to be very impressed by me, and told me that she wanted to go ahead and do the second interview right then! I was excited about that, because I knew they were interested in hiring me! But, unfortunately, the hiring person for the Front End (over cashiers and stuff like that) doesn't work weekends. So, now I'll have to wait for a call from him on Monday, hopefully, and I'll schedule a second interview. Not exactly what I was hoping for, since I thought I'd be working by now, but I'll take this. At least I know they're interested.

Well, that's really all I have to write about for now. Sorry that I haven't been posting pictures like I had promised, but it's been raining lately. I don't think rainy pictures would show up very well online, so I'll just have to wait until there is better weather. So, just wait patiently and I'll try to get those out as soon as possible. Oh, and just check back here in the next couple of days, and I'll post any new updates about school (namely testing) and jobs. Until then, enjoy your Sunday, and have a very pleasant week!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Finally, an Interview!

Well, it finally happened; I have an interview at Target!

I went by the store yesterday around 8:00 PM and asked the service desk about the job process. Apparently the hiring person doesn't work that late, so they told me to call anytime today, and she should be there. Well, I just got off the phone with her, and I have an interview on Friday at 4:30 PM! I'm really excited about this, since I really need to have a part-time job. I only have a limited amount of money saved up from the summer, and I definitely don't want to go to my parents for a bunch of money. So, in the long run, though it will be tough to balance work and school, it will be worth it.

As for any other updates, I really don't have much to say, other than school is going fine right now. I have a Spanish quiz today, a Spanish mid-term on Friday, a Chemistry Lab quiz on Thursday, a Biology test on Friday, and apparently a Chemistry test and a Biology Lab test coming up soon. AAAAHHHH!!! It does sound like a lot, but I know that everything will be all right. Most of those quizzes I mentioned have familiar material on them, and I will have plenty of time to study for those tests coming up soon. Since the Chemistry and Biology Lab tests aren't until next week, I'll be able to focus on the others during this week and worry about the rest over the weekend and into next week.

Well, that's really all I have to report for today! If I can think of anything else, I will be sure to post it as always. Until then, have a great "rest of the week!" (It's half-way over!)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

SJS Fall Festival

Well, as promised, I'm back from Knoxville and can give everyone interested some information about my trip. It started out on Friday when I left Cincinnati around 2:30 PM. This time, thanks be to God, I didn't have to wait in downtown Cincy for more than an hour! I just went right through and thankfully had no traffic on my way down. This was especially important since I wanted to be at St. Joseph's before dark in order to set up for the booth. (For those who didn't know, I went to St. Joe's from K-8 and they hold an annual Fall Festival in October. For the last few years I have been co-running the Alumni Booth with my friend Emily, and this is the "setting up" to which I am referring.) So, I got in town around 6:30 PM, which was great timing for me; I don't think I've gotten in town in four hours flat in previous trips. My friend Aaron, who didn't go to SJS but wanted to help, came and picked me up, and we headed over to the school.

Thankfully, Emily was already there and had spoken to the Fall Festival coordinator. Our booth would be in the same spot it has always been, and she had already scraped together some prizes. These prizes turned out to be some gym memberships, a gift certificate to a hair salon, a free hotel room in several destinations, and many other odds and ends as we usually have. Some of these prizes had even been used for years, and still hadn't been won! So, we would just have to deal with that. Unfortunately though, Emily had to leave to rehearse for a wedding she is in, so Aaron and I would be by ourselves. Since we really didn't know what to do at that point, we just went out to dinner at Sonic and came back to the school. By this time, it was about 9:30 PM, and almost everyone had gone home. The school had been locked, and all of our stuff was in a classroom. So, we just decided to come back early Saturday morning and finish everything else.

Saturday started somewhat early, though I slept past my original wake-up time of 7:00 AM. I stopped by Chick-fil-A for some chicken biscuits (yummm), and headed over to the school. By this time, it was a little bit after 9:00 AM, just an hour shy of the starting time. We had to rush as fast as we could to get everything set up and have signs made. Fortunately, the other Sean, who is two years behind Emily and myself, had already figured out numbers for prizes and all that jazz. (The game was "Pick a Pumpkin," which involved picking a small one out of a large pumpkin container and matching the number on the bottom with a prize.) Emily and I made a sign to get SJS alumni to sign up for a prize, and this involved about 30 minutes in the workroom. I finally figured out how to run the laminating machine, and got the sign in there. Now we headed out there a little bit late, around 10:30 AM, and set up for "business." But, before we did that, we ran into our principal from KCHS, who was now the principal of SJS. She was really excited to see us, and it was great to see her. I had someone take a picture of the two of us together at graduation and had a copy printed out, so I gave her that copy in a little wooden frame. Now we can go visit her and my picture will be somewhere in her office!

For the most part, our booth hasn't been the most popular in the past, what with the weird prizes and lack of interest by the public. So, it was not unusual that we didn't have very many takers. Emily and I ran the booth solo until our friend Connie from middle school (the one I mentioned in a previous blog), whom we haven't seen in four years, showed up and helped us out. I don't know if she intended to do so, but she helped anyway. Plus Emily's mom Trish, who I found out isn't alumni, came and helped out as usual. She even brought a sign we had made several years ago and hung it up, which worked out great. Here are a couple of pictures of us at our booth.

:Here's a picture of Emily and me, in the middle of setting up our booth. In the background you can see the colorful sign, and in the foreground you can see some of the prizes. Also to the side is Emily's sister Abby, who decided to help us out, too.

:This is about an hour or two into our time at the booth. Right after Connie came, we decided to have Trish take a picture of the three of us, who haven't been together in more than four years. We're actually in the middle of running the booth, but we had enough time for a quick snapshot.

So, until about 4:00-5:00 PM, Emily, Connie, and I ran the booth and took care of everything. We had a couple of people who had volunteered through someone, but we had no idea of this. So, we just let them help out for a little while and then they went on their way. But between 4:00-5:00 PM, the other Sean finally got there and he and his friends took over the booth. This allowed us a much needed break from working the booth, and a chance to walk around a little bit. We hadn't eaten any real food (except for a funnel cake and a couple of sodas), so we decided to get some of the SJS signature barbecue and "pig out." After that, which was delicious, we just walked around the festival looking at the other booths, and walked around the school. This entailed a lot of reminiscing from the good old middle school days, since the school has changed a bit since then. While we were out and about, we went to the playground that had been built during the summer before our 8th grade year. Throughout that year, though the structure was built primarily for youngsters, we would "hang out" in a couple of spots and just talk or walk around. One of those spots in particular was a wheel kind of thing that one would stand on and run, trying to keep on top without falling. We would just sit there and sometimes even attempt to run it, but not with very much luck. Here's a picture that Sandy took for me. (She is a good family friend, and also my Confirmation sponsor. She had been in charge of several things at the festival, and just happened to be there at that very moment)

:Here's another picture of the three of us, this time out on the playground. It is starting to get dark, so I think it was around 6:30-7:00 PM. This is a place we used to hang out a lot during Middle School, so it was great to be there again.

So, after this picture was taken, it was about time to close down the booth. When we got back, we had found out how much money we had made (less than last year, but more than the year before), and started taking down the booth. We decided that since some of that stuff had been there for years and nobody wanted it, we would just throw it away and be rid of it. Some of the other stuff that we thought would be taken maybe next year we gave to Emily and she would store it until next year. I got to keep the large pumpkin as usual and it will now sit in a closet until next year! But, right before we were done packing everything up, we saw our former music teacher and very good friend Ms. Petree! She doesn't teach at SJS any more, but she is alumni and still tries to come every year. Emily and I had both received cards from her for graduation, but we hadn't seen her since last year's Fall Festival, so it was great to see her. We decided to have our picture made with her, but they turned out to be kind of blurry (thank you to the woman at the Hispanic Booth...) Here's the clearest one I could find.

:Here's the picture with the three of us and Ms. Petree. Emily somehow turned out to be the only blurry one, probably since she wore white. But, it's still a pretty good picture and it was great to see Ms. Petree again.

After the booth had been taken down, we packed up our vehicles with the festival stuff and walked around again. Aaron was going to show up sometime that night, but he had to work from 11:00 AM - 8:00 PM. We decided to just wait for him, since he told us for sure he would be there in the evening. We called his house and he was still not home, but his mother told us she would have him call. So, we just sat outside for a while and talked about life and such, until it got to be boring and cold outside. So, we decided to go get some ice cream with a couple of coupons we had given away at the booth, and we would just have Aaron meet us there. But when we all got there, we decided that we'd rather have real food and decided to meet at Ruby Tuesday's over by the school. We went back to SJS to drop off Emily's car, and we all rode with Aaron. We got there and each of us ordered something small, mostly appetizers or just something to get rid of the hunger. Aaron and I also got dessert, which I found out to be a bad thing, since I didn't finish mine. Also during that time, we had a lot of funny stories to share and got to catch up. Aaron and Connie had never before met, so they got to know each other better and everything went really well. After eating, Emily had to get home, so we drove back to SJS and parted once again. Aaron, Emily, and I were going to a dedication ceremony at KCHS on Sunday, so we would see each other again, but we had to say goodbye to Connie this time. We're hoping that it won't be another four years before we see each other again, so we will make sure to have plans for Thanksgiving or Christmas when we can meet up again.

On Sunday I got to spend some time with my family. We went to Mass at 11:30 AM and then did a little necessary shopping. We got home and ate some lunch, since we had bought some barbecue the Church was selling from the Fall Festival. I actually think they tasted better the second time around! So, we got to talk and catch up a little during that time, which was great since I've only been able to do that through the phone or online. But, I was going to the dedication ceremony at KCHS, where they were dedicating a new drama room for the girl from my class who was killed in a car accident in January. She had been accepted to Loyola University on a Drama Scholarship, so it was very fitting that they would dedicate a building to her. Emily was not feeling well that day, so it would just be Aaron and myself that attended. When we got there, we noticed that there weren't as many people as we expected, but we did see quite a few members of our class there. The Bishop was there along with the new principal and many of the teachers, and the building looked very nice. The drama class did a short scene on the new stage, which was very funny and lightened the mood a little. Megan's mother also got up to speak for a while, and as one can imagine this was very hard for her. Although for the most part she has been doing okay, we could tell that reality was finally starting to sink in for her. She had spoken to the whole school body just days after the funeral, and seemed to be handling things very well under those circumstances. However, at this gathering, she broke down several times, and this caused a similar reaction among the audience. But we all showed our support for her, her husband, and the rest of the family, and it was comforting to her that this building would stand in her memory long after all of us were gone. After the whole ceremony, there was a small reception with refreshments, and we got to catch up with a few members of my class.

After the reception, I had to be on my way back home and get ready to come back to Cincinnati. Aaron and I said goodbye at KCHS and went on our separate ways once again. I got home and finished packing up my stuff again and getting the car all ready. Once everything was packed, which was around 7:00 PM, it was finally time to go. The short weekend had once again gone by much too quickly, and I was not ready to go back yet. I said goodbye to my family and the dogs, and was on my way back to school. My mom had packed me one of the pork sandwiches, so I stopped about an hour later at the Kentucky welcome center, got a drink, and had my dinner. After that I was back on the road and made very good time, even though there were a few construction zones with traffic. I made it back here around 11:30 PM, which again was about a four hour drive. I unloaded my stuff and got back to my room, and then called home to let them know I was back. I then finished up a small homework assignment, and went to bed as soon as I was done. I went out right away, since I was so exhausted from the weekend, and slept up until it was time to get ready for class on Monday. My fun weekend had come and gone, and now it was time to get back to business as usual.

Well, I'm sorry if this post was much too long for your taste, but I had a lot of information to cover! I will try to post smaller amounts of information on the day they occur, instead of writing a whole book a few days later. I really don't have anything exciting planned for this week, but I will have to let everyone know if anything changes. By the way, I'll do the picture thing on the next entry, since I already had pictures in this one. Until then, enjoy the week ahead, and let me know how everything's going.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Fall Break and Reconnections

Well, I don't really have anything new to report, but as most of you know already, Xavier had it's Fall Break Thursday and Friday. That meant a four-day weekend, and I figured mostly everyone would stay on campus for this one. Boy was I wrong! It turns out that about two-thirds of the resident students went home for the weekend, so that meant for once I was the minority on campus. There were actually only about 5 other people on my floor that stayed behind, so that meant: quiet! I actually got some decent sleep this weekend, and didn't have to be interrupted by loud music or screaming at TVs. That was very good for me, needless to say.

Well, despite the fact that I used my break to sleep and relax, this weekend was somewhat productive for me. I didn't really do any school work over the long weekend, considering there really wasn't much to do except for maybe one homework assignment. However, I did take the opportunity to reconnect with a friend from high school that I hadn't talked to in a while. I had been wondering what happened to some of my friends, since I hadn't heard from them since graduation in May of this year. One of my friends in particular that I was thinking about was Melissa. I had first been introduced to her my sophomore year by my very best friend Emily, and I started to hang around her a little bit. Over the next two years, we would talk at lunch or at break, and she always had a knack of making me laugh! She always had such interesting stories to tell, and they always cheered me up a little. Plus, it always seemed like she was in a good mood, unlike many people in high school that were going through the junior-year dramas.

Anyway, I thought of her specifically because she had been one of the last members of my class that I had seen after graduation (at our Project Graduation get-together), and I remembered that she had gone all the way to Michigan for college. I remembered the college distinctly, since it had such an interesting name: Kalamazoo College. So, I went to their website to see if I could find her on there. Unfortunately, the student directory was only available for current students, so I had no luck there. But, I found a place where I could e-mail an administrator, which could be a way to reach her. I figured, he could get me back in touch with her if I asked nicely and told him about her, so that they could match my information against their information. So, I e-mailed him and waited for a reply. Sure enough, the next day I got a reply from him. Here was another dead end. Their policy is to not share that information with non-students, but he said if their was a student that matched my information, he would forward my message to them, so I'd just have to wait and see if I got a response.

Well, this time when I checked my inbox, I found an e-mail from her! She had gotten my forward and immediately contacted me back. It turns out that she is doing well up there in Michigan, and so far she likes the school and the area. Apparently it is cold up there, but that is to be expected in Michigan. Now, we are back to talking again, and it's really great to be able to do that. I just love technology!

I also took time out of my Fall Break to reconnect with an old friend of mine from middle school! Her name is Alex, and we went to the same school (St. Joseph's) from second through eighth grades. After middle school, I went on to Knoxville Catholic High School, and she went to Webb, a private school that was the archrival of KCHS. We actually didn't hear from one another until the St. Joseph's Fall Festival one year, and we began to e-mail each other a little bit. Then I found out how much she didn't like Webb, which really made me happy!

Anyway, I hadn't heard from her in quite a while, and I had started to wonder. I really had no idea if and where she had gone to college, so I had nothing to go on. I had actually forgotten about her and some of my other friends and didn't really want to pursue tracking them down. But, there was some Divine Intervention last night! I was talking to another of my good friends from middle school, Connie, on the AOL Instant Messenger last night. (This is actually very funny, since I just reconnected with her a few weeks ago! She tracked what she thought was me at the University of Tennessee, but actually contacted another Sean M. in the area! But, she also e-mailed my friend Emily at UT, so she got my real e-mail address and e-mailed the real me! Now we have been able to catch up and talk for the past few weeks, which is really great!) Anyway, she just so happened to be on a website and was looking up old friends. Somehow she got to Alex's and found her AIM screen name. I asked her about it, since I was very curious about what Alex was up to, so she told me her screen name and I IM'ed her right away. Boy was this exciting!

Well, it turns out that Alex is in New York City at NYU! She really likes the city, but isn't sure if she likes the school. I asked her why she chose to go all the way out there, and it turns out she just randomly applied there and was accepted! So, she decided to go there, since she hadn't really applied anywhere else except for UT. But, now she's considering coming back to Knoxville for Spring Semester and attending UT. Anyway, then we caught up about everything that was going on in our lives, and I found out so much about her! This isn't really the place to go into that kind of detail, but let me just say that it was so great to finally hear from her again! Now I had a whole bunch of friends across the country with whom I could communicate!

Wow... I can't believe how many reconnections I have had over the past month or so! It's amazing how the Internet can really reunite people that haven't talked in a while! Despite the fact that there are so many bad sites out there, the Internet does have a lot of good qualities, and I'm glad one of those qualities is reuniting old friends. As for the rest of my weekend, I really didn't do much except for watch the UT-Georgia football game (extremely disappointing-UT lost big time), and have an hour-long conversation with my mom. Other than that, I just relaxed in my room and caught up on some current events. So, I guess now I'll be ready to get back to classes on Monday!

Oh, and I wanted to bring up an idea that one of my friends had. He had wanted me to take some pictures of the campus up here and share them. So, I've decided that starting with my next post, I'll put up a picture of a place on campus with a little caption about it. That way everyone can see the kind of environment I'm in right now. And I'll continue to put a new picture up with every new post, until I've run out of places to photograph. So, enjoy!

Well, that's really all I have to write for now! I'll be getting ready to go home at the end of this week, so I'll be sure to let everyone know about my week before I leave. Plus, look forward to a post and some pictures about that weekend! Until then, have a great week, and enjoy this great Fall weather!