Brian's Ramblings

My thoughts in text, photo, and video form

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Right Place, Right Time

I'll compose this entry backwards, chronicling my most recent activities and then reflecting back on the rest of my week...we'll see how this goes.

I am composing this entry on an iMac. In fact, it is the iMac that I was able to bring home from Dr. Skouge's (Jim) office after the new G5 desktop system got set up. I feel very lucky to have ANY computer at this stage, and although the iMac isn't as powerful as to my PC I've grown to love, I must admit, this ain't bad! It's almost amazing how things worked out...I really was at the right place, at the right time!

Jim ran the idea by me of taking the iMac home, since I had discussed my intent to seriously consider purchasing a Mac workstation so I could do work at home. He felt that the iMac would hold me over for the time being, I'd just need to invest in an external drive. I thought it sounded like a feasible idea.

So. the iMac came home. My room, particularly my desk, has a premium on space as I tend to pile lots of "stuff" on and in it. I'd consider myself a messy, but neat "mess" has an order to it and I'm good about remembering where things are, for the most part. Good ol' Mom might disagree, but so be it.

Currently, my PC is with a computer technician, as the virus I mentioned in my last entry simply would not cease to exist under my watch! Things got a bit out of hand, as we had RoadRunner (RR) calling our house, informing us that we were a "security risk" since others reported receiving SPAM from my IP address. When the Security Department of RR contacts you, odds are you have a serious problem on your hands!

I'm hopeful that I'll receive my much missed PC back sometime this week. On Saturday afternoon, I watched the Hawaii Warrior football team play the Rice Owls in Houston, Texas. The night before, Friday, as is my routine, I called one of my friends on the team to see how things were going. I'm not great at remembering time zone differences, so by the time I called, it was about 11:30pm CST and my friend was preparing for bed. We talked briefly and he reported that practices had gone well the past two days and everyone seemed to be ready to have a good game. Unfortunately, the best laid plans don't always equate to success. I KNOW the players and coaches prepared very hard over the past 2 weeks to prepare for this game. Rice implements a very unique offensive scheme, the triple option. Essentially, it is primarily a run-based offense, where the quarterback has the option to keep the ball and run himself, or pitch the ball off to a running back. The third option comes in the form of a passing play. An extremely difficult offense to defend. Defenders are assigned to specific players and they are to defend their player, and that player alone...this takes lots of patience and discipline. Natural tendency would have defenders pursuing the ball, no matter what, because when you breakdown the game of American football, it entails stopping the opponent from advancing the football into the endzone. When you're asked NOT to pursue the ball, but focus on a player, this alters your whole mentality. The reason for this defensive technique is that should the QB decide to pitch the ball to another teammate and the whole defense has pursued the QB, his teammate will be wide open.

A problematic area today, in terms of Hawaii's defensive play, was the middle. The Rice fullback would run the middle of the line all day, without much interference. Now, the Rice offensive line had much to do with this success, as they would move Hawaii defenders well off the line. Cut blocks or chop bloccks are common practice by Rice offensive lineman; not exactly the most gentlemanly of practices, and although its not illegal if not done blatantly, its considered "dirty" amongst football players. This type of blocking involves diving into the defenders legs, which is very dangerous. Knees and ankles can often be injured as a result of this. Hawaii specifically engaged in drills over the week designed to teach them how to avoid these blocks.

In any case, the Hawaii offense sputtered once again. There were signs of what could be, but nothing was sustained throughout the game. Five sacks were amassed by the Rice defense, an unusually high number allowed by Hawaii's O-Line. Coach Cavanaugh, who is in charge of the O-Line, takes great pride in preparing his men to do the best job in blocking for Timmy, the QB. On this day, there would be uncharacteristic breakdowns in protection. In all fairness, the Rice secondary covered Hawaii's receivers fairly well, so there was often no one open to throw to. Hawaii receivers dropped many, many passes again...this will cause ANY offense to stall.

On the brighter side, these mistakes/weaknesses are all very correctable! I still have the utmost confidence that thee team will ride this ship back on course. It's "one and clear."

Earlier in the day, I had my usual bowling. I had my first decent showing as a whole for this season! I averaged 146 for the three games I bowled. This week a group from an all-girls high school were the volunteers, and I do appreciate all of the volunteers that the league gets, but..I wasn't terrible enthused about this group. Their exuberence level was a tad high for my other words, they were loud, really, don't get me wrong, I do welcome the occasional cheering, but to go on the entire time?! That's not my cup of tea...and there's appropriate and inappropriate times to cheer. Don't cheer for someone who leaves a 7-10 split, or misses an easy 9-pin...that's poor bowling, no matter how you cut it! I must admit, they're a youthful bunch with lots of energy...that's GOOD. This coming week, Mortar Board is scheduled to help, but finding volunteers will prove difficult as they also have a fundraising function later in the day, so I'll need to help find volunteers from elsewhere (i.e. friends of mine).

Prior to bowling, I went to get my TB test that is required for my employment as a Graduate Assistant. I think in about a week, I'll finally be officially hired! I'm excited about that. This past week, I obtained my hiring forms and there was quite a bit to do...I suppose that's the State for you, endless amounts of paperwork. But I did what I had to do, I'll turn in the last outstanding forms this week. An interesting obsevation while filling out these forms: Does anyone actually own a typewriter anymore?! One form had to by typed out, and luckily I was able to call upon the secretary of the Special Education department for help. Effie was very helpful and typed out this form for me, and made a copy of what I would be submitting. Thanks, Effie!

On Thursday. I had a DCAB (Disability and Communication Access Board) meeting to attend, so I went into work as well; if I was to be in town anyway, I might as well make the most out of it. I'm still feeling my way through things, in terms of being a board member. I was happy to see Sterling at the meeting; I hadn't seen him since our day of adveenture at the football game. My ride to the meeting actually came on time for a change, and I wasn't late to the meeting. However, my ride back to the University was an hour late! Jim had asked me to speak to his class that evening, or actually I proposed giving my presentation on Communication Strategies, as I would be in town, which usually isn't the case. We both agreed that a presentation of that sort was a bit premature, but he asked if I'd come and just "meet" his class and say a few remarks.

As the time ticked towards 4pm, I became more and more anxious. But, luckily I had prepared my remarks the night before so I was ready. However, I'm one who likes to get into a zone of sorts prior to presenting...much like Jim enters a zone prior to teaching, and other professors like Dr. Michael D'Andrea of Educational Counseling & Guidance. It's a way to relax one's self and become focused on the task at hand. Thursday wouldn't provide that opportunity; as soon as I got back to campus I hurried to Jim's class. I wouldn't say that I'm one who enjoys public speaking per se, but the more and more I am placed in positions to do so, I'm feeling more comfortable in such settings.

Speaking to an audience who knows nothing about you is a definite challenge. You literally have only a few seconds to grab their attention. If you fail, the auidence will just shut you out. Prior to my remarks, Jim showed a video piece that I had created by using words, pictures, and music. One piece was Seeing Beyond Images: A Prelude and the other was What I Am. Basically, these pieces were inspired by Norman Koontz's A Credo for Support, in which he masterfully comines text and music to form an extremely powerful message. I hadn't seen my work on a large screen before...I sat there thinking to myself, "Wow, did I really create this?! I must've had one of my better days when I did that!"....I was proud of my work. It's nothing great, but just the fact that I created it provides me with a sense of pride.

After those pieces were shown, Jim cued up a piece that he made, where I talk about who I am and my story of becoming. It's a no frills piece, but gets the message across very effectively. Basically, for about 8 to 10 minutes you get to hear my thoughts...that in itself could be boring, but luckily Jim asked me the "right" questions to elicit somewhat interesting responses!

At the conclusion of that, it was my turn to deliver my remarks., This was make or break time! My message was one of recognizing the power that these people held as future teachers and professionals who would work with persons with disabilities. I also spoke about the importance of taking risks and how much that could affect someone's life path. Lastly, I spoke about the need to recognize people of support in our lives and how valuable of a role such individuals can play. I also threw in attempts at humor, in the forms of jokes, just to keep things interesting...very uncharacteristic of me, but I was demonstrating risk taking to some degree.

In any case, I felt my visit went as well as I could have hoped for. Everyone in the class had a chance to provide me with feedback, of any sort, and it ranged from laughter to tears. Now, when you can deliver something that causes people to experience the spectrum of emotions, your presentation was effective, OR people were in tears from boredom! In this case, I think I stuck a nerve of this day, I still am baffled when people cry after hearing my's flattering, I know they are tears of joy (I'd hope!), but in my mind I still haven't done enough to warrant such emotions. I suppose MY standards and expectations of myself are higher than what anyone else could have for me.

After class, I stuck around and provided help/guidance to students as they worked on their iMovie assignment. That was an enjoyable experience, and I've since looked back and thought, "I could get used to being a professor." I've still got lots to do before I can entertain such thoughts. Stay in the moment, Brian, stay in the moment.

On Wednesday, I said goodbye to my sister Lynn, as she headed back to school for her final semester on the continent. I really enjoyed having her company at home...brothers don't usually admit this, but I'll definitely miss having her around!

It would be a day of departure for the UH Warrior football team as well; they had their final practice on campus and then headed off to Houston that night. I wished my friends a good trip. Former special teams coach, McKnight, had come to visit the team over the week. He also left on Wednesday. It was nice to see him again, he always asks if my sisters are treating me well, and if not he vows to take proper action. I enjoy him and I know the players do as well, but he's at a point where he's placed his family first in his life priorities...I admire that.

Jim had a full schedule of meetings to attend once again on this day, so for much of the day, Steven and I were left to our own devices. I duplicated the week's CDs for Jim's class and made copies of a video letter I created for the project sites of Dr. Leake's CLD grant. I also ran around, attempting to get the appropriate individuals to sign my form. That took some effort; I had to find my departmental chairperson, so I went searching for the Counseling & Guidance department head. That's a challenge in itself as the main office is upstairs, inaccessible to persons who use wheelchairs. It's been an issue of contention for many years now, perhaps I'll engage in a discussion in a future blog expressing my thoughts on the issue. Luckily, I was able to find someone downstairs from the department who went to call the chairperson, Dr. Kucera. I hadn't met him before; turned out he appears to be a good person, likeable, supportive. I know I'll need to meet with him in the near future to discuss my plans as they relate to my practicum site placement and my future in the Counseling & Guidance program.

I was a bit overwhelmed at how much paperwork there was in this hiring packet that I retrieved. What has to be done, has to be done no matter what.

On Tuesday, I spent the day at home with my sister, Lynn. She had to pack, so that kept her busy for most of the day. We didn't do anything exciting, we just enjoyed each other's company. I cherished sleeping in late for the last time on a weekday; there will be no such luxuries any more, I'll be up in my chair at 5:30am each day now before my parents head into work. I'll get used to it again...doesn't mean I'll grow to enjoy it, though.

Timesheets were to be done on Monday! There was a moment of alarm when Jim didn't come in by noon...timesheets are usually due by then. Apparently, Jim believed they were due on Wednesday, and to be honest I wasn't sure when they WERE due...all I knew was that it was sometime in the week. I would head to class before seeing Jim on this day. Class went well, although at one point my eyes became really heavy. Focusing was a task in itself! We discussed Sigmund Freud and his theory on human development.

The night before I submitted my first paper for the class via WebCT. It was a personal reflection type of paper, so it wasn't bad to write. In fact, it was oddly calming to write it!

I don't have any random pictures for the week. My digital camera works best with my PC, so until I get that back I'll hold off on posting pictures. I'm hopeful that I'll have my PC up and running again in the next day or two. Until then, beware of nasty viruses! As my computer tech friend said, "don't use any Microsoft products for the Internet!" Quite a statement, huh?!


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