The Six Flags Story

Scott at bottom right and me standing behind him.

I had meant to put this story up ages ago, but I kept forgetting about it. Only recently did someone remind me about it, and I’m glad that they did. Sometime a few years back, my friend, Scott, and me, used to go to Six Flags pretty much every weekend. We had one of those season passes and it was always a great break from college. Or maybe just part of the experience.

Scott and I always did pretty dumb things together from the start. This actually goes way back to middle school where we first met in 6th grade. It was just a fluke that we ended up together, considering we both graduated early, etc. Either way, after one particularly good night doing the college lifestyle, the next morning we decided to go to Six Flag’s Fright Fest. It was still relatively warm and there weren’t too many people yet, so we decided to hit all the good rides first.

Scott wasn’t feeling too great from the night before, and I recall him throwing up a few times on the way there. He decided he should get something on his stomach, and so he bought some popcorn from the vender right after the gate. By the time we made it to the first ride, The Poltergeist, it was obvious he was feeling considerably worse. We looked really out of place next to all the little kids in their Halloween costumes, but we pushed on. I’m not sure why we thought it was a good idea to go on one of the faster rides right off the bat, but we did anyway.

About half way through the ride, I could see Scott’s face and he obviously was not doing well at all. So, by the end, he was fighting with the restraints and I kept screaming at him to not puke on me over and over. He held it in and wormed out of the chair restraint and jumped out out of the ride right as it pulled in. Immediately, he ran over to the edge of the platform and threw up a disgusting mixture of last night and gross leftover popcorn for the day before. I was dying laughing — it’s always good to see a bro in pain, after all.

What we didn’t realize is that immediately below the platform was a little girl exiting the ride. This poor girl was soaked in vomit, covering her princess outfit. We both realized we just ruined some little girl’s princess dreams; she’ll be scarred for life on one of the great’s American holidays. I’m truly sorry, but it was one of the best coincidences in history, and my favorite Six Flag story.

Pranks and Total War

So this is one of the stories I had intended to write a long time ago, but never got around to it and then forgot about it completely until Emily reminded me about it the other day.

Angry Dan Balogh

In sophomore year of college, I was living with Dan in the Trinity dorms. Although we’re pretty much bros for life, no homo, we started really getting on each other’s nerves and the only way to solve our differences was by pranking each other, and our suitemates, Andrew and Mike. I don’t really know how it started or who was the initial cause, but I definitely remember being locked in the closet once and Dan having all his belongings super glued to the desk. KJ, one of the baseball guys and our friend, actually pranked me pretty good by putting mashed potatoes in my sheets and pillowcase. This was when I was briefly dating Emily, and it definitely made things very awkward — but memorable. The escalation of these pranks turned into a phrase called “Total War”, which basically meant that we were about to turn on each other — all bets were off.

The most memorable prank ever, and probably the greatest prank in the history of human sentience, was on Dan and his crush, some girl named Shelby (who we jokingly called “Cholbi” for some reason…). While Dan was taking a shower one day, I grabbed his phone and changed my name in to the girl’s, so that they looked identical. I actually had to write a research paper that day, so I headed across campus to the library and started researching. I decided this was the perfect time to test and see if he would be able to tell if it was me texting him or the girl, so I sent him a message that invited him to study at the library with her.

Of course, Dan, being the ladies man he was, took up the offer and said he would come to the library at the far end of campus. While this was happening I was on the second story of the library researching for my paper when I saw Emily and we started talking and procrastinating. I let her know about the prank and she decided to stay and watch. When Dan finally got to the library, I told him that she was downstairs and to come find her. When he couldn’t, I said that she went upstairs. In the process of about 20 minutes, he walked around looking for her. Then Emily and I saw him wandering around aimlessly, so we called him over and said hey. I’m pretty sure I was smiling the whole time and Emily was trying her best to be serious (that’s hard to Emily). I asked what he was doing and he coyly just said he was studying, looking for some books. Yeah right, Dan — good cover.

So, after he left, I sent a text to him telling him to meet me at Coates, the university student center, which is a good walk from the library. He did that and when he got there, he texted back asking again where she was, and I replied saying she was in the bathroom and to just wait. So Dan did. For like 35 minutes. Later on, he responded with “I’m going to kill you. Total war.”

I’m sure he pranked me back, but how could anything live up to that? Dan, you got punked.

How to Churn Out a College Essay & All My Awful Essays

Sorry for the super long title and what I’m sure will be a super long post. Basically, I was thinking about what I learned in college and I just kept thinking about the song “I Love College” by Asher Roth — a lot of partying and social things, but not a lot of actual, tangible facts that I can pull from my head. I think my philosophy minor taught me that I don’t actually know anything, meaning college was essentially the experience of learning that I know nothing (read my last essay listed on this page). Sorry, that’s an aside.

 

Me not writing an essay. Mission accomplished.

The real point of this post is something that I learned how to do really well in college: churn out an essay. Notice that I’m not saying write an essay. This is more out of grinding process where words just manifest in nonsensical and only vaguely related ways for ten pages. The following, in a simple 7 step form, is what professors don’t want you to know, what they don’t want you to write, and what will make you graduate with a 3.5 GPA without spending almost any time writing stupid papers for classes you have little to no interest in. Yes, these papers will suck. Yes, if you do this you lack scholastic integrity. Yes, you can get back to partying with your friends.

 

  1. Read your essay guidelines that usually suggest topics for you to write. I’m going to choose an actual topic from my senior year, but this method works for any subject or discipline as you will soon see. “Analyze a thematic style from a classic film director studied in this course.” Boom. Okay, find something easy that people will have obviously wrote about in the past. So, I chose “suspense in Alfred Hitchcock movies”. I know, this is an easy example — sometimes essays are harder in those upper level philosophy courses and with those you have to get much more creative in part two…
  2. Immediately get online with your school’s library and choose a database listing. I think my favorite is Academic Search Complete because it’s got something like 50 databases in one. Make sure to check all of the databases so you search everything. So first, enter in “Suspense” and then “Alfred Hitchcock”. You might also find out what movies he has directed and then use “Suspense” and “Movie Name” to find those too, if you’re looking for particular films. Make sure to check “Full text available” on your search”
  3. Click search, and then open about 20 sources and read their little descriptions. If they sound relevant, download the PDF files to a folder so you can get to them easily again. (I also like to check that the PDF articles are searchable when I preview them: who the hell wants to actually read these things to find content? You can search for suspense or whatever and find quotes faster.) You’ll also, at this point, want to make sure you have a RefWorks account (just Google it, but it’s usually provided through your school). This site takes those articles you’re searching and compiles your Works Cited page. Because who the hell wants to try to figure out MLA, APA, ASA or whatever formats? I didn’t, so I just let this site do it for me. You’ll see an “export to Refworks” icon on almost all databases, or something similar. You’re in college, figure it out.
  4. So now, gather the top 10 or however many sources you need, open then, read them if you have to, or just search the PDFs (control + f) for things you need. I take five or six quotes from each article about my topic and past them in a Word document. Make sure to write down page numbers so you can cite them in your paper without having to look at the articles again.
  5. Now you want to make a framework for your paper based on your quotes. Look at what they have in common or don’t have in common. Use this to establish three broad topics, and for each topic, three subtopics. This will give you enough BS to write about to go for several pages. So, for example, three topics in this case can be individual movies, and the subtopics can be how suspense is used in each of the movies (three examples or three different approaches). Something like that. You’ll figure it out as you start pasting it what fits or doesn’t fit.
  6. Write your paper. So from here, write a brief introduction that is probably where the paper will go, then start filling in ways to bridge the quotes. My formula is usually quote, two sentences about the quote, another quote, two sentences, and so on.
  7. Add more filler until you reach your page/word quota. Print it out and turn it in (because professors live in 1910 apparently) or e-mail it to the super future professors who use this advanced technology. If you’re struggling on the filler, you can always blatantly cheap. Google the period trick, which is the best way to gain a page or so when you write a paper.

So, you might be wondering how is this possible? Am I making this up? No, I’m not, and it’s really possible because I certainly did it just like I explained it. I was able to churn out the worst, yet acceptable, papers in just a few hours. So, provided below is every paper I wrote in college at Trinity University. I don’t care what you do with these essays. Use them as a reference, laugh at them, print them out and turn them in as your own (I feel like that might be kind of stupid, but hey, I don’t think many professors actually check).

As an aside, some of these classes I really enjoyed a lot, and, in general, those papers have more interesting content because I had some enjoyment from the class. I’ve denoted those classes with an asterisk after the course title.

AIS 3180 – Introduction to Aboriginal Studies (Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia)
Presentation (Aboriginal Art and Community)
Essay (Importance of Aboriginal Studies)

ANTH 1301 – Introduction to Anthropology
Essay – Final Paper (Avocado Production Chain)

ANTH 2310 – Human Evolution*
Essay – Final (Zoo Project)
Project Review

ANTH 3327 – Contemporary Minorities
Presentation – History of Marginalization
Essay – Final Paper

ANTH 3394 – Seminar in Forensics*
Essay – Final (Ballistics Trauma to the Skull)
Presentation (Ballistics Trauma to the Skull)

ANTH 4362 – Globalization and International Development
Essay – Final (Development and Sustainable Agriculture in Central America – A Case Study of Belize)

ARTH 1307 – Art History Prehistoric to Medieval
Final – Roman Verism Portraiture
(Note: This is a really awful paper; in the professors feedback she wrote “thesis unclear” and then crossed it out and wrote “thesis missing“. Still got an A, but just a warning.)

ARTH 1308 – Art History Medieval to Modern
Presentation – Las Meninas
Final – Art Comparison

CLAS 1302 – Introduction to Classical Literature
Essay – Ethics in Classical Literature
Essay – The Role of Sex and Power in Jason and the Golden Fleece

COMM 1301 – Introduction to Mass Media*
Project – Follow the Ownership Trail
Project – Media Fast
Final Project – New TV Show

COMM 2302 – Media Interpretation and Criticism
Essay – Ad Analysis
Essay – Media Self-Reflection
Project – Video Project
Essay – Final (On Family Guy – The Narrative and the Postmodern)

COMM 3303 – Media Audiences
Essay – Theodor Adorno Bio
Presentation – Theodor Adorno
Essay – Propaganda Messages in Americas Army

COMM 3322 – International Development*
Essay – National Profile – Belize
Essay – Final (Belizean Agricultrual Dependence)

COMM 3323 – Propaganda and the Media*
Essay – All Quiet on the Western Front Analysis
Essay – America’s Army Analysis (Revised)

COMM 3326 – History of Mass Media*
Literary Review – Character Development in Sitcoms
Essay – Media Study – Race and Gender

COMM 4395 – Communication Major Capstone
Thesis – Developing a Targeted Website
(Here’s my entire thesis. Someone please print this out and turn it in as their own in an 100 level communication course and let me know what grade you get!)

ENGL 1302 – Writing Workshop
Essay – On Dishonesty in Integrity
Essay – The Console Divide

ENGL 2304 – American Literature
Essay – Feminism in Trifles
Essay – Native American Representation

FILM 1301 – Introduction to Film
Essay – Hitchcock, North by Northwest, and Suspense

HIST 1371 – African American Literature (For one of these book reviews, I remember asking my roommate to pick random passages for me to quote and put into the essay as a dare. So these are bound to be winners.)
Essay – Aristocrats of Color Book Review
Essay – Blacker the Berry Book Review
Essay – Brownsville Raid Book Review
Essay – Soul on Ice Book Review

MCC 1354 – Video Game Art & Design
Essay (Video Game Design)

PHIL 1301 – Introduction to Philosophy*
Essay (Descartes)

PHIL 1354 – Ethics*
Essay (Kant and Mill)

PHIL 1320 – Classical Philosophy
Midterm Essay (Plato Crito)
Final Essay (Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics)

PHIL 2314 – Philosophy of Film
Presentation – Fight Club
Essay (Appartus)
Essay (Platos Cave Allegory and Film)

PHIL 3331 – Philosophy of the Mind*
Literary Review (Functionalism)
Final Essay (Consciousness as Functionalism)

PHIL 3339 – Epistemology*
Essay – Reflections on Knowledge

Life in Midland

Thanks a lot, jerks.

Shortly after joining the Navy, I was told that I would have to wait until March (eventually until May) to ship and so I was faced with a unique situation: I couldn’t get a long term job, but I needed money to pay off all my college lifestyle credit card debt (both living in Australia and just going out with Sam, Christian, and the rest of the guys so often my senior year). As well, I saw the impending, looming, daunting shadow of my debt from going to school at Trinity University. I shelled out so much money to go there, it’s kind of ridiculous. In the end, however, they sent me a generous refund check… of 1 dollar. Seriously, just rub it in you jerks. Every time I get a letter in the mail asking alumni for financial contributions I curse out loud and rip the letter up. I took a class called Underwriting and Development, so I know that Trinity has staff that knows not to make requests in such a jackass way.

Either way, as a result of all this debt and the fact that my apartment contract was coming for an end, I was forced to consolidate and do something I vowed never to do again: return to Midland and get a job until I leave. At the time, I was looking at March as the latest, though I have no idea what it might be at this point. The advantage of going home was purely monetary in nature because I hate Midland, I hate the people in Midland, I didn’t know anyone there, and living back at home can be frustrating. That, and the issue is coupled with a lot of tension between them right as I was getting back, meaning I was thrust into arguments that I had thought I escaped from in 2006 when I left for San Antonio.

Probably the cutest baby I’ve ever seen

Thankfully, I’m not completely alone because I do have my brother and his new niece to visit, and that’s always a relief since we grew up with the same frustrations as a kid so I can have someone to share with. And, for the first month or two, I met a girl who I really thought I clicked with, but I must have done something or she found my character to be unsavory, because she stopped calling and texting in that way that people do when they’re too embarrassed to say “I don’t like you. Stop talking to me.” If I had to guess, it’s because I’m not particularly Christian. Church hasn’t made a lot of sense to me and the morals imposed there seem superficial and not applicable to modern society. Then again, Midland is stuck in 1965 when it comes to things like that.

Welcome to Nowhere, Texas

But, being completely alone has its perks. First, I was able to get a job with a company called Two Rivers Pipeline Construction that has me driving all over West Texas and New Mexico. It’s time away from the house, from the family, and gets my mind off the looming uncertainties of the future. Second, I spend most of my time at the gym, generally for the same reasons as work. I don’t like being at home, and I really wish I had my own place, but I have too much debt to pay off and a who-knows-when ship date that have made it impractical to do much else.

So between work and working out, the only thing I’ve done is play a few video games. Few being the key word because I really don’t have the patience for them like I used to. I want to play 15 minutes at a time and I dislike playing online because everyone is an idiot. The majority of my gaming time I spend playing Xbox 360 games with my brother, which is always a good stress relief.

Fitness

This was the before photo, but it was already after months of improvement

This really has been echoed in the past by a lot of attempts to get in shape that really failed miserably. The main factor in my failure was doing little to no cardio (eh, who am I kidding, it was just no cardio). As well, I didn’t have a gym so I thought that if I did a billion sit-ups and push-ups a night I would be in shape, but I couldn’t even manage to keep that up regardless. So, last year, literally Jan 1st 2010, I decided that I would start going to the gym and working out. The results have been pretty incredible in a year — or at least, I think so. The real motivation were the comments I kept getting from friends and family describing me as “able to drink a lot of beer” or “having a lot of fun in college” when they pointed at my stomach pudge. Gross. Well, I guess, thank you family because it worked and it was actually in a good time frame, considering I joined the Navy soon after. Mentally, I had already been mulling over the option and so it helped me get the routine started.

This was in mid-October, still work to be done

Initially the January through April period I had just bought a lot of stuff to do at home because I was embarrassed about going to a gym. One, I looked pretty awful, and two, I had no idea what the equipment did or how to use it. I had never been to a gym, never ran on a treadmill, or did a lat pull down. And, my gym at the time was provided as part of my tuition at Trinity University, so that meant I would have to see close friends, most of whom I felt where completely ripped and would think I was a fool. I realize now that most people who are working out actually really like helping other people and giving pointers. After all, getting in shape is kind of like a club. We’re all addicted to it and we want to get more people to join in.

I opted to take bi-weekly progress shots to help me get motivated as well, and that was, at first, horrific, and later, much more pleasing to reflect upon. The first time I went to the gym I got on the treadmill and tried to do a mile at 5 MPH, which was impossible. I couldn’t breathe and thought I would die. Yes, I’m serious, I was that out of shape (thankfully though, I was only 218 lbs at my fat kid peak, so it wasn’t awful on my frame). I still remember the moment I did a ten minute mile. I felt like a champion — and I told a friend who quickly noted that she could do that in middle school. Wow, I was a total joke.

My arm in early October. Neat.

Through a mixture of weights and cardio, however, I am now, almost a year later, in the best shape of my life and really content with my progress. (I can run 7 miles a day easily and I’m usually doing around 40 miles a week, with a day off for just lifting and rest.) The process of getting here kind of sucked. Protein shakes and targeted exercises, lots of pushing myself to limits I couldn’t even imagine being able to go. It really does suck. But if you push through it, I guess anything is possible. The hardest part of it all was starting and then staying motivated.

Get into my belly

I’m actually not sure what I should do next. Get a six pack? I actually think those are kind of gross. I wouldn’t mind getting larger pecs or arms, but I feel like being bulky isn’t really good for the Navy. And although the Jersey Shore says being a juice head is a good goal, I’d rather be slim and trim. Currently, I’m about 170 lbs of raw steel and sex appeal. I can always make better my best and I never plan to let it rest, so it looks good for the future. All this said, I still eat fast food at least three times a week. There is nothing in this world that will ever stop me from eating delicious 99 cent chicken sandwiches  from Jack in the Box. I could eat this 3 times a day every day, and, in college, I usually did.

20 April 2010

Note: Below is my senior article I wrote for the Trinitonian (Trinity University’s newspaper) sometime around April 20th. This is the unedited version.

College. It’s really over? It’s hard to reflect on something like this when I’m still writing papers, still walking around campus, and still trying to avoid the garbage they call food in Mabee. Everything is still the same; only after I’m done will I think, “Man, I should have told that story about that one time where everyone got drunk and the rent-a-cops were everywhere and…” – but let’s be honest, that’s a story that I don’t need to tell any of you. Just from the amount of drunken nights where the only memory I have came from photos tagged on Facebook the next day, I know that invariably all of you have been in the same situation at least once. If not, I assure you that you will be.

Just how many days have been a struggle to wake up for class because I was still a little drunk? How many nights have I tried to study and ended up partying with one of you?

Instead of telling you party stories that you can make for yourself, here’s something that happened while attending Trinity that I honestly think can never occur again. It was 3 AM and both of us in the car were coming back from a party. After stopping in Jack in the Box to eat some nasty filth, my friend rolled down the window to order. Suddenly out of nowhere, a human/creature grabs my friend’s hand, slams in a crumpled, wet dollar bill, and screams, “Make change!” Compelled to not be murdered or raped, we scrambled to give him four quarters to get him off our backs. When we finally found enough, he yells to us, “That’s what I get for trusting the cops!” and bolts away into the night. How could I ever forget that?

Somehow, through all of the parties and close calls I made it. I am going to be done and graduated in just a few weeks.

So I want to leave Trinity with another inspiring true story from my life. As a sophomore I went shoe shopping with my friend Cory. While waiting for Cory to take thirteen years to pick a running shoe, I started talking with the sales lady. As it turned out, she was a proud Trinity graduate from 2006. She told me she majored in communication. Awesome. I am a communication major. Surely, I would not end up selling shoes after I graduate. Right?

Now it’s almost May and I’m broke, I have looming debt, and I have no career – let alone a job – in my immediate future. I used to joke that I would end up working at GameStop as an assistant manager. Now I joke that I’ll be working at Jack in the Box as the taco cooker. My joke has changed because GameStop now seems like a viable option. Four years. And there is where I am at right now?

There is a moral here in both of these stories: Trinity can be full of incredible experiences – drunk nights, good times with friends, and even perhaps something that happens in a classroom. No matter what those experiences may be, they are something to remember and something that as you are leaving Trinity, you will learn mean so much more now than ever.

13 November 2009

Alright, so, as usual, I’ve been neglecting this. A lot of this comes from the fact that I’ve been so busy with school and just getting through life that I’ve been too busy, but also because I’m just forgetful.

Not too much is new anyway. I’m working like a dog, especially this weekend, to get through a big set of obstacles that in the long run of things are more like a hill before the looming threat of finals. Great!

Eventually I bought one.

It’s surprising to me that it’s November, especially being that it’s about 80 degrees outside. Huh? I’m all for the mild winters, don’t get me wrong. I hope it stays hot and sunny forever, and then I can skip over that whole cold thing. It is weird though.

I’m in the process of freaking out about what I’m doing after I graduate. It’s a hard thing to think about, especially since I have no idea. I know my professors and contacts will help me out, so I’m not completely worried, but the future is definitely a looming uncertainty, at least at this point. It’s also hard to transition from the mentality of a college student to a professional. I don’t even own a suit, and my lfiestyle is not very professional at all. I’m not sure who I’ll end up or how I’ll be. It’s probably not much of a worry though. Looking back, big changes always seem to go well enough for me.

I'm so cool I took a picture of how cool I am

On top of all this worry, I have Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2. Alright, alright, I know it’s a game but the thing is absorbing my soul. I just can’t stop playing it. It’s fun and highly addictive. This is certainly the best video game ever made; it’s hard for me to put it down. The problem is that I’m so busy I end up partitioning my time favoring the video game.

I think things will change once I care about my job and have fun doing things. And get paid. It’s a completely different mentality than school is. I’m so burnt out on it, I just want to get done and move on to the next big adventure.