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Expanding Your Life: A Great Idea April 29, 2008

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The end of our WOM class has now arrived. For the duration of the semester, I have made a pact with myself to try one new thing each week. For the most part, I stuck to my declaration. Some of the things I did may not be huge milestones, but they are still interesting and things that I would not have ordinarily done. Whether it was going to a new place or cooking a new meal, I learned that it is important to add some variety to life. Overall, i would say that this blog has been helpful in encouraging me to broaden my horizons. I am not sure if I will continue with this blog after the class is over, but I will continue to try new things each week, or even every day. This summer I will be traveling abroad, in Spain, as I mentioned in a previous post. I cannot think of a better opportunity to try something new! I encourage everyone to “Expand Your Life.” Best of luck to all!

Twilight: Bike Racing in Athens, GA April 29, 2008

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Saturday night I went to the bike races called Twilight in Athens, GA, for the first time. I was impressed by the experience and had a lot of fun! Below is a short podcast of my experience! Just click play to listen to it.

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Traveling Abroad: Spain April 24, 2008

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I haven’t exactly done anything new this week, but it feels like I have. I will be traveling abroad for the first time in two weeks. Spain, to be exact. One thing you should know about me: I have never been anywhere before. The only place I have ever flown is Florida. So, as you can imagine, this will be quite an adventure for me.

We have begun having meetings about traveling, which is a new topic for me. We had a meeting this week, and we talked about what we needed to bring, etc. All of the airport talk, the check-in requirements, and the baggage tips go straight over my head. At each meeting I grow progressively more and more nervous about leaving the only country I have ever known. Yet at the same time, I can barely contain my excitement over visiting a far off destination. I will be living in Cádiz, Spain, for six weeks with a “host” family. This will also be a new experience. I cannot imagine living with any family but my own.

I am, however, excited about being absorbed in Spanish culture. I am hoping that I will come back (somewhat) fluent. At least to the point where my Spanish-speaking friends can no longer make fun of my “stupid accent.” I plan to come back and be able to converse with any native speaker. Time is growing short: soon I will be in Cádiz expanding my life in new ways not just every week, but every day!

Six Flags: UGA Night April 22, 2008

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Every year UGA offers students and alumni one night of discounted prices at Six Flags over Georgia. The park is opened only for those affiliated with UGA, and it stays open until midnight. This year, I decided to try something new and go.

The weather was beautiful and the drive there didn’t seem to take very long. My group arrived around seven-thirty. We opted to eat at the Wendy’s right outside of Six Flags in order to save money. For those of you who have never been to Six Flags at all, a small chicken nuggets and fries meal would probably cost you about ten dollars, minus a drink.

After eating, we entered the park. Because we arrived somewhat late (the park opened at 6), we did not get to ride very many rides. We rode the Mind Bender rollercoaster first, because the line was not that long. Then we rode Monster Plantation because it had an even shorter line. Someone had the brilliant idea of waiting in line for Batman for two hours, which took up nearly all of our time. By the time we finished, most of the lines for the other rollercoasters were closed off. We rushed towards the Scream Machine, the only coaster with a line still open. Afterwards, we climbed aboard Monster Plantation one last time just so we could say we rode five rides.

We left the park around exactly midnight. This time the ride did not seem to go by as fast. Everyone was exhausted and ready to arrive back in Athens. It was a fun night, but I would say that going to Six Flags a random Tuesday would be more fun because there would not be two-hour waits for most of the best rides.

Running: Taking to the Trails April 16, 2008

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This week I decided to go running at the UGA Intramural fields for the first time. I have never known exactly where the trails are, and I have always been too afraid to try and find them. Today, however, was such a beautiful day that I felt the urge to be outside. I usually go running in the neighborhoods around my house, but today i felt like doing something different.

I borrowed my neighbor’s big, yellow dog, Clay, and packed him and myself into the car. Clay has more energy than any animal who ever lived and probably ever will live. He could probably run for days on end if you let him. He was so excited to be going somewhere that he practically knocked me over when he saw me (he lives with all boys).

I drove in the direction I thought the trails were in. We passed softball fields and soccer fields, tennis courts and picnics. It didn’t take long for the road to dead-end into a small gravel parking lot. The trails were straight ahead. I couldnt believe how easy it had been to find them. As soon as Clay’s paws hit the dirt path, he was an unstoppable hurricane tearing through the woods. We passed a multitude of interesting people, either strolling with children or running like we were. The sun glinted through the trees and the silence of the woods surrounding us was comforting. Clay’s fast pace and endless enthusiasm encouraged me to run faster. The trails reminded me of the paths I used to run during my cross-country days in high school. Our forty-five minute run took me back to a place long ago, and I felt as if I had been running these trails all year long. Overall, the experience was very therapeutic. I was able to think much more clearly and run with greater ease in the comfort of nature. I will definitely start taking Clay to run at the Intramural fields versus the boring roads around my house. I am very glad I ventured out of my comfort zone and tried something new.

Playing a new instrument: Guitar Hero III April 11, 2008

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When my roommate first suggested buying the popular XBox game Guitar Hero III, I thought it would be a ridiculous waste of money. After all, how much fun could playing a five-button, plastic guitar really be? Nevertheless, I told her I was game to try it. We bought the game for a rather expensive price and set it up in our living room. I have been hooked ever since.

Maybe it’s because it’s the only video game I am actually better at than all my friends, even the boys. Maybe it’s the challenge of hitting every note at the right time with the right rythym. Maybe it’s just hearing the popular rock songs blasting over our TV. Whatever the case, Guitar Hero has quickly become an addiction. Now I know it sounds silly to count this as something new, but it really is like a release. Need a study break? Play a quick song on Guitar Hero. Our house has quickly become the center of attention among our friends. Suddenly our living room is the cool place to hang out. Our friends gather in a large crowd and watch as we play note after note.

After only a week of playing, I have already progressed to the hard setting. There are four levels of play: easy, medium, hard, and expert. Expert seems nearly impossible. Just for an idea of how addicting this game can become, I have included a YouTube video of someone playing this game on expert. They are playing a Dragonforce song on expert, which is extremely hard. I highly doubt I will ever get this good, but it is entertaining to watch. Enjoy!

Venturing into the land of fish: Pan-seared Tilapia April 2, 2008

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This week I decided to try cooking a fish dinner for some of my guy friends. This is new because for one I have never tried to cook for anyone but myself. Secondly, I have definitely never tried to cook for guys. Lastly, I have never tried my hand at tilapia. I decided to go for a pan-seared tilapia with a tropical salsa. I got the recipe from Youtube, and it is posted below.

For the rest of my meal, I opted for simple sides. I made a store-bought rice pilaf my mother often cooks and steamed some fresh asparagus. Then I broiled some sourdough bread and sprinkled it with garlic. I was pretty impressed with the end results.  The tilapia turned out looking surprisingly like the video, and it tasted excellent as well (if I do say so myself). My asparagus and rice were perfectly tender and were delicious compliments to the main fish course. The best part of all? The guys loved it. I am definitely influenced to continue trying new recipes for my friends. It is much more fun cooking for several people rather than just one! I would recommend this recipe to all levels of cooks!

A real spring break: Panama City, FL March 23, 2008

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I may have taken the week off from writing for spring break, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t out trying new things to write about on my blog! My new thing for this week was simple: I finally went on a “real” spring break. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve been on spring break before. However, these spring breaks often constitued a shortened stay with dull parents and grim weather. Usually I opt out of the “college spring break” to either save money or work. This year was my chance to go to the spring break hotspot: Panama City, Florida.

I had never been to Panama City before, although I had heard a lot about it from friends. A huge group of friends and I (seventeen to be exact) booked a magnificent beach house one block from the beach in this classic beach town. The house was three stories and had two balconies, including a sun deck. There was a pool in the backyard and multiple bedrooms and bathrooms. We were vacationing in style, even if there were five people sleeping in each bedroom (air mattresses helped somewhat).ourhouse.jpg

The weather was beautiful. The beach was sunny and the ocean was sparkling. Each day we would pack our beach bags and head to the beach until dark. Let me just tell you: there is nothing better than lazing around with your best friends all day and playing football and frisbee in the sand. The beach was filled with fellow spring-breakers and we even made a few new friends to share in our daily excursions. I can definitely see how Panama City can be classified as somewhat crazy. There were people everywhere. Advertisements for events and things to do flashed in every direction. Even the rainy days were fun; we spent them shopping at unique island gift shops and watching movies at our house. We were even lucky enough to go to a free Kenny Chesney concert on the beach one afternoon outside of Club La Vela! Talk about a new experience! The crowd of anxious students on spring break excitedly cheering for top country star with the beach in the background was an unforgettable atmosphere. From the restaurant we went to that was shaped like a boat to the long walks we took past the endless array of hotels, the entire trip was a unique experience. I now know what it’s like to have a ”real” spring break and have a new appreciation for that week-long vacation in the spring when I hear the words “Panama City” uttered.

No More Fast Food: The Last Resort March 8, 2008

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With midterms and papers this week, I was so busy that I didn’t have time for much else. Therefore, I decided to make my ”new thing” be going out to eat at a new restaurant for a study break. My pick? The Last Resort. I’ve always wanted to go there, but can never stomach the long wait. This time I decided to be tough and wait it out.

I went with two of my best friends, one who has eaten there before and the other who has not. Upon entering the restaurant, I was immediately impressed by the somewhat eclectic decor. The restaurant had a quaint yet hip feeling. The inside was dimly lit and the tables close together; however, each table felt like it was in a world of its own. Down a few steps led to a separate room with more tables and the bar, which displayed impressive varieties of alcohol.

We were sat at a table on the side. The waitress was incredibly knowledgeable, as she was able to list what side dishes go best with what and had an extensive knowledge of wines. I ordered the crab cakes with mashed potatoes and asparagus. I was so hungry that the food seemed to take forever. However, once it finally came out, it was well worth the wait. Not only was the service good, the food was fabulous. I could have probably eaten five of those crab cakes instead of just two. The asparagus was tender and the mashed potatoes delicious. My friends, who had ordered steak and crab cakes, respectively, also relished their plates. For great food, the prices were reasonably within a college student’s budget. I wouldn’t be able to dine there every night, but it is a wonderful idea for the occasional night I want a little something more than fast food. Overall, it was an enjoyable experience that I would recommend to anyone.

Edelman Digital Bootcamp: Making a Video March 3, 2008

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This past weekend the Edelman Digital Bootcamp was held at UGA. I decided to make shooting a video and putting it on Youtube my ”new thing” for the week. Well, maybe I should say attempt putting a video on Youtube. The process proved to be quite tedious and difficult, much to my dismay.

Sadly, I had never even operated a true video camera before. I have a very nice digital camera that is capable of taking decent videos and even better pictures. However, for the bootcamp, a university camera was provided. After a quick tutorial, I was on my own. I attended a seminar on tactic and strategy, presented by Monte Lutz. I tried to pretend like I was a professional journalist trying to capture the essence of the lecture. I tried strategically stop and record his speech at the right times. I played with the zoom and practiced holding the camera steady. Once I decided I had filmed a pretty good amount of content, it was time to put the video on Youtube.

This was supposed to be the ”easy part.” Little did I know, it was going to be an incredibly frustrating endeavor. The first thing that went wrong was that the cord to connect the camera to the computer would not fit in my computer’s USB port; it would only fit a Mac. After much scrounging around, I finally found someone with aMac who was willing to let me use it. After the video finally downloaded, I began trying to edit it.

The editing program was confusing and difficult to use. After spending much time creating a title screen, cutting out unwanted clips, and playing with transitions, I was ready to save. The computer had other plans. It decided it didn’t want to save, and forced me to exit the program. Thus, downloading attempt number two began. I sat throught the eight-minute video once again and waited for it to download. Once it finished, I tried to save it immediately. No such luck. After the third time of downloading the video, it finally appeared to save. I gave up on editing it and tried to just go ahead and put it on Youtube. I was exhilirated to find that the video was the only thing the browser wouldn’t let me click on to upload (please catch my sarcasm!). I clicked on another saved item that appeared to be the video, only it was the wrong clip. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway, because Youtube never finished uploading it. I finally had to call it a day. As I was leaving, someone asked what I had learned about uploading videos to Youtube. My reply? Make sure you have a lot of time and patience!

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