Liberation.

It’s 2:02 A.M. in the morning on August 25th. In a mere twelve hours, I will be at work. In twenty-six hours, I will be getting up for my first day of school as a Senior.

Today was a day of celebration. My teeth were finally liberated from their metal jail of braces after three years of torture. I enjoyed a few hours without any hardware in my mouth. Life was good. I went back to the orthodontists’ office a few hours later, and left with uncomfortable retainers. My bottom teeth have a small wire glue on the back. My top teeth are stuck in a plastic-shell retainer 24/7 and my bottom teeth are in a similar retainer at night. I’m wearing both retainers right now and it feels like I’m wearing a football mouthguard. My tongue keeps rubbing against the plastic, tasting the foreign object in my mouth and notifying my brain that there’s an intruder.

It feels like I’m drowning in a million things that I have to do. I have to finish my summer reading for AP English. I have to catch up on blog posts. I have to get ready for the twentyeleven project. I have to go to bed early so I can hope to sleep well during the first few weeks of the school year. I have to get ready for school. I have to get my clothes ready. I have to get used to getting up early for school. I have to fill the car’s gas tank. I have to e-mail people… I have to go to work tomorrow.

It just seems like time is running out. Like there is some deadline I have to meet with a ton of things to do, and if I fail, shit is going to hit the fan. It’s like a mental ulcer that keeps nagging me to keep moving.

Tonight, Jon, Kristin, Anne, and I went to Breakers to play pool. It was incredibly relaxing. Worries seemed to fade away for a couple of hours. We played a few pathetic rounds of pool and had a hell of a time. Kristin had to leave earlier then the rest of us, so the remaining crew went to the movie theater. We made a quick pit stop by the gas station for snacks, and then went to Vampires Suck. After the hilarious movie, we went to iHop to talk about what’s ahead (aka School). It ended up being one of the most hilarious conversations I’ve had in a while. I’ll never look at corks the same again…

It was nice to just escape for a while. It probably seems stupid for me to feel so stressed after coming home from two weeks of vacation, but it’s not. Everything piled up at once after I came home. It seemed incredibly overwhelming at first, but now it seems somewhat manageable. It’s just another day in the life of an angst-ridden adolescent I guess.

That’s all for today. Tomorrow’s post will be one you won’t want to miss. I’ll also try to post the missing updates ASAP. Life is busy, and time is money. Thanks for reading, and remember to comment.

– Will

Road Trip: Missoula

Today is the first day of the six-day road trip. We began in Billings, and I drove three-hours straight to Butte, MT. We stopped in Butte for gas and other essentials, then went back on the highway. My dad drove the rest of the way to Missoula. When we arrived in Missoula, it was in the early evening, around six o’clock. We planned out most of the trip last week, so we didn’t schedule any hotel reservations ahead of time. We drove around Missoula in search of a place to sleep for a little while, and then checked-in at a local chain-hotel.

After we settled into the hotel room, we decided that it would be best to reserve our hotel rooms ahead of time for the rest of the trip (assuming we could). We reserved our rooms for tomorrow and Tuesday, and decided to wing the rest of the trip. We’re going to Silverwood tomorrow, and Seattle on Tuesday.

We changed our plans a bit so that we would definitely arrive in Billings by Friday night. I’m planning on doing a presentation for the twentyeleven project on Saturday (in the morning and the evening), so it’s imperative that I get back to Billings on Friday. We’ll also have more time to check out Seattle and the coast because of a few minor changes. Life is good.

After making reservations and slightly altering some trip plans, we decided to hike up to the M. It’s a fairly steep and zig-zagging trail, but also very rewarding. You can see the whole city from the trail’s high points, and I was able to take a few nice pictures of Missoula.


So that’s it. I have an early start tomorrow, so I’m going to go to bed now. More posts soon…. stay tuned.

– Will

P.S. Thanks for reading! 🙂


Roadtrip Prep, Build-a-Website Books, and Scheduling

Tomorrow is the Epic Summer Road Trip. The main event of the Summer of 2010. A few stops on the trip include: Missoula, Seattle, Portland, Cape Disappointment State Park, Idiotville, Silverwood, and Couer d’Alene. Time to get excited, folks. This is what the entire blog has been leading up to… The last hurrah before school begins. I can’t wait for tomorrow.

As with any trip, packing was required. Packing up all of my clothes for the trip was pretty easy. Packing up all of the tech and books I’m going to bring was fairly easy, but slightly more difficult. Most of my stuff was already packed up from the trip I took to Fairmont a few days ago, so it wasn’t too much of a hassle.

I went into town to buy a few new books to keep myself entertained during the dull moments of the trip (if they ever occur). I bought 1 Hour Website and HTML, XHTML & CSS For Dummies from Barnes & Noble. I ran straight back to the Geek section and camped for a while. I wanted to buy more books, but the geeky-book budget was restricted (that, and all the books in that section were $29.99 and up.). I still need money for the trip, and I also need to buy school clothes… And I won’t get a paycheck for a couple of weeks… So yeah. I need to save some $$$.

The 1 Hour Website book looks OK, but not exactly what I need. I haven’t had much of a chance to dive into the other book  yet, but I will soon. I still need to finish The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging though…

So many geeky books, so little time…

I’m currently in the process of scheduling a date for the twentyeleven project’s creators’ presentation… Everyone has different schedules, so it’s been fairly difficult to nail down a time and date when everyone is available. I’ve decided that I’m going to have to do two meetings, one in the morning and one in the evening, so that everyone can get the proper info. I still need to put some finishing touches on the booklet I’ve been writing for the meeting, and I also need to wait for the dry-erase board, stand, and markers to ship. Everything should be pieced together by the time I get home next Friday. I need to call Off the Leaf on Monday to reserve the rooms for the meetings, and then life will be good. I’m excited to get this project going already. It’s going to be a nice transition from blogging everyday to blogging semi-weekly. I’m sure school will give me plenty of fodder to write about though. 😛

So that’s it. I really need to get to bed now (it’s 1:46 A.M.) because I’m getting up early for the trip tomorrow. Lots of miles to cover, not so much time. I’ll be checking out Missoula’s campus on Monday… Crazy. Thanks again for reading, and stay tuned over the next couple of days. This is the main event, folks! Look for pictures, podcasts, and content galore as I post from the road.

See you then.

– Will

HuffPost Blog Guide: Initial Reactions

I recently purchased The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging from Amazon.com, hoping that it would give me a few tips on the finer side of blogging.  I haven’t finished the book yet, but I’ve plowed through most of the beginning and it’s already left me with a lot to talk about.

First of all, this book has a definite bias toward liberal-views. It’s fraught with unnecessary political commentary. I realize that this shouldn’t be that surprising as The Huffington Post website is described on Wikipedia as a ” liberal/progressive American news website and aggregated blog”. Yet, after reading that description of the website behind the book, the book still seems excessively political. It’s a guide to blogging, not a guide to blogging about politics and “the Bush years”.

I would not describe my political views as conservative, nor would I describe them as liberal. However, after reading a mere 28-pages of this book, I feel incredibly conservative. The book begins with an introduction where the author describes setting up an anti-NRA website– which immediately sent me into an uproar as I happily own and use several guns for recreational purposes. However, this seemed to be a random occurrence, so I let it slide. I was still in the introduction anyway, so the rest of the book could be different… right?

Wrong. The book discusses the removal of a Republican Senate Majority leader (he was a sleazebag), some negative-references to “the Bush-Cheney years”, how the Republicans used the internet in 2004, how the Obama campaign used the internet in 2008, and still others. I bought this book expecting to get some tips on blogging! Leave the politics where they belong– on your own damned website!

Despite this, the book has managed to suggest a few helpful tips with a side of humor. If the political side-comments aren’t so frustratingly reoccurring, I might enjoy this book.

Another random quirk of this book is its use of the word “she” when talking in the third person. It caught me off guard a bit at first, as I’m usually used to seeing “he” in these situations. Looking back on it, it’s kind of ridiculous to go to that effort to emphasize a side agenda. I believe women deserve equal rights with men, but seriously? IT’S A BOOK ON BLOGGING– QUIT PUSHING AN AGENDA! GAH!

The fact that they used “she” instead of “he” when making third-person references does not bother me. What does bother me is that they’re pushing an agenda that ultimately has no place in a book that’s advertised as a guide to blogging. I want tips about blogging; do your part as a writer and leave your bias at the door. This isn’t an opinion column or a blog– it’s a guide to blogging. Get it right.

I’m going to continue reading this book, even though it manages to frustrate me endlessly. Blerg.

—————————-

A summer-reading reminder postcard came in the mail while we were away on vacation. I still need to start my assignment… I don’t think it’s that difficult, but I might start tomorrow. I still need to pack for the road trip to Seattle (we leave on Sunday) and buy a few random things (camera batteries, car stuff, etc.). I’m excited for the trip. It’s crazy to think that it’s already here, and that six days after I get home I’ll be going back to school.

Back to school… damn. I actually have to start going to sleep at a decent hour instead of the usual 2:00 A.M. time. I’ll also have to get up at around 6:00 A.M for school. That’s a scary thought.

Well, I’m gonna get going. Happy Friday the 13th.

– Will

Kick back, relax, and enjoy the boredom.

You know what’s better then sitting in a hotel room for 75% of the day while your on vacation?

If you said, “Basically everything,” you’re correct!

Today sucked. As much as I enjoy sitting on my ass at home, sitting on my ass on vacation is even less enjoyable. We planned to go swimming at the pool earlier in the day, but the weather wasn’t being cooperative. It was too cold and windy too swim, so we decided to relax inside the hotel room for the day. Later in the evening, some of my parents friends came to the hotel and we all went to dinner in Anaconda. Inside the restaurant, there was a makeshift arcade with a Foosball table. We played a couple of games on the shoddily-built table (I suck at foosball), ate our meal, and then went back to the hotel. We then went down to the pool and swam around for a few hours. The pool was pleasantly empty when we arrived. After swimming, we went back up to the hotel room and it was time for bed.

Day over.

I did manage to take a few pictures while I was trapped… err, I mean relaxing in the hotel room. I tested out the panorama mode too. Check ’em out.

The panorama mode creates a subtle fish-eye effect.

Sunny skies… windy & cool weather.

That’s it for today. Look for a new post tomorrow. Remember to leave your comments, questions, feedback, etc. Thanks for reading!

– Will

Hiking Fail.

Today we went on a hike to Lake Mystic in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness Area. We had a big breakfast at the restaurant inside our hotel, gathered our gear, and started the drive to the summit. It was a long and bumpy drive. When we finally arrived, the mosquitoes swarmed and feasted on our flesh until a cloud of bug repellent was released into the air. The bug spray provided temporary relief from the blood-hungry insects, but after it’s effectiveness wore off, they attacked with a vengeance. During our short reprieve from the irritating wildlife, we grabbed our packs, changed from shoes to hiking boots, and started up the hill. The trail was fairly steep, and we took short breaks often. All of us are out-of-shape, and my parents and I aren’t used to the increased elevation (Billings is 3124 feet above sea level; Anaconda is 5335 feet above sea level), so hiking up a very steep hill wasn’t a piece of cake. In addition to this, all of us were lugging backpacks filled with fishing gear or food (I carried a backpack filled with water bottles and a CZ .22 rifle on my shoulder). I also brought my new camera along. I snapped a lot of nice pictures of the forest we were hiking in. I also took a few nice pictures of the wildlife we encountered.

We hiked up the trail for nearly two-and-a-half hours until my parents begin to worry that we were on the wrong trail. When my dad and my grandpa looked at the trail on the map, it appeared to only be two miles long. It seemed as if we’d hiked well over then two miles. My dad told us to wait and he would hike up the trail and see if he could find any sign that we were close to the lake. He dumped his gear and began to hike up the mountain while my mom and I rested on some boulders near the trail. He came back a few minutes later with disappointing news. The trail changed from a straight trail to switchbacks, and he feared that this was a sign that we were on the wrong trail. Feeling tired and a disappointed, we began a speedy descent down the trail. We made the trip down the trail in less then half the time it took us to hike up. When we finally reached the truck, we seen two people with horses heading back to their trailer. My grandpa asked them if they had been up the trail we attempted to hike, and if it was the trail that led up to Mystic Lake. They replied that they had gone up the trail, and that it did, in fact, lead to Mystic Lake. They also told us that it took them three hours to reach the lake on horseback. They told us that we were fairly close to the end of the trail when we stopped and turned around, and that we totally epic failed. Game over.

After the hike, we drove around the forest for a while. We stopped at a fishing access area to fish a bit before nightfall, but the mosquitoes swarmed and sent us back to the truck. We went back to the hotel, and went to sleep.

Thanks for reading the blog. Remember to leave your comments, questions, suggestions, etc. below.

– Will

P.S. This post was delayed temporarily due to uploading difficulties. Please excuse the delay. Thanks. 🙂

Now in: Fairmont.

Today we buried my Great Aunt Syble in Butte, right next to my “Grand” (he didn’t think great was good enough) Uncle Harold (it was the second time in less than a month that I’ve visited the O’Neill family gravesite).  We woke up early and left for Butte at around 9:30 in the morning so we would arrive at around 12:30 P.M. The burial ceremony was scheduled to start at 1:00 P.M. My dad and I were both pallbearers at the funeral, so it was imperative that we arrived on time. We managed to arrive at the gravesite before 1:00 P.M., but all of the other pallbearers and assorted family members were already amassed. My dad and I quickly shuffled to the hearse because it felt like we were ridiculously late; everyone was there and waiting for us to arrive so that the burial could begin. After we brought her casket over to the plot, the military honors corps began their portion of the service. Before her funeral, I had no clue that she had served in the Air Force. I also learned that she worked at Sears earlier in her life (my Aunt Elaine also worked at Sears… I’m the third generation of Sears employees in my family. Creepy.). I’m disappointed that I didn’t get to know her very well before she died, but I’m also glad that she is no longer suffering. She was battling cancer for several months before her death, and knowing that she would probably die soon, she planned out her entire funeral service in advance. She had a very straightforward attitude toward life, and she knew that her condition was deteriorating. She was 72 years old.

After the funeral, we had lunch at a local pizza restaurant. It was another awkward affair as I didn’t know many of the other people there, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. After lunch, we met up with my Grandma Helen (on my mom’s side of the family; my great aunt who died was on my dad’s side of the family) and went shopping. I forgot my camera at home, so I bought a new one from Kmart. It’s a GE A1255 camera. It’s got 5x optical zoom, and your basic point ‘n’ shoot features. It’s a nice little camera, but I didn’t get quite the deal on it as I did on with my Kodak C180. It cost $79.99 (in comparison, the C180 only cost around $20; I’m still disappointed that it’s broken though) with my employee discount. My employee discount only knocked 90 cents off the total cost of the camera and a 2 GB SD card– and I only got the discount for the SD card. I’m a little miffed that my employee discount doesn’t help with purchases at a store that’s apart of the holdings company I work for, but I can’t really do anything about it. There wasn’t a Sears store in Butte that sells cameras, so I was stuck with either purchasing from Kmart or Wal*Mart. I figured my discount would help out more, so I chose Kmart. We ended up going to Wal*Mart to pick up some snacks for the hotel room later though, so I quickly glanced at their cameras. They had similar cameras listed at the same price, so I don’t feel as screwed as I did earlier, but I’m still not pleased. On the bright side, this camera has a better zoom and a higher-resolution then the Kodak C180, so it’s a slight upgrade. It’s roughly the same size too. I’ll have to test it’s picture-quality later this week when we go on our hike to Upper Seymour Lake or Lake Mystic. Here’s a shot I took of the pond outside our hotel room:

When we arrived at the hotel, the power was out. Fortunately, the emergency lighting system and the electronic locks were still working, so we were able to make it up to our room without much difficulty. The power was restored twenty-minutes after we arrived in our room. We were all exhausted from the early morning wake-up call and the events of the day, so we lazed around the room for the rest of the night. After a few hours of resting, I woke up and watched TV for a little while. My parents were ready to sleep then and I wasn’t, so I grabbed my laptop and my phone and headed into the bathroom. I’ve been surfing the web, texting, and blogging since before 10:00 P.M. It’s now 1:06 A.M.

I’m going to go to bed now so I don’t repeat the ugly awakening I had today (I went to bed at 4:00 A.M.). I’ve been working on a booklet for the twentyeleven project. I’m planning a small presentation for all of the bloggers interested in the project, so I decided to make an informational booklet to go with the presentation. I’m also checking out big whiteboards too. If I manage to get everything pulled together, this could be one sick brainstorming session. I have to decide where to do the meeting-shindig at next… It’ll probably take place at one of the local coffeeshops. Off the Leaf has a few conference rooms that people can rent, but that might be too expensive. I’ll have to look into that.

That’s all for today. Remember to leave your comments, questions, etc. below. Thanks again for reading, and have a great day.

– Will

The Funeral.

Today, the funeral services for my Great Aunt Syble were held in Billings (the burial services will take place tomorrow, in Butte). Before she died, my aunt planned out her entire funeral. Along with her sons and her grandson, she also chose my dad and me to be her pallbearers. This is the second time I’ve been chosen to be a pallbearer, a duty that is considered to be very honorary.

The funeral was an amazing tribute to my aunt’s life. I learned a lot of things about her from her life sketch that I never knew before. She served in the Air Force. She worked at Sears when she was younger. She lived in Mississippi, California, Germany, and other places at various points in her life. I’m disappointed that I didn’t get to know her better before she died, especially after learning so many new things about her life.

I feel that it is appropriate to end this post here. Look for a new post tomorrow.

– Will

Vacation: Day #1

Today, I am officially on vacation. No work for two weeks. Fourteen-days away from annoying customers, clogged fitting rooms, wrecked tables, stressed managers, and the clogged stockroom. Thank God.

To celebrate this freedom from work, I did what every other idiot on vacation does: I went shopping at Sears.

I know. It’s really odd to go shopping at a place you just finished an 38-hour week at, but I was looking at stuff on the side of the store I don’t work on. My dad and I checked out tools, DSLR cameras, microwaves, and LCD TVs while my mom was shopping at Target. We then met my grandma at her hotel (she is in town for my great aunt’s funeral). We talked for a while in the hotel room, and then went to see my other relatives at my great aunt’s house. It was extremely awkward because I didn’t know anyone in the room, and there was no place to sit. I stood for a while, then sat on the floor. The tiny living room was crowded with fifteen people, and the conversation drifted awkwardly. I think I said three words the entire time we were inside the house, which seemed like an eternity. When we finally left, it was an amazing relief. The atmosphere within the tiny living room was depressing, awkward, and cramped. We dropped grandma off back at her hotel and went home. Now, I’m trying to fall asleep but failing epically. I have to get up early tomorrow for the funeral, so I need to get to sleep ASAP. Look for another post tomorrow.

– Will

P.S. Leave your comments, suggestions, ideas, etc, below. Thanks for reading! 😉

the twentyeleven project.

Over the past few days, I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to do after this blog ends. I don’t want to stop blogging, but I also don’t want to continue to blog daily. Initially, I figured I would write another solo blog detailing the events of my senior year. Then, I remembered that WordPress has a multiple author feature that allows multiple people to post on the same blog. After that, my brain went insane with ideas. The final outcome from these ideas is: the twentyeleven project.

Basically, the twentyeleven project will cover the entire senior year experience. Initially, the blog will start with seven bloggers. We’ll have two juniors, three seniors, and two college freshmen bloggin’ it up. This way the “senior experience” will be covered before, during, and after.

With that being said, each of the seven bloggers is free to post whatever they would like to, whenever they would like to. I plan to have a small group of people who post on a set-schedule and others who post at least once a week. As time progresses, (hopefully) more people will join up and the project will expand. The project is scheduled to start on August 26th (the first day of school). There are still a few kinks to work out in the meantime, and the entire crew may not be compiled by launch day. I may also have to modify my blogger preferences if I can’t find any college freshmen who would be willing to join this project.

I plan to keep this project going until at least the last day of school, or graduation night. If things are going well and all of the bloggers involved wish to continue, then it will be extended indefinitely. (I need to get things started first though so I don’t get too far ahead of myself.)

With at least seven people blogging, there should be more than enough diverse content to  keep everyone satisfied. If our plans our executed properly, this thing could be huge.

I’m so excited for it to start that it’s not even funny. Unfortunately, two weeks of vacation lie in the way before I can schedule a meeting with the currently assembled crew, so it will be a while before the project begins to take shape. But once it does, it should be sweet.

That’s it for today. Leave me a comment telling me what you think about the project. What would you like to see in a blog like this? Would you be interested in reading it? Would you like to join the team? Let me know in the comment box below. Thanks for reading.

– Will