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

Morning Shuffle.

Waking up after four-hours of sleep: Shitty.
Going to work at 7 A.M. during the Summer: Insane.
Buying stuff for College super-early: Priceless.

Today felt like a really bad re-run of Tuesday. I went to work early, zombie-walked through most of my shift, and clocked out as soon as I possibly could. I’m not sure that I actually accomplished much of anything toward the end of my eight-hour shift, but that doesn’t really worry me. After tomorrow, I start a two-week vacation away from work. After my vacation, I go back to being a part-time employee because of school. Another thing that reassures me that my job is safe is my increased experience in comparison to most of my coworkers. I will have worked at Sears for one year in October, and most of my coworkers were hired near the beginning of the summer. Saying I have an edge as far as experience goes would be an understatement. We’re about to dive into another Christmas season in retail, and I’m one of the few veterans left from last year’s Black Friday. We need Black Friday veterans. These newbs won’t know what hit them when they come into the store to open at 4 in the morning.

To prevent myself from continuing that rant, I’ll move on to the rest of the days events: nothing. After work, I bought this and a black pair of dress pants for $30 (a pretty slammin’ deal, I must say). I stopped by the gas station and picked up a Monster M-80, drove home, took a shower, and watched TV. I’m starting to feel incredibly lazy. I need to go run a few miles and lift weights again before I become an overweight blob of goo. Perhaps I’ll go for a run tomorrow after work…

I also need to start my AP summer reading/homework ASAP. I don’t want to leave it until the last week before school starts and scramble to finish it. I need to avoid procrastination at all costs this year, and starting the school year off by procrastinating to finish the summer reading assignment isn’t a good idea. After my run tomorrow, I’ll dig into that AP summer homework.

That’s all for today. Remember to check the blog daily for new posts. Thank you for reading the blog, and leaving your comments. I want to thank all of you today especially for breaking the record for most page views in a single day on this website. Today, the blog reached 82 page views! Thank you guys so much for checking out my blog. 😀

– Will

P.S. I love you guys. 🙂


Thoughts on Blogging…

A few days ago, WordPress featured this blog post on the front page of their website in the “Freshly Pressed” section. It discusses some helpful blogging tips and tricks for the beginning blogger. As an individual who has been blogging daily (mostly) for the past 61-days, I can confirm that most of these tips would be incredibly useful for beginning bloggers. In fact, if I were to start a new blog (which I plan to do after this blog-project is finished) I would definitely follow some of these tips. Here is a couple of additional tips I have for new bloggers:

1. Buy Your Own Domain (ex. http://www.yourblogname.com)

If you want people to read your blog, then you need people to find your blog. The easiest way to get people to find your blog is to buy a domain name. Not only do you lose the silly _______.wordpress.com tag, but you also make your blog appear more legitimate. People see the __________.com as a sign of a legitimate website. If you use WordPress to host your blog, you can also still keep your blog info on their servers. You only have to pay about $15 (yearly rate) to buy a domain upgrade on WordPress too, so it’s fairly cheap. Your blog’s popularity will jump immensely from this investment, and you’ll also find your blog more easily on Google searches.

Buying your own domain isn’t necessary for blog success, but it does help. If you don’t have the budget to spend money on your blog, you can still write a popular blog for free with some of the other tips below. (And no, WordPress is not paying me to advertise their domain upgrade service.)

2. Advertise

As mentioned above, to get people to see your blog they need to know about your blog. Advertising is key for getting people to view your blog. You don’t have to pay for it either nowadays– simply advertise your blog in a wall post on Facebook or in a tweet on Twitter. You’ll obviously need friends or followers for your advertisement to be seen, but if you have a lot of friends on your favorite social networking site, then posting a link to your blog will get them to check it out. It’s free, and as long as you don’t go overkill on the advertising (aka SPAMMING), most people will at least check it out once or twice. It’s up to you to write good enough content to keep them coming back.

3. Set a Regular (and Reasonable) Updating Schedule

If you write good content, people will want to see more of it. To keep them coming back, you need to update your blog on a regular schedule. As mentioned in the link at the top of this post, updating your blog daily is not always the best choice. When you start blogging, you will have tons of ideas for blog posts and you’ll feel an immense urge to let everything flow out of you at once. The key to maintaining a successful blog is to keep this flow running at a steady enough pace so that you can get your ideas out without draining the entire flow of ideas all at once. As enticing and rewarding as updating a blog daily seems, it’s actually quite challenging. Trying to come up with fresh and interesting ideas to post about on a daily basis is hard,  and some days impossible. Life can get in the way of posting everyday, and some days you won’t feel like posting anything. Posting every other day or every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday is a more attainable goal. Try to post at the same time during those days too (like 5:00 P.M., for example)– people like regular schedules.

4. Stay Motivated

Once you start a blog, you have to agree to continue until the end. For example, I agreed to update this blog daily until the end of the summer. Some blogs don’t have a scheduled ending date though, so you have to continue to post year-round. If you want to maintain an audience, you have to keep posting. People want fresh content, and they also want good content. If you can’t deliver, they’ll tune out. Staying motivated to post fresh and interesting posts regularly is key to the success of any blog.

So that’s it. Those are my four main tips for blogging success. There are numerous other tips and tricks that beginning bloggers can find all over the web, so utilize search engines like Google or Bing to find other good advice before you dive into the world of blogging.

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Today was another glamorous day in the life of the grounded. I woke up late, watched a lot of Futurama, mowed the lawn, installed a new sun-shade on the lawnmower, got some ice cream and typed out this blog post. Tomorrow’s an early day, and it looks like I’ll be getting only a few hours of sleep once again. I’m going to end it here so that there is a mere chance of a good night’s rest.

Thanks for reading, and remember to leave your comments, questions, suggestions, etc. below.

– Will

P.S. If you don’t really care if people see your blog, then don’t start one. Start a personal journal instead. Not only can you write about whatever you want to without worrying if other people will find it interesting, but you don’t have to censor yourself either. You can write down your thoughts and opinions with total honesty without fearing what others will think about it. It’s like your own personal book of liberation. Use it well.

Coffee, Messenger Bags, Linux, and the School Schedule…

The first-part of today was awesome. I slept in late, ate a nice lunch, and checked my Facebook. Then, Kelci texted me and asked me if I wanted to meet her and Spencer down at City Brew. My urge to get out of the house and do something still wasn’t fulfilled by last night’s pool-playing, frozen-dairy-eating, and park-loitering escapade, so I happily agreed to go. Spencer and I have been Facebook friends for a little while, but I hadn’t actually met him in person until today. I’ve been spreading my love of Linux (mainly Ubuntu) through wall posts and comments, so I decided to bring my laptop down to the coffee shop so I could actually show him the wonders of Ubuntu. Also, I had to bring my Blue Snowball podcasting microphone with me too because he is a fellow podcaster and I figured that a fellow podcaster could appreciate the awesomeness of a legitimate podcasting microphone. I lugged all of this down to the coffee shop in my new messenger bag. I like the messenger bag, but my laptop can’t fit in the specially-padded laptop pocket. It can still fit in the bag– just not in the “laptop-friendly” pocket.

After briefly showing off my nerdy tech stuff, we had a nice conversation outside on the patio about a lot of random things. It was fun. It was nice to see Kelci again and I enjoyed meeting Spencer. Mainly, it was just nice to get out of the house and have a good time with cool people. We planned to go to Inception later in the evening, but my parents had other ideas. I had forgotten to do a few chores the day before, and the giant axe of punishment finally landed. I’m grounded from going out for the rest of the week. It was a bit of a disappointment because  I was excited to see Inception again, but I guess I’ll live. I still feel bummed that I had to bail on our plans.

Tomorrow looks remarkably disappointing. I’m stuck at the house all day and the lawn needs to be mowed. It’s like a cross between house-arrest and Hell.

That’s all for today, folks. Remember to leave your comments, suggestions, questions, rants and raves, etc. below. Your input is always appreciated…

– Will

P.S. Shortly after posting this, I realized that I forgot to include my class schedule. Sorry about that. Without further delay, here is my provisional class schedule for first semester:

1st: AP English
2nd: Human Anatomy
3rd: AP Statistics
4th: Environmental Science
5th: Genocide
6th: Kodiak (School Newspaper)

I’m excited for this year already. Having AP English first period will be interesting, but I think I can handle it. I might have to put the new coffeemaker to work though… At the very least, it’s better then having math first period. I can at least write while I’m only semi-conscious (this blog is proof of that– I write 99.9% of these posts around midnight).

Work. Pool. Caffeine.

Today was another early day, and I had to be at work by 7:00 A.M. The first few hours of the day were pretty uneventful, and I took an early “lunch break” at around nine-thirty in the morning. After another night with only four-hours of sleep, I knew it would take a helluva breakfast to keep me going for the rest of the 8-hour shift. I made a quick pit-stop at the gas station and bought a Monster M-80 (which is definitely one of my favorite energy drinks). I packed a lunch today, and because I wasn’t expecting to eat so early I brought a microwave-friendly mac ‘n’ cheese meal. I scarfed down this breakfast of champions in the break room while the rest of the store’s employees piled in to begin their shifts. I caught a few awkward glances for eating macaroni and cheese at such an early hour, but I really didn’t care. The lack of physical energy motivated me to consume calories and caffeine without care for my coworkers’ prejudice against my glorious meal. The rest of the shift passed uneventfully, and life was good.

After work, I had an insatiable desire to get the hell out of the house and have some fun. After seven straight days of work, I was more then ready to do something entertaining. I called up Jon and we went downtown to Breakers to play some pool. In the upstairs part of the building, where the pool tables are at, there is also a kind of “minor-friendly” bar. No booze, of course, just pop and energy drinks. There’s a counter-top that runs along one wall like a bar, and there are even bar stools by the counter-top– also like a bar. The only thing that’s missing is a couple of taps and some mugs and it could probably qualify as a bar. Surprisingly, this bar-like feature is actually a beneficial addition to the substance-free pool place. Something about it’s presence gives the place an adult feel in the midst of a kid-friendly zone. It’s a welcome feeling to adolescents who are anxious for their senior year to be over already so they can go out into the real world and let it kick their asses already.

Jon and I played pool for a while, and Anne joined us later. After a little over an hour of playing pool, we decided to bail and go get some ice cream at Dairy Queen. We sped down to the Dairy Queen by Amend Park, picked up some frozen dairy goodness, and then drove down to a park by Jon’s house. We talked for a while about random stuff, and then we all went our separate ways. It wasn’t a bad way to start my “weekend”.

I have tomorrow and Thursday off, then I work for two more days, and then my two-week vacation begins. I can’t wait to be free from work for 14-days. It sounds like Heaven.

Thanks for reading. Please leave your comments, suggestions, questions, etc. below. They are always appreciated. 🙂

– Will

Work. Sleep. Repeat.

I’ve fallen into a disturbing cycle of going to work, coming home, and then going to sleep. Then, I wake up, get ready for work, and go back to work. Repeat the entire process over again for several days, and now you know what the last couple days of my life have been like. My feet are sore, my legs are cramped, and my head is splitting. My body is tired of working.

Today started in an especially hellish fashion. I woke up 15 minutes before I needed to start getting ready for work, so I quickly scarfed down a Pop Tart and ran upstairs to take a shower. I stopped for a moment to check Engadget, got dressed and left for work 10 minutes late. I sped through town and barely punched-in on time. To make things more interesting, my eyes began to stream tears continuously for no apparent reason. My sinuses began to feel FUBAR, and my nose seemed clogged with fluid. I walked around the store, occasionally stopping to wipe my eyes and grimace in pain because my head felt like it was splitting in half. I thought this must feel somewhat like a hangover, minus the excessive vomiting. I also felt exhausted, which was strange to me as I had slept for almost eight hours. I believe the effects from the lack of sleep the night before were still hanging around today, but I’m not sure.  It doesn’t really explain why my sinuses were out of whack though.

Work was pretty boring. The first few hours flew by whereas the rest of the day passed at a moderate pace. New people looked to me to give them tasks to work on because all of the managers were gone. I wasn’t really sure what to tell them to do at first because I was also trying to find something to do. Most of the morning-shift crew worked on tagging and moving clearance items, so the fitting rooms and general appearance of the store were in disrepair. Also, nobody had completed the restocking process earlier in the day, so it needed to be finished so there would be somewhat of a chance for us to get out of the store on-time. After meeting with the other associates on the floor to delegate tasks, we all went to work, anxious to get out of the store. We managed to finish closing the store a few minutes earlier then usual, but we also sacrificed completing other essential tasks like tagging clearance. I thought about this as I left, but the feeling of relief to finally leave the store overcame those worried thoughts.

Tomorrow is another early day. It’s the last day of this seven-day working streak though, so I’ll be able to catch up on all of the usual stuff I do on my days off soon. Perhaps a podcast? I definitely need to e-mail my penpal though… (I haven’t forgotten! :)) Anyway, make sure to check the site tomorrow for a new post. Leave your comments, suggestions, rants, questions, etc. below while you’re at it, because I like ’em. I like ’em a lot.

– Will

Late to Bed and Early to Rise…

There’s nothing quite like the feeling one experiences when awaking to an alarm clock beeping at 5:00 A.M., after  going to bed at around 1:00 A.M., during the summer. Not only is the realization that you are up before the clock is reading double digits startling, but seeing other people happily beginning their day at such an early hour is disturbing. Do these people have any sanity? Don’t they know that those who truly live a happy life sleep until at least ten in the morning?

Proceeding to work an 8-hour shift after sleeping a mere four-hours is not a pleasant experience, especially when you do not have access to caffeine for the first few hours. Sitting is not advised because your body will automatically shut down and go to sleep. Walking is also an interesting task because the lack of sleep messes with your body’s natural coordination, causing you to occasionally stumble and sway, giving you the general appearance of a drunk.

Trying to type a blog post after all of this is also an immense undertaking because the brain wants to shut down. Thoughts are only 75% coherent. Words and ideas flow erratically.

Today was a pretty uneventful day. I went to work at 7:00 A.M., set up the ad, changed the women’s department, and helped cashier during a few busy points. I got off of work at 3:15 P.M., went home, changed the motor oil in the Focus, went to Wal*Mart to recycle the old oil and buy some electrical tape, drove back home, and then went back into town to pick up dinner. After dinner, I took mom’s car to the gas station and drove it through the car wash. When I got back home, I played Halo for an hour or so, browsed the web for random college stuff, and now I’m finishing up this post. I plan to plug my laptop in and crash as soon as I publish this post.

So that’s it. Another boring day for the record books.

Thanks for reading my blog. Remember to leave your comments below. All suggestions, criticisms, random comments, and rants are appreciated (as long as they are somewhat on-topic 😉 ). New post tomorrow…

– Will