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gold park April 13, 2011

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Near my house there is a local park known as Gold Park. It is situated along the Eno river and has conveniently paved paths that follow along the river. Me and my mom, deciding that it would be a good idea to go out and take pictures, left for the park at about 2:30 in the afternoon. when we arrived the light was spotty as the sun played peekaboo in the clouds. I leapt out of the car heading straight for the river. the air was noticeably cooler around the river as the cold air had accumulated in the river’s Vally. Cardinals chirped on the blooming dogwoods that grew on the rivers bank.

We walked downstream for a while where I found my first photo op in a small hawk moth that was drying it’s wings in the sun. The moth had a deformed wing that was noticeably smaller than the other. Which prevented him from escaping and allowed me to get some great photos. Moving on we came to a small wild flower that I identified as spring beauty. I crouched down to get some quick photos and when I stood up I noticed a small path through the brush that separated the river from the path. I went down it with mom following but she soon stopped to point out what she believed to be poison ivy. I noticed the leaves were slightly more jagged than poison ivy usually is and that it was growing more like a shrub then a vine like poison ivy and pointed out that it was actually boxelder. Boxelder is an interesting native tree that in it’s sapling stage mimics poison ivy.

We continued down the path until we finally reached the large rocks that the path had led to. Where we found a fruiting red maple who’s branches were laden with seeds. Mom spent something like a half hour taking pictures of them as I continued on. I noticed many insects including a tiger beetle it’s
metallic blue carapace glinting beautifully in the sun as well as some bumble bee’s loaded with an unusual supply of red pollen. But I had to turn around when I reached a dead end where they were still building the path. So I walked upstream and retrieved mom from her maple tree and we walked in the opposite direction.

At a point the river becomes a deep valley and resembles the half-pipe they use for snow and skate boarding. I decide to drop down in to the valley letting myself down slowly while holding onto the roots of a small tree. The valley walls are made up of the red clay that is so famous in north carolina with the gnarled roots of pine trees hanging from it’s sides. I wandered down the side of the valley noticing all the unusual rocks that had accumulated at it’s edge. the red clay was as slick as could be and I nearly fell down more than once. my hands were covered in mud when I emerged and no good photo’s to show for it. so I wandered onward until I came to an area where the river split into four sections and i was forced to head back to the path so I could cross.

while crossing I noticed evidence of beavers everywhere and yet no beavers so I continued onward crossing off the path to walk beside the river again. where I noticed turtles sitting on logs in the river amd quickly switched to my zoom lens and slowly stalked up to the edge of the river to take a picture. The turtles immediately jumped kamikaze style in to the river the moment they noticed me. Turtles can be real dicks sometimes. At this point I was tired of trying to photograph insane/camera shy turtles and so I turned around and headed back. It was starting to rain any how so I was glad when I made it back to the car. We left at about 4:30 so we had made good time on an enjoyable trip. Maybe next time I’ll get good photos of the turtles.

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some of my favorite music pt. 1 January 31, 2011

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Well since I can’t really think of anything else to write about I might as well revert to my old standby: music. Today I’ll be reviewing some of my favorite music. Although they aren’t necessarily my absolute favorites (I don’t like to say whether is better than the other if I like them both), I still believe that they are some of the better songs out there. In my opinion anyway.

The first song (not for any particular reason besides the fact that it was the first thing I thought of) is Never Forget You by The Noisettes. To be honest I had been looking for this kind of band for a while. A lead singer with a soulful voice who’s backed up by alt rock. Heck yeah! I searched quite a while before I came upon a gem hiding in the mud; Never forget you. This song is amazing mixing Shingai Shoniwa’s soulful voice with a strong orchestral back ground and retro rock. Shingai shoniwa has an amazingly unique voice that gos along beautifully with the cheery plucking of the violins. The guitar is in the background as it should be it forms a rapport(<– fancy word) with Shingai's voice rather than distracting from it. Overall never forget you is a smooth and catchy tune with a great nostalgic feel to it.

Money January 13, 2011

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Me and my parents are going to Italy later this year. That is a fact. A rather nice fact until you realize that it’s causing a rift to form between me and one of my favorite pastimes; the collectible card game Magic The Gathering. Now the cause of this is that mom has suggested that I will want spending money while I am there. Reason being that there are A LOT of nifty stores in Italy. So in order to encourage me to save money she has proposed a deal. The deal is basically that if I save money and I want to put into the Italy fund if the total amount of money I put in at that one time is less than ten dollars she will match it fifty percent. But if the amount of the entry is over ten dollars then she will match it one hundred percent.

The investment return she’s offering is amazing. But it presents a problem; I have about twenty five dollars of allowance. For the past year I have happily expended the money on magic cards every week and have worked myself into a routine. Every Wednesday I by a pack of cards for league play (I’ll explain it later) each pack costs about $4.50 if you include tax, then on Friday I pay $15.00 to play in a draft (I’ll explain that later too) , and finally If I can, I get one more pack on Saturday. This of course leaves me with almost no leftovers. This leaves me with a few options; I could go without magic cards (The very thought of this pains me), I could make money some other way ( This is probably the most feasible option), or I could ignore the whole thing an just enjoy my cards (Fat chance).

Fortunately I do have ways of making money besides my allowance. For example I recently won second place in a photo contest. the prize including seventy five dollar check. I can work for small amounts of money on chores I don’t normally do or I can sell some of my cards for money. But these do not produce a reliable stream of income. I haven’t been able to come up with any realistic solutions to this problem but I think about every day. The time will come when I can solve it just you wait.

anime openings December 6, 2010

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Today’s post will be on the subject of anime openings. Openings for anime are a great place for the animators to show off their abilities and creativity. There are a two main different types of openings, . The first type tends to focus upon the characters and their characteristics and personality in a more stylized form, and the second type focus’ mainly on the characters in context in other words shows them doing something that has or will happened in the story. Though all openings have the qualities of both of the types they tend to lean towards one type or the other. A good example of this would be the third opening of “Bleach” in which one minute and ten seconds of the the opening are profiles of each of the characters in the style of type 1. Here’s the order and details of each step of the opening;

Step 1; Seconds o to 5. A white lotus flower blossoms on a black background until a single petal falls and quickly grows brighter as the main flower fades into the black bleaching out the screen.
Step 2; Seconds 6 to 20. The white screen is replaced quickly by a portrait of Uryu Ishida one of the main supporting characters with his bow and one of his spirit particle arrows ready to fire. The arrow if you’ll notice is right abut the place you last saw the lotus petal. The lotus flower as you may know symbolizes purity in Bhuddist culture and as such might denote Uryu’s strong sense of justice. The rest of step 2 consists of portraits of all the important characters of the arc in front of a dark blue background each shown with a light from a differing point flashing by in tempo with the music, the last of which is of the main character Ichigo kurosaki.
Step 3; Seconds 21 through 30. A black border around Ichigo’s face begins creep inward gradually while his face fades into his hollow self at a similar rate. His face changes in a way that signifies the insidious relationship he has with his hollow self. once his face has completely changed the black border stops and the remaining visible area morphs into the bleach logo which grow brighter and bleaches out the screen for the second time transferring to the next step.
Step 4; Seconds 30 to 50. After the logo disappears the view switches to a dark wasteland where Ichigo stands with his sword resting on his shoulder as his clothes blow in the wind. Slowly a light lessens the shadows of the wasteland going up and up until his sword reflects the sun suggesting that the sun is just rising. Just as soon as the reflecting light is about to reach the top of the sword the view changes to chad who is sitting in a building presumably high up because through the hole in the wall he’s sitting next to you cn see a large part of the soul society in this part the lighting is the same you see Chad’s shadow moving gradually towards him and shrinking to match his form and when it does the scene switches to Uryu this time the light doesn’t change but the lighting is still obvious. Finally Orihime comes into view lifting her head and her hair flowing around her she is facing away from the light so her face is shadowed contrasting with her bright orange. The last part consists of three still images that flash by quickly; one each of Chad, Uryu and Orihime.
step 5 seconds 51 to 70 This step consists of character profiles of many supporting characters but unlike step 2 they are moving. each of the profiles shows some of the abilities of or the personality of each character in them.
step 6 70 to 90 the first half of this step is a profile like in step five but it shows the main protagonist and antagonist fighting each other. The second half shows what the protagonist is fighting for; his old lie with Rukia and a omen of what is to come in menos reaching there arms out of a garganta in the sky.

Moby- Play August 23, 2010

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Today’s review is going to be on Moby’s album “Play”. Moby is Richard melville hall’s nick/stage name, which was given to him by his parents because of a familial connection to Herman Melville As you may know Play is the most successful electronica album ever, having sold over 10 million albums. His genre, although varied, is mostly set in the atmospheric electronica range. The album has 18 songs total and is over an hour long total play time

Most of his songs are very repetitive; some pleasantly (natural blues, honey) others not so much (bodyrock). The former two along with south side and run on are my favorites of the album and will definitely be on my playlist.

Honey is a faster and less instrumental track then most of the other songs on the album. The piano mimics the tone of his voice through most of the song though the only constant is the vocals which last from the start to the end. This song was in the sound track of the movie “Holes”. I’ll give it an 8 of 10 . This song has a music video to it which consists of whimsical feats made possible through video editing. Very imaginative, but not incredible. 7 of 10

Natural blues has a slower pace and a suspenseful yet predictable tune. It builds up then drops like a roller coaster. This is one of those songs that makes you think. I’ll give it an 8.5 of 10. The song also has a music video. This video struck a chord with me because I had recently( A day before I saw the video) given a speech on geology at the dementia and mental disability section of a senior center. The video basically centers around an older version of moby who, wears tattered and dirty clothes, resides in a grimy senior center, and seems to have dementia remembering his younger days through a tv a scrapbook and an old doll sitting on top of the scrap book. This music video is very depressing and I’d like to say that the senior center I went to was extremely nice and in no way resembled the video; but the video did have a point to it and was very well made. 10 of 10.

Bodyrock is an OK song and I’m sure I’ve heard it somewhere on a soundtrack. It starts out bad but gets progressively better through the song. I like the chorus which is very ambient but in between it’s just too repetitive and harsh. It just doesn’t fit in. I’d have to give it a 5 of 10. The music video for this one is completely ridiculous and very fun. Moby sits on the couch with an adviser as a menagerie of nerds audition for the dance scenes of the music video…. 8 of t0

Run on is a great song; slow, good vocals, rhythmic piano, and good lyrics. It’s reminiscent of something I’m not quite sure what though. 9 of 10 . The music video for this song is about moby, a disruntled office employee, going to heaven where it is also an office vut everything is perfect. I’m not really sure exactly what it’s about but the basic concept is that everything in heaven is what he wanted in real life. Don’t really get it so I guess it’s unfair to rank it but I’d have to say 5 of 10

My other favorite of the album is “south side”. This song is great instrumentally and vocally. A slow song with a very relaxed air, a good rhythm, and a catchy sound. I’ll say it’s about a 9 of 10.. Music video?…. I don’t want to talk about it 2 of 10.

There were just too many songs for me to review all of them but here are their scores

find my baby 6.5 of 10
porcelain 7.5 of 10
why does my heart feel so bad 6.5 of 10
rushing 5.5 of 10
machete 7.5 of 10
(7) 5 of 10
down slow 4.5 of 10
if things were perfect 6.5 of 10
everloving 7 of 10
inside 5.5 of 10
guitar flute and string 6 of 10
the sky is broken 5 of 10
my weakness 5.5 of 10

Overall it’s a great album and I think I’ll give it a 7.5 of 10

Ranodom post August 11, 2010

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Last weekend I took a trip up to Nelly’s ford for my family’s annual reunion. My dad is one of 25 first cousins, so I for the most part had no idea whatsoever as to who most of these people were. Which made me feel horrible as most of them seemed to know me to at least a small extent. I spent most of my time there down by the creek or playing volleyball to avoid socializing. Otherwise I’d have to ask whoever I was talking to who they were, which could lead to all sorts of awkward moments.

Food was provided by everyone: the hosts provide the hamburgers and hot dogs. Everyone else brings a side of some sort. My group brought a pan of sliced cantaloupe. There were coolers with dozens of different drinks. I spent most of the time messing around with my two oldest first cousins on my dad’s side. Had a great time.

kiseijuu July 15, 2010

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Today I will review the manga kiseijuu or parasyte as it is known in the U.S. Kiseijuu by Hitoshi Iwaaki, definitely resides most in the horror genre. The story revolves around the “average teen” Shinji Izumi and his parasitic compadre “Migi”.

It all starts with strange tennis ball sized orbs that float unnoticed down to earth. Splitting open a parasite crawls out of each of the orbs seeking out people they can invade. If the parasite finds a compatible host it will attempt to enter the brain through the ear or the nose if successful it gains full control over the body and allows it to shape shift its face into multiple forms(for an added plus they also eat people. YAY!!!). But In the case of Shinji the parasite who would become migi attempted to enter his brain but instead ended up in his arm allowing shinji and migi to retain separate consciousness(migi does not eat humans. He doesn’t need to since he gets all of his nutrition from shinji).

A suspenseful and intriguing story ensues as Shinji struggles, with the fact that he is the only one who knows of the existence of these “parasites” as they have the ability to maintain a human form and the changes in his psyche that affect his life. Being a human with the ability to fight the parasites (Migi will do anything to ensure the survival of his host) he feels obligated to fight them.

The characters are very complex and the art is good. I will rank it by story characters and art in that order

8 of 10 for the story
10 of 10 for the characters
and 7 of 10 for the art.
with an overall score of 8.33 this manga is very highly recommended.

Exxon Valdez’s effect upon the Prince William Sound June 3, 2010

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The spill of the Exxon Valdez spill was a disaster.An out pouring of an estimated 10,800,000 gallons of crude oil into the Prince William Sound resulting in the deaths of thousands of sea mammals, 100s of thousands of sea birds , and the
destruction and death of untold amounts of fish and their eggs. After the immediate effect of the oil poisoning still occurs and is a continual problem due to the oil settling in the sediment poisoning any animal that happens to disturb it.
Another issue is that of “trophic cascades” (as referenced from the “exxon valdez oil spill” article in the website “the encyclopedia of the earth”):”in which predators reduce abundance of their prey, which in turn releases the prey’s
food species from control”. Which in metaphorical terms pretty much means if you kill all the mongooses the cobras will run wild.

Crude oil has a significant impact upon the health of birds(duhhhh). It gets into the feathers of the bird ruining the naturally produced oils and specifically developed feather formations that make them buoyant (man I hate that spelling) and able to fly making the feathers much less insulative and leaving the birds vulnerable to extremes of heat, to predators, and to starvation. Toxic effects of the oil are exhibited when a bird preens itself while covered in oil and ingests the material which causes damage to the liver and kidneys as well
as irritating the intestines. Aquatic and semi-aquatic are affected in similar ways: the fur loses it’s insulative and water repelling abilities potentially causing hypothermia. Dehydration and digestive tract irritation occur when oil is ingested. The oil also tends to congregate near the top of the water
in such a way that the sun light cannot permeate its shiny wall causing algae and other aquatic plants to die out. Due to this many of the smaller animals in the food chain plankton for example to starve to death causing a disruption in the food chain and resulting a smaller population of animals.

The ecosystem of the Port William Sound is still as of yet recovering. Oil still coats the shores though in much lesser amounts and many of the species affected by the spill are still recovering. But there were no extinctions of species due to the spill. In conclusion of this paper I will quote myself in
saying “the Exxon Valdez spill was a disaster”. But thanks to the resilient nature of nature itself it would seem that it will make a full recovery…….

pasture May 25, 2010

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A few days ago me and my dad hopped the electric fence in my back yard to enter the the cow pasture on the other side(with the owners permission of course). The first thing we came across was about 20 feet away from the fence;  a spotted geranium or geranium maculatum blooming on the edge of the forest. G. maculatum is a plant with a pink bloom native to the US and is quite common having a  range from the south east US to western Canada. The whole plant was used remedially as a rinse for mouth disorders and to make a tea for treating diarrhea.  Moving on into the forest we came across one of my favorite plants; the May apple or Podophyllum Peltatum.May apples are hardy perennials from the barberry family which form dense mats on the forest floor. The May apple is so interesting due to its unusual and seemingly exotic look which stem(sorry) from the plants looks;the sprouts(which almost never grow more than two feet tall heaven forbid three)  resemble little green umbrellas. As the plant matures it eventually splits into two large leaves each on its own stalk, forming an interesting Y shape. A flower emerges at the center of the two stalks but droops to become approximately perpendicular to the main stalk. If the flower is pollinated it forms into a oval shaped fruit  which when ripe has a pulp that tastes slightly lemony and is used in jams, jellies, and marmalade. The seeds being poisonous(like every part of the plant except for the pulp)are strained from the mixture.

kim son May 25, 2010

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Today’s review will be that of the Vietnamese restaurant “Kim son”. Kim son is a small family run restaurant that is on guess road in Durham, N.C. Lunch is from 11:00-2:30 and dinner from Monday to Thursday is at 5:00-9:00 and on Friday and Saturday till 9:30. They are closed on Sunday.

So on to the review. The appetizer was a spring roll with peanut sauce. This was actually the first time I had had a spring roll before so I really can’t say accurately how good it was but I certainly liked it and it went quite well with the sauce. The first dish I tried (me and mom shared two) was the banh pho xao thap cam which is thick noodles under neath a heaping pile of stir fried beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, egg,mushrooms, and vegetables (cabbage, celery, baby corn, water chestnuts, onion, bamboo shoots, carrots, broccoli, and snow peas) with a brown sauce (that’s its name in case you didn’t know and thought I was simply referencing color). The dish was extremely good. The brown sauce added a slight sweetness to all the ingredients making the cooked vegetables I usually despise absolutely delicious. The many ingredients added a huge variety as well as a challenge to the meal whilst I mastered chop-sticks. The second dish was crispy fried boned chicken(it still had the bone),rice and broccoli served with ginger sauce. This was definitely a finger meal and was quite messy . The chicken was not Kentucky fried at all but rather the skin was fried and became a flaky seasoning for the meat that had a slightly seared taste that went very well with the ginger and rice. The broccoli was well broccoli and was rather refreshing after the chicken. The
final dish was Vietnamese coconut cake and was on the house(apparently we were good customers). The cake was ridiculously good and was very heavy with a cream I think was a chocolate coconut milk cream(something like that).

The service was quite nice especially since we were the only people there at the time. This was due mainly to the part that we arrived right after they opened. But we’ll just pretend we were special and they kicked every body out to serve only us. As I said before we got free coconut flan. Ah and they also have all you can drink hot tea. Mine was jasmine tea but I think they have more types. Our waitress was quite nice and asked about my moms neck brace whilst laughing at my inability to use chopsticks. She also remembered to say “I hope you get better” when we were leaving. It has a nice family atmosphere and was very calming, or then again maybe it was the tea…..

I highly recommend this restaurant to those who like Vietnamese food and even more so to those who wish to try it for the first time.
Over all I’d give them a ten of ten.