A Friday Wrap

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It’s Friday, the week has been busy, but it’s great to be alive.

After pulling my first all-nighter since college, which I finished a year ago this weekend, I realized that something has to give when it comes to my daily schedule. I’m grateful for the opportunity I have, to work from home as I study for my personal training certification, but working from home forces you to actually develop a schedule that needs to be maintained and improved upon daily.

Since it’s Friday, I won’t bore you with how to create a schedule for yourself, or even how to help jumpstart your motivation to get everything done, but what I will give you is this:

You always have more time than you think you do, you just have to find it.

I look for blog topics every morning, since October I’ve been contributing to the Third Wave Fashion Blog and monthly Fashion Tech Report, Paige and I average six runs a week, and I have to study to get certified. Without some type of order, like I lost this week, you’ll end up with the dreaded all-nighter, which shouldn’t happen once you’ve graduated.

You can make it through this Friday, use the weekend to get that big breath of fresh air you need, and don’t worry about anything until Monday. Like the photo below, it doesn’t matter how you have fun, but make sure you do!

7fd2d5e65aa211e382810ee93d32a936_8Courtesy: Paige

The Business of Edcuation

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My general disdain for the money made from higher education has been pretty evident, if it hasn’t, just browse through the education category over on the left. Typically my focus is on student loans, the impact that students are left to deal with in the pursuit of a decent education, but today I’m taking a slightly different route.

Thanks to the Western Carolinian, the student newspaper at Western Carolina University, today I’m focused on how the money is being spent by the institution. Before I get started though, I will clarify: the issue I’m addressing in this post is not that money is being spent, but how it is being spent.

Having established that, the inspiration for this post comes from a recent article published by the Western Carolinian in regard to the 2020 Vision Plan for WCU, and the impact that a potential parking garage would have on students, staff and faculty.

Parking garages are expensive, they must be managed and maintained, just like any other facility. I get that. Considering the growth that WCU has experienced over the last few years, I’m not one to disagree with the notion that a parking garage is probably a smart idea for the preservation of the campus and the community. In this case, I’d personally much rather see one structure a short distance from campus that could provide solid parking options for students without paving over the whole landscape.

There is one thing however that sticks out to me though, and an issue that I believe should be a more intricate part of the planning well beyond 2020, and should be considered as we head into 2014.

The faculty and staff of WCU have not received a raise in their salary since 2008, and some of them are upset that their parking fees will go up in order to compensate for the garage. Renee Corbin, director of assessment, even talked about parking further away from campus or making a deal with local business, for a fee. If the faculty and staff are to pay more per year for parking or other fees in order to accomplish the 2020 Vision plan, without a pay raise, they have every right to be frustrated.

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I can’t imagine that Western is the only school with this problem, not necessarily directly related to a parking garage, but the idea that faculty aren’t seeing pay raises for the work and dedication given to the institutions they serve, as money continues to be spent on expansion projects and useless campus “beautification”.

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Where my problem with the situation goes deeper, is the fact that all of this money is spent, but programs continue to be cut, class sizes increase as classes are cut from programs, and the blame is placed on money and budgeting despite expansion and beautification projects.

Yes, growth is good. I’m not saying that it isn’t, but should the quality of education, and the quality of programs offered be driven into the ground just so the students can have a new fountain or new campus directional signs?

The simple answer is no. At institutions of higher education, something inside me says that we should be focusing on maintaining a competitive level of education, not making things pretty. There are programs at WCU that have scaled back so much, that they hardly resemble the programs that students initially came to the school for.

On a larger scale, the problem with education across the country, high schools and colleges alike, is coming from how money is being spent. At some point, the focus needs to be on advancing what is best for students, or these institutions need to quit pretending to be focused on education.

Yes, I included high schools because North Carolina can’t seem to get anything right in terms of budgeting for education, which may or may not come from the fact that all the people making real decision have no idea what it’s like to work in the actual education system.

Teachers, professors, faculty and staff, they all deserve respect from the students they serve, but they deserve even more from the systems that they are working for.

If education were actually the focus of higher education, I’d be willing to bet money that many of the problems we’re facing would seemingly fix themselves. But when you’re more concerned with the way something looks than how it operates, then no, none of these problems are ever going to be solved.

Education is a business. It’s time the employees were shown that they are appreciated, not just being used to bring in more money under the facade of helping develop the future.

As always, that’s just my two cents and I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but where I do think we can come together is in the idea that a change needs to be made to the system as a whole; something is broke, it’s time we fixed it.

Hacks are for Hacks

You’ve probably seen the lists: Top 10 camping hacks, 14 hacks for a more organized fridge…

But the thing about those lists is that they aren’t hacks!

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Think about it, to hack something would be to gain entrance or to break into something. You aren’t doing that with the “hacks” that you find on Pinterest and BuzzFeed. In fact, the only definition of hack that fits these lists is to describe the people creating them. That is to say, the writer is a hack, working “especially with mediocre professional standards,” at least I’ll agree with good ole Merriam-Webster on this one.

Don’t get me wrong though, some of the lists are clever, and there have even been a few that I thought were genius, but the 90’s kid in me screams that these are cheats not hacks. When you looked online for codes to unlock levels or to make games easier, it wasn’t called hacking, you were cheating.

Maybe it’s the negative connotation that cheating carries in the world of everyone’s a winner, but I’d like to return to those days when the cheat was the secret to an easier level, even if it is an easier level in life.

So leave the hacking for computers and software, and just call it a cheat or a trick.

The Never Ending Honeymoon

There is no way that Paige and I are unique to this notion, but we want to know why the honeymoon should end just because it’s time to get back to work and, as everyone else is putting it, the real world?

Now just over two weeks married and fresh off our trip to Japan, I’m reflecting on the way we worked our way through Japan, how the honeymoon was so perfect and how that translates into the future. No gimmicks or self-help books, just maintaining the level of adventure that has come with our marriage and what will ultimately make us happier.

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The first level, or lesson learned if you want to look at it that way, that I’ll start with is the language barrier.

We hadn’t been in Japan for 20 minutes before we made a friend that turned out to be a baseball trainer from Japan that had lived and worked in the US and was moving back home to join his wife. He helped us navigate the airport so that we could exchange vouchers for rail passes and get on our way to Karuizawa. He joined us on our first train, and along the way asked if we knew any Japanese.

Beyond konichiwa and “Domo arigato Mr. Roboto” we had nothing.

He laughed and was astonished that we would make our honeymoon in a place that we didn’t speak any of the language, but that’s what works for us.

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Why would you want to go somewhere that you already know? That principle is why I believe that Paige and I are capable of continuing the “honeymoon phase” that everybody claims will disappear. We like adventure, and we like to overcome the uncomfortable moments in life, like being immersed in a culture that it turned out we didn’t know as much about as we thought we did.

Granted, the Japanese were very accommodating and English though broken is a pretty solid second language, especially in the heavier tourist areas.

There will be more to come from the trip, but I would leave you with this: Japan provided a great deal of time to reflect on what matters, as well as provided a chance to step way outside the comfort zone; I would encourage you to take every opportunity to do the same.

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I hated to leave the land of the rising sun, but it’s great to be back. I’ll have some great stuff coming your way soon as I roll back into the swing of things.

Image collaboration with Paige

Riding Silent: I’m Still Here

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I know the site has been really quiet since my last post, and there’s been plenty to write about, since the government shut down and everything, but unfortunately I’ve been a little busy with that whole wedding thing.

So, in lieu of the darkness from the Freelance Rider, here’s a look at everything that our wedding planning has consisted of as we approach our final hours before the big show.

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And on that note, the weekend will be busy, but our closest friends will all be with us and we couldn’t ask for more. For those that couldn’t make it, we understand, and wish that you could join us on Sunday as we step into a new way of life.

Thank you all for reading, and I’m excited to add the newlywed perspective to the Freelance Rider.

The Art of Alienation: Photo Series

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What makes something beautiful is always left to the individual, but what makes a photo great is entirely different.

The strongest pieces don’t inspire happy feelings, but rather force you to question what is happening. To go a step further the question must be based on your own self reflection, and not the piece in front of you.

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To me, that is what makes a strong piece, and there is nothing that brings out those feelings better than photographed alienation. Provocative loneliness speaks to everyone, because it’s what we all fear.

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As the cultural shift toward emphasized storytelling continues, explore your own alienated self, because you could be surprised by what you find.

044c6f72246111e2bfc622000a9d0dda_7Image collaboration with Paige Hogan