Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Reading Incentive

What’s the difference between blogs and published writing? There is a difference, and many people don’t seem to realize it. Besides the fact that blogging is new to the writing world, blogs offer a new style of writing, compared to published articles, columns and books. Blogs particularly seem to have their own style of writing and attitude. It’s a style of writing that people seem to enjoy reading, but why do they enjoy it?

What makes blogging so popular is the freedom of writing. Freedom meaning writing in any kind of format one enjoys to write in, along with attitude, arguments, or even writing from a mood someone may be in. Most anything will get someone’s attention, but keeping it is what is hard to do when it comes to blogs. Some readers seem to like blogs short and to the point, and some would even argue that 1000 words would be to long. Therefore a blogger must ask themselves the following question: what can I do to keep a reader reading? Along with it being a freedom of writing, blogging is a form that keeps readers’ interest, the most when using humor, irony, and personal experience that people can relate to. Readers enjoy this and it makes blogging unique to other forms of writing.

Every writer has their own attitude or tone they enjoy to write in. Some range from a more serious attitude with a professional tone, others may write for fun and not care about how it sounds. These styles are either liked or disliked by someone. Because of the independence with blogs, people tend to find a favored style they enjoy reading. Once the people are drawn to a blog; the hard part is to keep them hooked to the reading. The reader may lose interest faster when reading a blog, so the writer must put in something to keep their attention, to keep their minds entertained. Examples would be: a change of topic, tone, emotion, and style. What kind is up to them, but some work better then others. Out of all of them, emotion is the strongest of them all; it is the most personal and descriptive. This is what writers tend to incorporate into their blogs.

Like all writers, bloggers use multiple writing techniques, which reflect to their topic. In comparison, writer’s blogs, tend to have a greater sense of humor than published writers. In fact there are bloggers who only write in a humorous style, like Uncle Bob’s post, “Never Threaten to Eat Your Co-Workers.” Uncle Bob takes us through an eventful day at work when everything goes wrong for him. His style of writing is a personal narrative, which he writes as if he were telling it in person. He writes as if we begged him to tell us what happened. Looking back at his blog online, he has many different posts with this similar style. He also uses attention grabbing titles like: “There Oughtta’ Be a Law against Bran Muffins” and “Global Warming Can Kiss My Sweaty Behind.” This is a unique form of writing which attract readers. He tends to go off topic on small tangents, explaining his surroundings, to give the readers a total understanding on what is going on. At the end of the post, there is a hidden point to why he wrote this, but it can be hard to recognize because sometimes his titles don’t relate to his text. In all, his posts can be very funny. There is no meaning, nor lesson, so he wrote this blog for his pleasure and for the reader’s pleasure. Why people may read this would be to just laugh, to have a fun read. People go to blogs like this because it is rare to find a read similar to it outside of the blogging community. Bloggers write like this because readers want a fun read, they like to see humor in writing every once in a while.

Some bloggers are dedicated to write with humor, but there are others who do in different ways. These writers, they write for a known topic, but they may incorporate different styles in their writing. How this differs from writing outside of blogs is the use of narration in blogs, to tell a story. It is still very common to see most bloggers write as if they are telling a story in person. It seems though if they want to have a serious attitude in their writing, they have to be wiling to have a joking attitude as well. To write about a topic and staying on track, but throwing in the fact that they have a joking side as well. In “What the Hell Is a Weblog and Why Won’t They Leave Me Alone,” by Derek M. Powazek, he explains his journey into blogging. He stays on track, explaining how he got into blogging and how it has affected him. Throughout his post he doesn’t hesitate to throw in some of his personality, some over exaggerated statements like: “So I did something dreadful. Something despicable. Something so horrible and evil I couldn’t stand the sight of myself in the mirror in the morning. I started weblogging.” A statement like this makes the read easy, enjoyable, and fun. The use of irony and humor in this context makes readers want to read more.
Personality is key when it come down to writing. Writing has to have its own life to give to readers. I learned that by blogging myself. I try to put a piece of my personality into my writing. I try to give the reader an idea of who I am like as an individual, even if they don’t know who I am. Though I try to do this in all of my writing, but it just seems to be more appropriate for a weblog. Why is this? I feel that blogging is a type of an informal writing style without any limitations. Because it has no limitations, blogs can be written in any way. Now why people choose to write with humor or about a personal story is because people enjoy reading it. People enjoy relaxing reads, along with entertainment, put those two together and you get weblogs.

Graham, Alan, and Bonnie Burton. Never Threaten To Eat Your Co-Workers. New
York, New York: Springer-Verlag New York, Inc., 2004.

Rodzilla, John. We’ve Got Blog. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing, 2002.

“Uncle Bob’s Diary O’ Chuckles.” Uncle Bob Fat and Bloated In Alabama. 27 May
2007. 31 May 2007 http://unclebob.diaryland.com/index.html.

Friday, June 1, 2007

A Rowers Guide to College

Everything has a start and an end. In almost all cases the start is the hardest part to overcome. The start is the most stressful part, and it takes time to get past it. Starting out as a freshman in college, there is a lot to get used to; many things to change and to be aware of all at once. Being aware at the start is the most important. You must be aware of everything so you don’t miss your stroke, the most important stroke, the one that starts you off.

Once you’re off you can do anything but stop, you can’t stop, if you stop you fall behind and catching up is a hard battle to win. Remember though not to run yourself thin. Learn to pace your battle and conserve your energy. There are plenty of things in life, and we need to enjoy them while we still can. Stay focused at all times though, catch water and pull, don’t stop until the finish.

You can’t see your finish, but you see all that is going past you, pay attention to the white buoys, when they turn orange your stretch is about to begin. The coxswain yells “300, this is what we worked for gentlemen, take it up.” Now it’s here to the finish line, every bit of energy comes out on these last 30 strokes, quitting is not an option. The people on the shore are chanting your hometown and boat name, you want to look but you can’t. “Power 10 guys,” 100 meters to go, our hardest gets even harder. It starts to hurt more and more, stroke after stroke. 10 strokes seem like 10 years, then you finish.

Everything has a finish, but you decide how.

“You notice one thing at the finish line, the boats that lose look tired, but the one that worked harder, looks like they can row back and do it again.”

Head Coach of The Westerville Crew Rowing Team.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

An Interview With David

What inspired you to write about crew?

If I had one thing to say about crew, then that would be crew was my beginning. Crew was responsible for making me break out of my shell; it made me into a better individual. I feel that if you make yourself a part of something then you will go to better things. So I wrote this blog for people like me, before crew. I want to show people how something little can make a great impact in someone’s life.

I also want to show people who are or were involved in an activity, that they were probably changed as well. It may not be as much as my experience, but regardless, a change is a change. People may not realize this, they may not notice the true friends they have, how their personality has changed, how they may have changed physically. I noticed and I wanted others to see as well.

I think that everyone should be involved in something, no matter what it is, that’s up to them. It can be a sport, activity, or a hobby, anything that makes you happy. As I write this blog I can see how I have changed, also it brings me back to those good old days. In the long run I want this blog to be for me and for others.

What has been the reaction from people reading you blog?

This blog is available for anyone to look at, but it is mainly subjected the members of my afternoon English class. Though just a small amount of people have been reading my blog, I have been getting good feedback. I tend to get comments from people mentioning an activity they remember doing. Its great to read about people who have been in the same position as me, how something helped them along. The class will be over soon, but I hope that my blog will get discovered by others. I will check and continue to post periodically, maybe over a different topic, I’m not sure yet.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Popularity Always Wins

In high school, there were a variety of sports and activities to choose from. Almost every school has its football team, along with baseball, soccer, basketball, you name it. There are too many to choose from, but what I have noticed was that many of our school sports were always talked about. This was because of the people who were on it, the “popular” people of our school. What I’m trying to say is that no matter the sport these people were on, the sport became one of the schools main sports.

That was the complete opposite from my team. We were the least talked about at our school, in my opinion. I don’t care because I loved everything about it, I made my life friends because of it, even though I have been off the team for a year and a half. I also got a best friend out of it, Alexa to the left of the picture. Now back on topic, when we were talked about, all they had to say were negative things. This was from the people who were not involved, so I feel that don’t really have an opinion towards us. The thing that would always get me was how people said that what we did was easy. I’m not going to compare difficulty to other sports, but easy was not in our vocabulary.

What people need to realize is that all sports are difficult, not easy, maybe in some ways but overall. Dealing with anything, not just sports to. Now just because your friends are in a certain sport doesn’t mean that all others are worthless, this is what the people in my school didn’t realize.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Stressed Overachievers

Stress is a part of our everyday life and is one of the hardest aspects of life to overcome. Whether work or family stress, people handle it in their own ways. Stress is very common in college students now and days. The average college student will have a job alongside with schoolwork. There are also students who are in programs, sports, and extracurricular activities which tend to have more stress put upon them. Would it be easier if all stress were taken out of their lives? Perhaps, but the everyday stress that is put upon overachieving students is healthy for their personalities, along with teaching them needed skills to handle stress. These few essentials are good qualities to have and it contributes to becoming successful individuals.

In S. L. Kim’s article, Springtime Thoughts, she talks about the stress put on athletes in college. Now an academic advisor on a college campus, she talks about here past years of rowing. Being a past member on her college rowing club, she experienced a great amount of stress as an athlete and student. Kim rowed every year in college, but decided to quit half way through her senior year so she can concentrate on school. Happy with her decision, she still missed the sport, but she also thought about all the opportunities she missed because of crew. Later, becoming an academic advisor, S. L. Kim deals with students that are in the same situation as she was. These students will give up class and work to make it to practice or to a competition. In Kim’s article, she is upset with the coaches who put this on their students, knowing that it conflicts with their school work. Thus this brings up her argument in her web log. Her main focus is her students and their careers as students, but she “can’t help but get angry at the nameless and faceless coaches who put seemingly unreasonable demands on my students’ time and energy.” Though she is upset with the coaches, she doesn’t understand why some students don’t quit their sport and concentrate on school. Kim realizes that anyone can quit but she understands how hard it is to quit.

S L Kim feels that her student’s coaches put to much stress on them. She also thinks that her students will do much better if they were to quit their sport or organization. S. L. Kim does not realize or perhaps has forgotten that students get a great deal out of sports or organizations. Not only can students express themselves, but they improve themselves mentally. It does however put a great amount of stress on the students, having them keep up with their activity and their schoolwork. Stress should not be looked at as a negative though. In order to overcome stress, one must learn methods to handle it. Such methods are managing time, setting priorities, making commitments, and being responsible. These skills are very useful to have practiced at a young age. Reinforcing these skills will make future stresses easier to overcome.

S. L. Kim mentioned that when she quit crew, school became much easier to handle. She could concentrate on her work and take a further interest in the class. Through personal experience, quitting crew helped with school greatly, but what helped the most were the skills learned from managing multiple activities. These skills give a student an upper hand over others. Having the ability to cope with multiple stresses makes dealing with one much easier. In order to be successful in college, and in an organization or activity, you must develop these skills early. What the author argues is that the stress is brought on by the coaches. The coaches put unreasonable demands on the students, which ultimately can result to doing poor in school. Kim wonders why students put themselves through that kind of stress, also why they don’t just quit their activity and concentrate on school. What needs to be done is this: if the student is capable of doing the work and activity, what needs to be done to help them improve. In other cases, if the student is not capable, then possibly consider concentrating on schoolwork rather then the activity.

What the author is suggesting is that students should concentrate on schoolwork rather then activities, sports, and organizations. I agree that school is more important, but students should be able to express themselves in some way. Personally I was in S. L. Kim’s position when it came to me quitting crew. I do miss the sport but I was relieved by having that stress taken away. Though I did not have an activity to excel on, thanks to crew, I was able to learn skills to deal with stress and deadlines. These skills help me manage multiple activities, and without the stress of someone without these reinforced skills. I considered crew a learning experience; it helped me develop people and time management skills. These will be helpful to have later in life and for my career.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Thank You Web Log

Different people express stress in many ways. For some they let it get the best of them and let it outburst. Others don’t show but they let it sink deep within. These different types of scenarios are not the best way to handle stress for anyone. You have to find a way to let out your frustration and emotion.

For me, I like to relieve stress through physical activity, like going to the gym or out for a run. The funny thing about it is thanks to stress I am in the best shape of my life. Many things about college to me are very stressful. Trying to juggle a job, my quest to become an officer in the Air Force at ROTC, my school work, my social life, and trying to get at most 6 hours of sleep a night if I’m lucky. This is something I was never really used to. To get to my point on how this relates to my Crew topic, I wasn’t doing any type of activity, club, or hobby. When times got tough things got ugly and I mean ugly. I finally joined crew and found my release valve. No matter how bad things may have gotten I would go to practice on a mission. I would pull on that oar with every bit of energy I had; almost as if every stroke was knocking a bit of stress off the top. I would feel great afterwards, even though I had to deal with what was bothering me. I love the fact that I could take something negative and use it to better myself. If you haven’t tried it you should.

It’s not healthy to bottle up stress; it can affect you in many different ways. You should express yourself in any way suitable for you. People may watch TV, exercise, have their favorite snack, and if you haven’t noticed already through blogging. As long as you can give yourself a chance to breath, you’re in good shape.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

I Don't Think She Heard Me

Have you ever had an embarrassing moment in public? Have you tried to cover it up as best as you could but no matter what you still look like an idiot? For example, tripping forward in public and while you are on the ground do push ups to cover your trip. Even though doing the push ups probably makes you more of an idiot then tripping. Regardless what happens and what you do to try to cover it up, we all fail miserably.

I recall of a time like this at a regatta. It was lunch time and all crews take an hour to refuel and rest. I’m standing in a small group of people talking as my coach volunteers me to retrieve oars for one of our boat going out. I was walking with one of the girls from my crew, a long haired blond and a close friend of mine. Even though the docks are not very far away it takes some time to get though the boats walking by in line. We had a conversation about our all time rivals, the Cincinnati Junior Rowing Club or just CJRC. This crew was the best and always had a step above us. We all had theories joking on why they are so good, some ranging from a motor on their boats to even having their team genetically cloned as hard core athletes. Getting back to the story, a boat was crossing in front of us and I continued and ducked under the boat. Completely oblivious of the fact that my friend stopped for the boat, I continued my conversation with a long haired blond that happened to slide on in where my friend was. I continued to walk with my new friend talking about CJRC. Getting to the end of my conversation I said: “yea I guarantee CJRC has a cloning lab under their boat house where they clone their rowers.” Waiting for a “yea” or “I know”, instead I heard with a very faint, quivered, almost scared voice “oh, ohh… ok.” I look to my left to see a CJRC rower with long blond hair take a very sharp 90 degree turn away from me waiting for me to pass. She starts to scurry away as I yell “sorry wrong person,” there was no way she heard me though. I had a dumbfounded feeling and stopped where I was looking around making sure no one else witnessed my embarrassing moment, but one was enough. My real friend runs up to me and says “sorry I got caught up at that last boat.” I didn’t tell her what happened but I replied “let’s get moving.”

Even though I will probably never see that girl again, I can’t seem to stop wondering what see was thinking, along with that what see told her other teammates. It’s a little uncomfortable to think that some where out there I am labeled as "The Creepy Rower From Westerville Crew."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Do It For The Love

People who have done a team sport know that it takes effort and teamwork; however, time commitment is the most important factor. You have to be willing to give up a portion of you time, your life if you will, to do certain sports. Sports teach you personal responsibility to your team but most of all to yourself. It is a must to keep yourself first. This is why I chose to quit crew when I got to college. Knowing the work load that I would be enduring my freshman year, I chose my career first.

This is similar to S L Kim and her blog Springtime Thoughts. She is in the same situation as I am. She used to be on a Crew team before she went to college. She expresses how the sport influenced her through descriptive writing. Though she quit the sport she loved and concentrated on school. As you read her blog she begins to question why people in college do sports knowing that they will be busy with school. Surprising coming from someone who understands how it is like to love a sport, don’t you think? She mentions how she asked someone “why don’t you just quit.” This upset me because this is being kind of hypocritical.

People in college today seem to be doing sports for two different reasons. Reason one, because they are on scholarship. Reason two, they enjoy doing the sport. I feel that a sport should be played because you enjoy participating in it. I feel that you get the most out of it this way.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Late Start

When teenagers get to high school, they already know their groups of friends. Then there are the others who are looking for a group to slide in on. It took me about two years to finally find mine. Two years seems like a long time but it was harder for me compared to other students. Most students met their friends though school sports and clubs, which many of them have been doing since middle school. It seemed that they already had their friends and it would be difficult for anyone else to feel accepted. All though I didn’t feel that team sports and clubs were the only way to find new friends, they certainly helped.

I came straight from a private to a public school after I graduated from eighth grade. This was a big leap for me because I had been at the same private school since I was in kindergarten. I didn’t really have that many friends while I was there, which was mainly the result of me going to a public high school. I decided to get away from that environment and try out a new one. Westerville North High School was the school in my district and the biggest one too. Getting dropped off my first morning was very intimidating. Immediately I was taken by the crowd and forced to go with the flow. It was hard to hear any sort of announcements over the hundreds of students. Very different compared to walking single file down the hallways quietly. The one thing I felt that was most strange was the fact that I didn’t have to wear the same uniform everyday.

Around the end of the school year I felt like I was fitting in with the crowd. I had a group of guys that I sat with at lunch and in some classes. Even though I was accepted, I didn’t feel like I was. Rarely did I go to my friends’ house to hang out or to the movies on Friday nights like everyone else. When I finally realized this I felt like I was back to square one again, that I was back at my private school.

The middle of my sophomore year, I started to hear about the Westerville Rowing Club or Crew for short. This was just talk I overheard in the lunchroom though. I became intrigued listening to all the talk and hype about it. I wondered why haven’t I heard about this club before, it had been in Westerville for almost 10 years apparently. I began noticing Crew t-shirts and jackets worn only on select days during the year, these days being the day before a race. This sounded like a good opportunity to get involved. I just didn’t know where to start.

It was winter quarter and the first snow finally fell. I assumed that the Crew season was over, and I was too late to join until the spring. There was little lunch talk and you rarely saw any Crew t-shirts or jackets being worn. It was almost like the sport was in hibernation. I started to trail away from my group of people little by little as the quarter went by. They started to dress different from when I met them; they dressed more punk and gothic. Also our music interests started to clash. These may not be very big issues, but that’s what mattered in social groups in high school. I stated to go straight to my classes instead of meeting with people to socialize.

One particular morning a blue and white flyer hanging up on the wall across from where I sit grabbed my attention. “Crew Conditioning” was the title in bold lettering. It was a flyer to try to recruit new rowers. I read that there was a time and place where they practice every night in the winter. Ironically they practice in the same spot I had been sitting waiting for class to start for the past couple weeks. I ripped the flyer down and studied it carefully so I wouldn’t miss anything. It said that the workouts will be on an ergometer or rowing machine. It also said to bring a water bottle and work out clothes, pretty simple. It also said “spandex shorts are highly encouraged.” After reading that sentence I didn’t know what to expect.

I arrived at the school about 20 minutes before practice. The school was empty and quiet, very different from what I have been used to. I started walking to the location on the flyer. I started to hear loud music coming from what sounded to be a large stereo. Along with the music I heard a different, unfamiliar noise. This sounded like metal chains being zipped back and forth. I assumed those were the ergometers. Once I got to the hallway and turned the corner, there were about 150 people exercising. I was amazed to see that many of the rowers were in my classes and at lunch right next to me. I met the head coach moments later. He was a tall and lanky individual in his late forties. He rushed over with a very positive attitude and reached out to shake my hand. He shook with both hands making my arm whip up and down uncontrollably. His attitude rubbed off in a way showing that he had great pride in his club. After greeting me he brought me over with the other beginners. Once everyone seemed to be there the coach clapped his hands together and said “let’s get started.”

Everyone works in different ways. To some people, making friends is not an easy task, for others it is much easier. Personally I would call this my beginning to who I am today. This club gave me the strength and courage to become an individual. I still don’t believe that team sports and clubs are the only way to meet people and make friends; they are only the starting point for an individual. They are responsible for how we are shaped, thus making it possible for teammates to become one. Though finding your desired group is not an easy task but it is certainly worth the hard work in the end.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Puke For Pizza

Most coaches for any sport right before a big challenge would most likely give a small pep talk. Not our coach, he knew better then to bore us with a speech. He probably thought that it would bore us so bad we would be tired before the race. He wasn’t superstitious but he believed that every little thing contributes is some way. He would come up to us and start telling rowing stories from his day. My favorite one had to be when during a race, on his stroke a fish lifted out of the water, smacked his oar, and he launched it into the coxswains face. He had a million of them. I think that’s why he was different from any other coach.
He would motivate us in any way he could. The one phrase he said that I will never forget had to be “Puke for Pizza.” I won’t go into details but I’m sure you could figure it out. He knew what we liked and it was pizza. We would laugh at how he would try to pull the same routine with us on the women. His stories never really hit home on them than with us. They were motivated, but more disgusted judging by the look on their faces.
The greatest thing about my coach was that he connected with us all in one way or another. His humor is what got us through the day and through our races. All he wanted was us to try our hardest, win or lose.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Why A Cult?

What might a cult be? There are many different definitions to the term. My personal definition of the word would be a group or organization on which stands out from society in its own way. If you were apart of the Westerville Rowing Club then you might know what I mean by this. To others it’s difficult to understand. Our little community was known to stand out from other clubs and sports. Personally to this day I really don’t understand fully why people considered our club to be a “cult”. Was it maybe our apparel? I mean to most people spandex are not the manliest thing to wear, but what about wrestlers? They have to physically touch each other when competing, we don’t. Was it mainly our slang that only Crew members could understand, but all teams have their inside jokes. Could it be that our club was coed? Well just because our men and women practiced at the same time doesn’t mean much to me. I really can’t think of much reason why. Perhaps it was the fact that we got new members weekly even though it is in the middle of the season? I don’t know I give up.
Since I have been in the club it seems that there was always attention brought to our club, positive and negative. No matter how small it is it seems to get blown out of proportion or misunderstood. Yea I will admit there have been some pretty bad times that brought negative attention to us, but no one is perfect, no team as a perfect roster. Though I will never understand exactly why we were portrayed the way we were; I ran out of ideas. I’m not quiet sure why we were considered a cult, and really I don’t care. All I have to say is that it was the best cult I have ever been in.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Saturday Mornings

It is a Saturday morning and the sun is almost over the tree tops. The coxswain gives the command to lower the boat into the water. The 60 foot boat is lowered carefully down in the water. Port side rowers run up the hill to collect the oars. Once the rowers are seated and strapped into their seat we walk the boat down the dock. Bow four is told to row to get clear from other boats. We slowly move out into the wall of fog covering the water. Moments later the sun reaches the water, lifting the fog. It is calm and quiet, not one sound is heard over the clicking and splashing of our oars. The water is just like glass; it is perfect. We row down to the dam, just a couple of miles away. As we get closer you can hear the crashing of the water falling over the dam: a faint, low, thundering sound. We turn around as our coxswain explains the morning work out. As she speaks into the microphone she breaks up into static then comes through. The speakers never really worked that great even from the beginning. We are told to do a race piece to the bridge, about two miles away. We all moan not really wanting to do the piece, but we get ready to put our best into it. The wheels on our seats squeak as we roll up to starting positions. It’s silent, waiting for the commands. “Attention”! All of our oars snap upright in sync waiting for the big “Go” command. It seems like hours of waiting and anticipating for the command. The adrenalin is pumping through your body, but you are focused to hear instructions. “Go”! The loud splash of our oars can be heard from shore as we do the first stroke. We roll up for the next stroke as fast as we can. Once the first ten strokes are over, we slow our pace down to conserve energy. This is the start of the longest seven minuets of your life.