Sunday, November 23, 2008


Well, it's been getting colder and colder here until finally.... THIS happened....

Fall Ball Photos

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Halloween at Villanova

Mike the Lumberjack and Salvatore the Mobster.

Salvatore the Mobster and Pocahontas.

Salvatore the Mobster and Sarah Palin.

Salvatore the Mobster and the Cowgirl.


The Group.

The Guys.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Eight Weeks Later....

Hello everyone!

Well, we just passed our eight week mark a few days ago, and all appears to be going well. It's been a hectic ride so far, mainly on account of India Company. As I mentioned in my last post, the first six weeks of school were filled with fairly intense training for Navy ROTC, our initiation process if you will. By the end of it all, however, we were learning how to have fun with it. It still wasn't the most pleasant experience, but our superior officers began to lighten up over the final days, and we realized that they were having a heck of a lot of fun and that they were really very nice and fun people. My Platoon Commander is one of the sweetest girls ever, so it was really quite humorous seeing her "morph" back into her normal self. Even though they're technically my peers now, I still have a tremendous amount of respect for them, and it's been hard not calling them "sir" or "ma'am". I ran into one of the other platoons' sergeant instructors two days before Fall Review and as I walked past he said "'SUP SAL?". I responded with "how are you sir?" He said "woah, wait, noooo no no. Repeat after me: 'what's up?'. You're out of India now, relax man." I still have training three times a week (hopefully I'll get it down to twice a week soon), but now I'm training with a friendly, supportive group of fellow students.

Fall Review was a very encouraging experience. Several high ranking military figures were there (Rear Admiral Joseph P. Mulloy, Commander of the Pacific Fleet swore us in) and the formality really stressed the importance of the event. The most fun, however, was wearing our white uniforms together. We look pretty snazzy, I must say. Note the photos.

Everything else has been fairly standard procedure. The week after Fall Review brought us midterm exams (gee, thanks!). However, with midterms brings fall break! Now, I learned an important lesson here: don't stay on campus unless you have to! And plan your events carefully. I stayed on campus so that I could go to a concert Tuesday night (which was incredibly fun!), but that meant missing out on really anything else this break. I was okay with that, and I thought that it would just be a nice relaxing time to unwind and get some work done. Well... when there's nobody on campus... it is relaxing but it's also very boring. You really have to make an attempt to get out and go somewhere. So, lesson learned. I caught up on sleep, I caught up on some other things I needed help with, and I burned a couple hours watching Family Guy trying not to think about how there wasn't anybody to hang out with.

Regarding things you thought might have changed when I went to college: I'm still single, and I still plan to play rugby. I went to a practice and it was REALLY, REALLY FUN, but at the moment my schedule with the Navy conflicts with practice times. Next semester I should have time to practice with them, and it's supposed to be more relaxed in the spring anyways.

As always, please email or call. I'm not going anywhere!

God bless,


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I'm alive!

Hello everyone! I'm sorry I haven't put anything on here in so long, but I thought I'd write a blurb to say I'm okay and I got settled in alright. Well, my bags are unpacked, but I don't know that settled in is the right term. I hope to be putting up more photos soon, but here's my "new look" and my "new crib". I live in Moriarty Hall on the third story (that middle window on the creme colored plaster side of the building is mine). My dorm mates are all very nice people and tend to be settling down (third floor was a little rowdy on the second night here.... smaaaaaart). Lots of engineering majors in my dorm and I'm starting to notice people I know in my classes. Lucky me though, I was placed in a dorm with NO OTHER NROTC CANDIDATES. I think they hate me. Everyone else either has a roommate or two who are Candidates or they are in a dorm with other candidates. Apparently the Navy is racist and doesn't like Italians. Or prejudiced and doesn't like Anglicans. I'll keep you guys posted on that front.

First things first. I got in to Philadelphia at c. 1 AM and, thanks to time zones and strange sleeping and eating schedules, I was surprisingly awake and alert. Suffice to say, I made it out of the building alive and I was able to successfully maneuver the dark and dirty sidewalk of the Philadelphia International Airport and access Mr. Hoopes car. I stayed at his apartment that night, and then ran a few errands with him before he very kindly took me out to campus. I met with my two roommates, Ken and James, and had a pleasantly quiet evening with the other new students in my dorm.

Thursday through Sunday was jam packed with Orientation. They take orientation very seriously here.... all 1700 freshman are divided up into groups of about 20 students and assigned a group number (GROUP SIX-THREE!) and an orientation counselor (ROOOOOOBBBB!). Aside from an awkward luau and a slightly less awkward water ice social, orientation was a really nice, relaxing time where we got to spend a lot of time on campus and get to know all the buildings while at the same time we got to create a support group and get to know other people on campus. I know everyone in my group and even though I don't see some of them very often, it's nice to have that connection so that when I do see them I can go up and ask them how they're doing.

Orientation ended Sunday night, and Monday morning brought my first day of NROTC and my first set of classes. Well it would have, except my alarm clock didn't go off so I missed my first day of drill (NOT A GOOD DAY). Villanova NROTC prides itself in it's 6 week initiation program called India Company. We candidates have taken to calling it less pleasant things such as..... well.... okay.... we haven't thought of anything else yet... but if we do I'll let you know. For the first 6 weeks of school, we train/drill four mornings a week, and are basically on call for every school day (wearing "proper civilian attire", signing in twice a day at John Barry Hall and greeting officers according to their correct titles whenever we come across them). Lots of screaming. Lots of ego-breaking. Lots of work. It's mentally and emotionally draining, and the physical aspect has been tough (at least for me) as well. Suffice to say, I can't wait for Fall Review (when we all become midshipmen 4th class in early October).

As far as classes, I have Introduction to Engineering (learning how to work with CAD programs -quite fun), Chemistry (*deep breath*), Calculus (*deep breath*), Basic Theology, Augustinian Culture Seminar (a humanities-type class) and Naval Science. Plus I have three hour labs for Engineering, Chemistry and Naval Science.

I'm afraid I have to cut this short since the night is getting late here. But, as I have already said, I'm alive and I'll try to continue to keep you posted. Life is busy, but please call or email me if you ever get the chance and I'll try to get back to you ASAP if I don't catch you.

God bless,


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Mill Creek Trail

Hi guys!

I just thought I'd take a minute to share a few photos I took of the area I'm working in with the Forestry. Right now we're working on the Mill Creek Trail, 16 miles of mountainous terrain in the Ishi Wilderness following (as far as I've seen so far) Mill Creek. It's a rough hike mainly because it's so long and there's no real tree cover to speak of (dry as a bone at 2300 feet.... the lush greenness you see in the photo is really only down where the water is.... the trail is pretty constantly 100 feet or so above the water), but the scenery is awesome. I have seen so many gorgeous swimming holes... oh my goodness. Would that I were not there on government time! Most of our time has been spent hacking through the black berry bushes which take up entire hillsides. Awesome place to go for black berries, I'd say wait about 2 weeks and they should be about ripe. I've also seen wild grapes, wild olives, and LOTS AND LOTS OF POISON OAK.

For those of you who don't know what I'm doing this summer, I am working for the United States Forest Service on the Almanor Ranger District's trail crew. There are now five of us who go out and hike the various trails in our district and make sure that any loose rocks are out of the way and any fallen trees are out of the way. We basically make these trails safe for you outdoorsy civilian types.

The photo to the bottom left is of Black Rock, the big marker at the south end of this trail. Below that is a photo of three of my co-trail blazers.

Below is Troy, the newest member to our crew, just finishing up his first week with us. He is standing in front of a patch of black berry bushes, reeds, pacific ewes (spelling?) and several other trees. The photo below him is that area after we're finished working it.

Above is a view from a rock about 150-200 feet above the creek (by our reckoning). No one else wanted to crawl out there and take some photos so I did. For some of you, this might seem like a strange thing for me to do, but.... it did. :)

Sorry that the layout on this post is less than perfect. I'm still trying to get the hang of all this. I just wanted to give ya'll a taste of what I'm doing.

Peace and God bless!


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Peace of Mind

So, seeing as I have 10 weeks left of High School, I have been pretty pre-occupied with thoughts of the future. What's going to happen to me? Where am I going to be in a few months? What's college going to be like? Etc. etc. etc. I got to thinking "gosh, I can't wait till I graduate, then all this worry will be over'. I caught myself just in time to add in a "yeah.... right". I've realized that life will never be certain, and that this senior year is but a foretaste and a shadow of what will come. I can't assume to know the challenges of the future, but I know that life won't be simple any more.

Dang it.

Well... I hope it isn't blasphemous to philosophize on less important passages of scripture, because I'm going to. Ooo, well that last sentence was asking for trouble. Of course, no portion of scripture is UN-important, I just won't be formulating my own opinions on major doctrines.

A few minutes ago I was thinking about my crazy senior life and my lack of ability to see what the near future holds in store, and I realized that, if my life is not going to be simple, perhaps that is one of the things that makes heaven so great. Heaven is the ultimate place to gain peace of mind, the place where all things make sense, the place where language and thought and emotion and paperwork will not be barriers to understanding. I mean... I'm not gnostic. Language and thought and emotion have their place (I don't know about paperwork), but it seems like one of the great things that we are plagued with here on earth is not being able to understand each other. Lord knows we try, but when you think about it, failure to communicate is the ultimate reason for man-made atrocities.

Think about the Tower of Babel. Human-kind got together and decided to build a tower to heaven. Yay them. Of course, their intentions weren't good, but I can still appreciate their efforts. Big buildings get me excited. But, think about it! They were all working TOGETHER. They must have been able to talk to each other and understand each other pretty well. But when God looked down and saw what they were doing, He confused their languages and they were no longer able to speak to each other. Things fell apart and people went their separate ways, and to this day we still have a diverse set of languages in the world. I think that before God struck the people at the Tower of Babel with confusion, they not only spoke the same language, but they all spoke it with such excellence, that they were able to expound upon their own thoughts and understand others' thoughts to a degree that we cannot imagine. I think that our pride and arrogance ruined that, and that in having so many languages, it is utterly impossible to reach that level of intellectual harmony again. Yes... kind of a Utopian spiel for me, but it seems logical. Our ability to have simple lives was ruined at Babel. Forevermore, we can neither think nor communicate as efficiently as we could then, and that has ultimately destroyed any sense of closure we might have about our lives. Our lives are complicated because we cannot work in the social environments that we are made to live in and around the people we are made to live with.

I guess this blog post ended up not being so much about my busy life, but about life in general. I wonder if these colleges could make their decisions more quickly if Babel had never happened...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Freedom Vs. Dignity

The only problem with getting up early and going to morning prayer with a group of gentlemen from my Church is that my brain actually gets working. Blast this early morning thinking. :) Que the sarcasm if it isn't already.

So, my family is now officially addicted to House. We've borrowed the DVD set of Season two, and when we watched an actual movie last night, my mom noted that while she loves watching movies, she really wanted to see what the next episode of House had in store. For those of you who don't know about House, I suggest you do some research and watch a few of the shows if it interests you. Suffice to say, it's a medical show with a humorous twist. Duh, it has Hugh Laurie in it.

To cut to the point, I got to thinking this morning about AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators). You know, the zappy thingys that bring someone back to life after his/her heart stops beating. Really quite mysterious. But, the thing is, on medical TV shows, you only see men getting zapped because the pads of the AED are applied to the chest. Of course, it's scandalous to show a woman's breasts on TV like that.

Why is it scandalous? Our Victorian sensibilities tell us that anything regarding the upper portion of a woman's body is unfit for public viewing. But, it's a doctor show. Women have heart attacks too? Why be sexist and only show men being saved?

In Victorian times, modesty (or downright prudishness) was emphasized so heavily so as to ward of sexual promiscuity. We can all recognize that, seeing as that strain of thought has become part of our culture as well. Quite honestly they didn't have to deal with medical shows in the Victorian Era. Doctors of course saw women's breasts. There was nothing dishonorable with that. They're doctors, that's what they do. Why have things changed then? The shows still deal with doctors helping people. The setting hasn't changed.

The TV has made slaves of us all. By blatant sexual overtones in advertising ("sexy talk" as Hugh Laurie said earlier in his career), we have lost all sense of dignity and respect for the female body. Even though the topics are the same, even though the show House deals with doctors helping people, it is utterly impossible for them to show a nude female torso and keep a sense of sobriety for the subject.

Now, having said that, I of course have to clarify myself. This is for TV shows. Movies, I think can be slightly different. Writing this, I thought almost immediately of the movie Wit, starring Emma Thompson. This is an incredibly powerful film, and while I endeavor not to recommend movies to people, I think that I can break that rule in this case. At the risk of giving away the plot, all I can tell you is that, towards the end of the movie, there is a scene where doctors attempt to use an AED on Emma Thompson's character. Now, they must remove Thompson's robe in order to move ahead with the procedure. I don't know if it's because it's Emma Thompson or because of the gravity of the movie itself, but I don't know of anyone feeling either scandalized by this or (going to the other extreme) at all tempted to fleshly lusts (monastically put). This is an exception. I don't think that anyone could have pulled this off on House or E.R. or any of the other medical shows out there. Films are able to grow a subject and mature in a way that TV shows are incapable.

Living in America, what are our freedoms? I've been told that there's nothing in the constitution about banning porno. True enough, there isn't, but does that mean that we ought to let it run rampant in society (as if it already isn't)? At what point do our rights dictate our judgments? I, for one, am glad that House isn't allowed to show female nudes on the show (though that could change, of course). I don't think that the general population, in it's present state, is able to handle it, myself included. We've lost all sense of dignity in this country, and our rights need to be called into question as a result. Yes, we have the right to buy porno at 18, but does that mean that we ought to? We think of ourselves as adults, but as far as moral compass is concerned, we're little better than children.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Day 378 on the Island


So, in this frightfully exhausting evening of absolute social-nothingness, I took it upon myself to post a message to you, my charming and dedicated readers. I fully recognize that my ability socio-political critique is lacking, and I also recognize that I have been very bad about posting over the past few months. I further recognize that there was a funny something in my keyboard that made typing that 'v' very difficult. I am even further recognizing that Pandora has a terrible way of making all my beloved stations go caddy-wompass. In a mere hour of negligence on my part, my beloved Gnarls Barkley station has fallen into utter chaos.

But, enough of that. Rest assured in knowing that I am quite well, and still partially sane. Senior year is quickly passing by and I am well in the pursuit of my next home. For this, I bring you.... A POLL!

What University Should Joe Attend?
Drexel University
Seattle Pacific University
Seattle University
Villanova University
University of San Diego
Stanford University

Please realize that your responses will have little or no effect upon my decision to go to whatever college I choose, but I thought that it would be fun nonetheless. To this date I have only been accepted to Seattle Pacific University and Drexel, but go ahead and vote for other schools if you so desire.

With sappy farewells resembling those of Mike TV's,

The Creator