Our crew had a blast last year at DNNWorld 2011 so we eagerly looked forward to this year’s conference all year long. This year DNNWord was moved up a month from November to October which was a welcomed change by me as November is the best part of deer hunting season in South Carolina. As soon as the early-bird registration came out I registered.
To me, DNNWorld is like a combination of a family reunion, a pep rally, and information-loaded-boot-camp. It’s really hard to describe and put into words, you just have to experience it. There are great people to meet, prizes to win, awesome sessions to inspire you and get your creativity flowing, a side-conversation constantly going on via social media, competitions to enter, arrows to shoot at people, good times to be had, and trees to be climbed. It’s fun and I always leave energized about the future. There was no way we’d miss it.
As a web developer and a hunter I find myself taking on two contrasting identities and, often times, bouncing back and forth between the two. When I?m with my co-workers I?m the ?web guy? with a country accent and when I?m with my hunting buddies I?m ?the guy who spends too much time up in city working on computers?(which is not really workin)?! You may be just like me, the guy who makes the commute to work in the city and returns back south chasing deer, turkeys, and anything that will bite a hook on the weekends. If you are, then you'll be able to empathize with my sentiments that follow. Accordingly, no matter on which end I find myself, I end up receiving a hard time from both my fellow hunters and co-workers. Though, I?ve come to appreciate both sides (and the hard time that they give me).
To help me illustrate what I?m describing a little, let me tell you a story about one of my friends from the city. I frequently find myself talking people from Charlotte into coming down to Pageland and ?letting their hair down?. (My dad says I ought to work on the Pageland Chamber of Commerce). I have a friend who is a New Yorker that now lives in Charlotte and I talked him into coming down to the country for a day. I took him fishing and we spent a few hours on the pond and really didn?t catch much. Towards the end of the trip I asked him what he thought about fishing. His response kind of caught me off guard. I expected him to be critical of my guiding abilities and to talk smack to me. Instead he replied saying that he really enjoyed fishing. I thought he was being sarcastic and I asked him why and he responded ?Do you hear the birds? and I said ?yes?. Then he noted to me that he never hears the birds where he lives in the city. He went on saying how he didn?t know of any pond that he could go fishing in that was close to Charlotte. He commented on how he really enjoyed the peacefulness of just floating on a pond simply because it wasn?t something he gets to do often and that it was relaxing to him.
Earlier that same day I had taken him out to a shooting range and it was his first time shooting a rifle, shotgun, and pistol. He actually hit the bull?s-eye on his first shot with the rifle, but it did bloody up his brow a little. He was even able to hit some skeet as well. He did go home with a nasty bruise on his shoulder too. Thinking he would talk junk to me about his shooting experience, I asked him how he felt about shooting and he responded that he really enjoyed it as well. He spoke of shooting the rifle and the immense moment of silence right before he pulled the trigger. He talked about the power and intensity that is packed into those few seconds of silence and yet how he didn?t even hear the gun go off. Yes, he learned and had a new appreciation. He thanked me for bringing him to shoot and for allowing him to get a new perspective on guns. He even took the target with the hole in the bulls-eye back to his house to show off!
From my friends responses it appeared that the moments he experienced "out of his element" were invaluable to him and helped him gain perspective. I believe this is the case because lessons learned when you find yourself seemingly out of your element and somewhat vulnerable offer the most room to grow. The things that hunters find commonplace were new learning experiences and good memories for my friend. He was open to coming down and, as any country boy would do, we tried to get him ?countrified? as much as possible... and it was fine by him. His normal identity is that of a city boy (who at first holds a gun on his shoulder as if it were a surface to air missile launcher). By coming down and living the life of a country boy for a day, he learned and benefitted from real-world experiences that derived knowledge that you can?t get from a book.
My friend found himself in the middle of a day that was outside of his normal environment. As I thought about his experience and how he was so grateful and appreciative, I reflected on my own life and realized that my ?normal? is being caught in between these two environments. Going back and forth between the identities is my "normal" and I?ve learned to appreciate it. I like to, how do they say, ?get in where I fit in? and that?s about all anyone can do. Though, to ?fit-in? in the contrasting environments takes a little vulnerability and openness with the end goal being to learn about the other side and yes, to learn about one?s self.
Not surprisingly, one?s identity is directly linked to what they do and the activities in which they are engaged. I'm engaged in more than one activity which leaves me actualizing multiple identitities. Though, it is only from the perspective of the fragmented identity (i.e. living the experiences of both worlds) that I am able to draw a true appreciation and understanding for both sides. Because I?m not always in the city, I appreciate certain aspects of a city life such as being able to go somewhere where nobody knows me, or the ability to get to almost any type of store relatively quickly, or being able to work with an organization that has a large scale web site who can offer me employment. On the flip side, because I?m not always in the country, I appreciate going to a restaurant and knowing the locals, or the winding country roads that are free of major traffic jams, being able to get out in the woods and work with my hands...and, as my friend said, to hear nature around me. The fragmented identity sharply brings into focus the advantages and disadvantages of both sides, allows me to see if and when the two converge, and in doing so brings on diversity and broader horizons. Had I never spent a good deal of time in the city, I wouldn't appreciate the country...and vice versa.
It's not too bad being a ?webneck?.
Form & List + ManDeeps Module Mashup
I had to create a portfolio and handle various formats so I tied the form and list module together with the LiveContent module from ManDeeps.com and used them to create the gallery. Technically I could have done this all with ManDeeps LiveContent module, but tying it in with the Form and List module makes it a little bit easier to maintain for content managers as well as gives me sorting, paging, and stronger control via CSS.
This week was a pretty good one. On Monday we ran and lifted as usual. Since I had the camera I took some pictures of the buses & subways that we ride and just random pictures to give you a feel for what we are seeing on a daily basis.
We were riding a boat to get to the Vasa Museum and it was pretty neat because our bus passes also work on the boats as well. So I was able to get some good pics off the boat. You will see pictures from a Theme park called Gröna Lund. Now they have a drop zone which I also got pictures of, that makes the drop zone at Carowinds look like child's play.
So you see we were on our way to tour the Vasa museum. This is a museum of a sunken ship that was recently recovered off the coast of Sweden. We " almost " toured it as our ultimate guide was confused about the time that the museum was open (we are still planning on going back). However this is what the museum looks like from the outside and here's a picture of Mario and our unnamed ultimate tour guides (Oliver & Chief) pointing towards the sign. * Names have been altered for personal protection due to disgrace of being Swedish and not being able to read Swedish times
Since we were downtown and the museum was closed we figured we'd walk into town and mess around for a little bit. While we were walking I got more pics of the scenery.
So that was Monday and was the day that I went crazy with the camera, thus all the pictures. Monday night when I got back I noticed that some Spanish guy had added me to his buddy list on MSN. I began speaking Spanish, but no one responded as it was kind of late when I authorized access on the buddy list. That was kind of strange then on Tuesday morning before we went to run I received an email from the guy. It was a team in Barcelona Spain wanting me to come play with them this coming year. The guy thought I was still in the states when he was emailing me so he couldn't figure out what I was doing up at 4am checking email. Anyways we got on the messenger later that evening and I talked to him for about an hour and a half and he was filling me in on the details. Their season is earlier than Finland and Sweden's and so he said he would want me there in January. At the end of the conversation he said " from what I can see your Spanish is very good " so it was good to be able to converse with him in Spanish and hopefully that will give him extra incentive for wanting me to come. However I didn't sign or anything like that because I still don't know what exactly I will be doing, but its neat to know that I can visit another country if I would like to. Then again I think when am I going to get a real job. Who knows what will happen. Other than that nothing much happened exciting on Tuesday besides lifting and practice. On Wednesday we lifted again and then bummed around as it was raining a bit and then later that evening Mario Santos had us over to his place to eat. It was good to visit with them and eat at their place again. This is the same guy that had me and my cousin David over to eat. So we just hung out over there and he's all into cars so he and Mario were speaking some kind of language I'm not familiar with. Thursday was haircut day and just running and practice. Not too much else worthy of writing about for Thursday. Now on Friday I will to say that we were rolling in high cotton as I have told some of you. Working the connections we were able to be on the list to the annual Crayfish party at the US Embassy here in Stockholm. They said that this is a 30 year tradition. Mario, Coach K, Coach A, Larry, and I went up in there to represent Tyreso, Cali, Finland, Jersey and of course South Carolina. Let me start with the entrance. I was planning on taking my camera, but Larry had said that no cameras were allowed inside the embassy. The embassy is in downtown Stockholm and is fenced in with tall white bars and it had a guard building. The fences around it reminded me of the houses in Colombia and Venezuela and the guard shack reminded me of Liberty..lol. Anyways we had to take our passports just to get through the guard shack. They would only let 2 people in at a time and the setup was similar to airport security. Slide all metal items on the belt and walk through the door. If you didn't work there you had to have a sticker that said " function " on your shirt. Our group might has well have been malfunction, dysfunction, no function, and functionless but as you can imagine we gave the woman at the door grief over the stickers. It ended up being true that no cameras were allowed in as Coach K had a phone with a camera on it and they held it there until the party was over. So we walked in and yes it felt good to be on American soil, yet in another country. Kind of weird huh. We entered the building ( it is a pretty big building by the way ) and followed the signs and yes Mario spotted the South Carolina flag flying in there so that was cool. Obviously we stopped and had a moment of silence for it. This is when we started seeing all these people. I would say that there was about 130 people there. I think some of them worked at the Embassy, some diplomats, some marines and then just other friends of people who worked there. We all hung out in the inner square of the embassy then we went into this room and they had the table set and ready. The party was catered and they made us wear these crazy birthday style hats. The tables were filled with drinks and food and then a guy got on the mike and started making a welcome speech. That's when the crayfish started coming in and I had to get some instructions on how to eat them from a few different people, but I figured it out there shortly. We had a really good time in there and we got to meet to meet a lot of people. After the meal the Dj started playing music and wouldn't you know it I ran into some girl from Chile and we dance salsa. The whole evening was surreal because we were 4 Americans and one Finn sitting in the US Embassy eating crayfish with people we didn't even know. Nevertheless we represented and had a good time. After the party we headed downtown. Larry put on a Holyfield demonstration for us as we were exiting the Embassy and that was funny. We went into the city and all hung out for a bit then headed home. The only evidence that I have for you that we actually went ( cause I know some of you thinking I'm lying ) was to bring home the piece of paper that was on our table. So take a look at this. I guess its safe to say that they have a good time at the party.
Game Weekend Since we were playing on Sunday this week we all headed down on Saturday and stayed in a Scandic hotel. It's a pretty long ride to Carlstad and I made a cd so we listened to it on the way and saw a lot of the Swedish country side. It was a pretty day and it is still getting cooler over here and feels like it does when it turns fall. We got to the hotel and rested for a bit then ate dinner and then went into the city for a bit. It was neat to see another city in Sweden and we didn't stay out too late. We did see some of their players out in the town as well. One of the guys on our team had bought a Street & Smith's College Football magazine and so Mario and I were reading that while at the hotel. It was weird to be in Sweden and to read about GWU and Liberty and see our friends/roommates/classmates names in the magazine. I guess the world is small. Before dinner we did attempt to sit in the sauna at the hotel, but it indeed turned out to be a Swedish sauna and there was no Loylu or steam to be seen or felt. Game Now this was us returning down to a team that had killed us 2 weeks prior and they were anticipating a walk through I believe. Before the game they had a mascot...( a crusader ) come on to the field and drive his sword into the middle of the field. The crowd got hyped on this. He was wearing real chain mail and steel so it was more lifelike than a costume. It was a really windy day and we got the ball first and were going into the wind.We drove it right down the field on them and scored on the first possession on a long sustained drive. This put them on their heels and gave us some momentum. The defense was holding them and the game was going well. We were able to move the ball on them and they even had to switch their defenses on us. They were in a 3-3 stack and had to go back to their 4-2 because we were ripping them on it. I had a bomb td pass dropped on their sideline and soon after there was another one dropped in the zone. I can't talk too much though because one time I had a guy open in the end zone and made a bad throw and missed him on it, but we did score though. I had to do about 5 Qb sneaks in the game and one time guy ripped my helmet off and the chinstrap going up my face left some scratches on my face and my eye started to swell a little. One of our defensive guys got an interception and took it to the house only to have it called back for offsides or something. Seemed like some home cooking to me, but that was about where the momentum stopped as this took the air out of us a little. We went in at halftime like 21-7 I believe. The second half was similar to the first, but without us having too much momentum. We were hanging with them and I hit our TE on a touchdown pass on a corner route. One time in the 3rd quarter I really got popped as I tried to scramble up the middle and someone got my feet then one of those defensive guys had me for lunch. My helmet again went up my face. I mean don't get it twisted now I didn't come out of the game or anything like that, but I can feel the soreness now and this is most sore my collar bone and jaw bone has ever been. The game ended up 39 - 12 and we lost and the season was over. So no championship this year, but its ok. I guess you can't win them all the time. I was proud of our guys this day and glad that they came to play and put up a fight. The easiest thing to do would have been to lay over and let them walk over us, but that wasn't the case. I think we surprised a lot of people in the stadium as well. You know how it is when you know you've given it your all and you can at least walk out with your head high...well that was how this was. After the game we had the team huddle and I thanked the guys for allowing me to come and play and thanked them for going out of their way to make me & Mario too feel welcome and taking care of us. I have some pictures from the game and post game here. After the game we all headed home and ended up all eating at the same McDonald's about an hour into the trip. It was reminiscent of after our High School football game when everyone would go to Bojangles. We headed home in the night and I believe the moon looks bigger from Sweden than it does in the states...lol. We saw a lot of farmers combining what looked like their wheat late into the night. Mario said that it reminded him of a scene from Indiana.
So now I will be staying here for Mr. Paul Tucker's wedding and that leaves me with a banquet to go to and 2 weeks to explore the cultural riches of Sweden. In other news the Turku Trojans will be playing this coming weekend in the championship. Did somebody say road trip? Mario and I are debating on going to Denmark and/or Norway, but being broke does come into play so who knows what will end up happening. I will post again next week to let you know if we do anything worth writing about and will end the web page with a Conclusion entry. Regards,
Well week one is coming to an end already. Today I went to lift weights with my friend Ennis (tight end) and Marlon. Ennis is from Bosnia and last year he played in Italy with former Gamecock Boo Williams. We went to a gym named Sali 82. It is a power lifting gym. It was fun and afterwords we sat in a Finnish sauna. Suanas are a big tradition for this country or something. We went to practice later that day. The coach told me that I would play one quarter at the game. I was ok with this seeing as I had just got here on Tuesday and really don't even know the system that well. Later on that night I got my first finnish massage from a girl on our hall. She just graduated from Massage Therapy School and yes it was nice. The guys here really look after us and are always calling to see if we want to do this or that or go here or there. Since its a little colder over here my sinuses have started acting up and I have the congestion or whatever. I have a small cough, but its getting better. I am learning some finnish too. I know about 10 words now and can convey to the people that I don't speak finnish and a few other key terms and words. They usually already know and can tell by looking at us and they will approach me in English. Finland as a whole is nice. It is cleaner and greener than back at home. More people are outside walking and stuff all the time, but maybe this is because they can only walk in the summer because during the winter it is too cold to leave their houses. I also saw some rabbits over here.....they look like rabbits on steroids or something. They are huge. Some of the guys took me out to a movie tonight. We went and watched The Matrix II. It was an ok movie I guess. Can you believe that the movie theatres over here have assigned seats. Not only that, but the movies were packed as well. They guys won't let me pay for anything either. Well we have our first game tommorrow and it doesn't even seem like game week to me. We'll see how it goes. All I know is that we are leaving at 9 in the morning and its late now so I better go to bed.
Well this was an experience all in itself. First of all let me start off by saying that I've never played on turf this bad before in my life. Tennesee Tech was close, but this beats all. There was no padding underneath the field and the turf had sand all over it, which would cut your skin if you fell on it. I got some turf burn on my elbow. We had about a 5 hour ride north to some town and played a team called the crocodiles. I was a bit nervous, because I knew I would play at least a quarter, but things turned out differently than planned.
Lets start with my equipment. I have some decent shoulder pads and I brought my rib pads. Now my helmet is loose a little bit and my pants don't have a belt so we duct taped them up and I wear a size 13 shoe and during the game I was wearing 11 1/2's so you can imagine how it was. The jerseys and pants we wear have sponsor patches all over them. Kind of like a soccer jersey would look or something. I will try to keep mine so that I will have it for the Turkey Bowl this year.
The older Qb was to start and I was to get a quarter sometime later in the game. Well on the first series he got a neck inury and so I went in second series and played the rest of the game. My first series in on the 3rd play I hit the Tight End down the middle for a touchdown. It felt good to finally have the feeling again, but I must say it was like playin C.A. Johson or something. I ending up throwing 3 TD's on the game. I passed for 243 yards and rushed 4 times for 44 yards and one of these was a sack. I think the guys like me or atleast I try to bring them together and stuff. Sometimes I wonder if they understand me. We won the game 28 to 0, but we should have scored 50 points on them. I was 10 for 20. After the first score I found out that I was also the holder for our team, something that I have never done before either. I held for all of the extra points and we made them all so I guess it was good. I am excited at the outcome of the first game, but I also realize that the competition was not that great and the game does go at a slower level. While we play we have to wear a big A on the back of our helmet so that the ref's will know how many americans are in the game at one time. It was kind of weird. I was also a captain during the game. One time I rolled out and threw the ball towards one of our guys and he couldn't catch it and it hit the referee right smack in the nose. He immediately dropped to his knees. They had to stop the game because the ref got injured, but he came back after about 5 minutes and fnished the game. Everytime I threw a TD pass I gave the lineman a tap on the helment or a five letting them know that they were doing a good job and I think they liked it. You can tell they are expecting me to be a leader and some of the guys on the team even told me that. I hope that I will do good enough to please them, but they seem happy as of now. The coaches told me that I did well for the first game...so I am happy for now. I mean I don't even really know whats going on with the system totally. The other team had a linebacker from Maryland and we talked a little after the game so that was neat. After the game we took showers and sat in the sauna that was in the locker room.
Now the bus ride home was something totally different. We stopped in the town that we were in at a local store and the whole team, including coaches got off of the bus and went into the store and bought loads and loads of beer. I couldn't believe what was going on. I happen to be on the phone with Mr. J.E. and Mrs. Karen Aldridge at the time and was telling them about this. So the whole team, except for Marlon and I got drunk on the way home. We had to stop the bus 3 times so the guys could use the restroom. We would just pull over on the side of the road and the guys would line up and just go right there. I may take my camera on the next game and take a picture of this because it is quite the sight (pictures of the backside only though so don't worry). The guys were singing and talking/yelling the whole way. Marlon had his Cd's on the bus and so we put in a Snoop Dog cd to make the guys be quiet and because we knew they would hate it, but they let it play all the way through.
After all of the stops we finally made it back to Turku. The team was half lit by the time we got here and these guys got off the bus and went straight to the clubs. Marlon and I got a ride back here and cleaned up a little bit then went out with the guys. Once you go downtown people are going every which a way so its hard to keep track of everyone. We got into 3 clubs, for free with no wait so that was nice. Many of the guys on the team are bouncers at the clubs. It's funny to see these people dancing in clubs because they really think that they have it going on, but if you were to see them, you would be asking yourself what in the world they are doing. Its funny to watch them. Just imagine a person catching cramps all over their body is the only way I can describe it. Yesterday was graduation for the whole country of Finland so it was packed. While we were out I met a girl named Maria and she was nice. She speaks 5 languages and is dark headed. There are a million blondes over here. I may just have to see about her. Everyone over here has a cell phone and it is always a Nokia because there is a huge Nokia plant here so of course I got the digits. And that was that for the night.