kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
My cousin is currently touring Yellowstone with his wife; they're posting pictures on Facebook and causing me to reminisce about where I was 10 years ago.

About this time I was wrapping up my final few weeks of my last tour as a Park Ranger at Yellowstone. And while I loved the park and, to a certain extent loved the solitude, I would be lying if I said I was looking forward to getting back to Alabama, and to my friends. Still, that summer changed me. Perhaps more than any short period of time in my life before or since.

2002 was, by far, my longest tour of duty in the park. Most of the experience was overwhelmingly positive. I still have a love of "western" and Native American culture. There were some negatives, and one in particular that I don't talk about much. But overall, I came back from Yellowstone in 2002 a different person than when I left. It showed, when I was willing to stop floundering around in my life, start tacking some of the tough decisions and taking responsibility for myself. That next year I really turned things around. Got things right with school, started living [more] on my own, and got a real job.

It was that real job that kept me from returning to Yellowstone in 2003. I had to make a choice - quit my job in Auburn and go to Yellowstone, with no guarantee of what would be waiting when I returned in the Fall, or work through the summer, stay in school and be a semester closer to graduating.

The me prior to 2002 would have hit the road without a second through. The me of 2003 did't. The me of 2003 stayed in Auburn, worked, studied and continued pulling myself out of the tailspin I'd been in. But, even then, I knew I'd probably never go back. The changed me sacrificed any chance to "do it again" because of what I learned about myself.

I try not to dwell on "other paths," but, seeing my cousin's photographs makes me wonder what that other path would have been like. I almost chose that path again in early 2005 when I couldn't find a job out of Auburn. But, just as I was getting my paperwork together go back and considering the possibly going to NPS seasonal law enforcement training at Sylvan, an offer appeared to go work in Huntsville. The rest, they say, is history.

And I haven't been back since.

I still miss the park. I miss the quiet and solitude. I miss the long drive to Jackson, or to Idaho Falls. I miss the wildlife - the moose, the elf and the howls of wolves. And yes, I even miss the annoying tourists.

Although I can't help but smile a little bit. Next time we go, I get to share some of that joy with my daughter.
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
It seems like a lifetime ago...

I was working at my first real career type job - a junior programmer for a transit company. All summer I lusted over a 2000 Ford Focus. And, if there was one indispensable soundtrack to that "last summer" before I left for Auburn, it was the Titan A.E. soundtrack. 

It was only 12 years. Why does it feel like a whole different life, and a whole different person?
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
On this day, ten years ago, I created an account on a site called TigreJournals, which was run by a friend of mine. But I needed to test it. So I created a post called "Test" with the content of "The cheese is good today." That post is here.

"The cheese is good today." It was an in-joke that, hell, even people on the site wouldn't get. It goes back to my freshman fall at Auburn, when I was in the Intro to Engineering course. We made heavy use of the WebCT system, and there was a semester long running thread on the WebCT discussion boards about how good cheese was. Being that there were like 100+ people in this class, it got stupid long after awhile. Even the professor got in on the fun. He'd even say things in class like "are we going to actually discuss this, or just talk about cheese."

My blogging experiences actually go back further than that, to Open Diary, where I kept my first few blogs. I wish I could still go access those, but they've long since been purged. Over the years, I've moved. From TigreJournals to LiveJournal and, most recently, to Dreamwidth. But all the data is here. Ten years of crazy life experiences, from a 20 year old college sophomore to a 30 year old married engineer, my blog documents the ride that was my twenties.
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
I've talked intermittently over the years about going back to school. I'm getting to the point in my career where I really need to have a more advanced understanding that I really think I can only get by taking some courses in mathematics and algorithms. In the meantime, my company has launched an "educational assistance program" that will pay for me to take two courses a semester and three semesters a year.

With that in mind, I'm giving serious consideration to going back to college to get a real, honest-to-God Computer Science degree. And while I'm sure it will be a lot of work, I also think I'm more mature than I was 10 years ago and more able to handle the workload of a computer science program than I was as a 19 year old punk just out of high school.
kiranlightpaw: (auburn)
Every Auburn person knows Toomer's Corner. It's the intersection of College Street and Magnolia Avenue, marking the point where the town meets the University. Over it are two enormous old Oak trees that are over 100 years old. And, whenever anything good happens in Auburn, the tradition is you roll the trees. This was an old tradition when my parents were at Auburn in the 70s; I believe it stretches all the way back to the 50s.

Well, this year, some asshole going by the name of "Al from Daleville" poisoned the soil around the oak trees. They used a dose that may be as high as 60 times the lethal amount - not that it would take much to kill century old trees. And while Auburn's (nationally renowned) horticulture department are working hard to save them, even they admit that there isn't a whole lot of hope.

It's so sad. From about November of 2002 until I graduated, I walked or biked under those trees every class day, going from where I worked up on Magnolia down to campus for class. I can't even think about what an Auburn campus would be like without those trees shading the entry way...
 
kiranlightpaw: (oldschool)
In keeping with my "10 years since..." theme this year...

On this day 10 years ago, I loaded almost everything I owned into a hatchback and drove five hours and two states away, to start a new life in a town I had only visited before.

I was living with a guy I knew from my local area, and I had just gotten the car a few days before I left. It was a manual transmission, and I was still learning how to drive it. We left that afternoon because we weren't going to be able to move into the dorms until the following morning, so we decided to leave and stay at a hotel. I remember having real fun trying to master the manual transmission in stop-and-go traffic on the downtown connector in Atlanta. We ended up staying in a hotel in LaGrange, Georgia, for the night and then, first thing the following morning, we drove to Auburn to get checked in. I was so excited!

The following morning, my Dad arrived from Tennessee with a few other items I'd forgotten. We went to Lowes in Opelika and bought a big rug for the room, then went about setting everything up. We also went to Kroger - the one on Dean Rd. - and he nicely bought me my first round of groceries.

And then, he left. And that was the only time I teared up slightly as the enormity of being "on my own" for the first time finally hit me. In order to get my mind off it, I hopped on my bike and biked around campus a bit. To give you an idea of what it was like then:
  • All those fancy new dorms weren't there, and there wasn't even parking in most of that area yet. Where the "Village" dorms are now was the drill field, and there was an old airplane hanger. A section of Wire Rd was a one-way street from just past Donahue to just past Roosevelt.

  • Thach Avenue ran all the way through campus, and you could drive on it all the way too.

  • Where all the parking is at the Western end of campus now was the old Village dorms. I eventually met a few people that lived back in there.
I remember biking for hours all over the campus, just taking it all in. I eventually ended up eating at Milos (where the Chik-Fil-A is now) because the Student Union wasn't open yet.

After all the time and all the dreaming, this was it! I was here!

That night I got my computer hooked up. Remember when I fired up Napster - yup, the good ol' days of Napster - and being massively shocked when an MP3 downloaded in about 10 seconds. I had gone from a "high-speed" ISDN line at home to the University's stupid-fast WAN. Hell, I'm just now getting back to the speeds I could draw when I lived on campus.

I remember that MP3 was "Desert Rose" by Sting, because I had heard it in the car while driving down and made a mental note to download it.

One of my biggest regrets from my years prior to about 2002 or 2003 is that I didn't take nearly enough pictures. I wish I had taken a lot more, frankly, because I love looking at the memories. Here's a handful of shots that I do have from those first few weeks.

Read more... )

It's amazing I can remember everything about that day. The sights, the smells, the sounds. I remember what I was wearing and everything that I did. Hell, it still feels like it just happened, and I have such a hard time realizing that it has really been a decade since that warm summer day.

The next four years would take me places I never thought I'd go, and I'd meet people I never thought I'd meet. I'd go from being a nerdy kid to a mature (well, mostly) functioning adult over that wild period. But, for me, this is where it all started. My first step into the bigger world.
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
It never fails to amaze me how a song can bring up a memory. In this case, one from a little more than six years ago. Hell, I even blogged about it.

I was on my way to spring break ... my last spring break as a college student. As the story goes...
I got on at the Wire Road exit (#42) and started crusing. For about 15 miles it was great and then we hit traffic. Seems a semi decided now would be a good time to catch fire and block three lanes of traffic, so traffic was coming to a standstill. Only the girl in the Nissan a few cars up didn't notice it and rear-ended a Corolla.

Being the nice guy I am, I stopped over to help. The chick was very, very cute, wearing but a black corset, ribbon around her neck, and a pair of jeans. I wanted to bend her over the car and ... nevermind. But I behaved and comforted her for about an hour and a half while we waited for the State Trooper to get there.
It's funny. I can't believe I didn't post this in the entry, but I still remember peeking in the back window of her busted car, and seeing a copy of Frank Herbert's Dune in the her partially open bag. We spent the time waiting for the State Trooper to get there discussing Dune and other science fiction classics (I myself was working on some Heinlin at the time). Then, once the State Trooper got there, we said goodbye and I got back on the road.

In my blog post about spring break a week later, I dedicated the lyrics to Bowling For Soup's Girl All The Bad Guys Want to her.

I never even got her name. I guess it just wasn't meant to be at the time.

I wonder what ever happened to her...
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
This weekend Sarah and I were cleaning out the attic. It's the first time I've truly parted with anything major since moving out of home ten years ago - nothing like going through ten years worth of accumulated junk. I kid you not, we took two pickup truck loads worth of junk out - one went to Technology Recycling, and the other is going to Goodwill.

We also built shelves to hold what was still there - sentimental stuff (a few boxes of college and fraternity stuff, and a box of high school stuff), Christmas decorations and stuff we can't store elsewhere in the house due to lack of space. All in all, a productive weekend.

In one of the bins I came across a stack of CDs. I set them aside and started going through them once the work was done. Unsurprisingly, most of them were audio mix CDs. I never burned a lot of data CDs, but in a time before I had an iPod (or an iPhone now), I used to burn CDs to listen to in the car or in a mobile CD player. And there were four or five mix CDs of various stuff I burned while in college.

Full circle from burning them years ago: I went through each one and created a playlist in iTunes to match the CD.
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
The project that began last week - tagging all 1,843 LiveJournal entires I've made since December 2001 - is finally, and at long last, complete. 310 tags now cover that entire time period for easier reference. It was a great voyage through the last nine years of my life, and I find that, each day that goes by, I'm glad I've taken the time to write down over all these years what was going on in my life at that time.

Back in 2004, just before my first MFM, I was musing on music (as I often do) and wrote this:
Did you ever notice how a song that you once hated and couldn't stand you now like?
I followed it up by mentioning a few that came to mind at the time: The Spice Girls - Say You'll Be There and Duncan Sheik - Barely Breathing.

It occurred to me today, as I went shopping for some new clothes to wear (see my previous entry about not having much left to wear), when another such song popped up on my iPhone. At least one song I didn't care for that, in the intervening years, I've come to like: Maroon 5 - Harder to Breathe.

I think at the time I hated it because it was just freaking everywhere at the time. One of my annoyances with the Clearchannel radio world we live in now is that, when a song has the potential to be popular, every radio station everywhere drives it straight into the ground by playing it seemingly every other song. That's what the station(s) in Auburn were doing at the time with this song.

But ... I think that, precisely because it was everywhere during my senior year at Auburn, every time I hear it now, that's what I think about. Which may explain why I like it now.

So what about you guys? Are there songs that you didn't like when they came out but now do?

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Kiran Lightpaw

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