Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I'm home. And I love it.

I'll probably keep blogging a little bit. Just if anyone is interested.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Everyone has been asking me all semester how big Greenville is. All I have to say is compared to Sydney its small. But I actually sat down and consulted my good friend wikipedia and now, on my last night here, I have a really good answer.

Feel free to skip over the detailed section...


The city proper of Greenville has a population of 62,000 people, which is well out of the top 200 that Wikipedia lists.

The Metropolitan-statistical area of Greenville-Mauldin-Easely has a population of 637,000 people,  making it the 83rd largest Metropolitan statistical area. A metropolitan statistical area is defined as a collection of counties with at least one core city with a population over 50000 and the area around it that has a high degree of socio-economic integration via commuting ties. There are 366 of these.

Greenville-Mauldin-Easley is ranked 82 out of 942 of Core based statistical areas with population of 640,000. A core based statistical area is the same as the metropolitan-statistical area expect that the core population must be greater than only 10000. So something is wrong and Greenville area should be 82 and 82 or 83 and 83....

Now for the shocker.
Greenville is ranked 45th out of 718 Primary Statistical Areas with a population of 126500. This is the most well defined and extensive ranking out of all the other ones mentioned. Each Primary Statistical Area is defined as single or multi-core metropolitan areas that aren't in any other metropolitan areas.

I am from the 45th largest metropolitan area in the USA. I would have never, ever guessed that.
Even if you look at the other rankings, top 100 is pretty surprising to me.

Greenville is also the 6th largest city (city proper that is) in South Carolina, even though it is the largest metropolitan area in the state. Mt. Pleasant, Rock Hill, North Charleston, Charleston, and Columbia are the ones that beat it, in order from smallest to largest.

Ok, I'm done. I just think Greenville is the perfect size.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I've reached the end and I don't really know what to say. My room is half packed, the house is a mess, and tomorrow will be a day full of chores, but tomorrow is the end. My last day.

I feel bad that I don't feel bad to go home. All of me is ready to go, though not in the I'm 100% miserable here and all I want is home kind of way, but the home is where I belong kind of way. (Not to say that I haven't had several of those 100% miserable times...)

Now that this marathon is done, and it wasn't always easy, I can look back and definitely say that my time abroad was good. I got to see and do a lot of cool things. I got to meet a lot of people from all over the world. I got to try out the big city life (not for me, surprise!). And my faith was definitely tested. I had long, long, seemingly endless periods of doubt and dryness and loneliness. But in the end, Jesus wins. It seems to be somewhat of a reoccurring theme in my life. Cancer lost. Doubt lost. You get the picture.

I am thankful that God is. And I am thankful that out of a world full of people he choose me to give a little bit of faith too. It is a gift that is deep and filling, and probably isn't as big as a small seed- yet.

Australia, you've been good. Hard, but good. I've loved sleeping under the stars in your desert, riding the waves on your coast, and laughing at your lazy animals.

But it is time to go home.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

First, if anyone is actually reading this, stop what you're doing and go here or here and download Josh Garrels' new album Love & War & The Sea In Between. It's free and it's phenomenal.
Ok, now back to my adventures. This past weekend I took a trip to the Gold Coast, which is the Australian hybrid between Orlando, Florida and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Many of you are thinking, "gross, why would anyone go there?" (and I agree Myrtle Beach is dirty and unpleasant), but I assure you the Gold Coast only combines the good elements of these two places. Bascially its a large touristy beach town, with miles of beautiful beaches and Australia's theme parks.

I only had two full days here, so I didn't bother with any of the theme parks. I was much more excited about the beach. The first day I went whale watching in the morning and surfing in the afternoon. Whale watching was really cool. Whales are big and interesting. (However, dolphins are far cooler. They like to play with boats and people and stuff. How can you not like dolphins?) Surfing was a struggle as the waves were way to big out back (not to mention way to dumpy for me. A dumpy wave is one that pretty much breaks instantly in a big crash, as opposed to a slow breaking wave. Good surfers like dumpy waves cause they give you barrels) so I couldn't surf them. Then they kinda stopped and re-broke like 10 ft from shore, in an extremely dumpy fashion. Meaning I didn't really surf, as much as paddled around and hoped that the waves would change. But I love the ocean enough that I had a blast.

Day 2 I really just laid on the beach. Got some sun. The ocean was too cold without a wetsuit to really swim in, so I just enjoyed it with my eyes. That afternoon there was like a free concert festival on the beach, so I moved up the beach 100 yards and enjoyed that until 7 o'clock when there was fireworks.
The only band worth mentioning was Australian singer-songwriter Pete Murray. He was good.

I just want to let everyone know that I think kids between the ages of 1 and 5 are awesome. First of all, when they hear music they dance. I could see like 10 kids on the beach, through the crowd, that were all grooving to all of these random bands. And they were too awesome. None of their dancing was mind-blowingly good, but their joy was. Why don't grown ups ever dance just because? Let alone dance badly for joy's sake?

Here's some pictures:
Seagull is winning this war.

In other news, I'm stateside in a week. Success!


Song of the moment:
Farther Along - Josh Garrels

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

12 days till home. Oh I miss it so.

In the meantime, while everyone keeps missing me, you should:
1. Listen to this song:

2. Read this:
Phillipians 4:4-7 (emphasis added)

Philippians 4:4-7
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I miss everyone and can wait to see you soon.


(exam 1 in 1 hour. Looks like I am studying realllllllly hardd......)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Let's talk music. It is something that I love.

First a couple tracks that have been played a lot recently on my computer/ipod:

Meheni Rachi by The Dharohar Project & Mumford & Sons
Who knew that Indian music, bluegrass, and beautiful vocals could mix so well! Though I have to admit the Indian music is my least favorite part....

The Sea of Atlas- Sleeping at Last
These guys (I guess he is just a single guy now...) have been cranking out 3 songs every month for the past 9 months. His latest ep has this beautiful track on it, after a beautiful instrumental lead in track. If you don't listen to Sleeping at Last, then you should. You will be hard pressed to find a better lyrics, and his music really is wonderful, peaceful, relaxing, and ingenious.

Caught in the Air- The Frozen Ocean
I downloaded his album off of noisetrade (if you don't know what noisetrade is check it out http://www.noisetrade.com/) for free a week or so ago, and I like it a lot. However, this track, the lone instrumental one, jumps off the album to me. So good.

Background- Lecrae ft. C-lite
I'm not a big rap fan. And I'm not a big Christian Rap fan. But this song really is good. It is catchy, well produced, and Lecrae's lyrics are seriously solid. I really think he raps more truth in just about any one song than the majority of CCM artists do over their whole careers, with this song being one of his weaker examples. Anyways, its good, positive, and well true.

The Storm- Elenowen
Once again a noisetrade download. This duet is really talented, with both having great voices. I can't honestly say I have heard anything else of theirs, but this song is enough to make me appreciate them.

Now for some other things.
First, I downloaded this sweet little Java applet called Super Analyzer. (Located Here -I make no claims on the quality or content of it...)  It analyzes your itunes library and gives you stats, which saved me the trouble of doing it myself. Here are some interesting screenshots that I found surprising and also not surprising...

First interesting thing: I'm surprised at how low Mutemath is and how high Coldplay is on my most listen artists. No one should be surprised that Sufjan killed everybody that badly though...
Second interesting thing: The absence of Lost and Gone Forever by Guster and The Joshua Tree by U2 from my most played albums. I half expected Lost and Gone Forever to be my most played...

Other interesting statistics:

Track Count: 8,276 tracks
Play Count: 29,377 tracks played
Total Time: 3.5 weeks
Total Play Time: 2.9 months
Artist Count: 903 artists
Album Count: 1,590 albums
Genre Count: 30 genres
Total Library Size: 47.4 GB
All Songs Played: 82% played at least once
Library Age: 2.0 years
Average Growth Rate: 80.3 songs/week

How interesting is that? I have almost listened to 90 days of music on my computer in the past 2 years. I don't know whether to be proud, ashamed, or to stop studying so much...

Another thing that I found on my own was how much longer I have to listen in order to hear every song I have once. The time: 4 days, 7 hours, 17 minutes, and 13 seconds. Dang.

Alright, I'm done typing things that no one (other than me) cares about.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Outback, round 2.

If you didn't know, the Australian Outback is mainly a desert. A desert by definition has less than 10 inches of rain a year. This isn't much. That didn't stop it from raining all three days I was in Alice Springs though. No worries, the river still didn't flow. It didn't rain hard enough.

The good news is a little rain has never stopped me; in fact it often encourages me. There's nothing I'd rather do than through frisbee on Bowman in summer storm. However, I had no discs, no Bowman field, no clemson, and nobody to throw with so I made do with ATVing, biking, and exploring the desert park.

The Desert Park was somewhere between an aviary, a zoo, and a national park. They had lots of different birds, showcased the three major outback environments (Sand, dry riverbed, woodlands), and had all of the animals I hadn't managed to see yet in Australia. My new favorite: the Thorny Devil. Check him out:
First of all, they walk with a swagger (seriously). And they are able to drink with out putting their mouth in a puddle because they can draw water up through special channels from their feet. What more do you want in a lizard? The legless ones were just weird...

ATVing, or quad-biking as they call it here, was fun. They are really easy machines to operate and it was really cool to ride around the cattle station for simply the rides sake as well as to see how the cattle farm is operated. 

Anyways, ATVs aren't very safe in my experience. And I only have one morning of it. We had been riding for around 4 hours, and we reached the top of a hill. All of us cut our bikes off, and listened to a spiel about how to ride down the super-steep incline on the other side, we were encouraged to not be afraid to give it all the brake it has got because gravity will get us down. 

I was the last one to ride down the hill. I gave the guy in front of me a little room, then gassed it enough just to start rolling. Then I gave it some brake. Then I gave it some more brake. Then I gave it all the brake i could give it. My brakes were broken. And I was now careening down a super rocky, super steep hill on a 650 pound vehicle. For whatever reason, I wasn't too worried about myself at the time (in hindsight I should have been). I was however worried about the dude I was about to ram though. All I knew to do was yell. So I did. I just yelled really loud that my brakes weren't working. And then it hit him. Literally. But luckily neither of us flipped, and his brakes slammed on held both of us.

Bottom line, I could be very broken right now, if not dead. But I came out without a scratch.

So now that my near death experience has been covered, and (this song proved itself relatively true) we can move on.

My last day in Alice I rented a bike and rode 30 miles through the bush. I rode to a place called Simpson's Gap that actually had a small flowing creek! It rained the entire time, but I figured I'd be soaked with sweat if it was dry anyway, so what's the difference. It was a really relaxing ride, and Simpson's Gap was really beautiful, and it was relatively cheap! The best part however was seeing some wild kangaroos, including a mom and her joey. 

Just to settle all debates, Kangaroos are better than Koalas.

Anyways, I have got around 2.5 weeks left here. Exams, ho!

I'm looking forward to seeing everyone back home.

Peace and Joy,


P.S. Lion comes this summer. Roar. and iCloud is super exciting. Is it bad if I watch the Apple Keynote?

P.P.S. I lost my phone. I never lose things. This is extremely demoralizing.
First some pictures, then i'll do another post with the past couple of days of adventures:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Outback, round 1.

I am finishing up my six days in the outback as we speak. The harsh desert that fills the majority of Australia has been good to me. Here's a brief overview of a few adventures:

After I flew in to Ayers Rock Airport, I boarded my three-day, two night tour with a collection of strangers. Let's just say the group on my camping tour, where we are hiking and sleeping under the stars, was not what I expected. There was about 5 younger people, plus me, but there was 4 middle-aged to older ladies. They were a hoot, though I'm still not sure if in a good way. One was a Yogic Swami (I'm not sure if there are other types of swamis...), one was the kind of old lady that doesn't really know when to be quiet, one was just super awesome, and one I would describe as posh, talkative, and not afraid/ashamed to say what she was thinking. She would always tell us how beautiful, tasty, wonderful something was in a form of a question- "Isn't that sunset beautiful?", "Isn't that fire lovely?", "Isn't that tea divine?" You get the picture. It made me chuckle the entire trip.

But on this tour we hit the three biggest features in the outback: Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), and Watarrka (Kings Canyon). Uluru is what everyone thinks about second when they think of Australia (after the Sydney Opera House), but it was by far the least impressive of the three natural formations. It may be the largest monolith in the world (350 meters tall), and it may wonderfully change colors at sunset, but its a big rock nonetheless. And because I thought I would be a good person, I choose to respect the Aboriginal culture and I didn't climb it, which seems to defeat the point of seeing a big rock in my mind. Nevertheless it was super impressive, and I got some wonderful sunrise photos of it.

The Olgas, however were balling. The local Aboriginals believe that they are the heads of the creation spirits, geologists believe it was an enormous monolith that cracked and was worn into lots and lots of giant round rocks (or something...), and I believe that it was simply beautiful. We hiked up in them to the Valley of the Winds- it was perfectly calm. Our guide was just in shock because he says it is usually so windy that they can't even stay at the lookout long. None of the Olgas are as tall as Uluru, but overall they are much much much bigger and encompass a much bigger area.

Kings Canyon might have been the coolest of all of the formations though. It was a giant canyon, open on only one end. It looked pretty standard at first, but then we climbed up on top of the canyon and walked around it. As far as you could see on top of the ridge were domed rocks. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. All of them were a brilliant red color, and they were all about the same size. We walked around them, saw what explores found and called "the garden of eden", saw the canyon from the top (which was far more impressive) and climbed down. Solid tour.

However the best part of the tour was sleeping under the stars. We slept without tents, simply in swags. Swags are like bed rolls- imagine sleeping on a Camp Greenville mattress cut in half (half as thick) inside of a nylon sack. You've got a swag. But the swags weren't the cool part; the stars were. I have never seen so many stars. They were brilliant, shining, and shooting. I didn't bother counting the regular stars, but I saw at least 10 shooting stars in the short time I managed to keep my face outside of my sleeping bag (the desert gets frigid at night). The stars were the highlight of the trip so far, possibly of my entire trip to Australia.

I have more adventures to tell you about, including almost dying. But no one wants to read about me any more so I will write about the past 3 days in a couple of days.

In the meantime, enjoy these memories from my childhood: