Friday, May 20, 2011

Magic People

What I have experienced down in Orlando, in Disney World, has been dreamlike. Not simply an, "oh this is sooo great" kind of deal, but an experience that I never thought could have happened and one that can never be repeated.

I may need to explain myself further. I have grown up in the mindset that I will pretty get to know the people around where I live, Western Pennsylvania, and not much more than that. True, there may be a foreign exchange student and a few friends from nearby states in the mix, but that's about it. At Disney, the whole world came together in one place. I oh so casually worked and hung out with people from all backgrounds, locales, ethnicities, and personalities like it was the norm. I tested out my Spanish speaking skills with one of the sweetest people around, my lifeguard pal Gabby from Veracruz, Mexico. I learned all sorts of lingo from my mates from Australia and New Zealand including "Bob's your uncle", "visiting my Auntie Loo", and how to keep things cool in a "chilly bin." I found that I am clueless when it comes to any words spoken in Portuguese. When I come across a lass with a Southern accent (American that is)... that's pretty much it for me. And putting on a British accent for kicks is not only acceptable, but people will take it that you are in fact a "bloody Pome."

People, regardless of their differences, all fall into certain categories as well. There are the sincere, the genuine, the sweet, and the ones you know can count on. On the other end, there are also the trashy, the shady, and tragically vain individuals who pay no mind to people as being actual human beings, who are simply out for their own personal satisfaction. From getting to know people along the way, I feel that the genuine friends I have gotten to know are ones I will keep in touch with for life.

As much as I have learned from others, I have learned just as much about myself along the way. I can put any sort of false front up to impress somebody, but unless I am true to my self, I won't start a true friendship. If someone doesn't appreciate the person you truly are, then forget it! There are way too many people that will befriend you for who you really are to get hung up on those that don't.

Today, I have said many a goodbye to people I will hopefully meet down this road called life, every one of them coming from a different place with their own amazing personality to boot. I will miss my roommates, my workmates, and everyone else I can now call a friend that I have been blessed to meet while on my program at Disney. For every one of you reading this, I sincerely do hope to see you all
down the road. Keep in touch and keep the magic going, wherever you may be!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cook Off

Sometimes by not going out at night, you can have the best times. Last night was one of those nights. I got to put some of my foodie skills to the test in a guys vs. girls cook-off. You can say what you want about guys' cooking, but we can step it up bigtime when the moment calls for it.

My squad cooked up an Italian themed meal with bruschetta, chicken parmigiana with spaghetti, and finished off with chocolate-drizzled almond butter cookies. This was a bit tricky to do with the small apartment kitchens that Disney has for us, but we managed well between 2 apartments/ovens.

The girls whipped up some Southern specialities as they're all from below the Mason Dixon themselves. They cooked up mashed potatoes, biscuits and gravy, country-fried steak, green bean casserole, carrot cake muffins, and brownies. I've never had country-fried steak before, but daaaaang its worth a taste. It has a lot more of savory flavor that you don't get with just a grilled steak alone. I had been promised carrot cake a while back and was really pumped to have some as it is pretty much my favorite dessert food. The turnout, for this time, was somewhat disappointing since the girls went a bit too quickly on the preparation and didn't get the recipe down as much as they have liked to. The cream creese/cinnamon frosting was delicious but lacked the characteristic rich, flavorful cake to complement it. Other than that, the southern specialties were great to have. I can't say I get that kind of food selection back home.

In the "cook off" mood, we had brought some judges in to weigh in on the food. Well, suffice to say there wasn't a whole lot of critiquing going on as we all just ate a bunch of great food in a fun atmosphere. (Guys won by default. Girls showed up to the big game late. Tsk tsk) I feel that I may need to break out the cooking skills a bit more often.

Thanks for the read.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ice Cream Sink Adventure

I went to Beaches and Cream (Disney's Yacht and Beach Club) the other night with two of my Aussie friends, Jess and Tim, to tackle their prized dessert. We had plans to do this ever since we realized that each of us was an ice cream fiend and it was only natural that we get down to business and get an ice cream sink.

The ice cream sink itself is 8 scoops of ice cream with candy bar chunks, oreos, muffins, bananas, strawberries, pineapple, fudge, peanut butter, nuts, and an entire can of whipped cream to top it all off. All of this is served in a (clean) kitchen sink. This bad boy is meant to serve 4, but the three of us did some good work on it. Here's a peek at what we downed...

A few hours postprandial was a sugar high/crash adventure with those 2, then chased with a night out in Orlando lasting til sunrise the next day. Success!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


This bar is worth a post. Jellyrolls, at the Boardwalk Resort in Disney, is a dueling piano bar. I've been to it twice so far with my roomates and it's a really fun time. For those of you unfamiliar with the piano bar concept, it plays out just as it seems. There are two pianos on stage and the musicians take all requests (most I should say, they tried Whip My Hair ... short-lived). The musicians have got mad talent and an extensive repertoire of modern music that keeps the environment lively all night. The drinks are a little pricey, but I can see myself going back a bunch more times. The only downside is the 21 and over age limit, sorry kiddos.

If you come to Disney (and you're over 21), I highly recommend a visit to this awesome nightlife spot on the Boardwalk in Disney World.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Giddy Up

So I got the official letter of acceptance to Oklahoma State University. This is really big news. Not only is it the first school to accept me, it is also the one school where I am guaranteed funding. For those of you unfamiliar with graduate school funding, it can amount to several forms of assistance:

1. Tuition waiver: tuition is covered up to a set credit load
2. Stipend: usually a monthly allotment of money (basically a "paycheck")
3. Other: most likely health insurance coverage

With the Oklahoma State deal, I am guaranteed at least a tuition waiver up to 9 credits for each of the fall/spring semesters and up to 6 credits for the summer. Hopefully I can match up with a well-funded professor who can send some more funds my way. If I can manage that, I will be able to earn a Master's degree without increasing the debt I have accrued along the way.

I'm still awaiting word from other schools, Oregon State in particular, but I am confident that Oklahoma State has the program and atmosphere necessary for me to succeed in graduate school and as a young professional. More news to come!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bieber by the Poolside

Lifeguarding at the Polynesian and Grand Floridian Resorts gets redundant very quickly, just scanning water up and down all day long. Switching between 2 or 3 stands all day long looking at the same water ain't that glamorous. Throw a struggling kid or two in there for the day, it may be possible to keep the attention high. However, when there is not a person in the pool and the whole day consists of scanning (mostly) open water, a little music goes a long way.

At the resorts, there are cast members (Disney employees) whose job is "children's activities." They hang out all day playing trivia, hot potato, and other games by the poolside. They also put on some kid-friendly Disney tunes, including a hearty helping of Justin Bieber. Say what you want about the kid, his music, or whatever; his music makes a lifeguard's day go by quick. There is also a good bit of Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, and Glee soundtrack playing throughout the day. This may not be the coolest music to play when hanging out at home, but the upbeat nature of the music gives myself the attentiveness boost I need to keep up in order to be the wary lifeguard I need to be.

Chatting with other lifeguards is something that helps the day from dragging on a bit. However, when there are people in the pool, it is not the best idea to get lost in conversation with other guards. In these times, it is best to say things concisely. When there is not a soul in the water for hours on end, the conversation is welcome to keep the time rolling.

In all, the job is pretty basic, gives me a break from academia, and gives me a bit of cred with saving lives and all (right?).

Friday, February 18, 2011

Florida State University Visit

I got a few days off here so I decided to check out FSU, one of the schools I am applying to for my MS in Sports Nutrition. ALthough I am in Florida right now, the 4+ hour drive was a bit long. Regardless, I set up the visit in advance and I was able to meet a few professors, students, and other administrators in the Nutrition and Food Science Department.

Professor #1:
Dr. Jeong-Su Kim

Research: Atrophy of skeletal muscle in mice with varied diet/exercise regimins
- Dr. Kim is integrated MRI machinery to measure skeletal muscle changes in these mice, which is supposedly a very unique technique. Although it is somewhat related to my research interests, I am not sure if I'd have the passion for this type of research... Moving on.

Professor #2:
Dr. Michael Ormsbee

Research: Nutrition supplements, ergogenic aids, protein timing for effective weight loss, optimal human performance
- I really got a good vibe when meeting with Dr. Ormsbee. He clearly had a passion for what he was researching and teaching. It also showed that he practices what he preaches (not all that common in a Nutrition professor). He gave me a lot of insight into the specifics of the program and what I could expect if I were to enroll there. He has quite a few graduate students working with him, although I may not be able to join him right away if I go to FSU. The current students have the funds and there won't be much opportunity for funding until they graduate.

After I met the professors, I got the chance to grab lunch with two of Dr. Ormsbee's graduate research assistants. They told me that he was great to work for. He does ask for a lot and is rather particular in some of his job assignments, but it pays off come thesis defense time. One of the students was researching protein timing in relation to weight loss. Interesting idea since many people know they should consume protein, but how much and when is best when trying to lose adipose tissue?

The other student is currently involved in a protocol where the participants consume Nutrisystem products and undergo resistance training as well. You may already know it, but the main source of funding for this research is Nutrisystem. Possible confounding interest? Yes. Regardless, it is a way to do some quality research.

The lab facilities at FSU are alright, not great. The lab I saw at Marywood U was far and above FSU's current lab. There is good news in that regard, though. Construction is currently underway to build a state of the art Human Performance Lab sponsored by Nike (yes, that Nike), which should be completed come this fall.

Overall: Good program with opportunity to do really interesting research that fits well within my research interests. The possible lack of funding may be a dealbreaker. If I can find a professor who has the funds available, I would be very confident that FSU would give me a great academic experience.

Great day for a long drive (forgive the odd screen glitch).