Stuck between a Sneeze and a Gladstone.

Back last month, I wrote a piece on Time.com’s tech blogger Doug Aamoth, and this week, I’m deciding between a couple other bloggers to cover.

I initially couldn’t think of any that really stood out until I checked my bookmarks and saw two that I check so frequently that I forget that they specifically write blogs. I guess it’s like losing sunglasses that are on top of your head, but internet-style. The two bloggers I chose were Wayne Gladstone and Steve Sneeds. Continue reading

Parkour’s Unseen Leaps of Faith

A voice calls out, “Scott, are you doing something stupid?” He bashfully responds, “…Yeah.” In the damp chill of a rainy, late summer evening at UMass Amherst, the lean college senior bolts towards two picnic tables laid end-to-end, and leaps.

Extending his arms, he plants them upon the end of the first table and swings his body forward, propelling him to the next table. Quickly replacing his arms upon the second table, he vaults forward again- but not smoothly enough- so his body slips sideways into the air past the table.

In an almost Looney Tunes fashion, he seems to pause in mid-air, looks down, and realizes he is about to fall.  He then dexterously turns his body just enough fall safely into a roll. Cats don’t look this good. But not easily deterred by the slip-up, Scott Maxson pats the soggy dirt from his grey sweatpants and prepares to try it again.

He does it not for the crowd, not for any tangible reward, but for the self-satisfaction of accomplishing the challenge. This is parkour. Continue reading

Parkour Week: The Pains of Progress

How time does fly! Welcome to the second to last day of Parkour Week.

Tonight I went out for a full evening with the Parkour Club. Compared to other meetings I’ve tagged along for, this one seemed to start a bit more lax and informal, and only about ten traceurs were present. Mr. Maxson was present as usual, and asked the group in front of him where they wanted to go for the evening, and one person said, “Somewhere new!” I chimed in, jokingly saying, “Somewhere well-lit!” Yeah, that went just as well as me attempting this:

Yeah, so this isn't how it would have gone.

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Parkour Week: Maxson’s Depth of Mind

Welcome to day three of this week of parkour. Today is a bit of an excerpt from an interview I had on Saturday with yesterday’s leading man, Scott Maxson.

I met up with Maxson at UMass’ own Blue Wall eatery, and sitting by the ceaseless babble of the televisions (almost invariably on CNN and ESPN), had our little chat. Wearing grey sweatpants and a red track jacket, his immediately-disarming smile beamed out from under the thick scruff of a beard as he sat down with his three-cheese panini. A biology major and vegetarian, he is also one of about five head members of the parkour team, and is in his senior year here on campus.

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Parkour Week: A Running Start

Hello and welcome to a few days devoted to showing off  parkour! It’s a discipline of movement that focuses on getting from point A to point B as efficiently and effectively as possible – physically and mentally. All week I’ll be highlighting certain aspects of parkour, largely revolving around UMass’ own Parkour Club, and the actions of members therein.

But as a little background, modern parkour has its origins with a French naval officer named Georges Hébert, who, after helping evacuate residents of a town affected by a volcano eruption, developed the motto of “Être fort pour être utile”, or, “Being strong to be useful.” However, some of the basic concepts of parkour can be found all throughout history, like in one particular instance, Japanese ninjitsu.

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The Hidden Gem Amid the Wooded Rough of Northern UMass.

So there was a period last semester that I had reason to go rambling. Not blithering or gibbering, as one may ordinarily think of the word, but a long walk without any rhyme or reason. Living in McNamara Hall, my first sight that was a welcome refuge from brick and concrete of the UMass campus was the sprawling woods behind the Sylvan residential area. I set what little course I planned in that direction, playing “Further” by the Chemical Brothers, and stepped into the woods. I found a place, its own little oasis of rolling hills in the midst of the dense trees, that immediately enamored me. This is the spot where I traveled to once again, but this time in an effort to take fitting pictures back in an effort to present it to a class.

This is the first sight that greets you as you emerge from the woods, a lone tree in the midst the sea of grass. By this point, it’s far out of sight and sound of most of the distractions of UMass. Continue reading