Category Archives: History

Video Roundup

Today I would like to share my current top 5 favorite videos on the web.  This is a wide range of videos covering many areas of interest, but they have all stuck with me after viewing them and influenced me to some extent.

We will start off on a light note: John Oliver, most notable from the Daily Show, also has a terrific stand-up routine.  This video is not that stand-up routine, but only a portion of it with some great current content.  If you enjoy this be sure to check out John Oliver: Terrifying Times, available for instant play on Netflix.

Another light-hearted selection is the OK Go music video for their  popular release earlier this year, This Too Shall Pass. Now, if you haven’t seen this yet then you are missing something.  It is pretty popular.  The video premiered on YouTube, which undoubtedly contributed to its success.  It features a giant Rube Goldberg Machine, designed and built to keep time with, and sometimes replace, the music of the song.  As soon as I saw this video I was immediately impressed.  During High School Physics class we were tasked with creating a Rube Goldberg machine to perform a simple task like squeezing toothpaste out of the tube… and that was HARD! If you are interested, check out the behind the scenes of the making of and the fascinating floor plans for this video HERE.

Another passion of mine is single track riding.  And this next video is almost exclusively the reason why I am looking to purchase a house with several wooded acres.  I love getting on the bike and hitting a smooth, solid packed trail rolling through the woods.  Here in New York we are tortured with numerous roots and stones continually impeding the pure speed the trail was designed for.  A nice large plot of land and a few good friends who are willing to be paid in beer and that problem goes away.

A rather recent addition comes to us, strangely enough, from a job placement site.  I guess I am attracted to this video mostly because I can relate to it.  Although I don’t feel my plight is nearly as bad as what is depicted in the video, I could very much see a large skinny bird landing on my sill and giving me the same disappointed look.  But alas, I am at least proactive in moving toward reaching my fullest potential.

The final and most reflective is one that I have pondered over several times now.  This is a message from Carl Sagan, a widely popular proponent of space exploration.  Sagan died over ten years ago, but his true message still rings true.  More than just space travel, Sagan advocated the importance of exploration and discovery, and of questioning the things around you until you discover them for yourself.  I like this video of his the most because I often feel the pangs of a “craving that they can hardly articulate or understand” that he describes at the beginning of this recording.  If you too feel this pull towards the unknown then I am sure this video is for you as well, and be sure to check out some more of what Carl Sagan had to say.

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Filed under Bikes, History, Movies

Brief History

So, I should summarize my life thus far.  I don’t want this to turn into a completely retroactive account of everything that I have done so far, I want to use this to discover where I am going.  So if I get all the history out of the way in one shot then hopefully I will avoid falling into that trap.

My current status: 24, Married, 6 month old puppy, Bachelors of Science in Architecture, and I currently work as an Intern Architect in Rochester, New York.

Now, how I got there.  I went to Marcus Whitman Central School in the finger lakes from kindergarten through 12th grade.  School was pretty easy. I was a distance runner in track and cross-country and have some great stories from those days.  I was also a basketball player until my senior year when I decided that it was more fun to play ball with the teachers in the morning before school than to try to fight for playing time during the games and instead I stared as Jesus in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar.  I had what some people would call friends, but afterward I considered them mostly acquaintances. There are only a few that I remain in touch with and even then it is only occasionally.

Where I truly excelled was College.  I chose to attend a small rural college in the New York southerntier for my Architectural degree.  I have visited and was accepted to the Syracuse school of Architecture, but instead choose to attend Alfred State College because I wanted to be in a place where I knew I could make an impact.  I was afraid that at Syracuse I would just be another number.  Trained to design but not to influence.

Village of Alfred

Village of Alfred

Although Alfred did not have an accredited professional Architectural degree program, I do not regret my decision.  I made some strong connections with a few guys in my program my first year there and the three of us turned out to be a pretty strong force to be reckoned with.  Without doubt, these guys empowered me to truly make the impact that I desired while at Alfred.  The three of us were truly elite pioneers (the school mascot was the Alfred State Pioneers) as we forced the standards bar ever higher.

Left to Right: Rob, Kyle, Myself, Justin

For one semester in addition to our normal assignments, we decided to compete in a Chicago based Metal-in-construction design competition.  We spent time designing, built some great models using materials we had not thought of before, sought the experience of all the faculty members and submitted our presentation boards on time.  It was a great experience and presented us with not only the difficult task of balancing two projects, but also gave us the confidence and the mindset that we should not be restricted to only the assigned course work.  After this we partnered with some art students from Alfred University, (the entity that makes up the other half of the town,) and we truly left our impact on the town.  What started as a simple art students attempt at using some left over grant money to replace an old worn out bus-stop gazebo turned into a community building two year project.  We hosted a community wide design charette, attended numerous village board meetings, sourced the timber frame structure and used the Wellsville timber framers club to process the lumber, received a huge donation of terracotta roof tiles, surveyed the site, poured the concrete footers, laid the brick pavers, assembled the timber-frame structure, installed the terracotta roof tiles, and installed eight custom made benches produced by an Alfred University art student out of reclaimed Corian sink cut-offs.  The result was an impressive structure in both size and quality which will surly outlast it’s 40 year old predecessor.

Completed Bus stop plaza

It was with this attitude that I entered the “real” world.  I found a great job directly out of college, through recommendation from the dean of the department.  The firm is small and flexible with a highly motivated owner.  He is very education minded and desires that all of his employees display proficiency in design and critical thinking.  He strongly promotes including all aspects of the career into the Interns training, and therefore I have been able to design, render, attend client and construction meetings, extensive field work, construction administration and occasionally I draft a little.  Most of this is unheard of.   I am glad everyday I avoided a larger design firm and the buttonhole office drafting toilet rooms all day for the first two years. But for all this, I am still in an office, master of my cubicle…at least I have a window.

For my wife, we began getting to know each other at summer camp many years ago.  Our parents were old friends but lived no where near each other.  We developed our relation ship during a few week-long summer camp trips and a few years of them attending our family summer pig-roast.  After one of these occasions we stayed in touch thanks to the world wide web.  And ultimately, I believe it was sophomore year in high school, she asked me to go with her to her schools “Snow Ball.”  I wasn’t much for school dances and had never attended one at my own school, but I went to hers.  We talked more frequently, my parents upgraded their long distance phone service, and we became really good friends.  We dated through the rest of high school, with only a six-month break when things began getting serious.  (Dating here means our parents driving us halfway to meet and one of us goes to the others house for the weekend every few weeks, then our parents driving us half way back at the end of the weekend.)  During college we continued to date, but with our own vehicles and a slightly less distance separating us we were able to spend slightly more time together.  After collage I did not propose right away, after all, we hadn’t spent much more that weekends together during our six years of dating at that time.  We both found jobs in Rochester and we moved into an apartment together.  It was a small loft on Park Ave. so it forced us to really get to know one another on a much deeper level.  But it worked, so after about a year we went on vacation to New Hampshire, climbed Mt. Washington and I proposed amidst the clouds on the observation deck.  A year later we were married in Honeoye Falls, NY and we got a young Havanese puppy.

Wedding Day

That was two months ago…

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Namesake

So I’m this guy. I work in a typical small Architecture firm in upstate NY.

I found a Google Book online today written by a man named John Waddell Van Sickle in the year 1880.  This book was dedicated to the derivation and ancestral lineage of the name Van Sickle.  This book helped me understand why I am feeling slightly unfulfilled in the office environment.  The Van Sickle name originated in Holland and was given to a certain clan on account of being skillful farmers or agriculturists.  The prefix ‘Van’ is a title of distinction meaning front rank or ranking first in any vocation.  The ‘Sickle’ is representative of the use of a sickle as a reaper, an emblem of husbandry or a plentiful harvest.  During the course of history the name has evolved through many derivations, (Vansicklen, Vansiclen, Van Syckel, Van Sickelen, etc…) About 1757 the Van Sickle version emerged as the dominant spelling and has endured.

You see, it is in my heritage to be out and make a living off the land…or at least on my own.

So here I am, searching my soul, and the intricate crevices of the interwebs to discover my true passion and develop my personal brand.  To live up the Van Sickle namesake that I have so recently discovered.

Tag along. Join in. It should be a fun ride!

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Filed under Books, Family, History