Out of all the essays that I have ever written, I may be the most proud of this one. Written back in October of 2009 for my 1100 composition course, this is an essay that fulfills the basic requirements laid out by the professor, but also goes deep philosophically and analyzes the very condition of humanity.

This essay adequately fleshes out all of the thoughts I wanted to include, yet it is still brief. I included captivating images and gripping sentences, yet the it is still concise and pointed. I really do believe this may be one of the best essays I have ever written, and my grade actually reflects that.

If you scroll down to the last page of the text, you'll see that I actually received a 100 on this essay! I don't think I've received a perfect score on an essay before or since, and my professor even mentioned that he never gives out 100's.

Here are the comments he wrote at the end of the essay:
I think you are wise enough to get to the core of why people climb: the desire to get to the top, to be on top, to rise above it all--excellent essay! Best essay I have ever read on this topic! I can tell you are a climber. 100. I never give 100's!
Yes, I'm a climber. That probably helped me to dominate this essay, and to enjoy the time that I spent crafting it. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it:


This essay was written as an assignment for my Ethics Across World Cultures class. It is the opposite position to this article which I published a couple of weeks ago, but this second article more accurately reflects my position. However, while I think people should have the right to sell their own organs, I think it would be kind of stupid to do so.

I received a grade of 97 (A) on my first essay, and I received a 97 on this one as well. I am very happy with how both of these assignments turned out.

With the ever increasing demand for organs such as kidneys, livers, eyes, and skin, some people are of the opinion that healthy, responsible adults should be able to sell their organs to the highest bidder. I agree that people should have the right to do with their bodies what they please. The federal government, in prohibiting the sale of organs, is violating the basic premises of the Declaration of Independence. The Preamble to the Declaration reads: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” The government is violating all three of these basic human rights by not allowing organ sales to be legalized.

There are people that will die if they do not receive organ transplants. This is a fact. It is also a fact that people die on a regular basis because there is not a donor readily available. Legalizing the sale of organs could remedy this situation and consequently save numerous lives. By not allowing the legal sale of organs, the federal government is denying some people their “unalienable” right to life. The government is choosing to take that right away from them, and by doing so they are clearly in contradiction of one of the basic tenets that our country is founded upon.

Liberty is one of the most crucial individual freedoms that we as human beings possess. liberty, as defined by Dictionary.com, is “freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.” By not allowing people to legally sell their organs, the federal government is clearly taking away liberty from us as human beings. The government is controlling, interfering, restricting, and hampering peoples’ free choices. It makes sense for the government to make it illegal to drive while drunk, as a person’s free choice to do that could in turn harm other people and take away their right to life. However, selling an organ is a very individual decision. It harms no one else, and most likely will not even harm the person in question. In fact, that organ sale does a great deal of good. It may save a life! There are absolutely no grounds for the government to dictate what people can and cannot do with their own bodies in this manner. Again, they are clearly contradicting another one of the basic tenets of the Declaration of Independence

If a person were to sell his organ, he would obviously receive money for it. That is inherent in the definition of the word “sell.” The seller could put this money towards a lot of very good things. He could use it to fund his college education, resulting in a job that he enjoys. In that manner, he would be pursuing his own happiness. Or, the seller could use the resulting money to buy something of value, such as a car. Again, this purchase would also most likely result in happiness. By not allowing people to sell their organs, the federal government is in fact violating the third tenet of the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson included “the Pursuit of Happiness” for a reason: It is a basic human right! We have a right to pursue happiness, and the government should not be able to inhibit that pursuit.

Those opposed to legalizing the sale of human organs may say that it is too dangerous and the seller may be putting his life in danger. Just a few sentences of scrutiny can refute this argument. First, please refer to the paragraph above about “liberty.” No one has the right to tell another human being what and what not to do with his own body when the action is not affecting anyone else. Secondly, even if these sales are not legalized, some will still take place. Since these would be black market operations, the doctors choosing to perform these procedures would have no accountability, and as a result the entire procedure could be conducted unsafely. If, however, organ sales were legalized, the pertinent medical organizations could enact certain sanctions governing how the procedures are performed, thus promoting the safety of both parties involved. As a result, legalizing organ sales would actually create a safer scenario overall.

It is readily apparent that the illegality of organ sales violates our human rights to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” The federal government of the United States of America is in violation of the basic tenets and beliefs that it was founded upon! This is a contradiction in the first degree. Why this is the case, I cannot even hazard a guess. The arguments against the legalization of organ sales are faulty at best. The legalization of these sales would make all of the transactions safer and would help protect the lives of individuals that would go through with the sale regardless of its legality. In conclusion, responsible adults should be completely within their legal rights to sell their organs to the highest bidder.

This essay was also republished as a blog post on Cranial Collision.com.
View of the expo. Photo Credit:
My mega recap post of the 2011 Sea Otter Classic is officially live on Singletracks.com! Don't worry, the mega-length is mainly due to the multitude of images and not a multitude of words, so it's still pretty easy to digest!

In the recap, I cover everything from cool booths and products at the fair, to average people riding at the event, to different nutritionals I noticed, and I even include a few race photos.

Much of what I included in the post has already been covered here on GRT, but there is a good bit of new information and a couple of new photos as well. It'd definitely be worth your time to check it out!
Photo Credit
I am in the process of finishing up the end of my sophomore year. Final exams are always interesting, as the whole point is to evaluate how much you have learned over the course of the semester during a short two-hour window. The students read and review and try to cram as much information into their heads as possible in the hopes of retaining it just long enough for them to finish their exams.

But what happens then?

After the final is over, the students will themselves to forget all of the misery and struggle of the semester, and instead focus on relaxing and enjoying their summer... that, or working and making money.  The problem is that the majority of that information isn't retained: it is lost for good.

Are tests really effective? I don't think so. I think a much better form of evaluation is the essay. An essay may take the same amount (or greater) of effort, but it requires a more drawn-out period of time to complete. The students are allowed to put more thought and care into it, and then at the end of the year they may turn the essay in, but they also have a copy of it to keep.

They have created something... and hopefully they have created something that is good and worthwhile. And due to the length of time that they took to create it, the information has a better chance of sticking somewhere up there.

And no, I'm not proposing that everyone nix the multiple choice and switch to timed essay tests... dang, I hate timed writing.
Pinhoti Trail

I just published a new blog post on Singletracks.com detailing what are, in my opinion, the best 5 trails in all of North Georgia:

  1. The Pinhoti Trail
  2. Bear Creek
  3. Stanley Gap
  4. Bull Mountain
  5. Stonewall Falls
I just published a post today on Singletracks.com previewing this year's Sea Otter Classic! Check the article out for information on what exactly happens at Sea Otter, what's new for this year, and some of my plans on what I'm going to try to get out of it over the next several days.
This was written as a lab report for my Physical Geography class. I got a 100% on it, and my professor agreed with my assessment of the trail, and commented that the essay was "Very thoughtful and perceptive!"

I republished this essay as a blog post on Greg Rides Trails... if you would like to read it as normal text on the screen, go there to check it out.

I recently published a new review on Singletracks.com. Over the past couple of months I have been testing a pair of Kore Torsion DH bars along with a pair of Kore Gripsters. In this article, I analyze these components in detail, providing my take on them and I give you my honest opinion at the end.

Check out the full article for more information and more photos!