May 29, 2005


It is wonderful to be able to bring my laptop into this bright and cheery kitchen to type on. However, it is even more wonderful to be able to share relaxing and fun time with very close and longtime friends. I am very pleased to say that I have just said goodbye to both Shayla and Jessica who I have not seen in a very long time. We have known each other since first grade, during the days of field days and cardboard box racecars. We have been with one another through moves, with Jessica and Shayla moving with their family to Palm Bay during elementary school and with my family moving to North Carolina during high school. We have been together through schools, from when we went to Harbor City Elementary together until now with Jessica at the University of Florida and I at Campbell University, Anna at Foard High School and Shayla at Palm Bay High School. We have been together as partners and friends, with Jessica and I the same age and in the same grade for all of our educational lives and with Anna and Shayla having two years difference in their ages and grades. As Anna approaches her senior year in high school Shayla starts her sophomore year. They have always been friends, just like Jessica and I who met through our mothers during our first grade class together. I would spend time at Jessica’s house more than at any other friend’s, swimming together, spending the night together, going to Disney World, going Trick-or-Treating, telling stories, spending afternoons together after school and now staying at each other’s houses or relative’s houses when we travel near one another. Yesterday in fact was another such occasion, as Jessica and Shayla stayed the night here at my Big Nanny’s house in Gainesville, Florida. We were able to talk for hours, go out for dinner at Leonardo’s, watch The Incredibles and Big Fish until two in the morning, eat a big breakfast, watch Spongebob Squarepants, make paper swans, watch home movies and then make plans for when we might see each other again. I must confess many of these activities were biased in my favor (Leonardo’s, The Incredibles, Big Fish, Spongebob Squarepants and the home movies for example) but there were many other activities which were not, such as the Mary Kate & Ashley movie, the cellphone talks and well, there weren’t a whole lot of others. Sometimes we get the long end of the stick…
All and all, friendship is a beautiful play between friends, their wants, their dreams, their fears and their hardships. With close friends we share our deepest secrets, our openest vulnerability and some of our most memorable moments. You won’t see each other for years, but in minutes you act like you always have. Your friends remember who you are and secretly you remember who you are too, because they are there. “Friends & Family” make sense together because they can become inseparable. Scores of our childhood memories are woven through experiences with friends that cannot be replaced with anything else. Who I am, lessons I’ve learned and beliefs that I will never forget have so much to do with those friends in my life, who have taught me, laughed with me, walked with me and played with me. They can be anyone and friends in my life have been anyone from anywhere. Maybe that is why laughs and smiles can become the shortest distance between two people. Strangers or families, friends or peers, we have people all around us ready to be friends. I would not be who I am without a Jessica in my life and for that, I feel like I have a great legacy to live up to. I hope that I can be the kind of friend a friend wants to have…to Jessica, to my family, to my friends and to those people who aren’t my friends, yet.

Big Fish

I think what I love about Big Fish, now that I’ve seen it for the fifth time, is how real it is. The characters in it are real, both the ones from the stories and the one from the life of the son. We all weave together stories of our lives that we share with our friends, with our families and with complete strangers. We make sense of what we are going through by sharing it, reflecting it, asking about it with the people around us. In that sense we are all so similar and we all have something very intimately in common with one another. Stories have doctors, mothers and jerks, beautiful partners, witches and sons, we have people who help us see who we are and we have people who support us and let us be who we are. I haven’t met a person yet who didn’t have a story to tell and more importantly, a want to tell it. Who we are finds its way into our stories and then our stories become who we are, who we want to be and who we will be remembered as. “You become what you were always were, a very big fish.”

May 28, 2005

Eagle Scouts

I think that as times change (old fashioned to "video gaming" for example) it is very wise to look at the past before you look at the future, just like you are doing John.
Some of the greatest motivation I had to achieve the Eagle rank came from seeing other Eagle Scouts in and outside my troop. Unfortunately, other Eagle Scouts became some of the greatest disappointments. Naturally all groups, regardless of the requirements and standards, have their less-than-desirable members. All the same, I think that the greatest people in history became great because they helped others around them succeed. They created what they desired to see and made sure that others demanded equally high standards.
As "marked men" as my Scoutmaster called Eagle Scouts, I think that we all share in an equal duty to make Boy Scouting what we desire it to be. I think that it is astute to call the Eagle Scout rank a "dubious distinction"; it is of uncertain quality and always has been. Since 1912 Boy Scout leaders and Eagle Scouts have had a responsibility to be the best examples of leadership and excellence. Ninety-three years later I think it's the same responsibility and that's what we all have to face now.
We are the new leaders for Scouting, even if we never step foot inside another troop meeting. We are to be great examples, first of all. Second, I think we should gather together in places like these where we can learn from and talk with one another. (Thank you, to whomever created this group) Third, I think we have a responsibility to our communities. We are the new Scoutmasters and mentors and we should make good on every opportunity we have to teach the next Eagle Scout. When we have done each of those three things, I guarantee we will see change, whether it's video games or canoeing that's on the cover of Boy's Life.


My grandmother and I watched the movie Waking Ned Divine this evening and I learned a lot. I’ve seen the movie before with my family and got it for my grandma because I thought she would enjoy it. Throughout the movie she asked me about what was going to happen, she wanted to make sure there would be no suspense and she could know beforehand how things ended. “I like to know what’s going to happen so I can enjoy the movie,” she said. I refused to tell her, saying, “It will be okay, it’s a comedy and nothing bad happens, there’s no suspense.” That didn’t help her to feel any better however. Every twenty minutes she would ask atleast once and even until the very end she wanted to make sure nothing else was coming. Now this surprised me one because I have never seen someone do this as often as she did, but two because I had never seen her act this way about anything else before. Without giving it over-analysis I think it is fair to say that we all do this in some way. We all like resolution, we prefer to know when we are going to be scared or surprised, sad or humored, but life is never that way for us. All the same, maybe we can still look at life and tell ourselves, “it will be okay, it’s a comedy…” what’s the worse it can do, kill us?

May 27, 2005

Lemony Snicket

The movie Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events is in fact yes, about a series of unfortunate events which happen upon three young children; Violette, Claus and Sonny. Violette invents, Claus reads and Sonny bites.
I am pleased to have seen the movie, though I do wish I would have read the books (as I feel I’ve not earned the right to watch the movie which requires little effort). My sister has read and often commented on the books and how she enjoys them. I really enjoyed the movie and I think I would very much enjoy reading the books.

May 26, 2005


I feel like I have so much to record, while I haven’t recorded anything in quite too long a time. I am now in the midst of my Princeton Review course for the MCAT, I have had my first diagnostic test to give me a “baseline score” to indicate where I stand without review of the course material. I have finished the first class on each of the six areas: general chemistry, biology, physics, organic chemistry, verbal reasoning and writing. I really am enjoying the class, which I am surprised about in many ways. The diagnostic test is identical to the real test, it lasts eight hours and takes the greater part of a Saturday. Review class is held twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6pm to 10pm. I have learned a lot of things in the past two weeks of work, a lot about the MCAT but a lot more about myself. I really enjoy getting ahead and yet, I do not enjoy my own slowness in working each day to do just that. It is hard to discipline yourself, to work upwards of six to eight hours a day to study. However I know I need to and more than that, I want to. I look forward to reading over this in the next week, knowing that I have given a true effort, an honest try at working during the day to review material I know, to fix mistakes I have learned from and to become the student I know I want to be.

May 25, 2005


Harvey, the very pleasant 1950 movie about a very pleasant man and his invisible friend for whom the movie is named, was something I am very glad to have taken part in again. I recommend it for its comedy, its kindness, its message and its unique perspective.
Pooka (poo-ka) noun 1From old Celtic mythology, a fairy spirit in animal form, always very large, the pooka appears here and there, now and then, to this one and that one 2A benign but mischievous creature, very fond of rum pots, crack pots and how are you Mister Wilson…
Given that clear and obvious definition, is it coincidental then, that I saw the CNN Evening News today May 18th which spoke of house-swapping, a cross national exchange of houses between vacationers to allow for families to travel at significantly lower costs than normally requirement for such trips around the world? “Akrum,” said the newswoman, “although a nice town, isn’t exactly the same vacation as Paris.”
“Have you ever heard of Akrum?,” Dr. Chumley asked Elwood P. Dowd during a final scene in Harvey. “That is where I would go if I could go anywhere.”
Not Jimmy Stewart, “You see,” said the kind, pleasant and gifted character Elwood, “Harvey can look at a clock and stop it, and you can go anywhere you’d like with anyone you’d like and stay as long as you like and when you get back not one minute will have ticked by. You see, science has overcome time and space, but Harvey has not only overcome time and space, but any objections. Oh he’d be willing at any time (to do this for me), but so far I haven’t been able to think of any place I’d rather be. I always have a wonderful time, no matter wherever I am or whomever I’m with…”
A wonderful time, no matter wherever I am or whomever I’m with…going to bed I’ll close with one of my favorite quotes, “and the evening wore on, that’s a very nice expression isn’t it. With your permission I’ll say it again…The evening wore on…”

May 17, 2005


I just recently finished reading Myst: The Book of Atrus, a prequel to that oh so popular series of adventure puzzle games starting with Myst. The Book of Atrus chronicles the life of a young boy who grows into a man powerful enough to create wonderous things. He has a spirit of inquiry, honesty and kindness taught to him by his grandmother who raises him and these and all of his values are challenged through the lifespan on the book.
I have sincerely enjoyed the book, which I finished reading in two days, and I am thankful to my friend Chase who suggested I read it. I would recommend it to those who’ve enjoyed the Myst games, who enjoy light reading and those who think they might enjoy either.

May 15, 2005

Devil's Millhopper

Today I was able to visit Devil's Millhopper with Carrie, for the first time in about 8 years. It was a great visit and very enjoyable. The Devil's Millhopper is a place of legend in my family and I always enjoying hearing about it and seeing it whenever I can. Thank you Miss Carrie!

May 14, 2005

First Diagnostic

I’ve just finished taking my first MCAT with Princeton Review. The Physical Sciences section went really well, I feel like I did very well on it although time did run out on me before I could finish all of the questions, so I had to guess on a lot at the end. Then I had the Verbal Reasoning section next which wasn’t bad either, I rather enjoyed it though I ran out of time with it also and I had to guess on a lot of the last questions. The real kicker came after lunch when I finished doing the Writing Sample which isn’t that big of a deal. The Biological Sciences section ripped me apart. I had the hardest time with the passages in the last forth of the section. I feel confident that I performed most poorly on that section in fact. It was very difficult and very fact based. A few of my impressions, I feel like taking the class will benefit me in many ways and most notably I think I will get a feel for the test. The timing should not be a problem after I take a half dozen practice tests and that will really help a lot. I know I need to study a lot and this really reinforced that for me. By testing on questions over and over I will get used to what is being asked and I will do much better, by knowing the material and knowing how to answer questions. I want to walk away from the test able to say, “I answered all the ones I knew I could, time wasn’t the issue, and the number of questions I couldn’t figure out were minimal.” This will take a lot of studying and work, which will not be as fun as taking the test. I will need to be dedicated and plan to study 20 hours a week for this class. I also plan to take atleast 3 more practice tests than the five we are given. I have found the Health Sciences Library which is nice for now, very quiet with plenty of cubicles and some nicer desks out in the open high traffic areas. I have walked around Shands Hospital, found a new entrance into the Communicore Building (where we took our test) and have done a good bit of work today. I think that I will be able to do very well and reap wonderful rewards from this program if I keep it together and make sure my focus stays strong. I met Joanna (Verbal Reasoning and Biological Sciences Instructor) who I think is a Senior at UF, took the MCAT when she was a Junior and scored atleast in the 95th percentile in those two sections. She was very sweet and helpful, answering my questions about the test, the answers, the class and suggestions. She said homework and practice tests are the way to go, but homework is extremely difficult. It is as difficult as it is important however, I would imagine she would say. I also met Kristen who is a Senior at UF, interested in Research and Infectious Diseases with Doctors without Borders. She is also very sweet, sweet enough to let me borrow and pencil and eraser which I haven’t returned to her cause she finished earlier than me. I look forward to class Tuesday where I’ll see Joanna and Kristen again, and she’ll see her pencil and eraser again.

May 11, 2005

A Little Bit About Me

I'm Travis Hellstrom. I believe in helping others, in spending my life thanking those around me who have worked so hard to create a better world for all of us and I plan to do that through areas that both interest me and in which I am talented. I am currently attending Campbell University studying Biology with a Pre-Medicine focus. I am interested in Peace Corps, the United Nations, Family Medicine, Integrative Medicine and Public Health.

May 5, 2005

Crescent Beach!

After bouncing out on the Garden City “Beach Boys” before cleaning up, I hopped in a little Toyota Sienna to pay a visit to Gainesville and Crescent Beach, Florida. We, Elias “Sport” Hellstrom, Leighanna “The Loser” Hellstrom, Nat “The Man” Hellstrom, Judy “Big Momma” Hellstrom and Travis “The Dork” Hellstrom, took the eighteen hour round trip in stride. A little car ride never hurt anyone, and neither did a little sunshine. Florida was brighter while we were there, literally. With us came the sun that washed away the rain, complete with warm beaches, almost warm water and plenty of couches, beds and comfy settlings for little toddlers like myself who love to sit around and do nothing once and a while. Ohh, it was so nice.

Crescent Beach!

After bouncing out on the Garden City “Beach Boys” before cleaning up, I hopped in a little Toyota Sienna to pay a visit to Gainesville and Crescent Beach, Florida. We, Elias “Sport” Hellstrom, Leighanna “The Loser” Hellstrom, Nat “The Man” Hellstrom, Judy “Big Momma” Hellstrom and Travis “The Dork” Hellstrom, took the eighteen hour round trip in stride. A little car ride never hurt anyone, and neither did a little sunshine. Florida was brighter while we were there, literally. With us came the sun that washed away the rain, complete with warm beaches, almost warm water and plenty of couches, beds and comfy settlings for little toddlers like myself who love to sit around and do nothing once and a while. Ohh, it was so nice. Hey! Yeah! What kind of outrageous poses do you think we can put this camel in?

May 2, 2005

Beach Boys!

The attack of the "Beach Boys" starring Michael Sellers, Christopher McMillan, Josh McKinnon, Chase Vaughan, Matthew Conover and Travis Hellstrom. These fearless friends descended upon the South Carolina area like ravenous wolves...ravenous wolves that played Putt-Putt, sat in Jacuzzis, laid around on the beach to tan (only 3 of 6), played football on the beach, raced around on the GameCube with MarioKart Double Dash, pigged out at Fuddrucker's, Dairy Queen, Krispy Kreme, K & W Cafeteria, Texas Roadhouse Grill (don't ask) and then slept late into the evening. You ravenous wolves, behave yourselves! Ummm...I think I might be leaving early. You can eat my yogurt and clean up for me!