Thursday, April 26, 2012

This...Isn't...the End!!!

This is actually saying quite a bit for me (and by no means am I trying to be pompous about this), but for the first time in a while, I actually felt like I learned something out of an English course! The improvements in my writing came from the fact that this was all played on a ground that I find so incredibly comfortable. There are quite a few things that I'll be taking away from this course and I'd like to share what they are.

In my post, Asking the Right Questions , I was trying to address, not only why it's consequential to brainstorm, but also what to think about when it comes to your role as a writer. All of the questions in that post were things that I definitely needed to ask myself at the time. Audience consideration constantly pokes about my brain while I write, so this subject is awfully timely.

When I made the post about Drum Corps International, I was essentially trying to connect with my audience through passion. It's so much easier for me to organize my thoughts when I actually feel strongly about something. Yet, this where I applied the whole "media" aspect for the first time. I was never really one for it to begin with (mainly because I'm naturally lazy and felt like that was too much work for a simple blog post), but
this is a subject that REQUIRES media in order to understand.

The Stuffy Language post was simply me trying to convey the fact that you can still gain accreditation from your audience without the use of five-syllable words every 2 seconds. Overall, it was still pointing to my consideration for the audience. I honestly don't feel like that will ever be something I through by the wayside.

Something that can hold everyone back as a writer is bias. That's why the post, Bye Bye, Bias was created, really: In order to demonstrate how to be objective and that I can be as well (I try, at least).

Though, there are quite a few things that I'm still working on. One of those things is really how to document ideas in my writing; I tend to forget those things fairly often. While on the same hand, I have integrated quite a few ideas into my writing but, I still need to learn where to give credit where credit is due. The 5 Albums post was a post where I incorporated an idea from a friend in order to make it an assignment and while the assignment is of my design, I wasn't sure how to document the fact that it originated from a random discussion that I had with a friend while I was drunk.
In the end, I suppose I'm still trying to figure out my role as a writer. I'm not sure if personal blogging is really my forte, or if I could go into something where I need to write educationally. Well, there's honestly only one way to find out, and that's to keep on writing.  

5 of the Most Influential Albums in My Life (Thusfar)

(Disclaimer: This is a blog post that I've been trying to post for about the past three weeks now. I just wanted to get this out there, so bare with me.)

Growing up, I had my mother's taste in music, which simply came from the fact that whenever I was listening to music back then, it'd be something that she put on. However, as the times moved forward, I started branching out and listening to newer(well, I should honestly say different; they weren't actually "new") music and it was at this point in my life that I felt like I started developing my own taste in music. Yet still, I remember the albums that've stuck with me for all of this time.

Tonight The Stars Revolt by Powerman 5000
The Battle of Los Angeles by Rage Against the Machine
Mer de Noms by A Perfect Circle
By the Way by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Seal by...well, Seal.
  1. Tonight the Stars Revolt--They say that you never forget your first, right? That's certainly what this album is for me. As the story goes, it was year 2000 and I was fairly fresh to the state of Alabama; I'd also just switched schools for the 11th time and its location called for me to ride a transfer bus. At the time, there was only one other student who rode this bus aside from me--a high school kid by the name of Jeff. He took notice to the fact that I owned a CD player and handed me his album book and said, "You're free to listen to anything in this book, however, there are two rules that you've gotta abide by. Rule #1: If you pick a CD, you must listen to it ALL the way through. Rule #2: No skipping tracks. Enjoy." Guess which CD I picked first? I remember how awesome it felt to listen to alternative rock for the first time, or rather, alternative rock music that I picked. All I know is that, after that point, I just wanted to find more great rock.
  2. The Battle of Los Angeles--Remember that same kid that I mentioned above? Guess which CD I picked to listen to on the way back? (Don't worry; I PROMISE that the rest of this post isn't like this.)
  3. Mer de Noms--This album is literally what got me through the rough part of high school - the part of high school where I started dating. I still can't really explain why this album helped me so much, but it would be the first thing I'd put on after a break-up or a crush-gone-wrong-in-some-unexplainable-way-that-I-certainly-didn't-take-into-consideration. I also still have a habit of listening to this album all of the way through every time I played a track.
  4. By the Way--Ever had a significant other that you just had WAY too much of? I mean, this is past the point where you've neglected your school work, your job, your other friends, and even your family; you see them all of the time, right? They wouldn't miss you that much, and besides, you'd miss him/her the moment you walked out the door. Yeah...it was like that, but 10 times worse. I literally didn't listen to any other music for over a month. This album HOOKED me and I couldn't even tell you why it's so good. I had to stay away from in for a while; I needed some...space. We were getting to much of each other and it was...well, let's just say that it was better for the both of us, okay??? I miss it...(Okay, FINE! I'm not actually over this album yet, alright??? Look, we're just GOOD for each other! I'm going to finish this post after I finish listening to this album 12 times through...)
  5. Seal--The reason why this album holds a special place in my heart is simply because it was the first album I ever bought with money that I'd earned. It was an old favorite of mine, since my mother owned it on cassette and used to frequent that album whenever she got in a cleaning mood. I loved the memories that were attached to Seal's music, so I bought the album almost impulsively. 
There are hundreds of albums and artists that I could thank for shaping my musical tastes, but then this post would just turn into a novel of sorts, so I'll just leave it at these five. I still adore all of these albums and what they did for me.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

This DS106 Website...

First off, I highly appreciate what this site is accomplishing--it's a fantastic and creative tool for learning. I'm surprised at the versatile amount of projects that people have come up with and they all use a wide array of different types of software and editing techniques. It's also nice to see that they have tutorials for anyone who wish to attempt the assignments; otherwise, I'm sure everyone else would be like:
wait...wha..??
 It's strange for me, to be honest--I have such mixed feelings about the site. A part of me doesn't care for it, considering that most of the assignments sound like random things that I'd do on my spare time. For example, we'll use this assignment. In this assignment, the purpose is to imitate some weather sounds using your voice and whatever's in arm's length of your computer. Kind of out there, right?  However, I just can't deny the fact that it's such a unique concept for a classroom!

Overall, I'm digging the site. It's an amazing execution of a fantastic idea and I wouldn't mind being involved. I'm quite tempted to create an assignment of my own for that site! :D

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Drum Corps International


I knew that I was going to get around to this subject eventually! There are always people who don't know about this activity, which is why I love telling people about it. Drum Corps International (DCI) is a professional activity that's been taking place since 1972. I've spent my fair share of time participating in this activity (I marched 2003 Esperanza, 2006 Carolina Crown, 2007-2008 Music City Legend, 2009 Spirit, and 2011 Colts) Think of it this way:

NFL is to football and NLB is to baseball just as DCI is to marching band! It can literally be described as "professional marching band" (minus woodwinds and trombones). According to DCI.org, more than 8,000 students audition for about 3,500 positions in top-tier drum corps every summer. These corps are made up of 3 parts: the hornline, the colorguard, and the percussion:

Trumpet

Mellophone

Baritone

Euphonium

Contra
Colorguard
Percussion (Front Ensemble)
Percussion (Battery)
  According to DCI's regulations, a corps can contain no more than 150 performing members and there are about 40+ corps around the nation. During the months of November and December, these corps hold audition and experience camps at their respective locations (and sometimes in various large cities around the U.S.) where hundreds of student come from all around to participate. After the camps, the students that were chosen receive a written contract, signifying their membership with the corps. In the following months, camps are held once a month to learn music and drill. Once May arrives, corps go into "spring training" (also known as "all-days") which is were the performing members move into their respective rehearsal sites where they'll spend the next month perfecting the show. In June, the corps pack up from their rehearsal sites and set out on the road to tour until August.
ON-TOUR
While on tour, your days are pretty much divided into four different types:
  • Rehearsal Days: These days are literally no different from the schedule that took place during spring training. You wake up, rehearse for about 13 hours, and then go to sleep.
  • Show Days: These days are abbreviated versions of rehearsal days. After rehearsal is over, the members are given a few hours to shower, pack up their things, get into uniform, and load the buses before the corps heads to the performance site. Once the show is done, everyone loads the buses again to travel towards the next show site.
  • Laundry Days: Some corps get these types of days more than others, but still they're DEFINITELY needed. You'd be surprised by how quickly you'll burn through your clothes when you're rehearsing anywhere from 6 to 14 hours a day. Typically, this day takes place during a rehearsal day; rehearsal is shortened to allow time for this to happen. 
  • Free Days: As mentioned above, some corps get more of these days than others, but most corps usually have two of these per season. It's simply a day where the members allowed to roam free and enjoy the city for most of the day.
All of this leads up to finals night, which is usually around the second weekend of August. Unfortunately, there is an age limit in this activity; you "age out" on the year of your 21st birthday (unless you were born after June 1st, in which you're allowed to march on the year of your 22nd birthday).
Drum corps is one of those activities that falls under the saying, "To those that know, no explanation is needed; to those that don't, no explanation is possible." It's something you simply just have to experience, whether if it's as a performing member or a spectator. When you think about it in the end, these kids are spending about nine-and-a-half months to perform about 10 minutes worth of music. Yet, here's an example of the caliber of the performance level you'll be experiencing in those 10 minutes:
If you have any questions about the activity and my personal experiences while participating, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ASK! I LOVE TALKING ABOUT THIS STUFF!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"Haven't I seen you somewhere before?"

Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? It's the situation where you come across a person that you're almost certain that you've seen somewhere before but can't quite place where. Believe it or not, there's a deeper explanation for that scenario. You're aware of your long-term and short-term memory, yes? Well, there's a shorter-term memory called your sensory memory.

Sensory memory is designed to store bits of information in your brain for literally milliseconds at times. Are you familiar with that sensation you feel whenever you're walking through a crowd and someone catches your eye? That's your sensory memory firing off. Now, here's the interesting part: most of the time, your brain deliberately ignores a lot of the info that's stored there; however, there are times where that info can actually slip into your long-term memory without you even being aware of it being processed! In essence, some of the people that you've felt like you've met before are probably people that you've simply passed by at some point. Even more interesting still is the fact that these people can even show up in your dreams (it's usually as those people that you don't know, but you can clearly identify).

There are several types of tests for your sensory memory that you can try with a friend. Try this one: Create sets of several numbers. Have the first set with only a few digits, stopping at usually three or four. For the following sets, increase the numbers in the set by only one or two. When you get to the last set, make sure that it's at least 11 digits or more (try not to go too overboard with it; I promise that 11 will do the trick). See if they freak out when they get to the 11th digit. So, use this as an example:

  • 1, 5, 6, 8
  • 4, 2, 9, 7, 5, 6
  • 3, 5, 4, 2, 1, 0, 9, 4, 3
  • 8, 7, 9, 1, 6, 3, 0, 7, 8, 4, 1, 6
See, your sensory information is only designed to hold about 12 items at one time. You're actually being bombarded with about 11,000,000,000 items per second, but your brain is only going to store the information that's need for some later use. There are also different types of sensory memory that's associated with different senses, but I'm not going to get into that because this is only a blog post and my attention span can only stretch for so long. :D However, if you'd like more information about sensory memory, there's a Wikipedia page on the subject (Wikipedia: Sensory Memory) and there are several other websites available as well. The information I've placed on here is all stuff from my human development class. GO, LEARNING!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bye Bye, Bias.

What's the opposite of being controversial? It's called, being objective. Being objective turns out to be a key quality in order to actually provide a sound argument. What I mean is that it's the difference between being one of those people who say, "OH MY GOD THERE SHOULD BE PRAYER AND BIBLES IN SCHOOL BECAUSE GOD IS GOOD AND STUFF!!!" and those who say, "What actually are the benefits and the downsides to placing a religious aspect in an educational setting in today's multicultural society?" Before I go a little into it, here's something you might want to take a look at: PUAheldesk: Staying Objective

One of the main reasons why people stop being objective is because of emotional involvement. No, I'm not saying that you have to detach yourself from how you feel about the subject matter. I mean this in the sense that people sometimes get so caught up in how strongly they feel about an issue that they fail to see the subject as a whole. There's actually a psychological term for this sort of phenomenon: cognitive inflexibility. Have you ever met someone that refused to listen to your side of the argument? (Even if they're clearly wrong?!) 

That's what I'm getting at. You don't want to be that person. Remaining objective is how you become a reasonable and open-minded individual. More importantly, if you have a point that you wish to defend, this is how you can present that argument without having people write you off as a stubborn ass after speaking for 22 seconds.