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. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Writing Focus: "You sure use some stuffy language, bleh..."


Here's something that I don't think that a lot of people legitimately have a problem with, but it's something I personally address all of the time: getting lost in big words. People like accreditation, yes? The problem comes when you're fumbling through a thesaurus trying to find the largest, four-syllable synonym you come across just so that you can use it in a sentence. See, the problem isn't in the word usage as much as it's probably in the voice.

Ways to combat this:

Elaborate words, incidentally, are not a prerequisite for a labyrinthine, yet, unequivocal piece of writing. You just need to get to the point, yo. I'm personally a fan of people who use the language rather strategically--flowery enough to provide accreditation, yet, simple enough for me to NOT think that this just another haughty person who's trying to impress me with big words. Just say what you're trying to say; you don't need a mess of four-syllable nonsense. 

Next, try writing in active voice instead. You'd be surprised with how much your writing will change when you switch from writing in passive voice! Here's a nifty site with some easy-to-follow tips with how to switch to active voice and what it means. Active Voice Tips


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Classroom Challenge: Group Work

Now, HERE'S something that we all have to face at some point or another--group work. I'm going to be incredibly frank about this: I do not prefer group work at all. I'm a lone wolf in this type of situation. Yet, that sort of viewpoint wouldn't help me in an actual group setting. Luckily enough, you can actually learn a lot from working with others on a project.

One of the first aspects about group work that you can pick up on is how you actually fit in a group setting. You have the leader, the mediator, the work horse, and the subordinate, to name a few. You may actually find yourself under several roles in a group, depending on the project.


  • THE LEADER: The person that steps up and takes charge of the situation. It doesn't necessarily mean that they're bossy, but it does denote a sense of dominance.  
  • THE MEDIATOR: This person stands as the personification of conflict resolution. Whatever goes on in the group, this person knows how to ensure that everyone sees eye-to-eye. 
  • THE WORK HORSE: This is the person who doesn't mind the load. They may not always have an idea to contribute, but if you give them a task, consider it done.
  • THE SUBORDINATE: Not quite a leader, not quite a mediator, doesn't really want to handle all of the work, but they're still just as important. Whenever you need help with an idea or simply just a second opinion, they're sitting right there in the group (probably texting). 
As it turns out, I started out being more of a work horse. Yet, as the years have passed, I've now found myself being more of a leader-type. It's all a part of the role of being adaptable, really. If the group needs a leader, then I have no problem with stepping up (seeing as though I tend to be able to settle on a decision faster that some); however, if there is already a leader-type individual present, I tend to step down to the work-horse role. Either way, even though I do not prefer group work, I just want to ensure that we all come out with as quality of a product as possible.





Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Writing Focus, Part II: Getting Motivated

Another aspect of writing that I've been dealing with is actually getting motivated to write in the first place. I've found that one of the hardest (if not THE hardest) thing about writing simply is getting started! It lies in the uncertainty about to start the entire project. It's also known as the phenomenon, "writer's block." Well, fear not; I have found out quite a few things to overcome this situation while doing some self-examination.

First off, it's imperative that you find the right environment. What do I mean by this? It's simple; what I'm referring to is a place or a state of mind that is personally conducive to writing. Whilst some people (such as myself) can write in practically any environment, others find it imperative that they are in some place quiet. Whichever you prefer, just assure that you're in your "zone."

Brainstorming is the next step! Come up with a tree of possible sentence to catch your audience's attention (once again, why you need to be in a place or a state of mind in which you can think clearly). Diagrams and flow charts are great tools for this step!

Lastly, you want to find a way to get involved with your paper. I've found that, the more you immerse yourself in the subject matter, the easier it is to elaborate on it. Once again, I like to place myself in argument-type setting, as though I was trying to place a point across to someone who seems possibly a little less knowledgeable about the subject. The point is to educate, correct?

Motivation is key, even if it is the most difficult thing to conjure up.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Writing Focus, Part I: Being Universal.

Do you remember when you were sitting in English class (or even a history class) back in high school and you received that dreaded research paper that was on someone that you could seriously care less about? Those were some of the hardest papers I've ever had to write. Why, you may ask? The subject matter is the reason why I have a hard time! It's rather difficult for me to construct any sort of product that has to do with anything that I'm personally not interested in! Honestly, I feel like that's a fault of my own--I should have broader interests, I suppose. However, there are ways I could combat this.

One of the tips I picked up while dealing with this issue was to "make it interesting." I still manage to struggle with that on occasions. Writing about certain subjects is about as interesting as getting your leg amputated; it's just painful. Instead, I like to think of it as "writing a rebuttal!" To be honest, this method that I've adopted makes me feel a tad bit dirty on the inside. It's like writing a love letter to your horrible ex-boyfriend/girlfriend (the one that you want to be hit by a bus and then die by some horrible, flesh-eating disease) and pretending that you still care. Yes, I don't personally care about the subject I have to write about, but, I don't want my instructor OR my audience to know that.

 I'm still working on how to get to the point where I can coerce my audience into thinking that there isn't a subject on the planet that I couldn't write about! Simply put, I need to get over myself and start thinking on a more universal plane. Besides, if I can accomplish this, then I've added even more trivia to my database! 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

(Non-EH 101 Related Blogger Post)

The weather's changing..and it's making feel a little offset. I have a lot of random thoughts floating around and since Tumblr isn't up at the moment, I guess I'll write here.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Asking the Right Questions.

As a writer, one of things that I personally try to strive for is simply to entertain. Yet, there are so many aspects to writing that are involved with being an entertaining writer. For example, there's a rather essential question that I need to ask myself: how can I ensure that I'm writing something that is relevant AND entertaining to audience? I believe that before I can even begin to explore this question, I must first build upon some basic questions that every writer must confront along the way.

The first question I'll explore is, how do get the audience to pay attention in the first place? I believe that it starts with basic writing skills, as in, knowing how to punctuate, how to spell correctly, how to properly form a thesis, etc (spelling is a rather HUGE weakness of mine, even though I like to pride myself on having a flowery vocabulary). Think of it this way: if you don't look like you know what you're talking about in the first place, then people will probably refrain from trying to examine your handy work to see if you actually do know what you're talking about. Basics are a necessity for any writer.

The next question is, how can I produce something that is relevant to my audience? Well, the true answer is that I simply can't...not always, anyway. My thoughts are rather unusual, so it's a little difficult for me, to be honest. Yet, I believe that, in order to be relevant to your audience, you need to be able to relate to your audience; rather, your audience needs to be able to relate to you. The human experience is very unique to the individual, however, there are always commonalities. For example, we're both human! That's a start, right?

The final question that I'll explore is, how can I be entertaining to my audience? Well, to begin with, I'm naturally very cynical (which some people actually find funny). I'm typically trying to either find humor, or pull humor out of a subject matter. Also, I can fall back to being able to relate to audience. Think back to your childhood: have you ever had to pick out "the switch" whenever you got in trouble? It was like you were stuck between a rock and an even BIGGER rock because you were left with seemingly only two choices: Option A left you with picking the weak switch, which led to your parent seeking one more powerful than the one you picked. Option B was picking out the awful switch to begin with. Ah, childhood; it was such a wonderful time period.

All of this guiding questions should help me find a way to answering my main question, but I could always ask more. I need to always ask the right question so that I may find the answer...so that I can ask more questions. I'll never be a "the perfectly entertainingly relevant" writer, but I hope that I'll eventually get there.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Rule That I Find Difficult to Abide By.

According to Vonnegut's rules, honestly, rule #2 is the hardest for me to follow. It's mainly because of the fact that I'm incredibly long-winded, however, I still stay relevant--I always find my way back to the subject without getting too sidetracked. Yet, I get sidetracked in the first place and that's where the problem lies. I believe that it all springs from a principle that I like to live by: "Live life like you have a story to tell." I'm a story-teller, naturally. Actually, I think that may fall under a different rule...but I digress; I could go on about this.


!!!

EDUCATION!!!

(That is all.)