Staying Motivated

I have definitely found that having at least a somewhat thorough and specific production plan is very helpful.  It has forced me to stay organized and motivated.  It has also allowed me to clearly see the various tasks and research that I need to do in order to make my project a success.  Even though I haven’t followed my production plan exactly as I created it – I have deviated in terms of the order in which I have done things – it has definitely pushed me to be proactive and gradually chip away at all of the things I need to do.  Although I have not followed the exact order of my plan, I’m actually kind of happy about that.  It has made me realize that there is truly no way to predict the exact path or progression that your project will take.  I think there will always be both unforeseen hurdles and opportunities.  For instance, when I created my production plan, I did not know that I would be spending this weekend at home in New York.  Therefore, I had no idea that this would be the perfect time to conduct a face-to-face interview with my camp director, who’s office is ten minutes from my house.  That being said, I’d definitely encourage everyone to create a pretty clear plan of what they intend on doing to complete their project, but do not be hesitant of deviating from your plan as you you see fit.  Rather, always be in tune with your plan and alert to different situations that may arise.  If you are able to do that, I think that various twists and progressions to your project will occur naturally.

Original Title: Self Claims

Never realized how conflicted I was…

  1. I hate social media, yet I spend a lot of time on Facebook.
  2. I hate the feeling of always eating, yet I always love to eat.
  3. I much rather prefer to run casually outside but I sometimes choose to run on the treadmill in order to push myself more.
  4. I generally dislike responsibility and commitment, yet I can’t stand the feeling of being useless and have nothing that I need to get done.
  5. I hate feeling like I’m unfairly doing more work than others in what’s meant to be an evenly split group project but I hate leaving my fate in other people’s hands.
  6. I enjoy watching college sports but I hate what they represent.
  7. I love privacy but I hate the feeling of being alone.
  8. I love things that make my life easier but I hate having to adapt to new technology.
  9. I love the University of Michigan but I am sick of living in the Midwest.
  10. I am very forgiving but often hold grudges.
  11. I do not like cold weather but I am grateful that it makes me appreciate warm weather.
  12. I don’t like winter but I love to ski.

Abstract relations to my project:

  1. Parent Trap
  2. Survivor
  3. Harry Potter
  4. Shrek
  5. The League
  6. Toy Story
  7. The Discovery Channel
  8. the Guinness Book of World Records
  9. Rocket Power
  10. The Mighty Ducks
  11. Kicking and Screaming

Evolution Essay Question

One issue that I brought up in class yesterday was that I was torn over what was an appropriate amount of “old work” to include in my essay.  There are a few different parts of my paper where I included pretty large quotes from previous work in order to critique specific elements of the writing and show how it has changed.   I’m curious as to whether other people employed this same sort of strategy, and if so, to what extent?  My intention was to break up my actual writing for this piece and give readers a chance to actually see what I am describing, rather than simply telling them.  I just don’t want the structure of my paper to become too redundant by using this tactic too many times.  Finding clever ways to critique your writing throughout this assignment is definitely a challenge.  Did anyone employ the same tactic that I did in referencing excerpts of older work and comparing it to newer work?  If so, to what extent?  If you did not use this approach, do you implement a different idea that you think works well?  I’m curious to get a better sense of what other people are doing to demonstrate how their writing has truly evolved.

Post-Class Evolution Essay Thoughts

Given that most of class today was devoted to workshopping our Writer’s Evolution drafts in our preassigned groups, I figured it would be fruitful to share some common issues to address that my group and I discovered.  Tracing back to class last week, we discussed at length the importance of keeping readers engaged in what naturally may turn out to be a very unappealing topic.  We may find joy in reminiscing on the progression of our writing over the last three to four years, but unfortunately, any audience will likely need more than some sentimental reflections to remain engaged.  I realize that a lot of this may vary based on the specific direction and goals of your essay, but below are a few suggestions that my group collectively came up with.

1. Give your readers a chance to breath by breaking up your text.  Quotes, writing excerpts, imagery, headers, etc.  Bottom line, reading through seven (plus) straight pages of this sort of subject matter will be challenging.  Give you readers a break.  Allow them to feel like they just need to reach the next check point rather than having nothing in site but a very distant finish line.

2. Instead of lecturing to your audience, try to have a conversation.  I think the underlying tone of this paper is very important to keep readers engaged.  Imagine that they have showed up to your office hours in order to hear what you have to say.  No need to overdo it with formality and fancy words.  Just say what’s on your mind.  A little voice and personality will never hurt anyone.  Maybe not never but you get the idea.

3. The opening will set the tone.  Try to be creative in how you begin your essay and clearly articulate what direction your piece will be headed in.  This is your chance to establish your credibility and make the reader optimistic that they truly won’t dread (perhaps even enjoy) reading what you have to say.  Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and try something different.

I hope at least one person finds at least one of these bullets at least slightly helpful.  At the very least, I tried.  Good luck to everyone!

Maria Cotera Insight

I really enjoyed being able to listen to Maria speak yesterday. Maria teaches American Culture and Women’s Studies here at the University of Michigan.  She is a women’s activist, a subject that she is very passionate about.  Working towards something that you are passionate about is the biggest connection that I made with Maria’s insightful words. At one point she said something along the lines of, “I don’t get how someone can write a 400 page book about something that they’re not passionate about. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.” This was awesome and refreshing to hear. If I’m going to devote a lot of time, energy, and resources towards something, I would really hope that it is for something that I genuinely believe in and enjoy working on. If it isn’t, then why bother?

Throughout college, I have had both the fortune and misfortune of being involved in assignments that I have loved working on and wanted absolutely nothing to do with. I have always found that I have produced far superior work when it has been on a topic that I’m truly invested in. This is why I’m really looking forward to putting together my final project. It is on a topic that I am emotionally invested in: summer camp.

While this sort of insight from Maria may have been generic, it is still something that I really appreciated hearing, and I think it is really important to be mindful of. For everyone else that will soon be getting started on their projects, I hope you are able to approach it from an angle that is particularly meaningful to you. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and take a unique approach that you feel strongly about.

My Current Capstone Plan

When Ray surveyed our class and specifically asked each of us how committed we were to our front-running capstone plan, I confidently stated that I was 90 percent sure.  Well, it seems as though the 10 percent has prevailed.  I originally was intending to focus on the perils that athletes face in overcommitting to a sport.  This takes place at multiple levels.  Athletes may become burnt out in their youth, become overpowered by their college coach, or face too much pressure at the professional level.  My initial plan was to analyze the various stages in which athletes essentially lose their life-long war with sports and to weigh in on the various social factors involved.  However, I recently made an impulsive decision to completely alter course.

My current plan (which I will email you tomorrow, Ray), is to give both an informative and persuasive account of the value in sending kids to summer camps.  Having been a camper for seven summers and a counselor for five, I have experienced first hand the way in which camp can impact and transform one’s life.  For now, I do not intend on involving many different forms of media to accomplish my goals.  I primarily want to focus on giving a candid written assessment of what camp has done for me and what I have seen it do for other people.  I plan on informing readers of all that summer camps have to offer for kids, including learning to be independent, self-discovery, forging life-long friendships and memories, and experiencing things one may not experience anywhere else.  Yes, I will do my best to vouch on behalf of the entire camp experience, and hopefully give readers a small taste of what it is truly like to be a camper.

Tragedy Strikes Boston

I’m sure many people will agree with me when I say that I’m sick of hearing about events such as what happened today in Boston. Simply put, it’s an absolute disgrace. What kind of person can possibly live with their self, knowing they played a role in executing such a despicable act? Multiple innocent lives lost, several in critical condition, hundreds injured, and countless scarred memories that may never fully recover. It’s scary to acknowledge how horrific tragedies such as this continue to occur. Unfortunately, despite all of the amazing people in this world, it is also full of utterly cruel individuals who either hate the world or for some sick reason are determined to torment and harm innocent people.

While I obviously want to know who is responsible for such a despicable act, I’m more curious as to why. What could possibly motivate someone to do something like this? How can someone possibly justify this action? How can these people live with themselves? Why are some people so heartless? Why are some people such cowards? Why are some people such a disgrace?

In the midst of all of our busy schedules and lofty aspirations, it is very easy to lose sight of what truly matters in life. There are so many things that we take for granted on a daily basis. We should all be grateful for attending such an amazing university and being surrounded by friends and family who care about us. I spent this past weekend visiting my grandparents in Florida. I’m so happy I was able to spend time with them. Tragedies like this are humbling to us all. They place everything in perspective.

Late last night I flew back to Michigan. I was mad that my flight was delayed 40 minutes. I was feverishly refreshing my phone before the flight even landed, checking to see if the Yankees won or not. Today I heard about what happened in Boston. I am reminded about what is truly important. Tonight I will go to sleep sick to my stomach. Tomorrow I will use this as motivation to be a better person and appreciate everything in my life that I am so fortunate to have.


Eating, Speaking, or Sleeping?

When Ray asks us a question in the beginning of class, normally I’m satisfied with being given my 20 seconds of attention to respond to the prompt, and then content with listening to what the rest of the class has to say. However, for the first time this semester, I’m not. I think we have somewhere from 18-20 scholarly michigan students in our class, and if I recall correctly, only one other person, my main man Matt, agreed with me that a great night sleep is superior to a great conversation or a great meal. Simply put, I’m baffled. What’s even further perplexing is the number of people that chose a conversation. Having said that, I’d like to take this opportunity to more extensively map out my argument for why a great night of sleep is undoubtedly the best deal.

Why a great night sleep:

1) It’s easy. In fact, it requires no energy whatsoever. It actually gives you energy for the next day, which will undoubtedly be another full-on battle with reality and societal norms.

2) It’s soothing. Are you ever more relaxed than when you’re asleep? I’m pretty sure that’s impossible.

3) If your parents call, you have a legitimate excuse as to why you didn’t answer the phone. Either that, or the next time you need a favor from them, which in my case will likely be tomorrow, you can leverage the fact that they ruined your day by waking you up before noon.

4) It makes everything better. It’s as simple as that. When I wake up after having gotten a great night sleep, everything is fine. However, if my sleep is anything less than that, I will inevitably run into problems the next day, usually beginning immediately with an inability to get out of bed and function like a real human-being.

Why not a great meal:

1) Don’t get me wrong, they’re great, but typically you’ll just end up eating too much and then feel bad about yourself.

2) Unless you’re a wizard of a chef or have a big enough piggy bank to consistently east out at awesome places, if you enjoy a great meal, it’ll take you about a week to get over the fact that you haven’t had another great meal since then.

3) Not being able to enjoy great meals that often makes going home that much GREATER.

Why not a great conversation:

1) Thy’re great to start with, but towards the end aren’t you usually frantically searching for a way of FINALLY ending the conversation? I promise you that I love to talk, but this always seems to happen.

2) How do you  follow up that act? Seriously, it’s great if you and someone else hit it off. Really, it is. But what about next time??? How can you possibly follow up that act? It’s like if you’re a pitcher and you throw a perfect game. Amidst all of the adrenaline and glory, they’re secretly thinking to themselves, Everybody is going to hate me if I give up a hit the next time I pitch.

3) Speaking of which, I know most people don’t care about sports as much as I do, but I really can’t afford to get laryngitis. I have teams to root for!!!



Fair or Foul?

I want to briefly describe a situation to everyone, and feel free to tell if you think I have a point or not.

As everyone knows, Michigan made it to the Final Four. Before I go any further, I want to assure you that this isn’t yet another post solely about sports. It’s actually more about ethics. The topic of ethics probably makes it even less interesting, but oh well. Anyway, the University was given 700 tickets from the NCAA (not nearly enough, but not the point) to distribute to student season ticket holders. As you may imagine, at a school with about 28,000 undergraduate students and another 14,00 graduate students, despite the fact that most students do not buy basketball season tickets, far more than 700 do. You can also probably imagine that out of those “far more than 700” who do in fact have season tickets, just about all of them want to go to the Final Four. Clearly, there are going to be many unhappy campers.

Currently, I am one of those unhappy campers, but don’t think I should be! Priority is given to the students who attended the most home games. Okay… I’m fine with that part. But I’m not fine with the fact that I’m not given extra priority for working in the Athletic Department (yes, the same Athletic Department that the Michigan basketball team is a part of). I’m not fine with having worked over 200 hours in the Athletic Department, only to have my potential ticket taken by someone who maybe attended a couple more home games than me. I’m not asking for health care here… I just want a stupid ticket!

Am I being unreasonable in saying that, or do I truly have a point? Since you probably don’t care in the slightest bit, please just side with me to take me feel better. I could really use some moral support.

On a separate note, I would just like to point out that I also attended two road games this year, at Ohio State and Michigan State respectively. From these games, I was subject to long car rides, foul language, name -calling, dirty looks, rivalry-school chants, and agonizing defeats. That should count for more than someone attending a stupid home game 5-minutes away in Wolverine-friendly Crisler Center!

Selection Sunday

Today is a big day. Not only is it St. Patrick’s Day, but more importantly, it’s Selection Sunday. For those who are unfamiliar, Selection Sunday is the day on which men’s college basketball March Madness tournament bracket is unveiled, signaling the official beginning of March Madness.

Like so many other sports fans, I’m a huge fan of March Madness. Simply put, it’s one of the most thrilling sporting events of the year. However, more and more every year, I can’t help but think about the sacrifices that college athletes must make every year to be involved in such an event. Despite being expected to fulfill the burden of being a full-time student, these athletes devote several hours every day to their sport. Whether it is practice, fill study, therapy, games, traveling, etc., they are constantly brushing their academic obligations to the side in favor of their sport. This is virtually a year round cycle in many cases. Even in their respective off-seasons  they are still required to come in for individual work outs, team practices, weight-lifting, etc.

For college basketball players, all of this hard work comes to fruition around this time of year, when many schools are invited to play in the NCAA March Madness tournament. Only, in order to be involved in such an event, teams often time must travel far distances and play games during the middle of a school day, forcing them to miss several days of classes at a time, and putting them in an even more difficult position to thrive academically? Sorry, not thrive, I mean survive!

I could go on all day, but I think I’ve gotten my point across, so far the sake of boring you any further, I’d like to just invite any sort of feedback. What is your stance on collegiate athletics? Do you think it is fair to the athletes to be used the way they are without being paid? Do you even think they should be required to be full-time students, or would it make more sense if they just focused on their sport, with the option of being allowed to complete their degree once their athletic career is over? Does the system need to be changed, or is it okay the way it is?