TV Junkie

Hey Nerds,

For my capstone project, I plan on doing an analysis of my own TV/Movie viewing habits.  I plan on taking  both qualitative and quantitative measures in order to inform my analysis (i.e. estimating amounts of hours spent on watching shows/evaluating the efficacy or worth of my time spent doing so) as well as potentially coming up with a proposal of what I could have done with my time.  Ultimately, I hope to have a better understanding of my viewing habits in order to recognize trends and hopefully come up with a useful way of utilizing my vast experience watching things.

I’ve already recognized the different ways in which I watch certain things; for example some shows or movies that I re-watch, I do so very analytically (examining the merits or strategies used by the writer or director to convey a certain sentiment).  Conversely, certain shows or movies I can re-watch countless times without ever considering this analytical perspective.  I prematurely have categorized this difference as the difference between ‘active watching’ and ‘passive watching.’  Despite recognizing this, there doesn’t seem to be a relationship with the genre, medium or content.  Certain comedies I’ll watch passively and others actively.  So I guess I would like to explore this relationship and try to find a connection there.

 

Although I am very passionate about the topic and focus of my project, I’m still a bit stumped with regards to the form it will ultimately take.  Although I think that after analysis, I could come up with a compelling prose report on my findings, however this seems rather boring.  I would really like to convey to the audience what watching these different mediums or with different perspectives feels like, but I’m not sure how to gear it towards a ‘universal’ audience (even though Ray said this was impossible, I’m still going to try).

 

Any feedback or ideas would be greatly appreciated!!

The merits of “higher education”-or lack there of

We attend one of the greatest higher education institutions in the country, scratch that, the world.  That’s an empirical fact – not biased conjecture.  But what’s the point.  Our students work hard-that’s cool.  That being said, there is a surprising balance between students’ desire to advance their own educations, through hard work and countless sleepless nights, and the ability of many people on campus to maintain active social lives.  Unfortunately I remain unsatisfied with U of M.  Shocking, I know. Who doesn’t love Michigan?  Let me clarify, I love Umich.  I couldn’t fathom going anywhere else.  Without a doubt in my mind, I chose the right college out of my acceptances.  My dissatisfaction lies is the academic realm of this institution.  My complaint is not that the work is too hard nor that the professors are inadequate (although I would argue that plenty of those exist).  My biggest complaint lies within the institution’s desire to ensure that it’s students graduate with a wide-range of expertise and take a multitude of subjects throughout their tenure at University.

What? You’re objection is that the university you attend actively wants you to be a well-rounded student when you graduate?  Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes.

My greatest objection is that the university enforces so many distribution requirements.  I recognize the merit in ensuring that students take a breadth of courses in the 4 short years (on average) that they’re enrolled.  For the driven student that has “known” what they want to do with their education since they were 4 (whether it be pre-med, business, studying developmental psych- or whatever it is) or the student that begins freshman year scratching their heads responding to their advisor during orientation with “I have no clue  what I want to study,” – taking courses in various fields is admirable.  The university ensures that the student is forced into taking subjects that may enable the individual to discover what they like, and often more importantly, what they don’t like.

In my first two years at UofM, I have done just that.  I came in for orientation unsure of what subjects I would engage in, what direction I wanted to take my life, and what occupation I ultimately wanted to end up with.  Since then, I’ve been able to recognize the type of classes I enjoy-namely history, english, and psychology.  In reflection of discovering this, I couldn’t be more thankful to the university and the courses that led to this self-discovery.  However, like most people in society, I remain unsatisfied even with all the benefits it provides.

I genuinely love history.  I like learning about the past, various events and social movements that occurred.  Within that,  I enjoy learning about the motives that led people to act in certain ways, conform to certain social norms, and respond to events of the specific time period individuals live in (the psychological component).

Now that I know what I like and what I don’t, I can now focus my education around those types of courses, perhaps even become an expert in those fields-WRONG!  Being an LSA student, I can’t speak specifically about the requirements of other schools and colleges within the university, but from what I gather from friends it is fairly uniform across the university.

The college of Literature, Science, and the Arts requires that I fulfill seemingly endless distribution requirements.  QR, language, Natural Sciences, humanities…where does it end.  Fortunately, I recognized this early on in my college career. Up until the end of my sophomore year, I’ve primarily been going out of my way to fulfill requirements.  Not knowing what I wanted when I began freshman year, it seemed logical that I attempt to take classes that genuinely sounded interesting-while more importantly- concurrently meeting various distributions.  I was very successful.  Most, if not all of the classes I’ve taken were chosen for a specific purpose, meeting a specific need so that I can graduate on time and absolve my parents the responsibility of paying for me to learn.  Assuming I don’t fail any of my classes, this semester will mark the end of my general distribution req’s.  No more QR classes (hate those), no more Natural Sciences (hate those even more).  One would think that this would enable me to only take classes within my concentration and that I genuinely am interested in for my remaining two years.  Unfortunately this is not the case.

Within my concentration, I am restricted by the need to fulfill various regional distributions.  Aside from taking a certain number of 200/300 level courses (no objections there), I need to take courses that delve into topics all across the globe.  Notable history concentration distributions: class that meets a global regional distribution, pre-1800 history course, European, U.S. and Asian regional distribution, a survey sequence course, etc.  On paper, this all makes sense.  The department wants to ensure that I am a well-rounded student.  But should this come at the cost of me not being able to specialize in a specific area?

Taking so many courses in different fields/areas of a specific field ensures that I know a wide-range of histories/subjects, but it also ensures that I don’t know any one area/field that well.  Why is it that I am unable to simply take courses that genuinely pique my interest.  In the few classes that I have wholeheartedly been interested in, I’ve dedicated myself to knowing the subject matter as well as actively engage in academic discussion.  In the majority (if not all) of my distribution classes, I merely do whatever it takes to get a good grade and meet my req’s so that I don’t have to take another course like it.  I look for the easiest NS classes-the content of the class means nothing to me and realistically I wont retain a majority of it.

So what’s the point?  Should college be about me becoming a well rounded student? Or should it be about fostering genuine education.  In my opinion, obtaining an education from a “Higher-Ed” institution should be about more than just demonstrating a proficiency in a wide-breadth of subject matter.  What does that really prove? That I am capable of memorizing the phases of the moon right before an exam? That I can recall general economic trends that I’ll forget hours after taking an exam?  What is this education promoting?

Perhaps I have an overly idealistic perception of what an education should be about.  But hey, I’m an out-of-state student paying thousands of dollars annually (and by me I mean my parents).  Shouldn’t I be able to just study what I want.  I worked hard to get the grades and test scores to allow me to come to this glorious place. I wholeheartedly enjoy learning (crazy concept, I know).  I feel fulfillment merely by engaging in subjects that makes me scratch my head and want to continue discussion outside of the classroom.  The way I see it, us students are entrapped in an ongoing paradox.  We’re told we’re adults when we go to college.  We feed ourselves.  Nobody is looking over our shoulder to make sure our homework is getting done.  The only people accountable for our grades is ourselves (thankfully UofM doesn’t mail our report cards home).  However, at the same time, the university implements these restrictions that essentially say, “you are not capable of determining what type of education is adequate.”  “You must take this wide-range of courses to say that you are proficient in something.”  If I am an adult (and I think I am), shouldn’t I be allowed the opportunity to determine what I need to become proficient in something to obtain a degree?

I’m not suggesting that our higher education system should reflect that of South Harmon’s Institute of Technology (a fictional college created in the 2006 movie “Accepted” based on the principles of students fully determine the courses of their education and teach eachother).  But I think the SHITheads have something going.  Maybe there’s a happy medium between the stringent requirements (or should we call them limitations?) that our universities force upon us and completely unbounded education.  Maybe there isn’t.  I don’t know.  Isn’t college supposed to be about not only learning about society and specific areas of learning, but also questioning what we do know and what exists?  Like I said, maybe I just have an overly idealistic interpretation of what my education should be and how it should be geared, but I believe I’m not the only one (surely wasn’t trying to be trite quoting Mr. Lennon, but couldn’t find another way to express my sentiment).

WordPress Help

Hey Everyone,

A friend and I on campus are developing a music blog (allnaturalbeats.com) and we need assistance with developing our site on the wordpress platform.  Please reach out to me at gellerac@umich.edu if you’d be able/interested in helping.  We cover a wide array of genres and the music truly is great, however we’re currently limited in terms of the functionality of the site.  Please let me know if any of you could be of assistance. Thanks!

Maturity, Responsibility, Laundry Service?

What stood out most to me about our class’ self-evaluation of adulthood was the significance placed on doing one’s own laundry.  Many classmates referenced cleaning their own clothes as a marker of their maturity – elevating the rankings slightly.  What is it about doing one’s own laundry that apparently enables people to feel a wider breadth of agency?  From what I gather, people cite doing laundry as a marker of maturity because it is symbolic of a separation of dependency from one’s parents.  That may be, however I would argue that in my particular case, not doing my own laundry is reflective of a much more mature and responsible decision.

I do not do my own laundry.  Up until my college move in, I had probably only operated a washing machine two or three times – and only because my parents were out of town or because I needed to cover up something on my clothes from them.  Doing laundry freshman year was rough; not due to lack of ability to run a washing machine/dryer, rather because all the washing machines in my dorm were broken, causing me to have to run at least 2 wash cycles and 2 dryer cycles just to have my clothes clean and dry.  Monetary expenses of laundry aside, this was very frustrating for me.  Doing laundry became a multi-hour event, which sucked, and furthermore the machines were often occupied meaning I would have to wait additional time for one to open up.

Considering how inconvenient the task of laundry was, at the beginning of this school year I did my due diligence, discovered “Busy Bodys” (A laundry service in which you pay for a certain weight, leave your clothes outside your door, its collected weekly and returned the following day clean and folded), and sold my mother on paying for.  Many have argued that I was just being lazy, incapable of doing my own laundry, or that simply I was being a “J.A.P” – all plausible explanations.

In stark contrast, I believe that my actions with regards to my laundry decisions reflect far more maturity than the act of cleaning my own clothes.  Lets evaluate my actions that led to me paying for laundry:

1) I recognized my own distaste of doing laundry

2) I researched various services and compared costs to other companies

3) Upon figuring out the best option in the local market, I evaluated approximate weight of laundry per week to determine the cost

4) Next I evaluated the extent to which I value my own time (how much are the 4 hours or so a week to me)

5) Then I aggregated my research and prepared an informal proposal for my mother

After hearing my case for this laundry service, my mother saw the merit of paying for laundry and handed over her credit card.  Alas! I finally was back to the wonderful world of not doing my own laundry – and it really is a wonderful world.  Haven’t had a single ruined article of clothing (something I can not say for the broken machines in my dorm), I save hours and hours every week (time which I now spend doing homework/other productive tasks), and ultimately the cost of paying for the service is not that much higher than the cost of running the machines in my building.  All in all I believe Busy Body’s was a great investment.

In conclusion, I would argue that not doing laundry demonstrates my proximity to adulthood far more than cleaning clothes.  I demonstrated agency by researching alternatives to doing my own laundry, I performed a cost-benefit analysis, did self-evaluations of the worth of my time, and I constructed an argument appealing to my audience.

So call me lazy.  Call me dependent.  Call me whatever you want – I don’t really care.  If you happen to call me something mean, thats fine, because I now have plenty of disposable hours each week for counseling if need be.  So get at me all you laundry-service haters!

Rereading this was depressing

So the following definitely qualifies as “prose-deficient” in my book.  Kind of disgusted that I produced this for a class…

 

“I think the main explanation that I believe in logic directing our lives over Hume’s view of passions is because concrete reasoning resonates more with me than something as ambiguous as passion.  Logic remains the same despite circumstance whereas passion is inherently influenced by one’s environment and the situations one finds themself in.  Perhaps this is due to my desire to maintain some semblance of control over my life.  If I can remain close to logic’s guidance, I can comfortably know that I have made a better decision than one that was inspired by passion, even if the end result of the passion-driven decision yielded greater utility.”

Give me a break. Give me a break. (No, seriously professors, give me a break)

In contemplation of the last two years on campus, I was astounded by the amount of work that I’ve been assigned leading up to, during, and immediately after breaks.  One would expect, at least at UofM (slight pompous jab at all other schools who aren’t as academic as us), to be continuously assigned work during the semester leading up to school-sanctioned breaks.  And that immediately upon releasing that last final or essay to your instructor, the break would commence and one’s brain could essentially be turned off until classes resume.

Evidently this is not the case.  For example, the two weeks leading up this spring break (even though we all know it’s definitely not spring), my professors plagued me with seemingly endless readings, essays, and in class exams.  Prior to break, I accepted the fact that my life would suck for a week or two, but that it was worth it for I would soon be on break: my brain could be in a vegetated state, I would be able to normalize my sleeping habits as well as indulge in a luxury I had yearned for for many months – REAL FOOD!!!

Feb. 28th came and went, my final essay submitted with pride, yet I was unable to turn my brain off.  After driving home to New Jersey (and pumping my own gas on the way), within the first hour I had realized the amount of outstanding assignments and work that still remained.  Despite taking an exam a mere week prior, I had been assigned a Philosophy paper due the Monday classes resumed.  Fair enough, I can handle one 4-6 page paper over the entire break – I am minoring in writing after all.  So I mark that assignment down on my planner and continue through my other syllabi.  A few novels for a history class, a couple hundred pages of assigned astronomy readings, it kept adding up.

My “break” had quickly turned into another typical week of endless work.  I don’t really understand what possesses professors to assign work during breaks, as it seems fairly counterintuitive to me.  Perhaps they think that because it’s break, no other professor would ever dream of assigning work, and therefore the student could devote their free time to the one subject in particular.  However, seeing as just about all professors do this, “break” has become a foreign concept to me.  Regardless of the reason for assigning the work, I believe this injustice must be stopped.  Let us put an end to this madness and take back the breaks that we’ve earned!

Was MTV ever about the music?

In researching some fairly popular blogs on wordpress, I came across the MTV’s newsroom blog (http://newsroom.mtv.com/).  Despite personally detesting what MTV has done to television, it seems as though MTV has maintained a seemingly pristine collection of current music news, videos, and of course gossip as well.  While this site does unfortunately focus on matters such as Snooki, there are many very well written articles on contemporary musicians and other general news which is surprisingly well displayed.  I believe this blog is so well produced for the following reasons:

1) The developers know their audience. (One example would be the content of the “news” page, consisting of celebrity gossip and various music news of artists from 2000’s through contemporary artists.)

2) It is easy to navigate.  (The site has a simple layout that is busy but not overcrowded.  Main pages of the blog are clearly marked.)

3) Collaborating with other sites/sources.  (This site compared to other blogs I’ve seen makes sure to post plenty of links to sites with related material, easy access to posting info to facebook and twitter from every screen as well as pinterest and other social media sites).

Aren’t bubbles supposed to be fun?

I was particularly intrigued that I had never heard of the “higher education bubble” until last class.  It was astounding to me that here I was investing thousands of dollars in addition to countless hours of work and the reality of the situation is that it is very likely that my investment may not pay off.  Unlike past generations, a standard undergraduate degree no longer holds the same weight it once did.

 

I found a PBS short clip on the Higher education bubble particularly enlightening on the subject.

 

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/business/jan-june11/college_05-27.html

 

What surprised me the most was not that the net worth of my diploma is less than what it used to be, but rather that this was my first occurrence encountering this theory.  Being a currently enrolled college undergraduate student, this debate over the value of diplomas implicitly includes me as a member of the audience.  That being said, as far as I understand, there is little I can do to change this trend with universities’ tuition raises other than voice my complaints to a higher power with the hopes that they will appeal to my requests.  Seeing as I have little/no power in influencing administrators who influence college tuition rates, it would appear that this dilemma is more about me than directed at me to solve.  At this present point in my college education, I have already committed close to half of my investment in college, and as such it would be a poor decision for me to drop out.  However, if tuition rates continue to rise and the calculated value of a degree does not, this bubble may burst faster than anyone could have imagined.