Your Favorite Writing

What has been your favorite piece of writing you’ve ever done and why?  Not necessarily in college and not necessarily for a class (though falling into either category is totally okay too)… just plain and simple, what and why?

For me, I think it was a writing piece I wrote about my siblings for my 325 class.  I wrote it over the most recent summer term and I think what makes it my favorite are, well, a few things.  The topic itself was fairly broad (something like “something in the past that happened over a long period of time”), which helped because I could pretty much pick anything.  I also chose a topic I felt very strongly about – not just in general, but in that specific moment in time.  Finally, I put a lot of work into the re-writing and felt the final product wasn’t unfinished in any way.

So, in short, it was a meaningful essay that meant a lot to me personally.

What’s interesting, however, is that my second-favorite essay I’ve written is likely my Biochem 352 research essay for basically reasons that are entirely opposite the ones above.  The short version is: it made me feel incredibly smart when I was finished, because I’d pulled off an assignment I thought I’d bomb.

So again, I’m curious, what is your favorite piece of writing and why?  Any writing, any reason.

A Two-Pronged Approach to Gamer Society

When we first discussed the Big Project for the course, my mind went in a couple directions.  I’ll be honest, most of the writing I’ve done for previous classes has focused on “sad” things.  And to me, that’s fine – I’ve actually (I think anyways) become quite good at pathos.  So my first instinct was to focus on death in some form or another – (I have my own personal reasons for this, but that would be a post in and of itself).

But when RayRay started talking about personal interests, and working around something we maybe haven’t been able to focus on as much as we’d have liked during undergrad, I started to shift focus a bit.  I’ll get it out right now: I’m a big, nerdy World of Warcraft gamer.  It’s not something the always comes up in conversation, but it’s a big part of my life.  To an “outsider” (if you want to call it that), saying a game is a big part of my life might sound incredibly weird.  And, admittedly, that’s an understandable reaction.  But that’s also part of where my mind began to head during our discussion of this project.  I wanted a way to somehow get across just how influential something as seemingly silly as an online game has been on my life.

There’s quite a bit more to it than I can easily get into here, but to give you an idea, I’ve been playing this game with the same group of people for years now.  People from all over the country, sometimes world, have been part of my online social experience.  I’ve been able to talk with people from Singapore, Bermuda, Australia, England, that weird country above us… the list goes on.  These people aren’t just “gamer friends,” they’re people I’ve been able to talk with over familial, social, school, and really any time of personal problem in my life.  They’re people I spend six or more hours a week with playing, shooting the shit, and getting drunk with.  I have friends in New York, Chicago, Florida, California, and elsewhere all willing to let me stay at their place if I ever decide to visit the area.

What I’m getting at is this: these are real people and real social experiences.  They happen from the comfort of my computer monitor, but – despite the insistence to the contrary by my parents during my teenage years – this is a real, personal group of friends and this experience, to me, holds just as much weight as any other social experience.

…So all that is one aspect of what I’m considering trying to tackle in this project.  I know for a fact it’s not singular to me – people have met through World of Warcraft and happily married! – but it will also be difficult to keep it unbiased.

Alllllllll that being said, there was a second approach I wanted to take, and since I’ve talked a lot already, I’ll try to keep it short.  This second approach came to my mind when Pikachu mentioned practicality.

It’s probably not known to many, but among the gaming community – (not necessarily World of Warcraft, but other games like League of Legends, DOTA 2, and Starcraft 2) – are all becoming part of a growing movement toward “eSports.”  eSports are exactly what you think they are.  Matches, events, etc. all rivaling athletic sports in fervor, dedication, and audience appeal, but instead played out online.  They’ve grown tremendously over the years and to give you an idea of the magnitude, I want to direct you to two figures:

1.) This picture of the League of Legends world championship over the past 4 years :

and 2.) The fact that the most recent tournament drew 27 million viewers and surpassed Game 7 of the World Series in viewership.

Couple this growth with the fact that colleges are now offering scholarships to eSports teams AND the fact that the first ever Sports Visa was issued to a South Korean Starcraft 2 player in order that he might participate in a tournament in the States and you’ve got real monetary value behind these games.

Okay, so that’s where I’m at.  I talked a lot more than I thought, but I can’t decide if I want to do one or both of these as my primary focus.  I’m fascinated with the growth of eSports, but it also lacks the humanistic side to a story I’m more familiar with.  Hope you all learned at least a few fun facts from this post!


[Pika!] Would You Rather Have a Longer Winter, or a Long Summer?

Taking some time away from my last-minute portfolios preparations, I thought I’d pop on here to pose one more question before we all finish up our Gateway assignments.

If any of you were not aware, U of M (for one reason or another) decided to start winter break a little earlier this year, and have it last a little longer.  What this results in is both a later “spring” break (one which finally starts outside of February) as well as a summer break that starts a week early.

For me, I prefer the shift.  I find that by the end of the fall semester, I really just need a good, long break.  In the past, I haven’t been able to be home for too long before it feels like I have to go back to school again.  With the added week, I actually have time to come home, relax, and see lots of friends without feeling like I’ll be back in school the next day.  Not only that, but I like “spring” break not starting at the end of a cold, snowy month.  The one downside I can think of is summer starting later, which means finding a job can be more difficult and I have less time to move back home before all my friends start coming home too and asking to hang out.

Overall though, I think I like this longer-winter-break change the school made.  What about you?

[Pika!] Are You a Planner?

So, as the clock is winding down, I can’t help but think this isn’t exactly how I had planned to get things done for this class.  Now, I always had somewhat planned to be finishing things slightly last-minute, but just not as many things as I’ve been doing in the past week.  I still consider myself a planner though, and to me, there are three “types” of planners:

1.) People who make very strict plans and follow them as closely as possible.

2.) People who like to plan, but leave wiggle room.

3.) People who don’t really plan at all.

In my opinion, I am in the second group.  I plan a lot.  If friends want to hang out, I like to plan what we’re doing.  I plan when I’m going to get homework done.  On larger scales, I plan what classes I’m going to take for the rest of undergrad, and I plan on how my graduate school life will go.  I like having an idea of what is going to happen, but I fully admit to myself that it’s probably not going to always go that way, so I allow wiggle room (especially when it comes to planning my class schedule).  In fact, most of the time I plan something, it doesn’t go how I expect.  But I still like to have an idea of what will happen.

But to make a long post short, what do you consider yourself?  Do you think the above three groups are accurate, or do you fall into some other category?

[Pika!] Do You Sleep In?

So, for one reason or another, I usually find myself having to be awake before 9:00 a.m. most mornings.  Sometimes it’s to go to class, sometimes it’s to finish homework that I didn’t get to the night before, sometimes it’s for office hours.  Whatever the case, there aren’t a whole lot of days where I have the option of actually sleeping in.  What I’ve been noticing lately, however, is that on the days I actually can sleep in, most of the times I don’t.  My body seems to be set on waking up around 8:30 a.m. no matter what time I went to bed, and regardless of whether or not I set an alarm.  Apparently the rest of the week where I have to get up has programmed my body to wake up early even when it doesn’t need to.

So my question for everyone is this: do you sleep in when you can?  Does it affect your “sleep-in days” if you have to wake up early for school (or otherwise), or does it not matter?

[Pika!] Things Definitely Have Come a Long Way Since Pac Man

So, while this may not exactly 100% relate to writing, with the re-mediation assignment on the horizon and some of the ideas involving some sort of video format, I found this video a (pretty funny) example of just how far technology and media presentations have come in 20 years.  It is just under 2 minutes, and aside from whatever applications it may have to our class, I found it just plain funny.  Worth the watch if you’re bored and like laughing.


[Pika!] How Do You Study?

So, as I sit here, trying to balance homework with, well, fun, I realized that I have a form of working that might seem odd (at least to some).

Whenever I need to sit down and get some serious work done, I usually do one of two things: put on headphones and play music to block out the rest of the world, or put on one of my favorite movies and listen to it as a sort of white noise in the background.  Today, I went with the latter and decided to put on Up in the Air while I work on Latin (as well as this blog post).

See, for me, I need some sort of background noise.  I have tried working in complete silence and it does not work well.  I get antsy.  It’s just too damn quiet with no noise in the background.  For some people, absolute silence is the best way to focus.  For others (like myself), it just doesn’t work.

In addition to this, I typically work best at night.  There is just something about nighttime that makes it easier for me to focus.  Maybe it’s because everyone is too busy sleeping to update Facebook, or maybe it’s just that I like being in my own little “night owl” club when I work, but whatever the case may be, I work best at night and with some music or a movie on in the background.  It works best, and it’s what really gets me working well.

So, class, my question to you is this: how do you study/work best?  Are you like me?  Do you think my method is crazy?  Or are you somewhere in between the two?  Or are you maybe even somewhere completely different than any of these?  I’m curious to see what everyone else does to study best.


Oh, and because no post is complete without a random picture that just barely relates to the topic, here’s George Clooney.  Bustin’ some moves.


If Knowing is Half the Battle…

…then I feel like I still have about 90% of the battle to make up for.

That is to say, I feel like there is still a lot of information relating to the drones, and other factors to consider, that I am still unaware of.  I said it on the first day of class and I’ll say it again: political issues are not my forte.   I shy away from them and when I am in a situation where I actually have to address a political issue, I usually take the middle ground.  This case isn’t really all that different; I feel like there is good and bad to the drone strikes, and I’m not sure if I have enough information to take a fully-defensible stance – after all, this article was clearly written from the “they are bad!” point of view and as they say, there are two sides to every story.

Now with all that being said, without completing offering an “opinion” of the matter, per se, there was an interesting comparison I thought could be made, and it all came from the intro phrase comparing the drones to (or rather, disputing the claim that they are)  a “… a surgically precise and effective tool.”

This got me thinking about surgeries and percentages of survival and all that fun stuff.  Let’s say you are the US.  You have some sort of illness that, if untreated, will (note: will, not could) lead to attacks on your organs, leading to multi-system organ failure and eventually your death.  It would be a very painful process to go through, and it would be traumatic for your loved ones (who are maybe uhh..Canada?) to watch.  BUT!  There is a surgery that might be able to save you.  This surgery could prevent every single one of your organs from being at risk; however, the survival rate of the surgery is a mere 2%.  So, your options are to go with surgery, which could either kill you painlessly under anesthesia OR save your life and leave you pain-free and happy; or you could not do anything at all and eventually succumb to the illness in a more painful manner.

In this case, the 2% chance sounds a lot more appealing than it did in the drone article.  Is it worth the risk in the end?  Even still, that’s something debatable, but it’s certainly less in the grey-zone (in my mind, anyways).

But of course, this metaphor leaves out a lot of key aspects of the US drone situation and those aspects are precisely what makes the real situation a more difficult one to answer.  Nonetheless, it was still the first place my mind jumped to and I thought it was an interesting enough comparison to share.

(And as a side note, try not to read into it too much, please.  I was not trying to call Pakistan or the Pakistani people “diseased” in any way; I just needed a comparison for the sake of my example).


Oh, and one more thing: