The Happy Medium Between Science and Personality

For my past experimentation, I took a more scientific approach on a personal experience. While, the insight gained from this process was extremely useful, something was missing when the information was presented in a purely scientific format. The voice and personal experience that was cultivated through the series of diary entires was lost. So, for this next experiment, I plan on combining the personal experience of the diary entries and scientific basis of the literary review paper into a comic. I think this will be a great platform, because in cartoons and comics, authors convey current events, controversies, or historical events in a comedic or personal manner, which amplifies a reader’s reaction to the piece.

Traditional comics have relatively the same overarching characteristics of creating an argument or claim, usually through humor. They are usually published in online or print magazines and newspapers, and therefore lend themselves to an intended audience of people who are interested in the subject, so scientists, professors, and students for scientific comics. However, I think comics are so powerful because their audience invoked is so large. Anyone who reads the magazine or newspaper where the comic is located is exposed to it, whether they are originally interested in it or not. In fact, some people skip straight to the comic section in the Sunday news.

Here are some traditional comics that caught my eye:

After researching some examples for formatting a comic, I found that there are a few variations in the genre:

  • Color vs. black and white
  • Multi-strip vs. single strip
  • Comment blurb vs. words throughout

This helped me narrow down what I want to do for my piece. Looking at different examples, I find the color comics more eye-catching and will use that technique in my own piece. I believe that my message will be better suited for a single strip, rather than multi, comic. Also, having words throughout my comic will flow better than containing them to blurbs.

While many comics use humor to further their claims, I feel like this might be inappropriate to talk about such an impactful disorder like depression. Therefore, for my experiment I am choosing to go against this norm of the comic genre, and instead attempt to draw deeper and more emotional reaction from the readers, while still keeping the same formatting structure.

I think what I hope to emulate is more along the lines of a project that my friend, Kathryn Rossi, a student at FIT, created for her math class which she shared via her Instagram @kathryn_rossi:

 

Research Papers

I have always hated research papers. Always. Throughout high school I bullshitted my way through every research paper I wrote, rarely ever concluding anything worthwhile or unique. Once I even wrote a 15 page research paper in one day and got an A. That’s either an insane skill or my teacher was just oblivious to how little effort I actually put into the assignment. Either way, research papers were, and still are, the enemy.

But you know what they say: keep your enemies close. So, I guess that means I’ll take a stab at a research paper for this experiment (Ha, get it? Stab the enemy?).

But, in all seriousness, for every high school research paper I wrote, I was missing a crucial component: research. Research for a topic, no matter how simple it is, cannot all be collected and analyzed in a day’s time. When I did this, I undoubtedly compiled a couple of worthwhile sources, but definitely did not find multiple perspectives in order to deduce anything significant. So, after my K-12 education plus my short time at college, I have decided that research is indeed important for a research paper. Who would’ve thought?

Research papers usually have a few more consistencies, regardless of topic, such as:

  • An abstract, or a summary of research project
  • An introduction, with a clear purpose
    • Including a thesis statement, usually at the end of the introduction
  • Body paragraphs, with a strong argument, a stronger argument, and a strongest argument, accompanied by in-text citations
    • Including a review of the literature and how it supports the claims
  • A conclusion and/or discussion, with a summary of the arguments and how they connect to deduce a significant claim
  • A call for further research, when there is a need to delve into a topic further
  • A bibliography, to cite the sources used

Looking at aspects other than formatting, research papers often have a professional, formal tone in order to appeal to the norms of academic works. Often, they work off of already existing research and are a stepping stone for research in the future.

The following examples, while differing in topics, all include the components of a research paper stated above, and I plan on using these as templates for my own work:

  1. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/18/
  2. https://kucampus.kaplan.edu/DocumentStore/Docs11/pdf/WC/Sample_APA_Paper.pdf
  3. https://depts.washington.edu/owrc/Handouts/Hacker-Sample%20APA%20Formatted%20Paper.pdf

My research paper for experiment two will focus on the effects of heartbreak on mental and physical health. Many people think of a break up as something that you just have to get over, but, coupled with depression and other health effects, it isn’t as easy as it seems. I hope to call attention to this  phenomenon as a stressor for health, rather than a simple hiccup in one’s personal life. I hope to build on my diary entries from experiment one which tried to highlight this, but lacked the research to back-up my claims in any significant manner.

And, yes. I promise to put more effort into this research paper than the ones I wrote in high school.

Analyzing Modes of Communication in Everyday Texts

While reading the Writer/Designer textbook I was challenged to pay particular attention to the unique ways in which information is been presented to me, in order to compare and contrast how different texts use modes to communicate ideas. Sitting in class, I looked at the different ways in which teachers display their lessons. Scrolling through Facebook, I looked at the different mediums in which I learned about the latest news from friends, family members, and even businesses. I even spent more time analyzing videos, fliers, and stickers on computers.

The first text that I noticed was chapter from my Writer/Designer that I had just finished reading. It is formatted as a textbook, with visual aids throughout the paragraphs. Throughout the chapter I noticed these modes being used:

  • Spatial
  • Linguistic
  • Visual

I’ve attached an example of a visual aid used within the chapter to describe the topic of multimodality. The spatial mode accounts for how the authors arranged the text, using a circular visual aid on the right, with accompanying text on the left. This decision makes me believe that the authors wanted to describe the aid first, giving insight on what it is depicting since a reader usually looks from the left to the right. The linguistic mode accounts for the author’s word choice that is relatively basic and informal, which is indicative of the broad audience of those attempting to better their writing skills in an educational manner. The visual mode accounts for the images chosen to represent information, which in this case is bright and colorful, looking to draw and retain the reader’s attention.

I continued to look at texts other than my textbook in the same manner. On a Facebook page called Jewlish, a media source for both modern and traditional Jewish recipes and food-related news, I watched a video on how to make Apple Challah because of the recent High Holiday, Rosh Hashanah. While watching the video, found at https://www.facebook.com/sojewlish/videos/856792114478285/ , I noticed these modes being used:

  • Spatial
  • Visual
  • Linguistic
  • Aural
  • Gestural

The spatial mode accounts for how the bowls, spoons, and ingredients are arranged throughout the video, in a visually appealing and neat manner. The visual mode accounts for the black background, gray table, and clear bowls that are used in order to not distract the viewer from the actual food. The linguistic mode is less prevalent with this medium and is only used to allow the viewer to read the ingredients and amount being used for the recipe. The aural mode accounts for the background music that is light and fun, as well as the exclusion of sounds that would be made if someone were actually cooking. The gestural mode, in this case, is the hand motions of the actor making the food uses throughout his cooking, that are precise and professional.

In an online flier for the Mass Meeting for an entrepreneurial club on campus, called InnovateUM, I noticed several modes being used, despite its simplicity:

  • Spatial
  • Visual
  • Linguistic

The spatial mode is seen with the arrangement of the words in order to draw attention to the club name and the reason for the flier, the mass meeting. I think this decision of arrangement is used because if the reader is interested in the club and going to the mass meeting, then they will read on to see the date, time, and place of the event. The visual mode accounts for the color choice, using maize and blue as a homage to the University of Michigan, and the choice of using a gear and lightbulb in order to represent innovation, the basis of the club. Although there are only a few words on the online flier, they fit into the linguistic mode and show a precise use of language.

Over the weekend I read a review article for a product, called SafeSound Personal Alarm, I was looking into buying. The alarm acts as a substitution for pepper spray in states that it is illegal to carry. The article gives a personal account from a user as well as facts on the product and can be read here. I noticed these modes throughout the reading:

  • Spatial
  • Visual
  • Linguistic

The author of the article, in my opinion, had little consideration for the spatial arrangement of the information. Text and pictures, as well as hyperlinks to other pages were crowded throughout the webpage, making it hard to read as there were many distractions. This was a problem for me with the visuals on the page too, which were important to include because they showed the product, but too large which also distracted me from other information. The linguistic aspect was a series of choices that led to a more informal tone, even when presenting facts, which I thought was important in order to appeal to the audience of mostly women looking to purchase a product to put their minds at ease from attackers.

While scrolling through Facebook and stalking friends of friends this weekend, I came across my a picture my sister’s friend from high school posted. It was of her and her husband on their wedding day. In the picture I noticed these modes at work:

  • Visual
  • Spatial
  • Gestural
  • Linguistic

As a picture, the visual mode is indicative of most of the information being presented. Even though she did not write, “I just got married,” that is the news that is brought to light. From a spatial and gestural perspectives, the arrangement of them as a couple and how they are interacting with each other, shows their love for each other. At first glance, I didn’t notice a linguistic aspect to the picture, but after further examination, I realized that the signage in the background gives key information of the place, Buffalo. In addition, the watermark in the bottom right corner shows the viewer who the photographer is.

Looking comparatively at each mode used to convey information, I noticed that there was much crossover between what the perceived genres are and the modes used. For example, every text includes visual, spatial, and linguistic modes regardless if it is a video, photograph, textbook, article, or flier. It was just the extent of the use of the mode that differed. The only modes that were unique were aural, that was only included in the video from Jewlish, and gestural, that was seen whenever people were physically involved such as the cook from Jewlish and the man and woman in their wedding photos. However often each mode appeared, they all gave further insight on the subject they were attempting to explain.

Can’t Even Focus on TV

It’s no secret that the world thinks that valuable literacy is dying. “The written word has lost its value!” They say. “All anyone looks at is pictures.”

“If you can’t get your message across quickly, you’ve lost them.”

The world is convinced literacy is dying and that its taking the human race down with it. While I won’t and can’t deny that the written word seems to have lost some value amongst the younger generations, I can’t help but feel that some of this a bit of an exaggeration. While I’m well aware that you would need a construction crane to pry my 14 year old sister’s head up from her cell phone, I’m also cognoscente of the fact that my 17 year old sister reads at least 7 books over the summer. So, perhaps this “message mania” is generational, but here I have two individuals right in front of me who both defy and confirm what everyone’s freaking out over. I really don’t think the value of the written word has died, but I think as society progresses, what individuals value certainly shifts with the world as well. After all, it’s only natural and healthy to adapt.

I’ll admit, I’m not the most avid reader. I don’t hate books and I don’t have zero clue what’s going on in the news, but I’m definitely not curling up in my bed with a copy of the latest New York Times Best Seller, and I wouldn’t call on me to tell you the latest Clinton news. I mean, you can, but it’ll be awkward for the both of us because I truly don’t really know anything that’s happening. There’s hope for me, though. Or maybe there’s not. It depends which way you look at it. I do find I would rather sit on my bed getting lost in the blogosphere and taking BuzzFeed quizzes than focus on a television show. Is this a good sign? For me, finding out which “cat dressed as sushi” I am and reading fun and witty opinions on relevant topics is much more entertaining than an hour long episode of Grey’s Anatomy- and that’s not just because the show has been on 14 seasons, and sooooo needs to end. I’ve found it extremely difficult to start or get into new television shows because as soon as I put it on the TV or stream it on my Netflix, I find myself wandering off into the internet’s depths of what I’d like to consider  my version of “living literacy.”

Texting Sucks

When you think about it, texting has become an extremely common form of written communication. Consequently, it has become a form of writing, whether we like it or not. Most of the time, I love texting. It helps me stay connected with my family while I’m away, I can stay updated on what my housemates are doing, and my day can get a little brighter with funny texts or gifs my friends send me. However, there is a time and place for texting. Quite frankly, we are unaware of the context in which texting does not suit communication. And it can end up really, really awkward.

A few days ago, I texted my friend (keep in mind, he is a new friend that I met over the summer) about him setting me up with one of his friends for an event later this week. However, because most of the time texts include “haha” or “lol” in order to keep the conversation light, I tried to keep my request funny and light by explaining that I’m probably too old (no longer an underclassmen) to get set up. However, things took a wrong turn when he mistakenly thought I was asking him to be my date. This misunderstanding caused our remaining texts in the conversation to be awkward and strained.

I don’t think this miscommunication via texting is uncommon. Plain and simple, written communication must be interpreted without body language or facial expression, and therefore can be misinterpreted a lot easier. So then why do we insist on texting about every little thing in our lives? Doesn’t that just cause more time wasted and strain on relationships? Of course, I am definitely a culprit of this problem. I text about things that should probably be communicated verbally rather than through writing.

In my business communications class, we talk about how most of the time, there is a standard format to deliver news to people. However, this format changes when you must deliver bad news. So as communicators, why do we still insist on sharing bad news over a light-hearted text rather than giving the other person what they deserve: a meaningful, face-to-face conversation?

Like I said, I by no means am an exception to this travesty of millennial communication. But I think it’s something to keep in mind. Whether we consciously acknowledge it or not, texting is a form of writing that could and should be crafted carefully. Otherwise, you could end up in a very uncomfortable conversation that can be hard to transfer from writing  through texting to verbal communication.

awk texting

The Internship (& Writing)

I think about writing a lot. Whether it be writing for the Daily or my classes, I write every single day. Lately, I’ve done a lot of professional writing, and I’m really starting to value the experiences I’ve had throughout college because of it.

The past month has been absolutely consumed by my internship search. It’s really stressful (also kind of fun though….I’ll get back to that). Honestly, I feel like I should be getting four credits for all of the “recruitment” stuff I do. When I went to the fall expo earlier this month, I had notes written down about each company I wanted to talk to. That’s writing example number one. When I talked to recruiters, they always wanted to hear more about my experiences with the Daily. Writing example number two. If I was lucky enough to have second contact with a recruiter, it was usually over email. Writing example number three. If they liked my emails, I would be invited for another interview, one I would have to prepare for more. Writing example number four. If I have to submit a cover letter online, then there’s more writing. It goes on and on and on…

All of this is stressful, but I think I handled it all fairly well because of my experience with writing. I didn’t feel nervous every time I hit the “send” button on an email because I was confident that my message would be understood clearly. I wasn’t anxious that my cover letter wasn’t good enough because I liked the way it turned out. Being able to communicate through writing is so wonderful. As someone who occasionally trips over words while talking, I enjoy mulling over thoughts and cleanly typing them out. I’ve really enjoyed this year’s internship search because I’ve been more confident. Confidence is so important when it comes to career-related activities.

I’m pursuing a profession where writing ability is very important, but I’m starting to notice how important it is for anyone trying to get a job. Regardless of your major or career, you’re going to need to send emails and write cover letters. I’m thankful for the writing opportunities I’ve had, because I’d be lost without them.

Remembering Through Writing

Surprisingly, Writing 220 is the class I write least in. I am in an art history course where we have short papers due weekly. I am in an upper level writing art history course where we literally turn in one paper and get the next assignment in the same motion. I am in another creative writing where I write poetry almost everyday. All of these courses challenge me to write in different ways, the familiar academic way in both art history classes, and new ways like in creative writing and Writing 220.

Being challenged to write in different ways has opened my eyes to what writing can do for me. With the repurposing project I can be direct and provocative. With my assignments in creative writing, I can look at the same things infinitely different ways. Sometimes I work through my challenges by creating images that clarify what I need to do. Those images tell me what it is and sometimes more importantly, what it is not. Sometimes I reconnect with the past. I can remember and I can look to the future. Sometimes I write a string of lines that make me feel so comforted I can fall asleep happy.

That happened to me when I was assigned to write a poem about a place I love. The first place that came to my mind was my Grampa’s house in East Aurora, New York. I grew up in that house, along with my sister and eight cousins. I spent all the major holidays there and random weekends that were equally major just because I was there. I could describe every detail of that house and provide a million stories about each room, but I won’t. In short, that house is where my family gathered and made our most cherished memories. It was more than a house, it was like feeling completely content with doing absolutely nothing. And I mean that, sometimes my cousins and I would all nap in the basement but I still remember those group naps fondly. We all loved that house as we loved each other, but Grampa got sick and had to sell the house. Today, new people live there and the windows we always kept open are always shut. I am torn between wanting to go back to get that feeling again but knowing that it won’t be the same. Grampa passed away and we’re left without the place and person who facilitated many of those memories. I wrote about missing the house, but the house is really him.

I realize that some parts won’t make sense to people outside my family because I reference inside jokes and family specifics. But writing this poem allowed me to go back in a way I never thought I
would be able to again. I will probably never be a poet and it doesn’t matter how “good” this poem is, it did something magical for me, like 307 Oakwood used to. Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 11.00.41 AM

307

To go to 307 Oakwood. What village road
to 307 Oakwood, if not every weekend, that Sunday
when the Bills played the Titans. The green
painted exterior and white trim,
an open bay window, looking into our little world,
a small needle hole. A porch swing which swings
back and forth through the days, months, years
of memories of 307 Oakwood. Cold in the fall,
colder in the winter, only in temperature,
like the first shiver from the first snow.
The long magnetic driveway that pulls
in warmth and family. A pull so enticing
a stranger walked in, turned away only because
there was no beer in his hands. A barn with a broken basketball hoop,
shoddily fixed with quarters stacked. A live wire
that stings, strung gazebo to barn. Outdated
familiar wallpaper surrounding
aging familiar faces. Well-worn furniture
facilitating group naps after eating too much. Lesser
but beautiful old houses flanking each side, 307
Oakwood stands apart, the first red leaf among green,
hearing your name in a crowd,
where family swings by
and stays for Hershey kisses. Cases of OV
and cases of orange pop kept cool
on the back porch. Inside, cheese and pepperoni pizza,
thoroughly baked, cut in squares.
Bags of pretzels, chips, and dip
poured into bowls, spilling onto our paper plates,
like freshly popped movie popcorn,
framed by tan whicker holders.
Roast beast, begun before we woke, filling
307 Oakwood with the inescapable scent
of beef and au jus, the way
the smell of pine stays on your clothes.
Too much horseradish, always too much horseradish.
A feast greater than the occasion, but
with us all occasions are greatly equal.
18 years of 307 Oakwood, many more
for many others, but many more
is still not enough. Not enough
mornings waking up to cinnamon toast,
caked perfectly with drippingly too much butter,
reading the newspaper, seeing that smile,
hearing that voice. The laugh that makes you cough, infectious.
Repeated jokes, no less funny, lining up
to get a hug that squeezed you but filled you with love.

The swing finally broke,
couldn’t support us one second longer.
307 Oakwood moved on
made changes, updated, surely more changes to come.
307 Oakwood is something else but
we are still right here.
The green and the white stay the same
but the window is closed, new memories being made
behind the needle hole made smaller.
To go to 307 Oakwood is not to go back. We loved
and took all there was, we gave
all that we were, constantly balancing Ovaltine filled past the brim.
In memory alone does 307 Oakwood
still exist, in memory alone
can we return. Fading, failing,
my imperfect memory betrays me. I can’t lose
all I have left. I can’t win more. But
if I ever knew 307 Oakwood, I know it’s newly giving,
to new people, what it gave to me.

#ThanksObama

Let’s recall the Michigan-Michigan State game that happened this weekend; more specifically, that dreaded ending. All of the shivering Michigan fans held anticipated breaths. There was only ten seconds left in the fourth quarter. The game was essentially a win for Michigan at that point. The Wolverines could finally stop Michigan State’s undefeated winning streak and prove to them that the wolverines-not the spartans-were the leaders, the best, and more importantly, the bigger brother.

And then tragedy struck.

We all know what happened in those last ten seconds; the Michigan State spartans, who were predicted to have a 0.2% chance of winning in those last seconds, were given a miraculous opportunity. After those ten seconds, a crowd of 110,000 participants became silent. They bore witness to something truly remarkable, a moment that would live in infamy for the Michigan football team.

By the time I am writing this, it has been a few days since this has happened. Any television or radio station that contained even a small section regarding football discussed this incident first and foremost. However, what was really interesting was the sports section of several newspapers, and the rhetoric they used regarding the game. They described the punt as being botched and unfortunate, with some calling the overall incident “Agony of Ann Arbor” and “Fail to the victors.” Supposedly breaking the internet, Michigan fans were heartbroken and disgusted by what happened, according to other articles.

However, there was a silver lining from that incident; one that involves the most powerful man in the world.

In an article posted by the Detroit News, it was mentioned that Jim Harbaugh recently went to the nation’s capital to discuss the importance of higher education. There, President Obama himself stated to the normally khaki clad football coach that it was a tough way to lose a football game. He continued by stating that the Wolverines needed to keep their chin up, and how they liked the way they played. Let that sink in for a moment.

The most powerful man in the world, who has an insurmountable collection of responsibilities, stated that he watched the game and liked the way Michigan Wolverines played.

To me, that is insane. While various articles were published regarding the meeting, they all stated the same message; President Obama sympathized (at the very least) with the Michigan Wolverines. It feels a little weird for me to say this, especially without any sarcastic or negative connotations with it, but #thanksObama.

Signs of Growth

I planned on using my fall break as an escape from my repurposing project, therefore freeing up some time to write a scientific research paper that has been hanging over my head for awhile now. But as I sat down to begin writing, I couldn’t help but think about my repurposing project. I was not necessarily thinking of the topic of my repurposing piece so much as I was the process of writing it. As I attempt to write the research paper, I found myself harping over the most detailed aspects of my writing and subsequently got very little done. It didn’t take long before I realized the construction of my research paper was an exercise of imitation, similar to that being followed in the construction of my repurposing piece. But this time, I was trying to follow the strict format of research journals without a guide-a model source. This was resulting in little progress.

I soon stopped writing and took the time to find a model source from my planned publication medium and began a process similar to that of the repurposing project. I took careful note of the sections needed for the particular journal and created an outline matching that seen in the model. After spending the appropriate time studying my model and planning my course of action, the actual writing of the paper went quickly.

In a more reflective sense, the act of mimicking a model source for the repurposing project has forced me to consider details of style and syntax more closely than ever before. That is not to say I am a careless writer. But when mimicking a model, the details of style and tone become even more critical, especially if you hope to create a truly representative piece. After all, I don’t often write in conventions following typical creative nonfiction pieces in The Atlantic. Furthermore, I can already see my work in the gateway course helping in other areas of my writing. This is a very rewarding feeling, and I look forward to continuing this growth as I progress through the minor.

The Result of Too Much Cold Brew

Whenever I’ve had too much cold brew or overslept after a long night of binge-watching Scandal, I get in the habit of asking really irrelevant–but extremely provocative–questions. Lucky for my parents, they’ve been my involuntary audience this weekend.

Crostini from Fig and OliveWhile sipping rosé and dining on three crostini at our favorite restaurant, Fig & Olive, I asked my parents one of my classic questions: knowing what they know now, where would they have gone to college?

For a little background, both my mother and my father went to super small schools. I’m talking all-girls (mom) in the middle of nowhere, Minnesota. My dad’s, in Texas, was so small that he could name every person in his graduating class. Obviously, they didn’t have the typical college experience that a lot of my friends’ parents had.

When I was first applying to schools, I had absolutely no idea where I wanted to go. I knew it had to be big and it had to have good college football (my dad’s brainwashing when I was a kid, I’m sure), but other than that, every school seemed like a place I could be happy.

I actually applied to Michigan on a whim after seeing this picture of me in a Michigan cheerleading uniform. I asked my mom why I had it, given that no one I knew went to Michigan or even liked it. Her response, in my mom’s typical surprised-yet-totally-not-surprised tone, “I got it on sale.”

Michigan Cheerleader

A sale. That’s all it took to get me here. Well, not exactly…

My dad is the type of guy who gets overly excited about everything. As soon as I said I was applying, he fast forwarded to football season and bought himself Michigan shirts, hats, gloves, and even a foam finger for when he made his first appearance in the Big House. I found out that I got in just in time for him to order me the classic maize and blue overalls for Christmas. He had decided: I was going to Michigan.

I think I needed someone to make that decision for me. It’s not like I didn’t have a say in coming to school here, but I think that I was so indifferent about the entire college process that I would still have been deciding once the deadline came around. Since coming here, I’ve definitely gotten better at making decisions, but I’m glad my dad took the liberty of buying me all the gear to push me to come here.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that my dad answered the question I posed at dinner with, “Michigan, of course!” Even though I have two older brothers and they both went to good schools, I think I’m living the kind of experience that my dad always wanted. It would probably freak some of my friends out to know that their parents wanted to live vicariously through them, but for me it’s a huge compliment and even more incentive to do well in school.

My parents have never been the type to ask me about my grades or how I’m balancing school, work, and my personal life. They always joke that I came out of the womb with a briefcase, and I think it’s sort of true. With all of the trust they put in me, it has allowed me to become independent, and to realize that my dad’s dream of coming to a school like Michigan is something that he isn’t jealous of me for. It’s something that he hopes take full advantage of. And I definitely intend to with the years I have left.

Oh, and my mom’s answer…”I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Aw, how cute…

Puppy Steve Carrell