Monday, May 28, 2012

Well... Now What?

I woke up in Laconia this morning, bleary eyed, getting told we were going out on the boat cause it turned out today was a nice day. After fumbling around for my Nalgene, I drank some water and proceeded to see if I'd gotten any messages. No messages, but a reminder from my Google Calendar, "Blog Anniversary."

Yeah, I didn't realize it'd been that long either. And while this blog has fallen into severe disrepair, it's always nice knowing that should I ever feel the need to post something on the internet longer than 140 characters, I can. And now, watching the Celtics go up against the Heat in game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, having exhausted my extensive supply of webcomics to read, social media to catch up on, and memes to peruse, that I write an anniversary post on the big elephant staring me in the face: I just Graduated.

College was great. I wouldn't say I loved every minute of it because A, I'm not a liar and B, because I didn't. It's impossible to love every minute of college, because college itself is usually the worst part of the college experience. Especially this last semester, I gave myself a solid self five every time I went to class, because it would've been soooo much easier to just stay in bed, or hang at the apartment or listen to music in WMUA's Vinyl Closet or go to the U-Pub or... You get the point.
Yes, I did look this up.
But I did go to class, I did graduate, and I did have the time of my life the last four years. But now I've graduated, and after a brief postponement between staying in Amherst and going on a weekend road trip, I'm home, my money is dwindling, and I need to get a job.

"What job are you looking for Jim?" Well that's the million dollar question isn't it. I'm going to be honest, still have no idea. I've started working a few things out in my head. Nothing that's going to make or break any job offers that come down the line, but I think when it comes down to it, I'll know if a job is or isn't for me.

"So why're you writing a blog and not out there trying to find your dream job?" Well, first of all, it's 9PM. Business hours are over. Second of all, pending approval on my woefully out of date resume, I could start tomorrow! Which is good. Because no work and all play makes Jim a broke boy. 

I guess that's my next step then. Job. Jobbing it up. Becoming a real adult. So maybe I can do that with my blog, talk about stuff Job related... Nahhhhh. Too serious for my liking. I'll keep it loose. I'll post whenever, maybe more often now that I'm really unemployed and without anything to do. But I've said that I'd post more before, so take it with a grain of salt. 

Hugs and Kisses,


Thursday, February 23, 2012

This is Crap.

(Or Why the Ban of Technology in College Classrooms is Stupid.)

I wrote this blog in class on Tuesday. Due to it's considerable length, and just not caring enough I didn't transcribe it until now. I hope you enjoy it. It's verbatim, with the exception of a few punctuation and spelling corrections.

So here I am, sitting in my Tuesday night SpecialEd class. The teacher is this hispanic lady who is roughly 65 years old. This is being written literally 10 minutes into class. She's banned the use of laptops and cellphones, so I decided, "Well I'm not going to pay attention anyway, and I haven't written a blog in a while so screw it, I'll just handwrite the damn thing."

The thing that sucks is, writing this, I'm paying way less attention to this lady than I would if I were just sitting on my laptop. This is one of two classes that has banned all technology during class time. By giving us this rule that no technology can be used, in my mind, you're not respecting my right to use technology, and whether it's because you don't think i'll pay attention or what, it means you're treating me like a child. I'm a big boy. I'm almost 22. (Yikes!) All in all it means I'm not going to respect you back.

IMeanwhile both of these classes have optional-mandatory online coursework. Meaning, "It's up to you to do the coursework online. But if you don't do it, you'll automatically fail the class." Okay, so I get there's online materials and work, but you're not going to allow me to access any of it during class? Yeah, no. That makes perfect sense to me too.

What it comes down to, is that both of these professors have had "years of experience" in their fields, and are now teaching college courses. Bully for you! But guess what? We don't care! Just because you've been doing your thing for years and are an "expert in your field," it doesn't mean you know how to teach a class/lecture full of college students.

Day 1. Both these teachers ban technology under the ruse that "Multi-tasking doesn't exist!" Claiming studies have discounted it, and that in reality you're just shifting focus rapidly between two or more stimuli. Well... I don't know who let the secret out... but duh! I'm not saying my brain can magically comprehend everything around me, but if I can surf the web, and still take notes, and listen to you when you make a point, that's really all I need to do.

I've talked about multi-tasking and me before, (hyperlink here,) so I'm not going to go into another long tirade. All I'm trying to say is just because you've been in the education field for years doesn't mean you know how to teach. Best professor I ever had didn't care what we did in class as long as we sat and stayed quiet. He didn't take attendance and in fact told students not to come to class if they felt remotely sick. (He had small children.) He made the class interesting, he made us want to show up, and to interact. He respected our ability to learn. So some classes I would sit there, laptop open, and just listen. Then when he made a point, I'd ask a question, and he would just roll with it. He complimented a kid in class for the great drawings he made. He let us do our thing, while he did his thing. I might not have "learned" as much facts or methodology in that class as I've been forced to in others, but I learned how to treat people, how to act, and a lot about life. And that was just talking to him during and after class.

Not letting college students use laptops or cellphones in class is dumb. Our generation, especially the freshmen, has grown up with computers as an integral part of our daily lives. Saying "You can't use a laptop unless you have a note from disability services," is the equivalent of saying, "I know you can type faster than you can write, but the threat of Facebook scares me." It's not practical. I can see where they're coming from with cellphones, but once again, if you respect me enough not to make a big deal about it, I'll keep any texts short, sweet, and I'll go back to listening to you when I'm done. If I miss something, that's on me. I'll take that burden. And if I keep missing things, i'll wise up and save my texting for later. Even the naive freshmen are still adults, so treat students like we give a damn, and maybe we will. But if you're going to give us the "Teacher knows best," routine don't expect us to drop everything and believe you. We're not (all that) dumb. Sure, we'll most likely do as we're told, but you're going to be staring at a sea of dead, uninterested eyes, who most often then not will be staring down pretending to take notes while we text friends or tweet about how much your class sucks.

If there's one thing I've learned from being a comm. major, it's that change is coming. Media is becoming more and more ubiquitous, and is rapidly approaching omnipresence. These professors are tying to teach us as they were taught; trying to fight the times. Stop. We know you don't get this whole "technology" thing. But then maybe it's time to get out of the teaching game. Maybe technology is the reason you got out of your field in the first place, I don't know, but you aren't helping anyone by trying to bust us back to the days where students sat quietly with pencil in hand while the teacher drones on. (I picture the classroom scenes in the Indiana Jones movies.) Moves on, and let our generation do what we do best: use technology. There's a reason you ask for our help when you can't get your computer to work. Time to stop punishing us for it.


P.S. And if this teacher knew anything, it'd be that there's no public wifi in this building. So... you're dumb. (Link.)

Yeah. I was pretty pissed. Oh well. I take none of it back. Let me know what you think. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Great French Fry Debate: An Epic

It started as a joke. Much like it always does.

Our current Sunday ritual stands as this: Over the course of the morning, Kevin, Andy and I will rouse ourselves from sleep at some point before 1PM. Why? Well we need to set our Fantasy Football line-ups don't we? Jon is usually already over by the time the pre-game shows are on. As we re-cap our Saturday nights, and weep for our fallen comrades from the night before, the TV tantalizes us with advertisements of delectable, greasy goodness. Jake is usually somewhere doing something, typically Clockey related activities. This past week, after Jon had left to go enjoy the games on DirecTV, the three of us remaining languished in that subtle state between lethargy and boredom. In prior weeks, Kevin's jests had spurred expeditions to Taco Bell, and KFC. Kevin and AG pioneered the Taco Bell trip, and I joined up during KFC but this... This was a whole new frontier.

Kevin said something eloquent, and thought provoking, along the lines of, "Kid, Whoppers?" to which Andy and myself both laughed. "Alright, Big Macs," was the response. "Nah, man. Nah," Andy concluded. However by the time the 7th or 8th Burger King commercial came on, our pallets were sufficiently whetted. 

"Okay. Burger King then McDonald's at the end of the First Quarter." Andy threw down the gauntlet, to which an excited Kevin replied, "Nice." I nodded fearing the worst was to come. As the first quarter of the football game hit 00:00, the boys and I rallied, grabbing wallets, phones and keys, exiting the apartment, sealing our fate.

We joked about how fat we were on our way out. We talked about how fun this was going to be. We went to the supermarket, grabbing groceries for a five layer dip for later, as well as a large pepperoni pizza for a mere $6.49. The jokes continued. 

Burger King. Andy pulled up to the drive-thru. The game was afoot. We quickly vetoed this idea, opting to go inside and order. Entering this grim establishment, we were greeted by a man who had forgotten his money in the car, trying to pay for him and his son's meals. We debated options on the menu as the man ran to the car. Returning, he payed for a 12 dollar meal with a hundred dollar bill. Working as a cashier myself when someone pays with an a hundred dollar bill there's a subtle sense of,  "This guy paid with an 100 dollar bill oh snap I gotta step up my game." The guy panicked. He was jumbling around 20's and 5's and his manager eventually had to come around and figure it out for him. As a natural defense mechanism, the guy made a joke. Who wouldn't? "Hey I failed math in high school!" Kev, AG and I smiled that kinda nice save/pity smile, but the guy in front of us nailed him with, "That's why you work at Burger King!"

Our faces slackened. Jaws: Dropped. Did he really just say that? I mean, some people in the depths of their mind might think that but we have standards, decency! We were shell-shocked. The Manager tried to save it, by saying that BK hired college level employees now, but the damage was done. The cashier took our orders then slinked away, busying himself until the guy left. It was brutal. Also: Andy had never had never had a Coke ICEE. I know right? Well Kevin quickly remedied that. I grabbed a crown, we grabbed our food, and we were off. I gave the other two a fry each. "Who's got the best fries?" I asked, to which we all had different answers. We argued a bit, laughing it off.

But wait... "We're already going to BK and McDonald's... Wendy's?" one of us propounded. We all nodded determinedly. Game on. Next stop: McDonald's. Cheaper than BK, twice the people working, same wait time. We all tried the fries. We zigged, we zagged, we made our way to Wendy's. Of course we all got more food, and more fries. Let's be honest, Wendy's stepped their game up with the sea salt on their fries. The decision was made. Wendy's was most certainly the victor, but this time, it was to the Debaters who went the spoils. 

Making our way home, neighbors were shocked, and disgusted at the debasing task we had put ahead of ourselves. We finally entered our apartment, and laid out our treasures across our feasting table. This picture was the damage.

We collected our food, and I said Grace.

"Dear Lord in Heaven, Thank you for this meal in front of us. And If we die, Know! It was worth it."


What happened next can not be put into words. I will say this. There was great suffering that day. There were no more jokes made. Nobody was happy. No one thought it was fun. The Great French Fry Debate had been settled. But at what cost?

In Memoriam: Kevin, Andy and Jim's collective health.
Requiescat in Pace

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Paying Attention in Class

Almost 2 years ago I wrote this blog, about multi-tasking and not paying attention in class. I maintain that paying attention in class is my prerogative. But having just got singled out for not paying attention in a lecture of exponentially dwindling numbers, I'm gonna talk about it again.

I'll set the stage. In order to finish out our Global Education requirements for the School of Social and Behavioral sciences, Jake and I are taking a History class. The class is about everyone's favorite topic: World War I. What's that? Nobody cares about World War I, and everybody is interested in World War II? Oh yes, that's right.

Now, when we signed up for the class, it turned out that a whole other group of people we knew were going to be taking the class as well. Good sign for the class! The teacher of the class got a 4.6/5 on RateMyProfessor. Good sign for the class! It's a lecture. Good sign for the class!

So when we showed up Day 1, and it was a lecture, our friends were there, and we saw that there was indeed a professor, we thought we were batting a thousand. Boy were we wrong. The professor was actually a visiting professor from the University of Minnesota or something, and his teaching style involves him standing at the pulpit, going on about World War I, consulting a page, with a map on one of the old school projectors. Did I mention he loves reading us World War I poetry? Cause he does!

Anyway, Jake and I decide, "Alright. We'll stick it out. Maybe it'll get better once the actual war starts?" Well it didn't. Hell that other group of kids I was talking about? Yeah. They dropped the class. I wish we'd joined them. Now the once full lecture hall has dwindled to about one person every 3 or 4 seats. So us even showing up to class is some kind of miracle from the teaching gods. There's absolutely no way to take notes, because he talks and talks and talks and talks, about random people or battles that you're expected to know. The topography, the socioeconomic implications, the politics; he might honestly believe that he's lecturing to a class filled with other World War I professors.

So the fact that we're here should give us some kind of pass right? Well apparently the fact I'm on my laptop, and Jake looked over to see what I was looking at is some kind of crime against the professor. Jake looks over for arguably 2 or 3 seconds, and our professor goes, "HEY! You two in the back! What's going on?!" Was he really calling us out? Really Bro? We decide to come and sit through your lecture that sans laptop would arguably bore me to death, and you're going to call us out for sitting, minding our own business not paying attention. That's how it's going down. Okay. Great.

If we're not yelling or throwing things, and just sitting there minding our own business, not paying attention, you leave us the hell alone. College is a time where going to class and paying attention is up to the student. I'm here at least. If you want us to pay attention make your lecture more interesting. Stop talking about the romanticism of one soldier from Britain who was in battles X,Y, and Z, and kept a diary, and talk about a battle. Talk about something that will catch my attention. The turning point in the war. Anything! I mean I realize that there was 4 years of stalemate due to trench warfare. But I had to find that out from Wikipedia, because I couldn't listen to you longer than to realize you were talking about something that might make my IQ lower if I kept on listening.

All I'm saying is that we had the decency to come to this awful class, my last class of the week, and you are going to call me out for minding my own business? Go back to Minnesota or wherever you came from. This class sucks.

Editors Note: On Thursday, October 20th, Jim and Jake dropped that class like a bad habit, ate a victory dinner, celebrated and slept like babies. Everyone cheered.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I'm Writing Something Gorram it!

I have been slacking. Yes. I admit this. I apologize. I've been mad busy! See what I did there! Italics! For emphasis! Anywho, what's up guys? How's it been? Good? Good.

With that out of the way, lets move on to more pressing matters. Television is addictive. Over the summer I had at least one show every night of the week, with the exception of Saturday. We had good ol' TNT Sundays, Syfy Mondays, USA Tuesdays, Franklin & Bash on Wednesdays, Suits on Thursdays, and Haven on Fridays. "Wow Jim, you watch a lot of TV!" Yeah. I know. Thanks. But I mean Wow! Someone somewhere decided to step up their game this summer. New series like Franklin & Bash, Falling Skies and especially Suits and Alphas (both of which I got Kevin hooked on) all were just top-shelf stuff. Plus the return contenders like White Collar, Covert Affairs, Leverage, Eureka, Warehouse 13 and Haven all had solid seasons.

So maybe it's just me, but I really get into TV shows. I was listening to a podcast as I drove home today for the long weekend, and they said that the reason the mainstream public is into the whole Kardashian, reality show idiocracy is because they can't get into a great television show. You know, something that really takes them out of it. Some of these shows, I watch them and I just get caught up. What's gonna happen next? I don't know. Or maybe I do? But these people are story tellers, and they are damn good at it.

As for what's coming up, you got the perennial classics How I Met Your Mother, House, Psych, SVU, Chuck, Parks & Recreation, Community, The Walking Dead, Sanctuary, and the second half of Covert Affairs as well as some new guys like Terra Nova, Grimm, and Once Upon A Time, all of which have my interests piqued. I'm also getting the Dexter and Breaking Bad vibe going. Which is interesting.

So basically, I'm a TV snob, and even though I didn't mean to write a blog about my unusual TV habits, but here it is. Maybe this is a step in the right direction? Here we go Jim! You can do it! Go team! If you've got some show that I'm not watching that I should be, or some other comment on my wide variety of  legal/cop/sci-fi shows, let me know!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wow. Have I Been Slacking or What?

"Jim! What the hell? You haven't posted a blog in forever!"

Yes. I hear you. MY BAD. But I've been caught up in this whole thing called Life. I mean living in an apartment with 3 or 4 (depends what day it is,) of your best friends doesn't exactly leave you with a lot of free time to write about nonsensical things... I mean. I turned 21! I'm about to be a senior in college! I don't know how to manage my time! But I guess now that school is done, maybe I'll have more time to write. OH WAIT.

I'm working 40 hours a week at the Garden Center, interning at RunKeeper in Boston, and trying to maintain what little social life I claim to have!

Basically what I'm saying here is; Nerdventures, I love you, but right now, you're on the back burner. Frowny face, I know. But life is coming at me pretty fast right now. I'm getting home from work, and it takes pretty much all of what little energy I have left to not go to bed. On the bright side, I've slept better in the last 2 weeks than I did the last 6 months at school! Aside from that, the only things I've got going for me right now are the Bruins and my sweet, sweet playoff beard. I've been reading a lot of books. Been watching 30 Rock too. As I type even! Radio's been going pretty swell. Kevin and I added our good friend and my former trainee, Noel to our hosting staff, and I got the DJ Training Director gig. All in all, life is pretty good. Busy, fast, dirty, but good. (What I work at the Garden Center, I just scraped dirt out from under my nails!)

So here's to you Nerdventures. Two years old. This was a very unproductive year in terms of blogging, but for writing on the whole, my 58 page screenplay nods it's approval. I'll try and write more, honest.

Much love.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

PAX East 2011: 3 Days of Awesome

After a week of meditation and recovery, I finally can regale you with the awesomeness that was Penny Arcade Expo East 2011. Now, if you remember reading my two posts from last year, you'll remember the generalities and the basics of the convention, like who Penny Arcade is, my compatriot Beckett (@beckettnoyes), and the amazingness of it all.

Well, just to get this out of the way early, this year's convention was even better. First of all, Beckett and I committed to going to all three days of the show, instead of just one day. This was so clutch, in that even though we were trying to scurry from place to place on our first day trying to see everything, we knew that we still had two more days to double back. This also allowed us to see the Friday Night Concert as well, which consisted of The Protomen, MC Frontalot and Metroid Metal. The Protomen, a group whose songs are based loosely off the tale of Megaman, had their amps turned all the way up to 11. It was a good thing that the Enforcers, the volunteer security force of PAX, were handing out earplugs because if I didn't have those, I am pretty sure I would have gone deaf. They are essentially a metal band, so there was shredding and general ear exploding done on their part, which I might have liked a little bit better if they weren't so loud. MC Frontalot on the other hand was pretty awesome. Being a nerdcore rapper, as only he can be, he covered topics like Xenobiology, Goth Girls, Diseases, Star Wars, and then song a remix of the Penny Arcade Theme Song, like he does every year, this time to a backing track of Katy Perry's California Gurls. It was Amazing.

After that, we decided to skip out on Metroid Metal, as we weren't really feeling like getting our ears assaulted again, and we made the long trek back home to get 3 and a half hours of sleep, before getting up and making the trek back to Boston. At this point, I should also mention that due to the overwhelming success of last year's inaugural PAX East, this year the convention was moved from the Hynes Convention Center to the much larger Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. With a total attendance of 69,500 people over the three days, the place was packed.

Yours truly at the top of the escalator down to the show floor, and the show floor itself.

Day 2 was a lot of the same, running, gunning. There was this year's Make-A-Strip panel, where Mike and Jerry script and draw the comic strip for that Monday, as well as a lot more exploring and buying merchandise from booths. But we also took some time out to wait in line for the exclusive Portal 2 preview, as well as wait and play a game of Dungeons & Dragons for beginners. Can't even lie to you, it was a great time. And if you're thinking, "Why is Dungeons & Dragons at a video game convention?" Well it is because PAX is more of a nerd convention than a video game convention. While yes, a lot of it focuses on the new hot video games, there's also a huge portion dedicated to tabletop games like Magic The Gathering and D&D. While waiting in line for the Friday Night Concert, the kids behind Beckett and me invited us to play a game called Munchkins. It was actually pretty cool and it was just one of many indie card and dice games represented at PAX. Once again, that night's festivities included the 3rd Round of the Omegathon and the Saturday Night Concert. This year's 3rd Round of the Omegathon was THE MOST EPIC GAME OF JENGA EVER PLAYED. There is absolutely no way a more intense game of Jenga has ever been played. Two sets of Four Two person teams competed against each other with "Omegablocks" instead of the little baby blocks regular people play with. Only allowed to use one hand at a time, the first game was incredible. As was the second game. Words can not describe how the tremors literally shook one girl's arm to the point where it was visible from the back of the theater, and then how much applause she got when she successfully freed and replaced the block from the tower. Simply incredible.

 An Omeganaut in the midst of a pull while other Omeganauts watch with bated breath in the background.

Following that intensity, the Saturday Night Concert of Video Game Orchestra, Paul & Storm, and Jonathan Coulton reprised their roles from last year's concert. Video Game Orchestra and Paul & Storm played a lot of the same stuff, with some new stuff, and overall were just as good if not better than last year. Jonathan Coulton on the other hand, as opposed to last year's acoustic set, this year he came out on an electric guitar with a bassist and a drummer. He played rock versions of a lot of his hits, as well as some new songs from his upcoming CD which sounds like it should be pretty good. 

After Jonathan Coulton finished his set at about 2AM, Beckett and I walked from the Convention Center to Cambridge. It's about a three and a half mile walk. And then with the time change, it ended up being about 4:30 in the morning before we got to my sister's place where we crashed for the evening. Getting about 3 hours of sleep, Beckett and I made our final trek back to the Convention Center the next morning, waiting to see Bill Amend, creator of newspaper comic section favorite, FoxTrot. Then the day just flew by, and after waiting for about an hour for a 20 minute demo of L.A. Noire, we got in line about 2 hours early for the closing ceremony, where the final round of the Omegathon played out in a two on two match up of the crazy game Ikaruga. After that Mike and Jerry said their thank you's and goodbyes, and PAX was concluded.

As I said last year, PAX isn't for everyone but for three days out of the year, I can let my freak flag fly. I fully intend on going next year, and every year because at PAX you can do no wrong if you follow the cardinal rule: Don't be a dick. Clearly I skimmed over a lot, like the QR code quest, and playing the Nintendo 3DS, but just know that for 72 hours, I had one of the best times of the year. If you think you want to, or can handle the intense nerdism, I encourage you heartily to try it. I'll be back for three days next year, and if you'd like to join me on one or more, do yourself a favor and do it.

If you want to find out more, check out my pictures on Facebook, my Twitter, or my videos on YouTube. If you can't see the pictures from this post check out the full post here.