Still Life with Stop Signs

speedbumps

On the Road Again

So August 2018 has been a complete wash for me in terms of pretty much everything that I do: writing the blog, writing creatively, reading, video games, etc.  The Work-Life Balance needle swung waaaaaaayyyyyyy to the work side of the meter and I pretty much got nothing done in terms of my own personal projects.  Sometimes its just like that–there’s just nothing that I can do about that except work, work, work.

However (partly due to the holiday and partly due the fact that I bought a Chromebook and I’m now “untethered” from my Ethernet cable of my aging Macbook Pro), I should be back on track for my more creative endeavors–as evidenced by this blog post.  At some point, I’d like to get one of the new Macbook Pros, but right now, the outlay of money for the technology just isn’t worth it.  When I start selling stories, graphic novels, novels, and scripts to make the investment worthwhile, I will, but right now, all I really need is 1) a basic laptop with wifi access, 2) basic word processing, and 3) basic internet surfing.  For this reason, this Chromebook should give me what I need for just the basics and then I can use the Macbook Pro to fill out the more important computing functions that I have.

OtherWorlds

So, during this time, like a lot of YouTubers that I watch, I found myself wondering if what I am/was doing had any merit.  You see, earlier this summer, YouTube changed the payment “scale” for content creators so that basically on those with mega-channels or those with a LOT of followers (millions) were seeing real revenue.  There are YouTubers who used to be able to it as a day job or a hobby job and see real results for their efforts–not anymore, however.  More and more channels are disappearing or changing format and I, like them, wondered if I should change as well.  The answer is, no, Sci-Fi and Fantasy are the genres that I love.  Writing is something that I want to do and documenting my highs and lows (mostly in the writing arena), but also in life in general, and Science Fiction & Fantasy in particular is something that I really need and want to do.  So, I’m keeping OtherWorlds mostly the same.  There will be some slightly changes, but nothing major.  I’ll probably focus on Popular Culture and little more than I have been and I (may) do something with the scholarly blogs that I’ve set up for class (which means that I may try to keep up this as a general genre blog and set-up a more “professional” site and not mix the two as I sometimes do, but I’m still formulating this idea.

Avengers: Infinity War (Part I)

Over the holiday weekend, I got a chance to watch several sci-fi movies.  Some (most), I’ve seen before, but one in particular that I got to see was the latest Avengers movie, Avengers Infinity War.  I will write a review and put it on the list of Marvel movies (the ranking list) later, but I just wanted to let you all know that it was coming.  I still have to process this movie as it does not follow the traditional Marvel movie “form.”  More on this one in the upcoming week.

Hopefully, I’m back to a more regular schedule.  I’m going to cut it short now so that I can save some time for “writing.”  See you on tomorrow’s post (hopefully)

Sidney


 

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High Tech vs Low Tech

Word Count (What I’m Writing); Updated every 2-3 Days (mostly)

  • Project Ship of Shadows (Graphic Novel) Page Count: 21 (+1)
    Goal = 3 Pages a week. 20/20 Pages (for artist). 21/32 pages (for completion of 1st issue)
    Actual = 1/5 Pages done so far this week.
    Rough Drafted another page for the comic. Don’t really like these rough draft one day, draft the next day way of doing things, but I didn’t have time last weekend to rough draft out 4 or 5 pages, so I’m stuck doing it this way for now. At least, if all goes well tonight, I’ll be able to write another page in the story (fingers crossed). I did add to the “lore” of the story by adding an entry into the “bible” for the world.
  • Whale Song Revision (Fantasy Short Story) (2nd Draft)
    (Researched an article on Whaling, think that I have the two characters–a brother and a sister who are on the opposite sides of the issue.  Still, no Writing so far). Need to find a place to work in revisions–I can draft new material just fine, but I don’t seem to have any time to work on “drafting” revisions.

Currently Reading (What I’m Reading); Updated Weekly (mostly)

  • For Fun:
    Transhuman edited by Mark L. Van Name and T. F. K. Weisskopf
    Just started this anthology – it was given to me at a LibertyCon some years ago, but I’ve just now gotten around to reading it. I may not finish it/read all the stories, but so far, I’ve read the first story and liked it.
  • For School:
    Afrofuturism (by Ytasha Womack): This book describes the academic genre of Afrofuturism (essentially African American Science Fiction that deals with social issues in culture).  I just finished Chapter 5 today and I’m at the beginning of Chapter 6 (this book has 10 chapters).
    Wrote out a fairly extensive list of possible research topics to explore from chapter 5. Really intriguing book.
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)
    Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Class Assignments–Graduate Teaching Assistant (Year 3)

Now for something completely different–today I’m going to leave off talking about Tai Chi for a while and move to a different form of education/training: Higher Education. As part of my duties as a PhD student, I’m a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA), meaning that I teach up to 2 classes of Freshman Composition each semester. Last semester, I was a GA (Graduate Assistant), meaning that I helped out the English Department by helping a professor do research into various video game articles. Yesterday, we were given our teaching schedules and I have two classes of English 1010 (our version of Freshman Composition) that I’m teaching. I’m ecstatic as I really enjoy teaching writing at the college level. However . . . and you knew there was a however coming, didn’t you . . . however, I just finished “scoping out” my assigned classrooms and they couldn’t be more different.

High Tech vs Low Tech

So, these days, pretty much ALL (or most, at least) college classrooms feature some sort of technology in them. The professor’s podium allows the professor to hook a laptop to it, it has its own computer integrated inside it, should the professor not want to connect via laptop, it has a dvd player, display, and other media/interface ports.  It can pretty much display or illustrate pretty any type of media that the professor can through at it (again, generalizing here). These are termed “smart” classrooms as opposed to those with no technology in them whatsoever (the “traditional”) classroom. I personally would term these as “technology enabled” classrooms myself because only the professor has access to the technology.  However, what students have access to in the classroom is a different story all together. Only some classrooms are truly “smart” classrooms and those have, in addition to the professor’s media hub/display, there are computers around the room that the students can work at as well. To me, this is the true demarcation of a “smart” classroom–when both the students and the professor have access to technology.

 

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While this is called a “Smart” classroom, I consider it a “Technology Enabled” classroom. Image Source: Hostos Community College (http://www.hostos.cuny.edu/Administrative-Offices/Office-of-the-President/Conference-Center/Event-Venues/Classroom-Smart-Classroom)

“Double Dutch” Teaching

Having looked at my classrooms, one is only “technology enabled” classroom (smarthub/display for the professor) and the other is a “smart” classroom (smarthub & computers for students). This is going to be a challenge to teach in successfully. I taught this way Fall 2017 and I tried to create a “technology-rich” curriculum, but while the students in the smart classroom thrived, it was more difficult for the ones in the tech enabled classroom because they had to resort to their phones (only about 1/3 brought laptops to class) and such to view the documents/media online. I often took them to the library (especially on days when papers were due), but it didn’t have the same impact (in my opinion) as them being able to work in the classroom (too spread out, not able to ask me questions effectively).

My Plan

So, in the next two weeks before I lock down my syllabus, I plan to research different ways of teaching. My goal: make my technology enabled class as productive and as enriching as I felt my smart classroom teaching was a year ago. I should mention that my middle school teaching experience included a pilot program where the students where given Chromebooks to use at school (at first) and to take home as part of the education process (later), so I feel that I’m VERY comfortable with technology and integrating it into the curriculum. Perhaps that’s part of the problem, I may be so dependent on tech., that I’ve forgotten how to inspire true learning without it. Regardless, my goal for this year is to make both classes an enriching and rewarding experience for all involved. Fingers crossed and please wish me luck as I try to find the right balance between high and low tech!

Sidney




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Decisions, Decisions–Chromebooks, Apple MacBooks, or Windows Laptops

chromebookvsapplemacbook_YouTube

Word Count

  • Project Paradise Word Count: 357
  • Project Skye Word Count: 1617
  • Project Independence Word Count: 3041 
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

So, yesterday I had the best of intentions–I wanted to write, but I didn’t.  I only managed to “think” about writing.  I intend to do better today.  I’m going to at least “outline” page 13 of the Ship of Shadows project.  Based on the high view rates for Monday’s post–“finishing” projects is what I really need to be working towards.

Currently Reading

  • For Fun: Edgedancer by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy Novella)
  • For School: (A Book on the History of Rhetoric)
  • For Research/Personal Development: Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)

I wanted to read Oathbringer over the summer break before classes started again, but BS said that it might be helpful to read a Novella entitled, Edgedancer, before starting on Oathbringer.  I finally found a copy at MTSU’s library and I’m reading it now.  X gives a history of Rhetoric.  Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Need a New (Wi-Fi) Laptop for the Summer

So, I have summer classes this year as well as a summer “assignment” to work on during my time at the Writing Center.  While there are computers in the Library that I have been using (including Laptops available for check-out), this still leaves me without a Wi-Fi connected computer while I’m in class, which is a major disadvantage because I can’t look up/refer to PDF documents online, or bring up other websites that might be germain to the discussion.  I love my MacBook Pro (even as old as it is), but the lack of Wi-Fi is a major detriment and deterrent to my being able to write (creatively or otherwise) in “spare” moments.

Chromebook

Right now, I’m leaning towards a Chromebook.  I’ve used them before when I was at East Lake Academy and I understand their limitations.  Basically, Chrome OS is just an upgraded browser with some other features added on to it.  As I really only envision using it as I did at East Lake Academy, for accessing Web Apps, the Web, and viewing/showing video, I’m thinking that a Chromebook should fit the bill.  The only downside to a Chromebook is that it has both limited presentation capabilities and its printing service is terrible.  As I have this computer (& the ones at MTSU’s library), I’m not so concerned with this particular limitation, but Google’s Cloud Printing service just doesn’t work for me.  Of course, neither of my printers are “Cloud Printing” compatible, coming out before this was a thing, but I usually have to connect directly to the printer or “sneaker”-net the file to my printer (or DropBox it, or use a similar solution) in order to be able to get it to print.  As someone who is often writing the document right up to the very last minute, that can make for some very stressful deadlines.

Apple MacBook/Pro

So, all things being equal, this is what I would be buying.  My computer is a 2008 MacBook Pro.  However, I’m in money-saving mode at the moment, and Apple’s products, while great from a usability and aesthetic standpoint, are NOT generally good for the cost conscious.  My plan is to get something that will get me through the summer and then upgrade this laptop to a newer model in the fall (hopefully from the WWDC announcement that should have aired by the time this blog post is published–if there is no Macbook/Pro announcement, then I may look into purchasing a *refurbished* 2015 Macbook Pro model as I can’t justify paying the cost of a 3 year old computer at the exorbitant “new” prices that Apple charges).  I love Apple’s products and their software platform (Independent Developers) create software that I like to use, but I simply can’t justify the expense at the moment.  I have too many other things that need to taken care of first and as a student, money is ALWAYS an issue.

Windows Laptops

So, I understand Windows 10 is doing much better than Wiudows 8 and, by all accounts, is a rock solid operating system.  I just do not like Microsoft as a company and so try to give them as little money as possible until they change their corporate ways (during my first draft of this post, I went into a long diatribe about Halo and the acquisition of companies/technologies, to the detriment of all but Microsoft, but suffice to say, I just don’t want to support MS as a company).  Having said that, if I could find a Windows 10 computer with full functionality, but at a price rivaling a Chromebook, I might look into the it, but the feature set would have to be extremely compelling, and it still wouldn’t be my main “driver” as I still would be looking for a MacBook/Pro in the Fall (either new or old, depending on June 4th’s WWDC announcement).

Anyway, I thought I’d detail some of my thoughts on trying to find a new Wi-Fi “laptop” as I head into the summer.  I’ll keep you posted on what I ultimately decide in a future post.

Sidney




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Working on a Project for School

Project_KentState_University

So, having posted everyday this month, some might have noticed that my posts have been posting later and later in the day.  So sorry about that–for this past week, I’ve either been sick or brainstorming for two projects that I have (one tomorrow, Thurs. 3/22 and the other on Mon, 3/26).  I’ve been working really hard on them, esp. the one for Thursday and I’ve let the blog slid a bit.  Unfortunately, it won’t get appreciably better until at least April where I have a little more “space,” but even then I have an Annotated Bibliography and 2 papers to write (in addition to a Final Exam).  So, in other words, April may be “touch-and-go” as well.  So please, bear with me as school exerts its inexorable hand and causes the blog to a little more “spotty” than normal.  Push comes to shove, I’ll try my best to get a shorter entry (like this one) out as a “update” as to what is happening, but the longer blog entries (like the one I wanted to write on Spoilers which I have outlined and ready to write for today) will just have to wait for a more “convenient” (i.e., less project intensive) time.  Sorry!

Now back to your regularly scheduled program (or in this case, my “break” is over, back to getting that project done for tomorrow’s class).

Sidney



Back from the 2018 TPA Conference

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Tennessee Philological Association Logo, Image Source: Facebook

I’m back from the 2018 Tennessee Philological Conference and I thought it was a great conference!  There were tons of awesome presenters and I was able to present my paper as well and it seemed to go over pretty well, so, I enjoyed it very much!  The conference shifts between east, middle, and west Tennessee (we’re a wide state in the US) and it was in the (I think) the east part of the state.  I’m not sure if I can make it if it is in the western part of the state as that would be a long drive for me, but I would certainly like to do so, if at all possible.

Tennesse Tech Henderson Hall

Tennessee Tech University, Henderson Hall (where the 2018 TPA Conference was held), Image Source: Wikipedia

Tennessee Tech. University

This year, the conference was held at Tennessee Tech University (TTU) in Cookeville, TN and I have to say thanks to the students and administrators.  They were extremely nice–to the student who gave me great landmarks to get to the designated parking lot, to the secretaries for pointing me in the right direction to the conference location on–campus, they were really a nice group of people.

CookesvilleTN_Swallowsinsurance

Cookeville, Tennessee, Image Source: Swallowsinsurance.com

Cookeville was also interesting.  I’d never been before, so it was interesting to see what another college town (Murfreesboro could also be considered a college town) looked like.  It seemed smaller than Murfreesboro, but no less vibrant.  I only got to see a little of it–the campus environs and the apartment complexes close to campus, and the main “strip” of businesses devoted to serving the college students, but it really seemed like a cool place.  The drive wasn’t bad–only about an hour from Murfreesboro.  It was a Thurs evening., Friday, and Saturday morning Conference.  I could only make the Friday events, but I stayed the entire day–including for the reception and banquet Friday evening and had a great time!

Familiar Faces and New

So, I didn’t take as many pictures as I should have–that’s my one main regret.  I was so focused on getting there, listening to the speakers, presenting my own paper, and generally trying to take in the experience, that I realized that I didn’t take nearly enough pictures.  I was, however, able to get pictures with two of my favorite professors from UTC, Dr. Rehyansky and Dr. Shawen (I didn’t get explicit permission, so I won’t put them in the post), but I’m glad that I was able to do that and will be putting those pictures in my photo album.  I met several new people from the conference and hope to see them again next year if I’m able to attend.  All in all, it was a great experience that I hope I’m able to repeat next year! 🙂

Sidney




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Tennessee Philological Association Conference

So, today’s blog will be fairly short as I am not actually here!  Nice trick that.  I’m actually attending the Tennessee Philological Association Conference today in Cookeville TN today at Tennessee Technical University.  In fact, I’m not only attending it, but I’m also presenting a paper “American Made: Turn of the Century Technological Advances and Edith Wharton’s Fiction” that I wrote for my Edith Wharton class last semester.  Yay, Edith!

I will blog about the experience next week as I have attended a conference before, but that was at Chattanooga–this is the first time I’ve had to travel out of town to a Conference and I don’t mind telling you, I’m a bit nervous and unsure about the whole thing.

Still, I chose this one as it is close–only about an hour away.  It also is has four other people besides myself going whom I know, two from MTSU and two from UTC, so hopefully I can find them and perhaps get my bearings before it is time for me to present my paper.  Anyway, wish me luck–I’m going to need it!  🙂

Sidney



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Update: Time out for Grading and Presentation

 

Sorry I missed a blog entry yesterday, I had to prepare for a presentation today and also I needed to grade papers.  Unfortunately, the plan is much the same today, so this super-short blog post serves as an update on why I haven’t been posting on a regular basis.  I hope that the blog posts will return to the normal frequency by tomorrow, but if not, I should be back with quite a bit next week.

I just wanted to let you know that I haven’t gone anywhere–just trying to survive the end of the school year “crunch.” 🙂