23: My Life in Six Words

Tried to study late. Ha. Ha.

I thought I was smart, before

Some music and doughnuts? English class.

“English project!” Best evasive answer, ever.

Walks wildly through forest, dancing vaguely.

Was an engineer, then got sane.

WHY YOU DO THIS TO ME?!

Depression: also known as my happiness.

When you’re in love with Cybermen…

Living my way through book worlds.

I write songs. … When fingers cooperate.

Sherlock has taken over my mind.

I enjoy messing with friends….Bad?

Live life to the fullest. Sometimes.

Fell in love with my voices.

London calls. Alabama tugs. Where, heart?

20: What in the Worlds is Going On?

So in case you haven’t noticed, this Honors Freshman Composition sequence isn’t exactly…typical. XD We’ve done a lot of very strange but very fun things in the past semester and a half, and all of our strange projects and experiments have made us think and have helped us become better writers. For instance, the murder project we did last year: have you ever had to write in a police report style? Or the explorations that we did, also last semester: do you have any idea how much fun it is to stalk people for an assignment, but also how hard it is to write about it afterwards? Goodness I love Dr. Woodworth. XD

(This is the point where I’m supposed to insert a picture that enhances my thinking, so, strangely enough, here you are: from http://www.infinitydish.com/tvblog/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/David-Tennant-Fanpop.com_.jpg)

We’ve made connections between quite a lot of seemingly disparate things in this class, wouldn’t you say? Tapestries, storytelling, a sci-fi/western crossover TV show that’s become a geek cult phenomenon, explorations, murder (rhetorically speaking, of course), open education, social media of all sorts, blogs and the intricacies therein, memory – public and private, memorials and monuments and the things they represent and the differences between them, ourselves and how they relate to the world and storytelling, machines and learning, and of course storytelling and writing in every shape and form. We’ve done some really strange connections, such as the “Bendito Machine” video we wrote about a few weeks ago, and connecting that to memorials and social media. We’ve done some more obvious connections, such as connecting the Explorations projects to the stories they tell about the world about the people we found in a few of the explorations. In fact, now that I think about it, the explorations connect quite well to the monuments and social media that we’ve been talking about this spring semester! And of course, everything can connect back to Firefly. I only just realised that we haven’t done much with Firefly this semester… 🙁 I do hope that in the last six weeks of this semester we’ll be able to do more of Firefly and those Explorations…

I have to admit, even though I was quite puzzled for the first month or so, and I wasn’t sure how the class was going to turn out, all the strange connections and things that we’ve been doing have been some of the most fun I’ve ever had, and I think they can all most definitely connect to each other in wonderful ways that work quite well and actually may be very useful in regular life after college. Because we’ve had to figure out ways in which these different things work together, we’ve done quite a few brain stretching exercises which couldn’t be anything but helpful. Besides, problem solving is a skill that nearly every employer is looking for nowadays, and being able to write about a variety of topics is a useful skill no matter what career field you are planning to go in to. Also, the fact that the entirety of our ‘papers’ are online, on a blog, and that several of our assignments are through Twitter or Facebook, means that we’ll be more computer-literate than we might otherwise have been. And since our world is expanding rapidly through technology and online and social media, being able to use these technologies without fear (or at least with less fear) is a crucial skill to have, and to hone. Some other experiences that emphasize that point are the fact that we are told to use Google on a somewhat regular basis, and the fact that we have all made memes online, and so in order to do that we had to have been exposed to some of the meme norms, and what is expected of a meme, in order to use the meme-generating websites that we discovered. During class, when we’re writing or doing something that’s not discussing or watching a video, our teacher will go onto YouTube and play music for us. Exposure to new music is always good, don’t you think? Actually, exposure to anything new is very helpful. Open learning, which we talked about very briefly, is one of the best ways to learn new things: because it’s free!

So yeah, our class is pretty crazy. Geeks, all of us, and not ashamed of it. We’re all also not afraid of writing, nor of trying new things. Can you imagine if we were? Goodness that would make for some awkward classes… [Dr. Woodworth: “Figure out what you want to write about, then research and write 2000 words about it in the next month.” Student: “Um, I prefer multiple-choice tests…” *horrible silence*] But thankfully none of us are like that, so we all have a tremendous amount of fun, despite how much we may complain about having to write 500 words in a week (terrifying the first few times, but after you’ve been assigned that a good 20 or so times, you get used to it). I love how much our strange and unusual assignments stretch our minds and writing acumen, and I really will miss this class and Dr. Woodworth after the sequence finishes at the end of this semester. And while I can still say it in class without people looking at me funny, “Shiny!”

Write on!

10: Story the Weaver

Storytelling is the thread that weaves our lives together. It’s been a part of every culture and every civilization since humans learned how to speak. Storytelling shares cultural values with children and foreigners, it provides a bond between grandparent and grandchild, it gives seemingly disparate people a way to connect, and it can make a fire seem warmer on a long winter night.

Storytelling has been part of life for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, and that is no less true for us today. Storytelling has always been part of my life, longer than I can remember. My grandma and mom love to tell about how when I was really little I begged for one particular book over and over; so many times, in fact, that my grandmother memorized the book so that she could tell it in the dark without needing to turn on the light. Then when I learned to read, I read voraciously (I still do) and I read everything my mom gave me. When I found the book of Korean fairy tales and our “D’Aulaires Book of Greek Mythology”, I read them so many times that I memorized nearly all the stories in both books. They remain to this day some of my favorite books. Those stories permeated my life, as I thought about them almost constantly when I wasn’t reading them or something else. Stories and storytelling remain a huge part of my life and consciousness, as I relate stories about my classes and my textbooks to my mom and brother, and I still read avidly and attempt to memorize as many stories and mythologies as I possibly can.

Because of my lifelong love of reading, I’ve also always wanted to be a writer. Characters that could possibly be part of a story populate my mind, and wander in and out as they see fit. Potential plot snippets drift by on the breeze and are gone almost as soon as I see them. Little dribbles of dialogue bounce around and stick to crevices for a while before I can unstick them from my brain and stick them into a piece of writing. I have recently discovered the beauty of free-verse poetry, so I’ve been able to realise my dream of writing something. Also, I’ve been writing a bit of fanfiction (mentally smacking myself in the head for sinking so low XD) so I’ve been able to insert my bits of dialogue in there. This writing class has helped me with that, because I have to write so much that my brain is now used to writing, so it’s easier for it to think “Oh more writing; I’m used to that” than “Writing? What is this writing you speak of?”. Also some of the writing that I had to do in the fall was very creative writing so now my brain doesn’t fear writing creative pieces as much as it used to.

A part of writing that I find very important is being able to visualize the story, whether you see it in pictures or whether you visualize the words themselves. Some of the earliest forms of storytelling that we have remnants of today is the paintings on cave walls from the earliest humans. Those pictures tell very brief yet very informative stories of hunts and battles, which were the everyday life of the humans back then. Later on, monks created beautifully illuminated copies of the Bible, where the first letter of every chapter was intricately surrounded by animals and landscapes from the chapter and from the artist’s imagination. Even still, we prize copies of old manuscripts by Tolkien and by Lewis Carroll and by C.S. Lewis that have beautiful pictures in the manuscript. We still create books with elegant, interesting covers that have something to do with the plot of the story. And, of course, there’s the old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words”. A series of photographs can tell just as compelling a tale as a 100-page book.

  The eternity knot is the best way I could think of tying in weaving stories, writing stories, storytelling, pictures, and every way that stories come into our lives, minds, and cultures. Every aspect of storytelling can come into every other aspect, and they all connect in our minds. I doubt that storytelling will ever not be part of our lives, and I know that it will always be a part of mine.

Tell on!

Complex, or Complicated?

Eric Berlow: Simplifying Complexity.

TED talks!

What words do we find cool?

Baguette!! (I love baguettes)

A picture of a lake! Water’s pretty. ^_^

Nature can be tied in to anything.

Prediction and black boxes…

Embrace complexity.

Node… (always sounds better in a funny voice.)

Simplicity lies on the other side of complexity.

David McCandless: Data Visualization

Patterns and beauty.

Design information to tell a story.

Data visualization can look cool!!

Beauty out of frustration. XD

Colors represent motivation.

Doosh. Best sound effect ever.

Data visualization creates a landscape.

Landscape of the world’s fears.

Find hidden patterns.

Retrospects.

Data is the new oil?

Data is the new soil. (then proceeds to a brilliant metaphor of information as soil. <3)

Trawled through Facebook statuses for the phrases “break up” and “broken up”… (Depressing work, much?)

Sensitive to ideas.

Experience instills a dormant design literacy.

The language of the eye and the language of the mind.

Gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble. XDXD

We need figures connected to other data.

Let the data set change your mind set.

Balloon race!![diagram]

Efficacy. <3

The data is alive…

Society&Culture and Beliefs.

Recognizing things in yourself is really really uncomfortable.

You’re capable of holding conflicting beliefs joyously.

Provide elegant solutions.

Information is too interesting.

And that is beautiful. <3

4: Into the Stories

This assignment from my brilliant English teacher? “What story would you put yourself in if you had the chance?” With barely a moment of hesitation:

Camp Half-Blood(taken from camphalfblood.org)

My favorite series of books that I have literally ever read (and I’ve read quite a few series). Rick Riordan isn’t someone like a Dickens, an Alcott, a Lewis, or a Rowling, who are easily considered “classic” authors, but his writing is very good, and highly addictive, and they’re heavily based on ancient mythologies which is something I’ve always had a passion for.

I have read the Percy Jackson books so many times (I think I’m averaging 10 times each?) that I’ve practically memorized them all. Although I still get annoyed at Percy’s stupidity occasionally, everything else in the books makes up for it for me.

If I were to insert myself into the Percy Jackson books, I would definitely be a leading player. Well, as much a leading player as Grover or Annabeth, as the books are written in first person, so I wouldn’t be able to be the narrator. I would definitely want to go on all his adventures and things, primarily because I would get to use a sword, but also because it would be actually interesting. I’d probably miss the food they had back at the camp, but I would love to go gallivanting around the country trying to save people and meet new ones.

If I were a leading(ish) character in Percy Jackson, it would totally change the books because traditionally only three demigods are allowed on quests, and if I went, either Annabeth or Grover wouldn’t be able to go, which would probably be detrimental in certain parts of the quests. Of course, I would like to think that if I went instead of one of the other two, they/we wouldn’t get into quite as many of the predicaments that they find themselves in in the books. Also, I hope that I wouldn’t have the dyslexia that nearly all demigods have, so there would be more exposure given to a demigod without dyslexia. (In the Heroes of Olympus series, the follow-up to Percy Jackson, there is a demigod without dyslexia but it’s not as relevant to the story as it is in the Percy Jackson books.)

One thing I wouldn’t like about being inside the Percy Jackson books (theoretically) is the amount of disgusting places they get in to. I mean, yes obviously if you’re fighting monsters and mythological beasties you’re likely to get covered in blood and saliva and other kinds of nasty junk, but one would think you would have the sense to attempt to wipe it off on something! That is one of the few things that bother me about fantasy books: the characters don’t always try to wipe off disgusting things from their clothing.

I would sincerely hope that I would get along with all the characters in the Percy Jackson books. It would be really awful to enter one of my favorite stories and have everyone think me an annoying incompetent prat. It would be cool if Annabeth and I got along like she and Rachel did, or the way that Rose and Donna did when they were talking about the Doctor.

If you haven’t read the Percy Jackson books, I highly recommend them. They are definitely aimed towards 12 or 14 year olds, but I think anyone could find them enjoyable if they at least appreciate Greek mythology. And as to entering the books, I highly doubt that it’s possible, but that’s why we dream, isn’t it?

Read on!

3: Storytelling

What kind of stories do you tell?

Come to think of it, what kind of stories do I tell?

Well I know that one story I’ve had to tell many (at least several) times is the story of how I started playing guitar. My maternal grandmother started guitar lessons when I was four years old, and I would always sit on on the lessons. When she had to go away for a month, she asked the guitar teacher if I could take her lessons for her. After some hesitancy on the part of the teacher, she agreed, and upon my grandma’s return she declared that I was already better than her. Thanks to the unfailing patience and love (and annoyingness upon occasion, but she’ll agree with me) of my mom over the years, I’ve never stopped playing. That’s one story that I tell people I don’t know very well. There are very few stories like that that I tell (or very few that I can think of at any rate), but this one I have told many times. Probably because practically the only times I ever meet people I don’t know are when I’m attending some sort of music event.

A funny story I tell about my family in general is one about my maternal grandfather, who I never met, but my mom has told me this story and it’s become one of my favorites. My grandparents had a business where they would help people on St. Thomas with computer difficulties. From what I’ve been told, my grandfather was sort of a genius with computers. One night they got a call from a customer very late at night, and the phone call woke up my grandma but not my grandfather. When she heard the question, she went to ask my grandfather, and he gave her the correct answer, which she then relayed to the customer on the phone. The next morning, my grandmother made some reference to the call they had had during the night, and my grandfather had no memory at all of the question.

So these are the two stories I think of when my teacher asked “what stories do you tell about your family?” Most stories I tell, I think, have to do with things I did in the recent past or things I read or saw, which I suppose is typical of stories people tell. These two, though, are two that I know I’ve told multiple times to people I meet, and now I’ve told them to you.

So with that, what kind of stories do you tell?