29: Holocaust Education Program

I went to the AUM Holocaust Education Program this morning at the AUM Physical Education Complex, and not only was it wonderfully informative and very powerful and moving, but I got credit for three separate classes (out of the five I’m taking this semester). I’m not sure which one I’m more interested in… XD

Here are some pictures that I took at the Program. I apologise for the terrible quality of the photos: I was on the balcony, attempting to zoom in on the main floor with my rather terrible iPod Touch camera. I’ll give you a description of each picture, and hopefully you can figure out which part of the picture I’m talking about. ^_^

K iTouch Pics 04242013 042

This is a picture of the projector board at the Education Program: it says (or should say…) “Auburn University Montgomery Holocaust Education Program April 24, 2013” or something very similar to that… XDK iTouch Pics 04242013 043

This is a picture of some of the posterboards set up around the gym and also the candles that were lit for the Candle-Lighting Remembrance Ceremony (no really… XP).K iTouch Pics 04242013 044

Aaaaaand a random photographer guy taking pictures of the posterboards I was taking pictures of…K iTouch Pics 04242013 045

This is actually a rather good picture… Sorry random person whose head is in the frame. XD This is the candle-lighting ceremony that I mentioned in the previous picture: a reverend from Alabama State University and a rabbi from Montgomery are lighting the candles, while another rabbi from Montgomery is standing at the podium. (I know one of the rabbis is from Montgomery because I’ve sung at Temple Beth Or where he preaches [if that’s the word], but I don’t really know where the other one’s from.)K iTouch Pics 04242013 046

A close up of the same candle-lighting ceremony… K iTouch Pics 04242013 048

This is the director of the History Department at the podium, and a Holocaust survivor and the daughter of a Holocaust survivor sitting at the table. I’m fairly sure that their names are Max Helzer and Denise Roberts.K iTouch Pics 04242013 049

And a close-up…K iTouch Pics 04242013 050

Umm… I think this is someone else on the faculty of AUM at the podium and the two speakers still at the table, but I could be wrong. Sadly, I don’t remember what it actually is… XDK iTouch Pics 04242013 051

This is the dean of the School of Sciences at AUM at the podium, and again the two speakers at the table. This was very near the end of the program.

What I didn’t take pictures of was the part of the Frontline documentary, called “Memory of the Camps”, which is a documentary made out of film taken by film crews who travelled with the American & British liberation troops who went to the Nazi concentration camps. We only were shown the bits on Bergen-Belsen, which was probably sufficient, but very informative and fascinating, though probably because of the sheer number of images from the camp. I am very interested in seeing the rest of it, if I can find it, and I would very highly recommend at least the parts of it that I saw to anyone interested in the Holocaust. Of course, there is a warning for disturbing images, but as this is the Holocaust we’re talking about, it shouldn’t be really a surprise. (I’m sorry, that was rude. … But it is true. XD)

I am very glad that I was able to go to AUM’s Holocaust Education Program, and I’m very grateful that Dr. Woodworth allowed us to go to this Program if we wanted instead of class. (Of course, because she has bronchitis there wouldn’t have been class anyway, but she’d promised to let us go even before she came down with bronchitis. Get better soon Dr. Woodworth!!) I immensely enjoyed every minute of it, which is true, but also sounds like I’m a horrible person because the Holocaust isn’t really something you’d use the word “enjoy” to describe. But the words “interested”, “fascinated”, and “moved by” don’t quite seem like the words to describe my feelings properly. “Enjoyed” isn’t quite it either, but it’ll have to do for now. And with that, I leave you. I fully intend to learn as much about the Holocaust through future programs and memorials as I possibly can, and I hope you will too, as the Holocaust is an event that needs to be remembered.

Remember on.

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.


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!

22: What’s Good Writing?

What’s good writing?Now before you answer this question, think of this as a multiple-choice math word problem where answer D is “Not enough information.” And of course answer D is correct! Yay! *fake applause*
And the reason why answer D would be correct for this particular hypothetical multiple-choice question is that there are so many different things that you can write that it’s hard to say just in general what good writing is. You first have to consider your audience, you purpose, and your genre or content.

In the broad meta-category of Writing, there are two generic subcategories: Formal and Informal. And, of course, under those two umbrellas there are many little genres struggling to see out from under the spokes. For instance, under “Formal Writing” there are research papers, formal emails, and book reports. Under “Informal Writing” you can have informal emails, memes, Facebook, blog posts, and song lyrics. Informal writing is so much more fun than formal writing (of course!) that I think I shall focus on one of the sub-genres of informal writing just to give a few examples of what good writing is or can be.

Song lyrics are incredibly fun to sing and to write. Of course they’re hard to write if you can’t think of a topic, but if you think of it merely as writing a poem, it’s not that hard at all. (And if you’re like me and all your poems have a particular rhythm, it’s even less hard to think of them as song lyrics.) Some things that are generally considered correct for song lyrics are having poetic lyrics (especially lyrics that rhyme), lyrics with double meanings (especially in pop songs), metaphors, and wittiness. For instance, Train’s “50 Ways to Say Goodbye” (which you may remember we remixed the lyrics of a while ago) is about a break-up, but he makes it into a very funny song about all the ways his ex-girlfriend died. The lyrics are rather like poetry, the entire song is a metaphor of death replacing a break-up, and it’s very witty – especially the music video. Now of course, there are some songs that just have inane lyrics that do absolutely nothing, such as Justin Bieber’s much-hated song “Baby” where the majority of lyrics are “baby, baby, baby, oh.” No metaphor, no poetry, definitely no wit. Now the rap bit by Ludacris that was placed in the middle of that song isn’t bad: it is rather like free-style poetry talking about how Justin met the girl he’s singing about, but that is about the only redeeming factor of those lyrics, in terms of what my class considers good writing.
One of my favorite songs with interesting lyrics is almost definitely the Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus.” Talk about confusion and metaphors! It is poetry of a completely different kind. I’m not sure if they were actually on drugs when they wrote that song, and so that’s why it sounds like it does, but I personally think it’s very pretty, very funny, and very poetic.

Now, in general, there are rules (or at least guidelines) for what is generally correct in all sorts of writing. For instance, good grammar, spelling, and punctuation is always appreciated (by those who know the difference, that is) no matter what genre you’re writing in. Run-on sentences are a nasty habit of mine (as is probably evidenced by this blog), but they are generally not considered a good way to write. Now, I will say that my run-on sentences generally do actually make sense, whereas there are people on Facebook that, I’ve heard, write an entire paragraph of a post in one sentence where five would be considerably better. Writers like Dickens also write paragraph-long sentences, but for the most part, they’re also grammatically correct and do actually make sense if you read them carefully, while the grammatically uneducated who seem to populate Facebook write paragraph-long sentences that make no sense whatsoever. Another common Internet mistake that I have never personally experienced but which a few of my friends have mentioned is the lack of subject or verb in sentences. Now, really? No subject nor verb? How exactly does that work? I don’t consider myself an expert on grammar by any means, since I’ve technically never taken a grammar class, but I’m fairly sure that it’s quite hard to write a sentence with no subject and no verb. Okay, so my sentence “now, really” probably had neither subject nor verb, but I don’t know that that really counts. ‘Course, I could be wrong…

I think good writing is very important no matter what it is you’re writing: a Facebook post, a tweet, a meme, song lyrics… And if you don’t write well, what does that say about you and your priorities?

Write on!

7: Shame and Writing

Today we watched another of Brene Brown’s TED talks, this one specifically on shame, as opposed to shame and vulnerability. She referenced her previous TED talk on both subjects, which was quite nice, as I didn’t really remember what her first talk had been about. 🙂

One of the parts of her presentation that I really found interesting was her perspective on shame versus guilt. She said that guilt is a focus on behavior: “I did bad”, whereas shame is a focus on self: “I am bad”. Dr. Woodworth then asked us (after we finished watching, of course) to relate this issue of shame vs. guilt to writing: Are you a bad writer, or did you just write badly?

I used to think I was a terrible writer. I would always come up with characters and vague ideas for plots and beautiful settings, but I would either never write them, or I would try to write them and they would come out terribly: no ending, no real plot… In fact, I’ve described my writing as “J.R.R. Tolkien with less plot and more description.” If you’ve ever read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, or *gags* the Silmarillion, you can get a sense of what that might mean. And I believed that up until the middle of last semester, when I did the Murder project. I thought I was a horrendous writer.

But now I’m rethinking my outlook on myself and my writing. I don’t think I was a bad writer, I just think I wrote badly. Every time I had to do some sort of application essay, my mom would remind me “third draft” to encourage me when my first and second drafts were terrible. I was just bad at writing back then. But now I’ve had a lot more experience writing. I think I’ve written more this academic year then I had in all the years I’d been able to write before then. (Possibly a bit of an overstatement, but it doesn’t feel like it!) So now I know: I am not a bad writer: it is merely that for a very long time, when I was inexperienced, I simply wrote badly. And that makes me feel very happy. Write on!

5: Write, Writing, Writer

Writing. An integral part of life as we know it in most parts of the world. Know how to read, know how to write, you can do anything. (Okay, not entirely true, but it sounded cool.) So if we’re taught in elementary school, middle school, high school, homeschool, how to write, why do we need composition classes in college?

Because it’s a different type of writing.

Even though I was homeschooled and so never had a “typical” English class, I still know that my Honors Comp with the amazing Dr. Woodworth is far from a typical comp class. Blogging, for one thing. Writing about the murder of our teacher and being allowed to come with crazy conspiracy theories for another. And filling up a notebook with COLORS and stickers and anything our brains could throw at it as long as it had to do with Montgomery? Fairly sure that’s not usual. 8D But it’s still a freshman composition class, which means that there are certain things that we have to learn. In this global village of our world today, we have to write to communicate in any field, and freshman comp has to help us get to a point where we’re comfortable (enough) with it.

So what kinds of writing will I do, both in the next few years of my college career and in my life later on, that freshman comp needs to prepare me for? What tips, tricks, and skills that I learned in ENGL 1017 will help me succeed in life?

Well, being a younger-than-normal student in college, I don’t have the sheer number of years of writing that everyone else I know has, so this English class is giving me tons of things to write purely for experience. Also, it’s giving me a range of different rhetorical situations to write about, a bunch of different styles to write in, and things to write that aren’t solely “five-paragraph, follow these rules, analyze this story, blah blah blah” essays. Just the experience of having to write things will be invaluable to me, as I’m quite sure I’m going to have to write things in the next four years I’m in college. Literature classes and history classes are notorious for papers (or so I’ve heard), and I’ll be taking quite a few of both in music and Spanish. I.e., paaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaapeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrs… *crumples* (that’s not me right now; I love all my classes and I don’t have to write all that much. That’s me in four years. XD) And if I go into graduate school, I’m quite sure that will entail a lot and a lot of writing. Besides: emails, I’ll maintain this blog, musicians have websites, I’ve always wanted to write stories… Writing is everywhere.

So I think that, in my rambling off-kilter partially-stream-of-consciousness writing, I answered the question of “what writing will I do in my remaining college years and in my life that English comp is supposed to/will help me with”. To summarize, (for my sake as much as for yours), I’ll be writing essays on literature for the next few years in college, and afterwards, I’ll be writing emails, blogs, and maintaining a website. I may possibly write articles for classical guitar magazines, but I have no idea. I’ll figure it out when I get to that stage, and likely I’ll inflict my possible sufferings on this poor blog. Or maybe I’ll be deliriously happy about it and so my post will exude rainbows that will destroy whatever server upon which this blog resides. Either way, I am truly glad that I was able to take the English class that I’m taking, because even though we’re not writing ‘traditional’ research papers that I’ve been told I’ll need, it’s providing me with invaluable writing practice, and an experience that I wouldn’t have missed for the world.

10-minute Writing: Worst Thing From School

What is the worst thing that either 1) I’ve done at school, or 2) that has happened to me while I was in school? The honest truth? Nothing. Oh, I’m sure that if I thought hard enough I could come up with some incident in which my brother hit me or I fell while dancing  or something like that, but my life has been so wonderful thus far that I can’t think of anything! Okay, well, I did get my first F (and then C) on a math test a couple weeks ago, but to be fair, that was the first math test I’ve ever taken that I didn’t administer myself and that I didn’t have the answer key for. Yes. I know what you’re thinking. But it’s true.

I asked my teacher: does it have to be in school during the school year while I was in elementary through high school? I was homeschooled, so this task seemed rather daunting. Was I perpetually in school, or was I never in school? Luckily, she said that it could be from any time during the year for the years that I was schooled. Sounds great, no? Yeah, except for the fact that nothing bad seems to happen to me. Oh yeah, there was that one time when my mom broke my guitar the day before a big audition… But that’s just rather funny now, and I was what, 5? Something like that. I don’t count that incident. So then my teacher said: if nothing bad happened to you in school, how about the six weeks so far that you’ve been in college? Great! I said, except for the fact that I’m absolutely in love with college, and nothing awful has happened so far. My teacher just looked at me… Finally she said, I’m jealous.

So yeah. Nothing bad (or at least, nothing scarring and absolutely traumatizing) has happened to me in school. Yes, there are the two minor incidents aforementioned, but really, in the whole scheme of things, do they really count? I got a new guitar soon after my mom broke my old one, besides the fact that I didn’t particularly like that guitar, so no biggie. And as for my math class, well, that remains to be seen. I’m holding out hope for a potential B on the next test. So nothing hugely devastating has happened to me! I’m not sure whether to feel lucky or disappointed. What absolutely horrendous things have happened to you? I’m truly curious.

Oh yeah: there was that one time… 😀

Off Gallivanting

Today in class we were ordered out of the room to go off gallivanting.

So off we went! Outside, to the cafeteria, no one really cared, so long as we had our laptops. Our quest? Write. About whatever we felt like, so long as it was pertinent to class.

The only problem? The wi-fi wasn’t really cooperating.

So I was unable to gallivant very far before my math class.

And because of that, my gallivanting is taking place, on my couch, in my house, more than 8 hours after class. Ah well. C’est la vie.

Our in-class quest has been varied and fun, talking about TV shows, books, essays, food, and, most importantly, the fun we’re having.

I cannot wait to continue our class of derring-do and discovery in the coming year! 😀


Do you write?

I asked several of my friends this same question, and their answers were interesting and varied. For instance, several of my friends keep journals. Some other of my friends, and I do this as well, come up with seemingly great ideas for stories, but we’re too lazy to write them down. Emails, texts, and Facebook status updates are very prevalent. NaNoWriMo (the National Novel Writing Month) is also a way that some of my friends write.

I personally write blog posts, songs, poems, and attempts at stories.

What do you write?