Reflection

Posted On December 9, 2010

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Digital Storytelling with Jim Groom has been an unusual but immensely enjoyable course. In fact it was the only course this semester I can honestly say I actually enjoyed. Much of this is due to Professor Groom’s demeanor, flexibility, and enthusiasm throughout the course. There were many times in which I couldn’t meet a deadline due to issues with technology or some other reason, and he was willing to be flexible and helpful in anyway. I really appreciated and like pretty much everything we did in the course, and would recommend it to anyone. Although it sounds like a lot of work, it really becomes satisfying and fun in the same way a piece of art or literature take time and effort. If you put in the time, you will be left with a product you can hopefully be proud of and say you enjoyed working on. Or at least this was the case for me.

One great thing about DS106 was the pragmatic value, and the concepts that could be applied to the real world. Not only were these concepts applicable, usually they were happening all around us already in the form of Facebook statuses, Twitter posts, viral Youtube videos, and Google’s megalomania.  I most likely won’t ever be a Buddhist monk, so although the Eightfold Path is somewhat interesting it’s relatively useless to me. However I find it of great importance not only now, but perhaps sometime in the future, in knowing how to create and manage a website. Essentially this class taught me skills to prepare more this digital life we’ve thrown ourselves into completely unabashed. I mean come on, the moles of Arsenic in a 20 gram sample aren’t quite as relevant as the fact that the Library of Congress has been archiving our Tweet’s, unless those .267 moles are in your stomach.

Despite the fact that we never really had quizzes, tests, or papers in Digital Storytelling, I felt that our assignments were somewhat of an equivalent. If you write a paper really quickly the night before it’s due, or cram an hour before the test your grade will most likely reflect it. Only our assignments didn’t have a cut and dry grading system, but one was generally able to measure a degree of success based on the feedback left by peers. Something thrown together just to have the assignment done might not receive any comments, or maybe just one from the nice person who comments everything.  Average work should earn at least 2 or 3 “good work” comments and perhaps a lengthy one giving more detailed reviews. Great work is not only commented on by Professor Groom, but brought forth during class so that everyone is forced to appreciate it. These weren’t actually grades of course but one couldn’t help feeling like “Man that’s the kind of work I want to be producing.” Albeit sometimes it isn’t that easy to just put in some time, particularly with the mash-ups. I really had to work at it, trying awhile on my PC and then finally conceding to use the very nice desktop Mac in the Dupont studio. Artsy projects are apparently one thing Macs do well.

The class is not without its short comings though. The work can be overwhelming at times, especially keeping up with other’s work, and commenting on all of it. Although commenting doesn’t seem all that onerous, I found it to be quite irksome sometimes. This is unfortunate because as aforementioned I feel like peer review is a huge part of the class, hypocrisy knows no bounds. Towards the end of the course I began to feel that things were being put into overdrive to meet the rapidly approaching semester’ end; this is of course understandable but things I would’ve liked to spend more time own were skirted over. Fan Fiction I felt was very abbreviated and ignored, which was a shame because this was an opportunity for everyone to bring something to their sites completely of their own, sort of. It is unrealistic to think that we would be able to go over everyone’s posts each week but I still wish we could. Sometimes there were things I wanted feedback on but never received, alas.

Finally my project. I wanted to take the class through Lucid Dreaming, a concept I was exploring myself. I went through the basics, some techniques, strategies. I shared one or two of my dreams, and then for a while I found myself kind of at a halt with the project.  Not really sure where to go, I moved it to the back burner and worked on other things. Then I met with Professor Groom and he suggested exploring the idea of dreaming in general, how it is portrayed in the media, through art, literature etc. I found the idea very intriguing but unfortunately never quite acted upon it as much as I should have. I posted a photo I had taken at my grandmother’s beach house , comparing aspects in the photo to a Dali painting, hoping for the Surrealist connection with dreams to be made. I definitely regret not pursuing it more because I felt as though it would’ve been not only fun to explore but hopefully interesting for classmates to read. My last post on the project was prose piece written about a dream I had several years ago, this not only tied dreaming back into my blog but satiated my desire to write in a creative manner which I had somewhat been neglecting.

DS106 is an awesome course with real world merit, and a topic that is as every bit relevant to the present second as it is interesting. Professor Groom facilitates an environment blending the perfect combination of education and entertainment. If you put in the work, which admittedly can be tough sometimes, you should have a product you can stand by an experience that will make you all the wiser. I would recommend this course to anyone and everyone.

 

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Project’s End

Posted On December 8, 2010

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Well my first post was a really detailed account of a dream I had this year, so I thought it would be fitting to end my posting with a detailed account of probably the most vivid and intense dream I can remember. It happened roughly 5 years ago. Hope you guys enjoy it.

The waves were breaking all along the shoreline; beautiful glass sculptures that continually smashed into the concrete sand, over and over again. They say you can hear the sound of the shattering, splintering glass if you put a seashell to your ear. The sound disquiets me, but then again all I see are parallel lines, continually washing into one another as the tide insists upon its flawless charge and retreat. Parallel lines never cross I’ve been told, yet there they are, swirling around in the slough for the sake of irony.

Standing out in the water and it feels like air. Despite the murkiness of the brackish water, no lingering of doubt or uncertainty remains. A sense of purpose fills me, but the waves are far too small to ride. The floating epoxy next to me is about as useful as my appendix, and in realizing this, it fades out of the subconscious. Just subtly enough to prevent further inquiry.

My brother is gone, and as my eyes fervently scan the rolling waters, the doubt floods back in. Suddenly the water is a dense honey, antagonizing my now racing heart. The water breaks yards away, shapeless and defined a rocket emerges from the depths. Panting and hopped up on epinephrine I struggle and fight to reach the spaceship. He is on the ship and it’s departing without me.  Battling myself the whole way, the craft is now within reach. I grab onto no part in particular, a sturdy grip.

Taking off, into a fog, we move quickly but this time without purpose. No atmosphere, no time, no wind. We arrive in deep space. I am neither clothed nor naked, and neither wet nor dry. The details always slip through the sieve like the sand I always really wanted to keep. We pass through what must be nonexistence. Somewhere in between here and there a planet is next to me. The rocket halts as if this is my bus stop. Precariously I step off on what appears to be a plot of land in space. The vessel containing my brother then blasts off as he shouts nondescripts back at quickly shrinking me.

Now, as if back in the water, the doubt subsides but purpose remains elusive. This place is a copse; smaller than an asteroid, just fixed someplace in the universe. I hear a lemur in the trees; possible sustenance, hollering and leaping from tree to tree. A spider, roughly the size of my torso, sits in a web right before me. This disconcerts me more than the abandonment, impending starvation, and an untimely pandorum-induced death. I grab a nearby limb and prod the beast. To my surprise he crumbles before my feet. Unfortunately this is not relief. It reinforces the thought of starvation.

Further exploration reveals a loft. The ladder takes up to a small platform upon which sits a bed and nightstand. Upon the nightstand is a stereo. I lay on the bed and stare past the now receding canopy above me. All alone in outer space. The radio works. I find nothing unusual about this, or the fact that a bed is here upon this plot in space. My eyes might as well be prosthetic, for this scene is far too much to take in with sight alone. Laying there with coins over my eyes, I feel like I’ve drowned in the river Styx. Invulnerable and quiet, my world and I watch each other, satiated at last.

Beauty takes many forms, and is still simultaneously defined in the same way, with varying degrees of truth. Relativism upon that rock felt better than the purest ecstasy. My psyche was able to quell the call of discontent. Only for a bit, but I know now that it can. Idleness, in a Surrealist trance or a Buddhist meditation, feels indescribable and always fleeting. The pursuit to attain it once again, like chasing lost love, is never the same. I’ve never been back to that moksha, that ultimate release. I’ll spend my entire life hunting a dream like a predator to my own subconscious. Falling and falling and clutching and clutching at the lotus leaves I ought never to have consumed. Death will welcome a weary soul with open arms. And the most important telegram of my life, my foggy eyes won’t ever be able to read.

 

Paintings and Photographs

Posted On November 25, 2010

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Today I went down to my grandma’s for Thanksgiving break, and I decided to take some pictures on the beach. One of them turned out very neat, and actually reminded me somewhat of a Salvador Dali painting in photograph form! This is the painting:

and here is the picture I took today:

I could just really see the elephants walking around on this desert-esque scene. In my eyes the horizons somewhat matched up, and the photo is almost just during the day while the painting takes place around more of a dusk time. Obviously Dali’s painting looks very surreal, but the photograph as well seems to have some elements that don’t seem quite right. For instance, it seems almost like the water and sky are just a backdrop because camera was so focused on the grains of sand, as well as the way the sand goes from individual granules to just a tan blur before the ocean meets the sky. Perhaps this is a bit of stretch, but either way I still really like the photo and the painting. Feedback is always appreciated!

Paying Homage

Posted On November 24, 2010

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I decided to pay homage to some of the music I’ve been listening to lately by writing a poem heavily influenced by two songs in particular. Those songs are Brand New’s Sowing Season and Radiohead’s Videotape. The poem takes the perspective of death as he is forced by the other powers that be to carry out his duties. “Sowing Season,” inspired the content while “Videotape” can be heard more in the rhythm. Let me guys know what you think.

Death Wears a Straw Hat

an endless sea of wheat
whitecaps beneath my window
the grasshoppers jump like flying fish
lifeboat grains are all around
shaken violently under the sun’s hungry eye
in the friction all I hear are cries for harvest
pleas and bargains from dry salty mouths
not even shade will assuage the qualms
evermore they beg, with bloody ink
the grains wave to me, a rippling parchment
reminiscent of the first good doctor —
a burning star only gave so much
every photon, running to the brazen altar
winter might calm the weary souls
who so long to shed their bulletproof vests
but jupiter too has turned his eye upon me
an argus-eyed conglomerate now
always waiting for me
tying me down, forcing me to cut the bonds
forcing me to grab that sickle concealed cane
and wade amongst the lifeboats
many open their arms
many open their mouths
many bend against the wind
each granule descends beneath
after all the desperation, still in shock
it’s not the icy water
it’s not the loss of blood
my field lay still
silence in winter’s callous cold
snowy remorse falls down on my vacant face
always your fake veneer of amends
dormant or expunged
it never made a difference because
they grow back
the basin refills
the glint of my blade will still peek from behind their eyes
the bread will still rise on their plates
and it might even taste as sweet
self-loathing and contempt fill my lungs
as I bind my limbs and lay in front of the window
to watch my field
to stare at my ball and chain as it grows into the epitome of grace
as it becomes my existence
and I become their demise.

Obsession

Posted On November 18, 2010

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I have a few obsessions, so I thought I’d just go ahead and take some time to share.

First, I’ll talk about one of my favorite bands: Brand New.

This blog is named after one of their songs as mentioned in earlier posts. One of the greatest things about this band is the progression they’ve made over the years. This isn’t a band that puts out the same record every few years with a different album cover; each one is unique in its own right and contains only traces of the previous album’s sound. Although I love each of their album’s, I’d have to say that the record The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me might be my favorite. The band puts so much into this record that it becomes extremely personal when listening. Brand New is a band that everyone needs to listen to. Particularly awesome tracks:

I could name so many more, but I feel like this is a pretty fair example. Hope you guys enjoy!

DRACO DORMIENS NUNQUAM TITILLANDUS

The second thing I’m probably most obsessed with is the Harry Potter series. This is something very near and dear to my heart…although I’m somewhat of a Harry Potter’s Witness. Meaning that I’m pretty by the book when it comes to HP. I consider the movies to be fan fiction. Some of them I can appreciate, but mostly they’ve tarnished the doctrine, like the Crusades or the Inquisition in regard to Christianity. I have read the series more times than I care to admit, and actually I’ve lost count. Honestly, I feel almost like Rowling herself does in a sense that I’ve just grown so close to the characters, the atmosphere, and really the magic of it all. I really detest how academia is turning its back on HP, in my eyes simply because it is so well loved and can be enjoyed by a younger audience. The idea that the writing isn’t technically skillful or of substance, is nonsense. But it’s nonsense that I’ve come to accept because I’d rather keep HP as it is: a sacred text meant to be read and reread. Each time I read, I notice something new, and draw something else from the books. I cannot foresee a time when reading these books becomes tiring or repetitive.

Google Maps and Memories

Posted On November 16, 2010

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I wanted to go longer, but I was having some trouble with the capturing software. Hope you like it!

Why Lucid Dream?

Posted On November 11, 2010

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This post is for anyone wondering why one would want to try lucid dreaming or anyone curious of some practical applications lucid dreaming can offer; aside from going on wild adventures.

One of the most common uses would be the ability to overcome nightmares. Many dreamers are plagued by horrific visions, endless chase scenes, and that ever-frustrating quicksand running. Lucid dreaming offers techniques to recognize patterns within these nightmares so that the dreamer can recognize that he is in a dream, thus he cannot be harmed. Perhaps one has an irrational fear of…penguins. And in the nightmare the dreamer is being chased by said penguin, once the dream is recognized as such, the dreamer can confront the penguin and realize he has nothing to fear from it. Often times, these things can transform into other, more friendly creatures or objects.

Another practical use was conducted in a study, not too long ago, and it involves the practice of a skill in a lucid dream to improve that skill in reality. This study was done on a group of 80 pilots, their task was to toss 10-cent coins into a cup and make as many as possible out of 20 tosses. 20 pilots then attempted to carry out the task again in a lucid dream on a single night, out of these 7 managed to perform the task. Another 20 physically practiced and then performed the task again. Another 20 performed the task in the evening, then again in the morning. And finally another 20 for the control. Out of these four groups, the physical practice group demonstrated the highest improvement in performance , followed by the lucid dream group. Both these groups had statistically significant higher improvements compared to the nondreaming and control group. Cite Your Source!

You might think, well that shows that the best way to improve is through practice, not lucid dreaming. And you’d be right in regard to this study, but for things one wouldn’t be able to practice everyday, this technique has serious potential. This gives people a way to potentially study in their sleep if you will.

Andrew Disney/Walt Ryan Mash-up

Posted On November 11, 2010

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Well, this is my mash-up. Like others, I had an idea and later discovered that someone else had already mashed it! My first idea was to combine video from Harry Potter, and audio from Fight Club. In my search for clips, I stumbled upon this video: Harry Potter Fight Club. This video was mostly likely better than mine was going to turn out, so I abandoned the idea. Then I had to move on to a different obsession of mine: Bioshock. This thought led me to an idea that I had while playing that game, that being the uncanny resemblance between Walt Disney and Andrew Ryan. Walt Disney and Andrew Ryan: two visionaries who both expanded upon an idea, creating two leviathans that today we’ve all grown to know and love. Disneyland and Rapture, one in the same.
http://player.vimeo.com/video/16737406

Andrew Disney Mash-up from Thomas Hobbes on Vimeo.

All Souls' Day, Zombie Style

Posted On November 4, 2010

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Ed, Kevin, and Garrett present:
http://player.vimeo.com/video/16510423

Zombie Film from Thomas Hobbes on Vimeo.

Wall-e Commentary

Posted On November 4, 2010

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Enjoy some of my favorite scenes from Pixar’s Wall-e as I commentate upon them.
http://player.vimeo.com/video/16504984

wallee commentary FAIR USE ds106 from Thomas Hobbes on Vimeo.

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