Aug 15, 2015

Epic Challenge pt 7

Things over heard at bars:

"They're doing a red line bar crawl, with a game that is awesome!"
- bartender at Davin Bar + Kitchen

"I can sing that shit a Capella!"
- FreakyBalloon

Epic Challenge pt 6

Third stop, Blarney Stone. People grabbed food. We're almost done with the southern portion of the crawl...

Epic Challenge pt 5

The med kit.

Aug 13, 2015

Epic Challenge pt 4

Final day of reveals leading up to Saturday. I present to you, the official rules and penalties for the Epic Challenge.

Epic Challenge Rules

  1. Everyone buys their own round.
  2. Minimum one round per bar.
  3. No refusals (unless intoxicated).
  4. A unanimous decision will allow for up to two bars skipped (one south of DTX, one north of DTX).
  5. Cannot start drinking until everyone has been served.


Epic Challenge Penalties
Penalties are in Crawl Reputation points

  1. Refusing a round when not intoxicated  (500 pts)
  2. Not finishing a round before group leaves bar (250 pts)
  3. Spilling a drink (100 pts)
  4. Starting to drink before everyone is served (250 pts)
  5. Falling down in public (500 pts)
  6. Falling asleep during the crawl (1000 pts)
  7. Vomiting (Game Over)

Reputation Points will be explained on Saturday, as will the final "Activity." Therefore, it is important to be on time. We will meet at 11:30am at Ashmont Station, across from where the buses depart. I look forward to seeing everyone on Saturday.


Aug 11, 2015

Epic Challenge pt 3

When attempting a task such as the one that will take place this Saturday, information is key. Yesterday, I rolled out some info on necessary items and suggested items. Today, I present the "map." I've been asked several times "where are we going?" Or, "What bars are we gonna stop at?" I've been holding back these answers until now. Look below at the chart for a glimpse of the path we will take this weekend.

RED LINE STOP BAR NAME PRICE  NOTES BAR ETA
Ashmont Ashmont Grill $$ Credit/Cash  12pm
Shawmut Centre Bar $ Credit/Cash  12:45pm
Fields Corner Blarney Stone $$ Credit/Cash  1:30pm
Savin Hill Savin Bar & Kitchen $$ Credit/Cash  2:15pm
Andrew Sports Connection $ Cash Only  3pm
Broadway Amrheins $$ Credit/Cash  3:45pm
South Station Tavern in the Square $$ Credit/Cash  4:30pm
Downtown Crossing J.J. Foley's $ Credit/Cash  5:15pm
Park Street Jm Curley $$ Credit/Cash  6pm
Charles MGH Beacon Hill Pub $ Cash Only  6:45pm
Kendall/MIT State Park $ Credit/Cash  7:30pm
Central Square The Field $ Cash Only  8:15pm
Harvard Square Felipe's Taqueria $ Credit/Cash  9pm
Porter Square Toad $ Credit/Cash  9:45pm
Davis Square Sligo Pub $ Cash Only  10:30pm

All price points are based off the Yelp pricing scale. You can see that the plan is to be cost-efficient while imbibing. Take note of the the "Bar ETA." There is a pace and we will do our best to maintain it. But, fear not; no one will be left behind. In my clan, everyone makes it home in one piece.

Now that you have the itinerary and the schedule, begin your preparation!


Aug 10, 2015

Epic Challenge pt 2

I am five days away from my Epic Challenge and support for my task has been overwhelming. When I initially posted the event, there was an immediate response from my friends. Many said I was nuts to attempt something so outrageous. Others applauded my determination and pledged their aid to my cause. Because I appreciate those who have said they will crawl with me, I have decided to reward them with fun activities (besides imbibing) along the way. Those who come along with me have opportunities to earn Reputation, honor, and rewards. That being said, I want to make sure everyone who participates is ready and fully prepared to do so. Here is a list of some items you will need as well as some things to think about.

Necessary Items

  • MBTA Charlie Card - You can't get anywhere without a "ship." This is your means of travel. I suggest a Day Pass since it will cover you for the duration of the event and is fairly priced.
  • A valid form of Identification - Make sure you are able to play. Don't be the person who can't get in; that's just lame.
  • Funds - Call it cash, money, glimmer, whatever, you'll need to bring some along. Most places will accept credit/debit cards, but there are a few that do not. Plan accordingly.
Recommended Items
  • Restorative Drinks - There will be some basic supplies on hand, but it will be a good idea to carry something that will replenish electrolytes. It's a long day; you don't want to tap out early.
  • Comfy Shoes - There will be some walking involved.
  • An Open Mind - The Event will ask much of you. Prepare yourself to rise to the challenge. 
I am close enough now to see the Challenge unfolding in front of me and those who stand with me. I will share more details and advice as the days advance. I'm looking forward to sharing all that transpires this Saturday.

Aug 8, 2015

Sporting Youth

I watched several youth basketball games yesterday morning. They are extremely interesting as reflections of culture. I ref youth flag football during the fall and while youth sports all share similar themes and goals, each sport manifests them in different ways. Yet, the fans (i.e. the parents), are always the same...

It's important to know that I was watching the "8 and under" league. These are little kids. The parents were reacting as if they were watching Division 1 competition. I'm all for parents cheering on their kids, but come on,  there is a component of youth sports that is all about having fun. While winning can be a part of that fun, it can't be the only part. There were a few that were especially memorable.

There was the "My baby is a Star" Mom. Every time her child had the ball, she thought he should shoot it. Never mind passing the ball, if he touched it, he should be finishing strong.

There was the "They keep fouling my baby" Mom. She is interesting because she knows enough about the rules and penalties of the game to assume that every little bump, collision, and incidental contact is an egregious assault against her child.

I think my favorite parent was the "Disinterested Father." He sat next to me and only looked up from his phone when his son came over during half time for water and after the game ended when the two of them left.

I think youth sports are important and necessary, but this intensity with which parents drive their kids strikes me as odd almost to the point of dangerous. What happened to having fun when playing youth sports? When did winning overtake sportsmanship, teamwork, and learning to play the game? I think these priorities should be re-examined.

Saturday Sports Finale

All in all, my friend is right. It was fascinating. While the there is less of a focus on team play, it was fun to watch these children mimic a game they see on television.

Saturday Sports pt 10

Second game now, I'm running the clock. No pressure!

Saturday Sports pt 9

The parents are probably the best part. They deserve and will get a full post on their behavior.

Saturday Sports pt 8

The mix of youth is interesting. Black and white, girls and boys. There are a few female coaches as well. 

Saturday Sports pt 7

A lady (perhaps a parent) just walked in and asked me what the score was. I said, "the green team has all the points." She replied "what does the white team have?" I said, "none."

Saturday Sports pt 6

I'm not sure if they are keeping score. I feel like some type of slaughter rule would have taken affect by now...

Saturday Sports pt 5

Amid the travelling and double dribbling, there are flashes of real basketball. I just watched the green team run a fast break with enough spacing and court awareness to pass the ball to the open man at the last second. He missed the layup.

Saturday Sports pt 4

The current game is a bit lopsided. The green-jersey team has scored all the points and the white-jersey team has scored none.

Saturday Sports pt 3

I'm watching the "8 and under" age group. These kids play four 8 minute quarters!

Saturday Sports pt 2

I ref youth football with one of the youth basketball refs. He invited me out to watch the games. He said I would, "find them facinating."

Saturday Sports

I'm watching youth basketball this morning. It's an interesting experience.

Jul 31, 2015

I'm "pulling back the curtain" to some extent with these posts. This one was done via email. The same idea applies as the text message posts. Though, with an email, I have more space than 160 characters to write. I can even add a title were I so inclined.

I've already talked about how amazing this level of technology is. Really, technology in general is pretty sweet. Every now and then, I will make a similar remark in mixed company and usually end up being the butt of a joke. It makes me think I am old...
I'm excited to use this function during the Epic Challenge, or at least attempt to use it. I feel like it will start well, but end terribly...
These last two posts were done from my cell phone. Blogger lets me send text messages that appear as posts which allows me to blog on the fly if I am covering an event.
I like the fact that I can blog even if I'm away from my computer. Blogger is very good about allowing connectivity across multiple platforms.

Jul 29, 2015

Luke's Story

The director of the Academic Center for Writing at Mountain View Colleges is a difficult guy to pin down. Ask him about his daily schedule and you’re likely to hear a response describing the multitude of meetings he has. Quite possibly, he is about to be late. “I’m on so many committees, some I started myself” he says. That is quintessential Luke Story, a man who is dedicated to his job and passionate about the students he serves.
With a Masters in Rhetoric and Composition as well as years of experience teaching English and ESL, Story was looking to make a career of educating others. However, he hasn’t always found work in education. As late as 2012, Story worked in the business world as a Financial Analyst, a job he did not like. Story recounts that he worked “long enough to know it wasn’t for me.”
Story tells the tale of a significant phone call he received from the former director of the ACW, Kevin Williams, while on his way to work one auspicious day. The anecdote goes that Mr. Williams contacted him about his interest in a part-time tutoring position. It was an opportunity to get back into teaching and education. He accepted immediately and hasn’t looked back.
The draw of his initial position as a Writing Specialist was the concept at the foundation of the ACW, enhancing students’ ability to write. “The appeal was to make better writers” he explains. The concept resonated with him and he wanted to dive in and get right to work. “I saw it as a place for unlimited potential” Story says. Now, it’s his job to put the ACW in a place to maximize that potential.
The passing of Kevin Williams was a devastating blow to Mountain View students, faculty and staff. In the aftermath, there was a void at the position of director of the ACW, a vacancy that Story felt he could fill. “It was the hardest decision to make, applying for the Director job” Story says.
Story is reflective about Kevin Williams, choosing his words carefully. Sitting in Mr. Williams’ old office, Story’s 6’4 frame seems cramped.
“Kevin was my mentor” he says. There is a noticeable pause. “Everyone loved Kevin; those are huge shoes to fill.”
  Yet, Story is more than equal to the task. He has a plan to expand the reach and breadth of the ACW through programs, publications and activities created to meet students where they are and help them improve.
From the student-centric literary publication, Lion’s Roar, and the Kevin Williams Writer’s Lounge, to the Culture of Writing Festival that took place during Spring Semester, the horizon is bright with potential.
As Story lists off the events and activities he has planned, a palpable energy radiates from him. His passion is obvious and his vision reflects that passion. “Our resources are phenomenal … there is so much more that can be done” he says. He is correct even though it will require long hours of work. Though, if Story sees it that way, it doesn’t show.
“I like to stay busy. Now, I stay busy doing something I love” he says

Jul 28, 2015

Random Thoughts - NFL Suspensions Edition

I don't normally use this space to talk sports, but with the recent news concerning Tom Brady's four-game suspension being upheld, I find myself in an odd position. As an ex-(sports)journalist, I must maintain some level of objectivity. In earlier reports, the NFL's investigation found that Brady was "at least generally aware" that footballs were being deflated. It was never proven that he was the individual directing the two Patriots employees to deflate footballs.

The question becomes how is his behavior construed and what category does it fall under? Some say that deflating, or otherwise tampering with game footballs falls under the category of attempting to gain an unfair advantage which ruins the integrity of the game, blah, blah, blah. Okay, sure. In that regard, tampering with game footballs is similar to Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) which carries a suspension penalty of up to six games depending on the severity.

If we are comparing Brady's activities to PEDs, It is important to establish what level of severity deflating footballs is. According to his suspension, it is akin to taking a steroid or other banned substance (four-game suspension) But, I'm doubtful that his actions were that severe.

Some may recall that the deflated footballs were identified at the end of the first half of the Patriots-Colts playoff game. At the start of the second half, new, un-tampered footballs were put into use and the Patriots proceeded to score twenty-one points in the third quarter. So, the during the game when the Patriots were the most prolific, they were using regulation-sized footballs.

If the deflation of footballs had no effect on the game wherein they were discovered, how can the League rightfully suspend Brady for four games? If anything it should be a two-game suspension. Now, if the NFL is suspending Brady for being "uncooperative" that is different. While, that feels generally unfair to me, I suspect there is some elastic rule in the NFL Personal Conduct Policy that allows the League to come down on Brady and other players who damage the integrity of the brand through an unwillingness to answer questions.

That word "integrity" keeps coming up. Still, when I think about this as a "level-headed," and "logical" journalist, the facts don't seem to add up. Four games seems a bit much for being "at least generally aware" of tampering.

As a fan, I'm raging a bit.

This is, yet again, another attempt by the League and Goodell to tear down the greatness that has been established at Foxboro. Haters will call the Patriots cheaters. It's gamesmanship. We're better at it than you (Ravens). Deal with it. Don't be mad because your sorry-ass team didn't make the playoffs, or made the playoffs, but wasn't competitive (Colts). Or worst yet, was the height of arrogance when your coach decided to throw the ball on the 2-yard line instead of run it in with Lynch (Seahawks). Stop crying because we keep winning. We are a good team, with good players who play well together. That's what it takes. But go ahead and let everyone know how much you think we cheat, and how you "totally called it" in the comment section of all the stories out today about the suspension being upheld. Brady will see the NFL in court.

Sorry, where was I... Oh yes, my thoughts, random as always.

Jul 27, 2015

Text Message Stories: 160 Characters or less

As a person who has committed to writing as a career, I am always looking for ways to challenge myself and hone my skills. Over the weekend, I exchanged text messages with friends and I realized that many of my friends break the character limit (160 characters) during their messages. I thought about how I text and how often I break the character limit. Quite often.

This got me thinking about how to tell a story, and how much space is necessary. Many people, writers especially, know the (tall) tale of Hemingway writing a novel in six words. While "For sale: baby shoes, never worn" has passed into legendary status, I'm looking for something a little more manageable. I present to you "Text Message Stories: 160 Characters or less." Let me know what you think.

I'm running late. It's 3:55pm. The bank closes at 4pm, and I'm 3 minutes away.
The light changes to green. I'm off down side streets.
3:57pm. Will I get there??

My head nods as my eyes close. I'm jarred awake by the motion.
The computer screen slowly fades into focus.
Project Development Budget.
I sigh. I need coffee.

I press send, now I'm waiting. Will she respond? How long will it take?
Is she expecting me to text?
My phone buzzes in my hand. A smile dances across my face.


Perhaps now it is your turn, dear reader. Try your hand at this type of "Flash Fiction," but remember the rules. Your story must not be longer than 160 characters (including spaces). Use the text message function on your phone to check yourself. Feel free to leave your stories as comments. I look forward to seeing what you create!

Jul 24, 2015

There is even a high possibility of a double post tomorrow. Stay tuned...!
I've got some stuff in the works to post here. It should make up for my lack of posts/poor post quality.
I'm out carousing after a long work day and work week.

Jul 23, 2015

Phreelancerz: Skolas's Revenge pt. 2

Read this first.

"Prison of Elders welcomes you..." Variks' voice booms over some external comm system in the airlock as FreakyBalloon, Zwazo and I drop in from our ships. It's a simple circular room, four large doors dispersed around it at even intervals. As I check my weapons, my HUD links up with Freaky and Zwazo and I catch the tale end of a conversation.

"We're gonna get it done," says Freaky. Zwazo is nodding his head.
"Should have killed him when they caught him," Zwazo say. I agree. A lot of good Guardians went down trying to capture Skolas.
"Let's finish the job," I say as one of the doors opens to reveal a large glowing servitor.

Variks says something about undead Hive and then the servitor disappears. I turn towards the door and begin to jog down a tunnel that ends in another door. Freaky and Zwazo catch up to me as I move down the tunnel. We reach the far door and it opens onto an arena that reminds me of parts of Crota's Abyss. The ground is littered with bones, and debris from past battles. There is a murky haze in the air which makes me glad my helmet has air filters and purifiers built in.

My ghost gives me a quick layout of the space, there are three other doors in the arena, each of them registering enemy activity. I can hear the unnatural sound of thrall screaming and clawing behind a closed door I run past. There are a lot of them. We jump onto a ledge in the left corner of the arena and prepare for engagement. My ghosts begins to say something to me, but I can't hear it. The two closest doors open, and thrall  and acolytes come pouring out in a swarm. Void energy shots careen off the ceiling and floor as the Hive locate us and begin to hone in. We return fire, My Abyss Defiant spits bullets, rapid fire, cutting down thrall as they attempt to take us down using their claws. We don't let them get that close.

Suddenly, there is a roar. "Ogre!" Freaky yells over the fray. Large beams of void energy strafe my body pushing me back and down. An ogre, the Hive's heavy artillery, has appeared. I check for damage and realize my shield has taken the brunt and withstood it. Odd. That many direct hits from an ogre should have put me down. I'm not complaining, it's just strange.

I crouch behind cover waiting for my shield to recharge. "Wizards too," says Zwazo. I never know how he manages to sound so calm. My shield isn't recharging. Now I'm concerned.

"Check your shields. Make sure it's working," I say. My ghost speaks up again and explains that shield recharge has been suppressed, but will take more damage before breaking. Also, apparently, our melee strikes are stronger. Typical. As if fighting hordes of enemies isn't enough of a challenge, Variks has added modifiers. Oh, and there are web mines. I'm a little pissed off.

We fight through three waves of enemies, each one getting progressively harder. I'm not sure if my shield will ever recharge, and these thrall don't quit. I snipe an acolyte from across the map. Next to me, Freaky stabs a thrall. Suddenly, Variks is speaking to us, his voice wheezing through the translator device over his mouth.

"They are dead... You are not..." Variks says. "Need you back in the airlock, Guardian," he finishes.

We run towards the airlock.

"How many more rounds of this?" I ask no one in particular. Zwazo answers.
"Five."

F#$k....

Jul 22, 2015

Nothing to see here...

Another non-post post. Work is critical and must be done first. Should be back on a more regular schedule next week.

Jul 21, 2015

Random Thoughts pt. 11: Life is Destiny

I've noticed recently that I and some of my friends, those who play Destiny, have an interesting way of communicating outside of the game. At first I thought it was me, but I double checked and came to realize it's not just me.

I was talking to my buddy Gage and during the course of our conversation, he said he spent a lot of time prepping for his classes. I asked him how long he preps in terms of Crucible matches (ten minutes PvP fights). I said, " how many Crucible matches?" He answered, "at least twelve. He knew immediately what time frame I meant and answered accordingly.

In other instances, I've hung out with people I game with and referred to them by their gamertag... And they answer! It's not even their real name! I love it.
No real point, just some random thoughts...

Jul 20, 2015

Phreelancerz: Skolas's Revenge

I'm F@#ked.

Every alarm in my HUD is going off. I've been poisoned, my shield is down, and I'm low on ammo in my primary. I'm sprinting, running for my life across the Fallen arena. Sand kicks up in my wake, both from my sprint and from the Shanks and Dregs firing at my back. I duck in between rusted old ships, planes, I think they're called, centuries old Earth aircraft. Where does Variks find this stuff? A solar explosive goes off a few yards to my left and throw myself into a boost jump aimed at a ledge in the corner of the arena. I land in a crouch and slide into cover.

F@#%king Skolas.

My ghost informs me that the poison will kill me in twenty seconds. Typical. I'm not sure where Ti Zwazo, or FreakyBalloon are, possibly on the other side of the arena? It's hard to hear over the cacophony of Scorch Cannon shots Skolas is firing at me. I hear him laugh, it's a strange sound that grates on my ears. Why do Fallen sound so odd? Ten seconds left on the poison. I take a breath and exhale slowly, checking the clip in my Oversoul Edict. Nine rounds, that's three bursts.

 I can hear Fallen captains shouting and moving closer to my position. Skolas is trailing behind them. There is no way I'm going to survive this, and I'm not sure I care at this point. I ready a sticky grenade and lob it over the low wall I'm hiding behind. The grenade explodes twice; Dregs scream in pain. five seconds until the poison kills me. Might as well take a few of them with me. As I step from behind cover, readying Oversoul Edict, I ponder how I got into this situation.

Jul 18, 2015

Phreelancerz Defeat Skolas

Yesterday, Phreelancerz, Dash, Ti Zwazo, and FreakyBalloon descended into the depths of the Prison of Elders to face Skolas and his Revenge. It was no simple feat; it was a test of endurance, skill, and teamwork.
There were a lot of kills... and deaths as well as several moments of questioning both strategy and commitment. Round three caused much consternation within the fireteam.
The team stayed the course and battled through to the end. They were rewarded with Elder Ciphers and bragging rights. A full accounting of their trial is coming soon...!

Jul 17, 2015

Random Thoughts pt 10: Creation

Building stuff is difficult. I don't mean that in the physical sense; I'm speaking mainly about the process of taking something in your head and making it a reality. People have all sorts of ideas, thoughts, and philosophies on the creative process, but when you get down to it, it's not easy.

I'm making a card game to go along with a certain challenge I put in front of myself recently. The creative process behind it has been interesting and more challenging than I thought it would be. Even with the help of a good friend, there have been some obstacles. I like the fact that once I told him my idea, he was all in, but now we find ourselves in the middle of a creation process that seems to go on exponentially the more effort we put into it.

There have been moments where we are thinking the same thing, and other times where our ideas are at polar opposites, but I think both scenarios are a good thing. We are working to make this product awesome, even if it's only for our friends. That drive towards and for perfection, while annoying at times, is the very reason we have come up with such great ideas. I think in the end, all of the stress and struggle will be worth it.

There will be a moment, that singular moment when we reveal our work, show what it is exactly that we have been creating. In that moment, we will reap the bounty of our harvest, so to speak. The looks on our friends faces will be the reward for our labor. It will signal that we did not toil in vain, but, in fact, made something that they love and cherish.

Also, it'll get them quite intoxicated and have them do very silly things... I can't wait!


Jul 15, 2015

Phreelancerz Destiny Episode 2: Orbiting

Open scene on clan (Dash12044, Missezzkittyy, Bostonwins, Ti Zwazo, FreakyBalloon) finishing a raid and in a celebratory mood. Fade into “Rewards/Activity screen.”

Boston
Great job, guys. That was like a 20 minute run, start to finish.

Kittyy
I know! We really flew through it. That Eris lady won’t shut up about how Crota killed everyone, but he didn’t seem that hard.

Dash
Obviously, we’re a better fireteam than whatever group she came with.

Freaky
Maybe it’s on easy mode…. Everyone stares at Freaky. This ghost I found told me there are different difficulties and that… Never mind

Zwazo
…epic takedown. Check  out all this gear we… up.

Boston
Yeah, because I needed more shards to take up space in my vault. I swear I never find anything good!

Dash
I found a Gjallarhorn.

Kittyy
What’s that? Your third one?

Dash
Fifth.

Kittyy
And I can’t get one! F@$king ridiculous! Let’s get out of here. I need to decrypt all these blue engrams before I can break them down for glimmer and components.

Boston
This might be the worst part, Waiting to orbit after finishing up.

Zwazo
I use the time… talk... ghost… verify my kills…

Freaky
I check my weapons for upgrades. You know, put all these component materials to good use.

Dash
Yeah but both of those things take, like a few seconds. After that, you’re just stuck waiting for the fireteam leader to complete the transfer. Like, come on! I gotta hit the Tower, flip this gear and shards, see if there are any decent bounties and maybe jump in the Crucible. I don’t have time to just sit here waiting on someone who’s taking their sweet time.

Boston
Yeah, man, absolutely.

Zwazo
Hehe, true…

Freaky
Good point.

Long pause while everyone waits.

Kittyy
So, Dash, are you gonna take us to orbit, or what?

Dash
S#%t, my bad.

Jul 14, 2015

Phreelancerz pt 3

Begin here, then read this.

Being revived sucks. Boston tells me it feels like coming up for air after being under water for so long that your lungs are about to burst. He says it almost burns. I never really understood Sunsinger warlocks. To me, it feels like being kicked in the chest repeatedly until you wake up screaming from pain which is always how I feel. This time is no different. There is a flash of blinding white light, and suddenly, I'm on my feet, coughing inside my helmet, and disoriented. I'm inside Zwazo's bubble. Safe.

"We gotta move. Now," Zwazo says to me. "Vex teleported in behind Fallen defense line. We never saw it." I nod.
"Must have been the bombardment and the mines that got me," I say. He just looks at me. No need to answer a rhetorical questions.
"Boston and Kittyy?" I ask. He points off the way we came in. They are crouched behind a cracked barrier firing in different directions at dregs and goblins.
"Heads up," Zwazo says. Two dregs leap inside the bubble, intent on knifing through us. We side step and let the bubble work to our advantage, blinding the dregs as they land. We each melee one of the dreg and watch them scatter into arc and void damage dust. Then we sprint out of the bubble towards Boston and Kittyy who have cleared our retreat path.

There isn't enough space for all of us to find cover behind the barrier. We need a new plan. They aren't saying anything, but everyone is waiting for me to give orders. Comes with being Clan Leader. My HUD begins to light up with enemy presence. My ghost tells me that more Vex are inbound along with Fallen. Not looking good.
"Where are reinforcements?" I ask no one in particular.
"Bailed," Zwazo answers. "Drop zone is too hot. They can't land safely" he finishes. I curse to myself.
"Ok, we're heading west. There is a bridge a few clicks that way, we can try to flank," I say. Boston and Kittyy just stare at me. I repeat myself, but get the same reaction. Boston taps the side of his helmet.
"...lo? Can you... ear me" He asks. I shake my head. My ghost says there is interference on the comms due to all the electricity in the air. Great. I point west then summon my Time Breaker speed bike. Everyone follows my lead and we jet off westbound towards the bridge.

We speed off through the outer edges of the abandoned settlement, bombed out buildings hulk and crumble on both sides, grim reminders of golden ages long past. Along the river, the Fallen and Vex exchange gunfire and explosions. If we can get to the bridge, we can flank all of them and push them back off the river. It's a gamble, but if it works, and we secure the area... My mind boggles at the potential strategic advantage.

We pull up to the bridge just in time to see a squad of Fallen get blown up by a group of Vex Hobgoblins and Minotaurs. This just keeps getting better. We ditch our speed bikes in a small grove of trees and make our way towards the bridge. As we move closer, it becomes obvious that the Vex are taking control of the area. Fallen bodies lay strewn about the streets. They threw tons of dregs at the Vex with no success. From our approach, I see vandals and captains attempting to retake the bridge, but instead, they are being pushed back, forced to retreat in our directions.

"The Fallen are trapped," I think out loud. Kittyy responds.
"We can cut them down, as they fall back." Comms must be working again.
"Yeah, ok, let's set up here," I say. "Heavy weapon volley, Kittyy, clean up the stragglers by sniping."

We get in to formation, Zwazo, Boston, and I crouch in front of Kittyy. When the vandals and captains come into range, we let loose. Lighting rounds from Thunderlord as well as Gjallarhorn and Truth rocket rounds seek their targets. No Fallen survive. We reload and advance towards the bridge. The Vex have taken notice of us and the Hobgoblins begin to fire, their single-shot Line Rifles gauging the distance. Boston takes a shot in the chest, cracking his shield. He laughs over the comm and takes a knee. We circle up to protect him while his shield regenerates and return fire. An old mantra pops into my head as I aim through my scope. Something we used to say when I was in training, To kill a Vex, the chest is best. It brings a smile to my face as squeeze the trigger and watch goblins shudder, twitch, then burst with a sizzling pop as my bullets pass through their central processor.

Boston is back on his feet and sprinting ahead, shotgun in hand. He makes quick work of the Hobgoblins who attempted to hide behind their energy shields. Kittyy lays down cover fire with her sniper rifle, keeping the Minotaurs from getting too close. Zwazo and mop up. It's over almost as soon as it starts. We reload, I check our coordinates and begin to setup an uplink so other Guardians can lock onto our signal and drop in on our location. It's just in time too. As soon as I finish, the air gets dim and there is an odd energy that causes interference with my HUD. It can only mean one thing. Vex are teleporting in.

"Incoming," Zwazo says. I look up and watch as a Vex Cyclops appears at the north end of the bridge surrounded by Goblins, and Minotaurs.
"Hydra and Harpies approaching from south," Kittyy says.
"Plan?" Boston asks me. I check the uplink and start to laugh. Everyone stares at me.
"Relax, guys, we've got help coming," I say.

On cue, as if dropping into the Crucible, Guardians appear and drop to the ground, locked, loaded, and ready. They take up defensive positions, each fireteam leader directing their crew. A lone Hunter drops in near me, salutes, and approaches. His name is Demonbreun, he's in the clan. He joines our comm channel.

"Greetings, Phreelancerz. Minding the small fry, are we?" He asks.
"Demon," I say. "Here to lend us a hand?"
"No, I've been put in charge of the bridge defense," he responds. "I also have a message from the Vanguard for you."
"Oh really?" I'm skeptical. These always involve retrieving something for them.
"Yeah, they need you to take your team to Venus. Skolas sighting."
"F@#$king Skolas," Zwazo spits. I know what he means. Demon presses on.
"Uplink with Petra from the Reef when you hit orbit. She has details. Good luck."

I nod and tell my ghost to bring us to our ships. No one has caught Skolas yet. It would be a major triumph for Phreelancerz Clan. Let's go to Venus.

Jul 13, 2015

Busy day at the office. I'm, in fact, just leaving for "lunch" which is really dinner. I have to head back in after my meal (assuming I don't just grab something and bring it back). No real post today, I'm working on part 3 of the Phreelancerz tale, and some updates for the Epic Challenge. Thanks for baring with me...


Jul 11, 2015

Phreelancerz pt. 2

Start here

At the Tower, I have a few stops to make. I talk to my Vanguard rep, Commander Zavala, to bring him up to speed on the situation. He nods and tells me to get back out there. Typical. Next, I give my engrams to Master Rahool. He gives me back a Strange Coin and some guns I break down into glimmer and weapon parts. Last, I check my vault to store those extra materials and see if there are any guns I want to take with me. My vault is full, I need more space. Zwazo is arguing with the Frame that runs the bounty board. I think he's losing. I turn away and walk towards the railing that runs along the edge of the Tower, as I approach, Boston and Kittyy drop in from their ships.

Phreelancerz Clan. Greetings are exchanged. Zwazo and I wait while they grab supplies, check for available bounties, and prep for what is coming. I do a quick tally, two Titans, one Defender Class, one Striker Class, One Warlock, Sunsinger Class, and a Hunter, Gunslinger Class. A solid load out of power, defense and recovery. Once back in low orbit, I bring Boston and Kittyy up to speed on the mission brief and our new strategy of hard contact to force the Fallen away from the river. Boston is all for it, Kittyy, naturally more cautious, has questions.

"Do you have a count on how many Fallen are present?" She asks. I don't.
"My ghost says several hundred, all ranks including servitors," I reply. Kittyy is quiet on the comm and Boston speaks up.
"Won't be a problem, Dash and I will take point, Zwazo is mid coverage and Kittyy, you can tail and snipe from distance," he says. It's as good a plan as anything I've thought of.
"Fine, just don't get so spread out that we can't revive each other," she warns.

We dive in low through the atmosphere over the open plain, as we hit the ground, all of our ghosts go crazy blaring warnings about incoming enemies. The sky darkens as several Skiffs, Fallen drop ships, appear overhead. One of them is carrying a Walker, a six-legged tank with a mounted plasma cannon. The Walker drops to the ground with a thunderous impact, releasing Shanks. We scatter, trying to find what little cover is available. Zwazo creates a protective bubble made of pure energy. Boston, Kittyy, and I all slide inside to avoid getting cut down by Shank fire.

Enemy fire echoes off the bubble as we cower inside. I crouch next to Boston who is laughing. I look at him.
"So, that didn't go so great," he chuckles. I can't help but smile inside my helmet. His enthusiasm for battle is contagious.
"Yeah," I say. "New plan: Kick Fallen ass." Boston nods, stands and steps out of the bubble, firing Red Death, the staccato bursts are loud compared to the "pew, pew, pew" noise of the Shank firing mechanism. I step out of the opposite side of the bubble from Boston, level Vision of Confluence at the same leg he is shooting and squeeze the trigger. The gun pushes against me in a steady rhythm. The Walker staggers, emitting a burst of electricity, then bows its head to reveal its weak spot along its "neck." Zwazo's bubble dissipates and I hear familiar sounds. Thunderlord, Zwazo's heavy machine gun, whines and rattles off several arc rounds. The high-pitch whip crack of Icebreaker, Kittyy's favorite sniper rifle, completes our well-orchestrated take down. The Walker never stood a chance.

When the Walker explodes, it's just a matter of clean up with the Shanks. We collect some glimmer and other materials and then it's back to the river mission. We move in formation towards the river, ready to cut through Fallen and establish a beachhead. We arrive just in time to see another Fireteam of Guardians make an attempt at breaching the Fallen defenses. They have some success and we follow close on their heels to support their efforts. Then the sky lights up. We're all caught by surprise.

Web mines and shock grenades go off, as we stagger back and try to regroup. My head is ringing and everything sounds far away. Kittyy is waving her hands frantically at me. I can't tell what she means. My ghost says my shield is down. Suddenly, my left shoulder lights up with pain from impact. I go to one knee. Shoulder stings and burns at the same time. Arc damage. Kittyy raises a rocket launcher to her shoulder and lets loose. Something behind me screams in agony. Everything starts to fade.

Jul 10, 2015

Epic Challenge

They say that life is not worth living without the challenges it presents that we must overcome. Maybe I read that somewhere, or maybe someone told it to me, but I think there is some truth to it. In meeting and surpassing these challenges, we test our strength of will, our resolve, and our ability to cope with unexpected obstacles. These things "build character," and I'm prepared to test mine with the help of my friends. That being said, here is the Challenge:
Click image for a larger view
 Thrillist's (a website you should familiarize yourself with) Boston division put out this MBTA map with a bar to go along with every stop, on all lines. Epic. Perhaps you've seen something similar, but on a smaller scale. Some have created portions of this map that only cover a few stops on one line. I call that a cop out and it will not stand. I have set in front me, this challenge, this path to (alcoholic) greatness. I have given myself until the end of the summer to complete the two main train lines, Red and Orange. I recognize that this feat is big. maybe even bigger than I can handle. To that end, I will enlist the help of my friends, you could call them my clan... While I am prepared to take on this trial on my own, it is my hope that my friends will join me because something like this benefits from company. There is not much better than the camaraderie created in a shared pint. In the same spirit, dear reader, come with me on this journey. I will use the blog to update my progress, perhaps even live blog some of the event. Will I finish? Will I be joined in "battle"? Will it all just end up being a terrible disaster? Stay tuned to find out...!

Jul 9, 2015

Phreelancerz pt.1

The mission brief is always simple, go defeat this, or collect this material. This one was no different. The Vanguard requires tactical knowledge of the area near the river for strategic deployment...  Recon mission. As straightforward as it gets. You hardly ever listen to the end, it's always something about Reputation and glimmer. My ghost handles those details. There was something different about this brief, though. Hold and fortify position at river. Wait for reinforcement arrival at 22:30 hours Interesting. Scout and Control. I contact Ti Zwazo to see if he wants in on the mission. He's gearing up at the Tower. We link up in low orbit, then it's dropping in through the atmosphere, scanning for a space to park, and locking in the descent trajectory.

We're boots on the ground around 15:00 hours, plenty of time to trek to the river, scout out a spot and hold position before reinforcing Guardians arrive. After a quick gear check, we head off across an open plain, used to be some type of grassy common area.  We make it close to the river before we contact the enemy. Fallen have have setup a blockade. Squads of captains and vandals patrol the area around the river, making it impossible to recon without being seen. Neither of us have cloaking and we can't afford direct engagement; their forces are too strong.

Tactical retreat, nothing wrong with that. Zwazo and I move back to the open plain and set up an uplink with the Tower to appraise the Vanguard of the developing situation. We're told to sit tight and wait for reinforcement. Typical. My ghost informs me that some of the Fallen have moved away from the river and towards our location. Maybe we were spotted. The plain is too open, we need to find a better place to fight. My ghost says the Fallen are two minutes away. I look at Zwazo, he nods and points off to the southwest.

"Abandoned settlements that way," he says. "Probably find a burned out house. Make for good cover." I nod, his idea makes sense. Fallen are less then a minute out and closing fast. My ghost is getting nervous.

"Let's move," I say. "Leave the uplink active. We can draw them away with gunfire." We take off in a dead sprint towards the abandoned settlements as the Fallen enter the far side of the plain. They spot the uplink and head towards it. Can't let them scavenge our tech. I boost jump, turning in midair and fire off three quick shots. The Vision of Confluence thumps against my shoulder. Twisting as I descend, I land in a run and follow Zwazo into the settlement. I can hear the Fallen unleash battle cries. I think I got their attention.

We find shelter in one of the buildings. The front has been sheared off by bombings and time, leaving overturned tables. It will work for our needs. I crouch next to Zwazo behind a table and reload. He's checking the rounds in Fatebringer. My ghost begins to tell me how close the Fallen are when their movement pings on my radar. Six Fallen, two dregs, three vandals and a captain. I nod to Zwazo, this won't be an issue.

As the dregs pass by the opening, I toss a flash bang. It bounces once and then goes off. The dregs' bodies cartwheel off in different directions. Two down. Zwazo stands, Fatebringer barks and vandals fall. One left.  I vault the table bringing my shotgun to bear. As I the fit the stock in to the crook of my shoulder, I can't help but notice the inscription written down the barrel. Be the Bull. I chuckle and pull the trigger when the captain flashes across my HUD. The Matador roars and the the captain staggers away from me. Zwazo attaches a sticky grenade to the captain. Game. Set. Match.

We rifle through their bodies for glimmer and other materials. You never know. After picking up some engrams, we head back to the uplink and we're thinking the same thing. The Fallen weren't that difficult, maybe we can take them and move them off the river. "We need at least one more," Zwazo says. He's right. A fireteam of three will be enough.

"Let's check the uplink. See what Guardians are nearby," I reply. The next few minutes are spent checking Guardian profiles. Zwazo and I have standards. Gotta have fresh gear.
"This one doesn't have any exotic gear!" I exclaim. "Swipe right," Zwazo says. We send out a few messages and wait for a response. It's not looking good.
"Tower?" I ask Zwazo. He nods.
"Breakdown these engrams," he responds. I nod.

As we pass through low orbit and into space, my HUD blinks with an incoming message. It's MissezKitty.
"Me and Boston are headed towards Earth from the Reef. Where should we meet you?"
"Tower. We'll resupply and head back out," I reply.
"Roger that. See you shortly," She says. I nod to myself. Phreelancerz Clan is linking up.  

Jul 8, 2015

The little Things

I've been back in Boston for about a month and I've loved being back. While I no longer consider it my "home," I can't help but appreciate the small differences that make Boston unique and wholly different than Dallas-Fort Worth. What is really interesting is how I have changed to adapt to Dallas living and how that makes me a bit of stranger in Boston. Let me explain.

Transporting the masses
I have to admit that I am a bit of a mass transit snob. Having lived in Boston and Chicago, two places were mass transit works well (most of the time), I have come to expect a certain level of efficiency, timeliness, and speed from my mass transit. DFW mass transit meets none of these standards. Sure, the buses are on a schedule, but if you miss one, you have to wait close to an hour for the next one. On top of that, the train system only seems to cover downtown Dallas and some of the near neighborhoods. I can take a train from south of Boston all the way through and north of the city on one fare. To do something similar in Dallas it requires transferring train systems and taking buses. There are other issues with DFW mass transit, such as the underlying racism behind why certain DFW Metroplex cities and towns refuse to connect to mass transit, that I won't go into here, but suffice to say, if a person can't get in to and out of a major city efficiently using mass transit, I don't think of the place as a city.

Gentleman, Start your engines
Obviously you need a car to travel around DFW. That is a given and I commend DFW for having multiple highway systems that allow fast, fairly easy and non-jammed (except 365) travel around the Metroplex. This is an area where Boston is lacking. The streets are narrow, especially downtown, there always seems to be construction happening, and I forgot how rude drivers can be. I know Boston was originally designed as a "walking city" meaning you could walk from one end to the other with ease, but as it grew, it never seemed to adopt the idea of becoming drive-able. As far as construction goes, it's gotten better, but I'm pretty sure the "Big Dig" project has been going on my entire life and I'm not certain I'll outlive it...! I think driving in TX has made me more timid. I've read too many stories about road rage incidents turned violent because of weapon carrying laws in TX to really mess with other drivers on the road. When I drive in Boston, I get honked at a lot, presumably because I'm not turning fast enough, or pulling away off from a green light quick enough for the guy behind me. Sorry (I'm not sorry).

These are small things, but I find that they create major change in me and the way I view things around me. One of my TX buddies joked with me that once I've lived in TX for five consecutive years, I'm officially Texan. It's been four years since I moved, and maybe he's right. I find myself missing certain Texan comforts, like 24-hr drive thru, cheap gas, and inexpensive bar tabs. Still, I love Boston and will always relish being a Carpetbagger.

Phreelancerz Destiny Episode 1: The Clan

In my spare time, I play video games (shocker, I know). For close to a year now, I've been playing a game called "Destiny," it is a first person Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) shooter. This makes it unique because most MMOs are fantasy games. One of the best things about the game is that you can play with others across the country or the globe. I have a clan, we even hang out in person sometimes.

Recently, I wrote a few scripts for potential webisodes based on my clan's activities and ridiculous conversations. Here is one:


Open scene on six guardians, five (Ti Zwazo, MissezKittyy, BostonWins, GoldenGod529, FreakyBalloon) taking a knee in front of the sixth (Dash12044)who is giving instructions to the five.
Dash
Ok, um, so here's the plan. We use rockets on the shriekers. Two teams, Left teams goes up the stairs and takes out the wizard then the shrieker inside the room. Right will do the same on their side. Once the shriekers are gone, use a bubble to block their death shot, then hit the main witch with rockets and sniper fire. Then all we have to do is clear it out. Should be easy.
Kittyy
What the hell are you talking about!?!
Dash
The plan to take out the wizards and the the Deathsinger. You're gonna draw one of the wizards out from the room on your side.
Kittyy
F@$k that! I'm not running in the room with the wizard, I'm the best sniper in clan!
Zwazo
...draw out. Needs to be someone... agility... You can do it, Kittyy... hunter...
Kittyy
What did he say? What about a hunter?
Dash
You have to do it because you're a hunter.
Kittyy
No!!
Freaky
Hunter's have the highest agility. That means you'll move faster than another class.
Kittyy
You're a hunter, Freaky, you do it.
Freaky
I'm on the other side.
Boston
[Stands up]Screw it, I'll draw out the f@$king wizard. I'm the highest level here.
Dash
No, I need you to take out the Knights on the platform while we attack the shriekers.
Boston
Fine, whateva [sits down facing away from Dash] This is stupid, let's just go already. Too much talking.
Zwazo
...point. We just need to... with.
Kitty
[to Boston] You're supposed to have my back on this! [melee attacks Boston]
Boston
How is this my fault!?!  I said  I would draw out the wizard!
Boston and Kittyy get into a melee fight. The others watch.
Golden
[turns to Freaky] I feel like we do this every week...
Freaky
[to Golden] do what? Fight the Deathsinger? I know!! Sometimes I get the feeling that everything just resets...
Golden
What!? No, argue about who attacks the wizards and who attacks the shriekers. What is a Reset??
Freaky
Nothing. I just... never mind
Golden looks at Freaky and then slowly backs away from him
Dash
EVERYONE SHUT UP! Me, Freaky, and Zwazo go right! I'll draw out the wizard! Kitty, Golden, and Boston go left! Boston, draw the wizard... [looks around] Where is Boston?
Cut to Boston running down the hallway by himself, firing his weapon, having missed all the instructions.

END

My Bad

Totally missed yesterday's deadline. Sorry. Will have double (triple if you count this) content up today.

Jul 6, 2015

Random Thoughts pt. 9

I'm not a betting man, at least when it comes to real money. I've been to a casino once, and after winning several hundred dollars from a slot machine early in the day, I was ready to go home. That being said, I love to place wagers on random things, especially over/under odds. Over/under odds feel like the best and most fun way to predict potential outcomes and add a humorous layer to social engagements. Here are a few I've done recently.

Black People at a Kenny Chesney Concert - over/under set at 6.5
While working the Kenny Chesney concert at AT&T Stadium, my buddy and I decided to pass the time counting black people. The rules were simple: how many black concert goers could we see without leaving our stand? Employees don't count. Must have double verification. You might be wondering about the .5, well, sometimes we see someone who might be black, or some other ethnicity, but we can't tell. Half credit. I picked the under and lost. We ended up seeing 14.5 black people. Go figure.

Reasonably priced parking in downtown Boston on the 4th of July - over/under set at 35%
My father claims that my family has special powers when it comes to finding parking spaces near events we attend. He calls it "Dashiell Luck." He says you have to believe in it for it to work. I'm an agnostic at best, but I may yet be converted. That day, I found parking in front of my buddy's apt on three separate occasions, once during the day, in the early evening, and then later at night. I parked at the Boston Common underground lot while we were downtown for the festivities and I found a spot on J.F.K. Street in Cambridge. Dashiell Luck indeed! I lost this one too. I was pretty convinced we wouldn't find parking. Obviously, I know nothing.

No longer liking our gaming buddies after meeting them in person - over/under set at 40%
Gage and I hung out with our gaming buddies, BostonWins and MissezKittyy on the 4th. Let me say first that it was awesome. Though, at one point, before we met them in the flesh, I remarked to Gage that it would suck if we met them and didn't like them. He laughed and asked me what the over/under would be for that chance. I said 40% and asked if he would take the over or the under. He said would take the line, meaning he agreed that 40% was an accurate percentage. We both laughed again and went back to playing video games.

How many views will this post generate - over/under set at 30
This one is up to you, dear reader. The last "Random Thoughts" post has generated 41 individual hits as of this update. Will this one do better?

Jul 3, 2015

So, it's late and I haven't updated the blog. I could write a post about not knowing what to write about. That is always a fun "meta" writing process.  But, it's also a bit cheap and I think you deserve better, dear reader.

The reality is that I worked all day and now, I'm playing and never really gave serious consideration to what I would post today. It happens sometimes. As much fun as writing on this blog is, there are other things that occupy my mind.

These aren't excuses, merely explanations. I hope you understand.

Jul 2, 2015

Wildlife

I always thought Texas had more wildlife encroachment than Massachusetts. I might be wrong...
Canadian Geese in West Roxbury/Dedham

Canadian Geese are about as common as ducks in Greater Boston, especially in the areas where there is more greenery. It's interesting, I had to leave to realize how much I take them for granted.


 This flock of Wild Turkeys hangs out in and around an office park in Lexington. Apparently, they enjoy looking at themselves in the reflective windows of the buildings.

          I think the best part is the reaction of the guy off camera...                                                                                                                      


Jul 1, 2015

Every now and then, I have to stop and be amazed at how far technology has come. I just finished conducting an impromptu meeting wherein I augmented several word and excel documents on my phone while using the phone to speak with a client.

All on my cellphone.

Now, I've just written and edited this blog post on the same device. Impressive.

I know we all take this tech for granted, but come on, it's kind of amazing...

Sent from my HTC

Jun 30, 2015

Random Thoughts pt. 8

Not every idea is worth a blog post. For a myriad of reasons, some ideas just don't have the fortitude to stand on their own. It's not always their fault; sometimes I don't give them the space in my head needed to grow fully. I like having a theme in my random thoughts; doing so imposes some sort of organization, a starting point, if you will. Not today. I think the lack of theme is reflective of how scattered my thoughts are of late. Here are some of the better ones to dance across my cognitive stage.

My sister, the Lawyer
My sister becomes a lawyer officially.
Earlier this month, my sister was read and signed into the official books as a practicing lawyer in the state of Massachusetts. There was a ceremony and everything. I understand the pomp and circumstance of it all, and while an affair like this had the potential to be dull, the Master of Ceremony, Maura Doyle, kept things light and funny. All in all, it was cool to watch several years of hard work and determination pay off for my sister when she signed the book and made it official; I am the least educated person in my immediate family...





Life Changes
In other news, a childhood friend recently got married. The ceremony was beautiful. I hadn't seen this friend in several years, a product of growing up and growing apart, I suppose, but being there for his nuptials felt special because of all the good times we shared growing up. From sleepovers that were all-night video game sessions, to trying to decide which 90s action film was our favorite, we spent a lot of time together. We even had a "secret handshake" that came springing back like muscle memory when I saw him. Of all the games we played as kids, my favorite will always be "Ninjas." As adults, we share the occasional Facebook message, but it's obvious we're not as close as we used to be. Sure, that's a little disappointing, but I appreciate the fact that he invited me to be there on one of the most important days in his life and I wish him all the best as he begins this new chapter in his life.

Marriage =
Speaking of marriage, the Supreme Court of the United States made a ruling last week that fundamentally changed the way marriage is and will be viewed. I posted a link to the New York Times story on my Facebook page because, let's be honest, this is a huge f'ing deal. I can (and probably will) write a post about the actual decision as well as the dissenting remarks, but right now I want to push past that to the human level of ruling. A co-worker, on the day of the ruling, got married. He posted photos of the event on his Facebook page to not only commemorate the affair, but to also share it with his friends, many of whom were unaware of the sudden "Life Event." I found his posts to be deeply emotional and touching. Ask my friends and they will tell you I'm not the "sensitive" one (that would be Kris), but what struck me was only a few weeks after I watched my childhood friend make a commitment of love and responsibility to his now wife, I got to see the same commitment made between two people who feel the same way but until that morning were unable to express it in the same manner. Their moment was just as beautiful as my childhood friend's. Another friend of mine put it best as a reply to my original posting of the NY Times story, "it is kind of surreal when the world operated one way when you went to bed, and is totally different before lunch the next day." He's spot on.

Perhaps there is a theme after all, random or otherwise...

Jun 29, 2015

The Importance of Education or, Writing for funsies.

A new thing that I have been doing with my Writing Center colleagues is 15-minute writing challenges. The rules are simple; take a basic essay prompt (we usually use Texas Success Initiative  prompts) and write an essay in fifteen minutes or less. A panel of three other Writing Specialists judge which essay is the best. Prizes range from candy and other snacks to pints of blood from defeated foes. It's a lot of fun, intellectual, and very nerdy. Things that more or less describe me and my co-workers. I've re-printed my winning essay below:

THE IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATION

            Although many agree that education is an important, there is much debate on the details of that importance. Some argue that education plays a crucial role in the overall development and maturity of individuals in terms of bringing out the best of their native intelligence while others contend that education, of any kind, increases, expands and creates new native intelligence. Despite their differences, both sides of this argument agree that education is important because it cultivates a desire for knowledge, a natural curiosity and, most importantly, critical thinking skills.
            Knowledge is a never-ending desire that encourages people to learn more about topics this know as well as add information about new topics. Whenever a person is in the process of gaining knowledge there is a point where suddenly “it” clicks and understanding is reached. That initial moment of understanding is the driving force behind the never-ending desire for knowledge. That moment drives people forward as they attempt to learn more. This is a key aspect in education because it creates a craving for more knowledge. Ideally, this need becomes insatiable which allows for an open mind that is always receptive to being educated and the process of learning new things. This process also leads to another important part of education.
            The natural curiosity produced by the educational process is critical because it allows new information to be received and seeks out environments in which learning can take place. This is seen easiest in the formation of social groups that meet to partake in a specific activity. Social groups of this nature tap directly into peoples’ natural curiosity because they offer an opportunity to try something never done before while learning about the activity from those who have some level of mastery. This is important because education is not relegated to classrooms or formal settings. These social groups create a learning environment wherever they take place which solidifies the idea that education can take place anywhere, allowing for natural curiosity to flourish. While natural curiosity is important, it is not the most important aspect of education.
            The development of critical thinking is the most important aspect of education. Critical thinking is the ability to think deeply and directly about any subject by applying previously gained knowledge and experience to the subject. It is a skill that is developed through constant application and usage that enables a person to come to proper and well thought out conclusions by taking into account everything they know. It is the single most important aspect of education because it is a skill that transfers to every part of life. Critical thinking helps with decision-making which is the quintessential facet of life. The only way to increase critical thinking ability is through education which makes education of the utmost importance.
           In conclusion, a desire for knowledge, sparks a natural curiosity in all people. These two parts of education combine to form the basis of critical thinking, the most important part of education. With solid critical thinking ability, the various challenges of life are easy to overcome. Because of this, it doesn’t matter whether education develops native intelligence or increases it.

Jun 27, 2015

The Millett bros, my companions this evening, are talking Women's World Cup. I just scored free beer! I'm beginning to ramble, so I'll wrap it up. Nothing quite like a lazy Saturday evening.
The cool weather allows for more outside social activity than TX, and, in my humble opinion, the Summer Ale just tastes better in Boston....
I'm chilling in a beer garden, cold Sam Adams Summer Ale in my hand. Kanye's "Workout Plan" is on the jukebox. It's times like this that I miss Boston.

Jun 26, 2015

Cross Training

I love teaching. It is a unique and particular rush to give someone knowledge and understanding of something. I cherish those moments when the light bulb goes off over a student's head and they get what ever concept I am attempting to explain. There is a saying about family that states the best and worst thing about it is that it's yours. I think the same can be said for students. Ask any of your teacher friends and they will tell you that their students are great, and they probably are. Of course, there are those students who don't care, are unfocused, or are just lazy. These students make teaching a nightmare. If you ever wondered why teachers take sabbaticals it's because of students. I'm on a sabbatical of sorts currently. I am working outside of a classroom setting. It's been a while since I've done this, but I think it will be good for me. Let me explain.

I'm currently working as a Project Manager for a real estate company. It's an office job, a job type I haven't had for close to three years. The first thing I realized is how communal office jobs are. Sure, you have your personal work space, but you're surrounded by co-workers. There is idle chatter throughout the office and often questions can only be answered by someone else which means finding that person to complete the work you have to do. Being in an office really brought into clear focus how individualized teaching is. I have co-workers at my teaching job, fellow instructors and teaching professionals, but when I am in my classroom, I'm the boss. It is on me to instruct my students, follow up on their learning and move them as individuals and as a class down the path of learning goals I have set for the day, week, month, semester. It's all on me.

I don't think there is a direct matching position in the sphere of office jobs. I've seen teaching as a team event. Two teachers in a classroom, or a teacher and an assistant teacher helping to guide students as well as supporting each other with the learning goals. I think it's a type of teaching that can work if both people are on the same page, but that is only a link between two people. In an office there are multiple people to interact with, even in small office setting.

That being said, I'm rather enjoying my time as a Project Manager. It requires me to use skills that I don't usually employ while teaching. These other skills are rusty and stiff from lack of use, but as I get more comfortable in my role, these skills loosen up and become flexible and readily available. Much like physical cross training which shocks the muscles in the body to do things they don't normally do during a workout, the Project Manager position is like a mental shock.

I'm looking forward to returning to the classroom in the fall with these other skills fresh in mind and ready to be put to use along side my teaching skills. I'm excited because being a Project Manager will make me a better teacher. Like I said, I love teaching.