Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Free Topic

Well, seeing as this week is a free topic, and I will be graduating on the 20th of December in about a week, I figure that is probably about as solid a topic as any for my final free topic blog post.

Graduation, all semester, has loomed as that ever elusive goal that I somehow managed to miss. Being 16 hours short of graduation last semester really gave me a batch of mixed emotions, as well as an accompanying extra semester here at clemson. With a good portion of my friends graduating on time, including one of my roommates, the fact that I was still going to be here another semester made me feel almost left behind. Logically, not graduating in four years on a curriculum of 141 hours with a semester in charleston that, other than my studio and CSM class, was composed of all elective courses made perfect sense to me. This, though, still didn't ease the idea that I had somehow failed at college; that, once this semester started, I no longer belonged here because I should have graduated already.

On the other hand, it was a nice feeling knowing that I'd get to spend another semester as a student, a regular student with no architecture studio taking most of my time, with only 12 hours of classes after I took two over the summer. This combined with the fact that I did still have a few friends here, including my brother who came in this year as a freshman, helped me feel at home, as well as give me some sense of purpose by allowing me to help my brother settle in and pass on to him whatever advice I could to make things easier.

With these two ideas bouncing around my head like a pinball all semester, it has made things interesting in unexpected ways. Now, though, the semester is over, and I will in fact be graduating soon. Now, a new battle of feelings has sprung up. I will no longer be able to identify myself as a student of Clemson University. I'm now a real adult who has to get a job and make my way in the real world; a monumental revelation to say the least. This combined with how much I will miss the place that has not only been my home for four and a half years, but has also, as I stated before, been a major part of how I defined myself for this time period has brought upon me, a new internal conflict. I look forward to my upcoming years as a member of the "real world," but I still can't shake a feeling of nostalgia, a reminiscent loss of part of myself. I have no doubt that, in time, this will fade, and I will settle into a new life that I plan on making as fulfilling as possible. Until then, I will enjoy the memories marking an era in my life that has now all but culminated. Unfortunately I guess, all good things must come to an end.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Dual Coding Theory

The dual coding theory is an idea I find quite interesting. It is certainly evident in most commercials, and I have even found it in movies quite often as well(probably not always intentionally though).

The first occurance that came to my mind was the Geico commercials with the cavemen. The one I remember most is the advertisement, with the caveman in the airport on the moving belt, with the song "Remind Me" by Röyksopp playing in the background. Between the commercial and the song itself, I always get a good laugh. I also remember this commercial everytime I hear the song. An example from a movie I actually had a conversation about the other day is the movie "Reservoir Dogs." In this movie there is a scene where Michael Madsen's character, Mr. Blonde, tortures a guy, including cutting off his ear and attempting to light him on fire, while listening to "Stuck in the Middle With You" by Stealers Wheel on the radio. Now everytime I hear that song I think of that scene (great scene by the way).

The theory can also be used in a negative way such as the "Head On" jingle mentioned in class(it makes me want to beat my head against my desk), as well as the "Truth" commercials with people lying in the street, as if dead, to portray the death rate caused by smoking(they certainly make me glad I'm not a smoker).

At any rate, there are potentially millions of examples that could be called upon to prove both the occurance, and the effectiveness, of this in advertising. The theory truly works, and is a very strong and simple tool for committing things to memory.

Group Communication

As far as group work goes, I've had my share of experiences. As a part of architecture, often you have to work with others in order to complete a project. This can be anything from simple advice/feedback to full fledged group projects where tasks ranging from design to production can either be shared or divided among group members. Some of my experiences have been enjoyable, while others have been, at the very least, less than satisfactory.

My proposal group for this Business Writing class has thus far fallen somewhere in between; though it has, in fact, rated much closer to the enjoyable side. I like working with all of my group members, and like the project for the most part (although it does feel a little tedious to me). I feel that my group has a solid, working chemistry, and all get along well. My one complaint would be that we probably do not get as much done during our meetings as we should. We plan things well, but our execution seems to fall just shy of where I think it probably should be. I have no doubt that our group will produce some very acceptable and imaginative results, and am proud to be working on this project with the people in my group. Hopefully, though, we will be able to step up our production during our future meetings.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Free Topic

This weekend I finally saw Transformers for the second time, and, even though the DVD doesn't provide the entertainment experience of a movie cinema, Transformers was still as awesome as the first time I watched it. For me, this movie was the culmination of years of hoping and praying that one day I would finally be able to see the autobots and decepticons that I love so much battle it out in a live action movie. As far back as I can remember Transformers have always been my favorite characters. I had numerous transformers toys, especially Optimus Prime (THE man...if such a term applies to a robot), and even owned The Transformers Movie (the original 1986 animated movie of course) on VHS. I couldn't even begin to count the number of times I watched it, and of course was traumatized every time I saw Optimus Prime die. That was the single most stupid and cruel thing to ever do to a kid. It still gets to me now when I watch the 20th Anniversary Edition DVD that I'm fortunate enough to own.

The purpose of all of this is to explain how much I love Transformers, and how much I would have been devastated had the movie turned out unsatisfactory in some way. I came into this movie originally with especially high hopes, and typically that leaves me ultimately disappointed in a movie. Usually when I have very high expectations for a movie, it fails to live up to what I had hoped. Considering the nature of my love for the characters in this movie, it was probably the most excited I've ever been for a movie. Frankly, I would rather they never do a live action Transformers movie rather than go through the years of subsequent therapy after seeing it ruined.

This, fortunately, was not the case at all. The movie, directed by Michael Bay (most likely the greatest action director around with movies like Bad Boys 1 and 2, The Rock, Pearl Harbor, and The Island to his name), was nothing but enjoyable. There was even a stand-off scene in which the camera circled the characters during the shoot-out. Very reminiscent of Bad Boys 2. It was full of comedy, the action as I already mentioned was heart-pounding, the storyline was solid, and most importantly of all, the special effects were utterly amazing. The cast was loaded with star actors such as John Turturro and Tyrese Gibson (a surprisingly good actor for a musical artist) as well. There were also references to the first movie such as "One shall stand, one shall fall;" a quote from Optimus (major Badass), to Megatron (Uber villian) in the original movie. Even Peter Cullen who voiced Prime in the animated movie was brought back to do the voice in this one. It was the fulfillment of a dream to see my lifelong favorite characters battling it out in computer generated renderings so real you could practically see your own reflection in the shining, painted metal. A lesser man would have cried. All I can do now is continue to enjoy a true cinematic triumph, and wait, ever so anxiously, until Transformers 2 (projected to release in 2009...though I'll certainly enjoy Iron Man in the mean time). This is a movie I would recommend to anyone, especially the youth of today (I've seen the crap they watch on tv now). If you haven't seen it yet, it would behoove you to do so immediately.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Interview Reflection

For me, the interview was not necessarily anything new. While in Charleston, I had to interview with five different architecture firms for my internship, so after that I had a grasp of how the interview would work. That said, it was nice to go through it again as a refresher before I graduate and enter the business world after the conclusion of this semester. It allowed me the chance to experience the interview process again in a non-threatening setting before I have to go through it in the real world.

Not only is that the case, but the class, in general, is a true help. I first thought it unfortunate that this was the only class I have this semester that actually requires any work outside of class. This is entirely opposite of the truth, though. I am actually glad now that I put off taking this class until now. It has forced me to get all of my things together (i.e. resume, cover letter, etc.) before I graduate and enter the real world.

Digressions aside, I feel the interview went quite well. I was told I did not seem nervous at all, and that my eye contact and body language looked good as well. I was also told my answers and explanations were good too. There were a few potential items that could use some minor improvement, but other than that, I was told my resume and cover letter looked good. Overall I feel the interview was a good experience, and one that I both enjoyed and am glad to have participated in.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Presentation Thoughts

For me, all of the presentations were quite interesting. I find it hard to pick just one that really stood out, but since I have to, it would have to be Jays regarding carnivorous plants. I honestly would have never thought I would have any interest whatsoever in any sort of presentation on plant life. To hear Jay speak about it, though, was actually a real treat. The information he presented was all very intriguing as well as informative. Most importantly, he presented the topic with excitement. One could tell that the information he was giving was something that was important to him, and something he certainly knew a lot about.

A few of other the presentations I really liked were the ones on barbecue, human trafficking, and of course The Office. The presentation on barbecue was surprisingly interesting as well as presented with a passion for the material. Being excited about the topic goes a long way. The human trafficking presentation was also surprisingly interesting, and rather moving in a depressing, hopeless sort of way. I watch enough movies to have assumed that that was a problem, but not quite to the scale that was presented. Finally, the presentation about The Office, was just that, about The Office. I don't really feel much explanation is needed here. The show is quite funny, and even though I am not an avid watcher, I have seen it enough to know the characters and was quite entertained by the presentation.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Free Topic

Well, this week is a free topic week, so I figure it is only fitting that I blog about that thing that has contributed more to my topic being a week late than school work or even the Virginia Tech football game combined. That thing, as all video gamers out there already know, is the truest reason behind the phrase made so famous by Charles Dickens: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." That thing being the most devastating two syllable, four letter word to all college careers, and ultimately leading to countless, sleepless nights, and probably countless failed classes, around not just the nation but the entire world...HALO. Yes, a large portion of my time this past week (since the evening of Friday the 6th) has been devoted entirely to the new, third and final installment of easily one of the most sought after first person shooters (or any genre of video games for that matter) in the history of video games.

Halo 3, the conclusion to the trilogy, continues right where Halo 2 left off. Master Chief (the main character, and the last remnant of a military developed line of artificially enhanced soldiers known as Spartans) has just saved both earth and the galaxy from the ignition of a second ancient, planet sized, ringshaped, superweapon known as a halo. The ring was nearly fired by The Covenant, a coalition of many alien races bent on both a religious genocidal tear against humanity, and a misguided prophecy that the halo weapons will somehow set into motion a religious journey ultimately ending in a transcendant resolution for The Covenant. Now, Master Chief, has just fallen back to earth, and must stop The Covenant once and for all. More importantly, though, he must stop an even greater evil, The Flood (a parasitic, single consciousness which seeks to assimilate all sentient life into itself) which was released from its prisons on the first two halo rings in Halo and Halo 2.

I think this Halo is quite possibly the best of the trilogy by remedying a few flaws of both the first two games as well as providing an awesome conclusion to the story. Halo 2, though both fun and enjoyable as far as the storyline goes, had a couple of flaws which, I felt, detracted from the overall enjoyment of the game. First off, they ruined the pistol by decreasing its power as well as taking away the zoom. Many people felt this weapon was too powerful in the first halo during multiplayer games as it was both powerful up close as well as accurate and lethal from long distances. I agree with this to some degree, but feel that this actually improved the multiplayer aspect of the game by making this weapon a sort of neutralizing element against people with sniper rifles from long distances as well as the shotgun from close range. The third game brings back a lot of the power from the first game, though, it unfortunately did not revive the zoom function. I was also glad Halo 3 used only a rechargeable shield as with the second game rather than a rechargeable shield and life bar in the first. It prevents worrying about gathering health pick ups as well as simplifying the functionality of the health meter system. Another thing I saw as a flaw in the second game was the Arbiter missions. They provided an excellent way of progressing a side story in the trilogy so as to allow a meshing of the storylines in the third installment, but they were unfortunately somewhat tedious, in my opinion, as well as preventing gameplay with Master Chief, the major icon of the games. There are no Arbiter missions in the third game which was a relief to me, but he is a computer controlled aide (player controlled in co-operative gameplay) so as to keep his character involved. I found this to be a wise compromise and was glad to see how this worked out. This game also brought back the new weapons from Halo 2 as well as the assault rifle, which was left out of the second game. This combined with the continued ability to dual-wield some weapons as well as enhanced controls made the game much more enjoyable than either of the first two Halos. One of the best developments in the weapons realm with this game was the new ability to break a turret off its stand and carry it around. This is not only highly useful, but in all honesty, its simply just damn fun to do. The multiplayer, and XBOX Live in particular, also feels more like the multiplayer of the first Halo. This I enjoyed since, for me, the second Halo's multiplayer was lacking something, though I am still unsure of what that is. There are also new vehicles (i.e. the Brute Chopper and the Mongoose) which add a nice little surprise and flare to the r'epertoire of Halo 3. All in all, this was an incredible installment to the Halo trilogy, and one which I feel will hopefully lead to several future installments (despite the fact this was meant only as a trilogy and not a series).

Anyone who has played this game already will undoubtedly know all of this already, and probably have opinions of their own. I only hope that anyone who has not already played this game will give it a try. Believe me when I guarantee that you will not regret it.