responses to others

RE: The Boy and His Dog

I love stories about children and about dogs, but this story is beyond love. The story of Owen Howkins and Haatchi, is a simple love story between a boy and his dog. I must thank Blogging with Friends for showing this to me, because it is something that truly changed me.

When Owen and Haatchi came together, two lives were changed. Haatchi, a three-legged Italian shepard helped Owen live a new life. Owen suffers from Schwartz-Jampel Syndrome, which constantly puts Owen’s muscles in a tense flexed position. Before Owen’s family adopted Haatchi, Owen was scared of all strangers, not wanting to communicate with anyone. Owen knows that it was Haatchi that changed the way he felt about people, now Owen will go and speak to anyone about his best three-legged friend.

Haatchi was found hit by train after being tied to the train tracks, but then brought into the Howkins family. Owen and Haatchi have a unique bond, Owen’s mother stated that “It’s almost like [Haatchi] understands.” Bonds between humans and man’s best friend are indescribable at times. Dogs have some odd ability to know exactly what’s going on and understand how to help out.

If you want to check out some more amazing dogs check out CNN’s Article of five amazing dogs.  Follow Owen and Haatchi on twitter @HaatchiHD.


RE: Leadership and the Workplace

Leadership, it is truly all around us, there is always someone at the head of the pack leading their team members on. Will you be that person? @yseguinotWRT tweeted an article on Leadership, I wanted to break it down and bring in other ideas to give everyone a whole sense of leadership, along with how and where to use it. Leadership can be used in all aspects of your life; work,organizations, friends. It is how you use it in these places that shows if you are a good leader. Leaders strive to solve problems and create long lasting solutions, but there are somethings leaders do not realize they must also achieve while problem solving.

1. Constructive versus destructive communication

When communicating with others you want it to be an honest conversation, false statements are not valued when it comes to growth (self, corporations,organizations). Honesty is always the best policy.At the same time constructive communication needs boosts people up, shows that them that what they are saying is important and valued.  Conversations needs to be consistent, leaders need the communication to keep the positive growth consistent and the negative side effects to a minimum. Having open communication with your team members shows that each of them are valued and that their input is important, which leads us to…

2. Seeking input

You cannot just assume that people are going to come right up to you and tell you what is going right and what is going wrong, as a leader, you need to step out of your element and ask questions. Ask your team members, in groups as well as one on one, what things is the team and you the leader are doing well. Not only knowing the things that are going well are important, but knowing what things aren’t doing so well, where can you improve. Oftentimes, the boss has one on one sit down with their employees to evaluate them, to seek input on your own leadership have those same sit down but ask your team members how you as a leader are doing. Everyone can always improve. Showing your team members that their thoughts are important show that you trust them. Creating a team where everyone voice is heard will make everyone work that much harder because they know that it is on them just as much as the leader.

Seeking input can get hair and messy but that is why leaders have to do it. Everyone must dive into the comments that we often might not want to here, we must…

3. Engage in difficult Conversations

Criticism, it can be good and it can be bad, even constructive criticism can be taken in a negative way. As leaders we have to put ourselves out there and get uncomfortable. If you aren’t uncomfortable yet there is always more that you can be doing. The difficult conversations can included multiple subject, the most common one is team accountability. In a team everyone must do their part, so what should you do when someone is not putting in their one hundred percent. In the most respectful way, you have to sit them down and have an honest conversation of their role in the team. A leader must address problems with people directly. Do not make a production of the problem at hand,

As a leader you must realize that these conversations are not meant to be mean. They are only meant to help improve each member of the team.

A good leader is constructive, seeks input and can separate logic from emotion. To put leadership in a great way is Drew Dudley. He talks about how leadership can be an everyday thing, just check this out:

Re: Social Media Tools

I am not going to lie, being enrolled in this module really opened my eyes to the many apps, widgets and devices (whatever you want to call them) that the internet now offers to us. Being your standard 23 year old girl my internet activity tends to be focused solely on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. for personal and recreational reasons.

Social Media Examiner listed “29 Social Media Tools Recommended by the Pros” and it really surprised me by how many tools there are for expanding off of those popular social media apps (shareroot). I also surprised by the usefulness they serve in their own way (pocket, anyone?).

I think the only one I’d add on is hoot suite. I heard about hootsuite in a meeting for sports club presidents and how to promote their clubs. They recommended hootsuite because it lets you manage all your social media apps at once! If you are captain of the soccer team you might want to let people know when the game is and hootsuite allows you to put that on Twitter and Facebook at the same time. You can even schedule ahead of time when a post goes up, like a week before the game or 24 hours before the game.

I am glad I got to take this course that introduced me to some really useful apps for finding good resources that can help me with my education and beyond! #tfws14 for life!

This post inspired by: @TheJennAdams tweet

Re: Gender Equality

I really enjoyed Maggie’s post on an article about a girl losing her faith in religion in order for her to accept gender equality. These types of post are very eye opening and inspiring to me. I can relate to her in the fact that through life we all faces challenges and things that push us to an edge. The only thing that helps us at that point is to trust yourself and go with it.

I think the author of this article is someone who is a good candidate for speaking for gender equality. She is effective because she has seen both sides of the situation. She was raised as a biblical literalist and struggled to find herself outside of those beliefs. Someone who might not have that experience may very well not think twice about the societal roles men and women play.

This article really made me think ad I hope to read more about the same subject.

Re: The wrong way to teach grammar

Yesiris from class recently tweeted a short article posted on the Atlantic about the most effective way to teach Grammar. It seems the old way of repetitive pencil to paper exercises don’t prove themselves well. It seems one study even showed three separate students with different strategies to learning grammar. The third group was never provided grammar lessons but given creative writing lessons. Not one exceed the other except it seemed the two groups that had grammar lessons despised it!

I agree with the backwards design way to teach grammar through writing, rather than writing from grammar. I definitely think this almost makes learning the grammar a more personal experience for students. This is because they are learning from their writing and not a unified lesson that they may not understand. I would say it is considered differentiated learning because it’s a personal approach to how children learn. The way children learn grammar through their work makes it almost automatically streamlined to fit them. They will learn it and incorporate it into their writing by their terms not by “correct terms.”

I feel with the rules of grammar, you feel forced to write a certain way with a certain voice. Hopefully this approach is picked up by other schools and institutions to help give students their own voice in a still legible, intellectual manner.

RE: Sexualized Females

Matthew Moore, 2/15/14

On a classmate’s blog, Gendertainment, I read an article that covered the representation of women in video games and I can’t help but be reminded of how female gamers are reacted to online. Typically speaking, women gamers tend to meet with a fair amount of negativity when they try to interact with other gamers on the internet. One insult that is usually thrown at them is that they are a “fake nerd girl,” a girl who only pretends to be interested in video games and/or other typically nerd associated media.

This assumption that any girl who expresses an interest in nerd associated media is a “fake” tends to color their perception online. Female gaming journalists constantly field questions along the lines of, “Do you really like video games?” They have to constantly prove themselves online and perform under scrutiny from gamers at large. One only needs to look up much of the scandals surrounding Anita Sarkeesian to see a prime example. This is a woman who was threatened with rape and murder for having the audacity to have a Kickstarter to fund a web series about tropes surrounding females in video games. 

The representation of women in games is rather suspect, and it is not favorable to how women are looked at in the larger gaming community online. The blog post goes on to indicate that, “Female characters in game are often portrayed with stereotypical gender roles such as ‘brazenly sexualized beings and objects of sexual desire.’” The sexualization of the female characters tends to not favor women and gives video games the impression of being nothing more than a boy’s club, complete with “no girls allowed” sign.

One statement that I draw some problems with the blog post was the statement that “sexualization of female characters is empowering.” Now, I recognize that this is an opinion, and I respect the author’s right to that opinion. However, I must disagree. From my observations, sexualization of a character, female or male, in and of its self is disempowering and not good for characterization. In almost every case of this I have seen, there was no reason for the woman to be scantly clad, other than to appeal to the “lawl boobs” crowd.

This is not to say that sexualization can’t be used to represent a woman well, but there needs to be some deeper reason for sexualization. I watched an anime called Witchblade, which I do not recommend, and the main character is wearing about two square feet of clothing in her transformed state. In a vacuum I would say this is pointless and some-what misogynistic. In the context of the anime, it could be argued that this representative of her overall lack of choice in her life and how the magical macguffin of the series has rendered her into an object, both metaphorically, and literally. The sexualization spoke to her character, though I am largely positive that this was not intentional, given other examples of sexualization in the anime.

Occasionally I hear the question of “how do I write a good female character?” This statement to me is largely systemic of the problems women face in how they are represented. This statement seems to assume that all women must be written in a particular way in order to be considered “good.” This assumption is problematic in itself, but the bigger problem is the sheer number of people who don’t see it as a flawed question. They view it as a legitimate query that should be answered in order to produce better characters. Think about all of your favorite characters. Now how many of them are defined by their sex, gender, or how they are sexualized? For the most part, the answer will be none. This is because characters that are defined by one or more of these qualities tend to lend them selves very easily to stereo types. Stereo types tend to not lend them selves to memorable or well written characters, and neither does rampant sexualization. 

RE: Bieber’s Arrest and The Fandom

Matthew Moore, 2/14/14

Not too long ago I posted a blog entry about the effects of toxicity and how it can be a very good thing when it is properly focused, and very damning to the people expressing their toxicity. You can see that article here.

Why do I bring this up? I was reminded of it while browsing one of my classmate’s blogs. I happened upon one post from Everything Fandom and Entertainment that brought to my attention the idea of the celebrity persona, and the toxicity that seems to come part and parcel with it. The celebrity persona, at least how I use it, is defined as the representation of them self they put forth as a means to appeal to as wide of an audience as possible to maximize the potential fan-base for highest profit. This is a way to represent your self not only online, but for almost everything in your life. The down side is that, usually, the celebrity uses this persona so much that a problem can arise where people have a hard time distinguishing between the actual person, and the persona they put forth. Idol celebrities tend to be particularly vulnerable to this side effect.

The celebrity that instigated the source of the article was Justin Bieber. A petition has reached enough signatures to warrant the attention of President Obama to remove Bieber from American soil and deport him to Canada. Early in her blog post it is indicated that, “The once beloved Justin Bieber is now having his fans turn on him, as well as the rest of the United States.” Bieber has had problems with his social standing for sometime. From my own experience, there are times that I cannot go a month without hearing about someone complaining about Bieber, and like many idols, people have been complaining and generally expressing terrible negativity toward Bieber since day one.

I understand that Biber is in violations of laws that should warrant his deportation, but I believe what bothers me most about the petition is not even that so many Americans want Bieber deported, but rather why they want him deported. The petition says, “We the people of the United States feel that we are being wrongly represented in the world of pop culture.” The problem the people have with Bieber in this case is not that he was drunk, high, and driving without a license, but how that reflects poorly on American pop culture. American pop-culture has never shown its self as something to be proud of in my opinion, primarily because of all the toxicity that it tends to generate in people for no real reason, case in point with Bieber. Here people are upset over violation of a number of laws, but this is not the first time Bieber has been savaged by not only the media, but the general public before. In fact, I believe the first time I heard about Justin Bieber, was someone mocking and or insulting him.

Considering the negativity surrounding so many elements of American pop culture, it has just become common place to hate a celebrity figure for reasons that are based on generalizations about a person, despite evidence to the contrary. I remember one of the first insults I heard lobbed at Bieber, for example, was an accusation of homosexuality. At best, this comes off as a petty snipe at a celebrity who can’t defend themself, both due to lack of physical presence and fear of public backlash to calling out a fan. At worst, it comes off as a homophobic and systemic of larger social issues that the negativity toward celebrities obfuscates and distracts the general population from.

Re: More Connected

A classmate of mine recently tweeted a link to an article she intended to use for her blog that made me wonder about a topic that I haven’t for a while. Information and communication technologies are supposed to bring everyone closer together and close gaps between people, but are they now making these gaps larger now? Everywhere I go I see people looking at their smart phones instead of doing anything else, such as talking or eating.

The article my classmate had tweeted lead to me to main source of the article, named “Disruptions: More Connected, Yet More Alone which is written by Nick Bilton of The New York Times as response to thoughts that a Youtube video called “I Forgot My Phone” brought to his mind.

The video follows comedian Charlene deGuzman through a normal day where people are always looking at their phones doing things, regardless of if they are at a concert, a birthday party, or even in bed with a lover. To me, this shows quite nakedly that our society is becoming overly focused on our smart phones. What I found most damning in this is that it wasn’t until the video was forty seconds in that I realized what the video was about. It was not until a conversation at a lunch gathering had died completely due to everyone at it being on their phones that I realized, everyone being on their phones is supposed to be out of the ordinary. I have already grown so accustomed to seeing people on their phones.

Speaking as an outsider who has never owned a smart phone, this certainly seems to be the reality we live in. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been in class and many of my classmates seemed far more interested in their phones than anything the instructor is saying. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve made a few people hate me when we split into groups because of my insistence that we stay on task. I will admit, if our group needed a quick fact or a spell check, then their attention to their phone makes sense. I’m speaking more to the people who were not talking with the other group members, were only looking at their phone, and grew annoyed when I tried to involve them with the group.

Just look at how much some people go through when they go out to do something as simple as go out to eat for a night. According to Bilton, 

People make dinner reservations on OpenTable; check in on Foursquare when they arrive at the restaurant; take a picture of their food to share on Instagram; post on Twitter a joke they hear during the meal; review the restaurant on Yelp; then, finally, coordinate a ride home using Uber.  (Bilton)

Neglecting that I only know what two of these applications are, I can’t imagine this would have seemed all that normal, even as little as six years ago. If someone isn’t involved online with all of these apps and online conventions, it is quite easy to get completely lost in the flow of information that others take in. I imagine OpenTable is a reservation tool, that is simple enough to gather from the article, but Foursquare, Yelp, and Uber are mysteries to me. The virtual world is drowning out the real world. This is how we find our society.

Now someone could say that this change won’t last. People will get over it and move onto something else. I can’t help but laugh about this perception because I thought the exact same thing about social media when it was really rising to prominence. Some places have even started implementing anti smart phone policies. For example, “A number of New York restaurants… have prohibited people from photographing their food” (Bilton). When I was a child this would have seemed like a law or a rule from a book of outdated and antiquated laws. I consider it truly bothering that it is being enforced and needed in 2014. I can’t help but agree with Bilton when he says, “that maybe life is just better led when it is lived rather than viewed.”