November 21, 2007

Efficient Writing

“Two fish, blue fish”, this is a phrase that takes me back to my days of kindergarten; my readings were simple and my writings were simpler. I can even remember when I first learned to make a paragraph in the 3rd grade. Every one of them was five sentences exactly so I could indent and take up more space. The days of huge fonts and 1.5 spaced sentences are long past, however. Now a freshman in college my writings are far different than before. After three months of college I have met many students and by getting to know them, I have gotten to see how much writing changes from major to major. This raises the question, why?
“In your first paragraph, you need an engaging intro with three supporting sentences followed by a thesis”. As many students can tell you, this is one of the first lines one hears when they learn of the “five paragraph essay” format. I myself find it hard to not think of that line when I began to write. But a friend of mine named Kathleen cannot think this way. She has recently declared her major in political science and her writing is far different than my own. In one of her political science classes, she was instructed specifically to avoid the “five paragraph essay” style. Kathleen also showed me her syllabus where the professor expresses his disdain for this style in questionable words such as “don’t give me that B.S…if you want to use [the five paragraph essay], then take an English class.” Because of this her papers are structured differently.
For example, she has had to write a paper where she read an article and analyzed it. Rather than using the intro, supporting sentences, thesis style, she simply summarizes the articles and uses no more than one sentence for her thesis. The rest of the paper supports the argument. Something like this would not hold up in any of my previous classes. However, this type of writing seems to work best for political science which deals with arguments. Perhaps this is why changes in writings can be seen in different majors. Another colleague of mine, Peter, has also declared his major in business management. As his major differs, so does his writing.
One of the classes he takes it management 250. In this class, he sometimes must analyze court cases; usually corporate. In his assignments he must pick a side and support it. In this sense, his writing is very similar to Kathleen’s. However, his writing includes many other topics as well. He also must write about things such as what are your goals in ten years or what makes you unique. These types of writing are much more relevant to management which requires goals and understanding one’s own skills. His style of writing is also different. His writing is more detailed rather than straight to the point.
Though we are all college students, our writing varies in our majors. This is because certain types and topics of writing are more efficient for some majors than others. By analyzing the writings of other students it is possible to gain a lot of insight into their major’s values.

November 13, 2007

The True Archivist

At some point in time, a student must venture to …“that place with books”. Not by free will but because they must. They received an assignment a month ago and its due in 30 minutes. “Pause….Sigh….Crack fingers….Its “B.S-ing” time”. But First!!! They must look at that librarian that always tells them to keep their barely audible voices down and gaze in pity. For they are unfortunate to be more boring than this assignment due in half an hour. However, next time you must “B.S” a paper, or maybe you actually care, I suggest you salute them. Not because they can take being so boring (give them a chance geeesh!), but because they have a job that few can do. After I visited the Botanical Gardens in Cleveland Ohio, I realized just how demanding and significant a librarian’s job is. Were it not for them, the sharing of writings could not happen at the level it is today.
The recording of one’s findings, stories, or thoughts is what created the written history we see and learn from today. However, written history would be pointless if no one could read it because it was destroyed, lost, or illegible. This is where the librarians come in. Written history is obviously extremely extensive, as it goes back for many years. Preserving these works takes much care and knowledge. My class visited the Botanical Gardens and the (not so boring) librarian, Gary Esmonde, gave us an overview of his job and all it entails. A big part of his job was preserving books that date over 100 years. These books have to be stored in room at a specific temperature and be handled a specific way. An example is that originally there was a fountain in the library. Sounded great and looked beautiful but according to Esmonde the moisture endangered the books. Without such knowledge, these books would have been worn away and we would have lost valuable pieces of writing. Despite the librarian’s skills however, he cannot do everything himself, he must pass on this knowledge to others.
Esmonde has many employees and even more volunteers; literally hundreds. In order to teach them all he must give them procedures. They must write manuals and procedures for others to follow. Esmonde stated that before he arrived, there was no orientation for new employees. In fact, upon receiving his job, he was simply shown the place and left to his vaguely described duties. Another problem that arose was that tour guides had almost no instruction and some found themselves rather unsure about certain details. As a result, some of the tour guides began making up information. To solve this problem, Esmonde wrote up job descriptions for the employees and volunteers. Along with job descriptions, he wrote policies, agendas, and schedules. He continues to write new policies to this day. Already, the job of a librarian seems daunting, but this merely scratches the surface.
There are millions of books from millions of places. Yes, finding the newest Harry Potter book wouldn’t prove to be very difficult. But for the adventures who want to read the stories that can’t be found at Barnes and Nobles or Borders, the task is much harder. What makes this easier for us however, is organization. If one were to go into any library, the books will be organized through some system. Scientist have yet to prove that books can arrange themselves, so some had to the job; the job of a librarian. Esmonde told my class how he had to rearrange all the books in his library into a new system with the help of only one other person. As if this wasn’t enough, he realized that the bibliographical records for his books were accurate 40% of the time. So he had to check and correct over 15,000 books! Another challenge that he faced is that he wanted to put all the books on an online catalog. So those same 15,000 books had to be listed and then arranged on a website as well.
For those librarians who feel underappreciated, I assure you a few more people appreciate what you do. As for others, I hope you now realized how intense the job of a librarian can be. Giving you a hard time may what they need to get through the day. Though many jobs were listed above, there are still more not mentioned here. Understand, that a librarian's job is one of respect.

October 05, 2007

Time's Rival

During the year 1999 the world populatin hit 6 billion. By 2020 it is estimated that we will hit 7 billion. This is 7 billion lives, 7 billion stories. Yet no text book will ever have nearly as many pages nor cover as many lives. Though our population will continue to increase, there are many stories that will go untold; and if you add in abortion, there are many stories that will never get to unfold. As humans we only live for so long. Compared to earth we live on, we live very short lives. So how can one beat time? how can one live on? Eistein proved long ago that time travel is impossible, but there is no need to travel through time when it can be seen. Take a stroll through Cleveland (not at night kids...maybe not even during the day...just travel in groups...big groups)and one can see history, both its past and in the making (if it's in the making and smells like paint it's probably illegal and you need to stay away).

Graffiti has outraged many people in cities and businesses alike in Cleveland. Some are gang related, political, and some are just there. Though this causes many problems, it solves a big one, a natural craving one could call it. It defeats time. Though time is still going the work is still there; some one's story is still there. To want to leave a legacy is a natural tendency. Graffiti isn't the only example. If one looks upon a tomb stone, they very likely to find words upon it. Some may say things such as " a wonderful husband" or even possibly "the husband that should have never existed". These words are another way one can leave a legacy behind, as miniscule as it may be.

Time is infinite and will always be. It cannot be stopped for anyone. However it has been beaten by great heroes of our time and who's stories can be found in vast amounts of text books. Not all, however, are so fortunate. Not all can be noticed enough that another person or group of people will write your legacy. For those who fit in this category, one can see an outcry. An outcry to be seen, heard, and remembered, for some would argue these words define one's existence. It is much like the saying "If a tree falls and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" If anyone wanted to be that tree than the billboards we see and the pictures we took would be pointless. The writing in cleveland defines its existence, for it is the only part of us that needs no heart to beat or lungs to breath. It closest thing to immortal we can create.

September 28, 2007

What the Web doesn't Know

"The Red Ring Of Death" a.k.a "The Three Red Lights", will return 3,510,000 results from a google search! (the three red lights will retun 95,900,000!!!) For those unfamiliar of this phrase, this would seem rather irelevant to anything, but if you were the proud owner of the famed XBOX 360, it would mean the rapture. The ads on t.v and the internet has made this seemingly beautiful piece of hardware irresistable for millions of people. Then we(yes I own one too)must find out later about the reported 30-33% FAILURE RATE! Though this situation may seem trivial, it reoccurs everyday through newer meduims such as Facebook and Myspace. No longer do we have bias information about products, but now we can get it about the people around us.

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When I say bias, I do not mean false or faulty. I also by no means mean to belittle Facebook or Myspace; as I use both. I simply wish to caution the miss use of websites. As a student of Case Western Reserve University, I have seen many of my friends on Facebook. Many I saw before the school year began. I would say few of these accounts properly represent them. No, my friends are not liars, but there is much more to them. The web only shows the part of people that THEY can express. What one can miss on the web is the part of them that they might not necessarily know is there.

A better example is the Case website. The site is very thorough and helpful, but it cannot nearly define Case. It may show what we as students can and are required to do, but it can't show the interaction between us. Many of my friends were surprised when they arrived. All of us had been through the website and thought Case was boring and all study. There is alot of studying but the shared difficulty of classes between friends makes the environment feel much better.

A closer reprsentation of Case can be found in the physical writing. This writing is us communicating with the students around us. This is what better defines us. (Though one must ignore the peniuses)Though the web is useful, it cannot take place of the physical. It cannot hold the meaning of postcard or properly define a being.

thanks to: www.IGN.COM for the Info

Moment of Silence for all the 360's...........................you will always be in our hearts.

September 21, 2007

The Writing that Connects Us

Question: "Mom, what would you say if I told you I have a tatoo? Response: "I'd kill you, why?" (this is not fiction)

This is the same mother who simply laughed when I walked into the room with "Mom I need to buy cookies" on my forehead. Why would a student put a tatoo on their body knowing they could be walking to their grave. It's quite simple. It's the same reason I wrote the message on my forehead. I had cookies for the whole class the next day. The writing on my head sent a message to my mother that she then sent back to me. Through this process, I was able to remember my assignment. It didn't really matter if my mother read it or not, for this exchange was done all day with whom ever I met. The writing on my head bounded me to my memory; a part of me.

I feel this is true for not only one's memory, but any part of themselve in which one has expressed. Before there were actual letters, humans communicated with pictures. So it only makes sense that pictures give messages as well. Though some pictures can have different meanings for different people while others are rather straight forward, they tend both to have one mood or tone. When you move on to the in the gallery to the picture that mood may leave you, but it will fall upon the next person that looks on it. Were you to look at the picture again you would feel the mood again. This is the purpose of tatoos, body paint, and even a designer shirt.

Me: "What would you say if I told you I got a tatoo?"

Friend: "I would say that is Awsome!...but don't tell your parents"

Me: "I already asked them, my dad said if I get one he's getting one too :-). Just as long I get something I'll want for a long time. And I can't tell NaNa(grandmother).

Once again the conversation above is not fiction. There was a key part of the converstation, and that was "something I'll want for a long time". The writing on ourselves, body or clothing, gives a message to everyone around us. That message can be and often is sent back. Whether they use words or a certain look on their face. The message they send back is what is most important. What you recieve from them is will remind and almost bind you to what you were trying to send. Thus a tatoo will do this permanetly. This can be seen with examples other than tatoos.

I walk to girl in the mall with a fresh new pair of timbs.
Me: Hey wutup?

She looks up, face...not bad...looks down and sees expensive timbs, score!!!
Girl: Sorry, I'm busy, I gotta go.

Me: huh?

(I really wish this was fiction)

When this happened that message I got back reminded and binded me to the fact that you cannot figure out girls. But on a serious note, the writing on ourselves, sends apart of us that bring us closer to that part of us. When one gets a tatoo in memory of a loved one, it brings them closer to that loved one; even when their gone or when they loose to the browns.

September 14, 2007

A Word's Trick on the Mind

Typically, when one thinks of "college life", you think of endless fun, sex, and drinking. Conversely, the opposite is closer to the truth; that is for those who wish to stay in college long enough to graduate. Much of college is hard work, studying, and stress. Though fun can and is put in there some where, it is not to the extent that the media portrays. Once again, this is from the point of view of a serious student; one would imagine the majority of students are serious students. How, then, is this bias created? Even the atmosphere of college life has this bias. The answer maybe closer than you think. All you may have to do, is look down.

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The writing around us creates the fun and "great colloge life" atmosphere. Though college can be and is fun, it is amplified by the writing we see beneath our feet or on our neighboor's door. To a person that has not participated in college life, this may be the only sense they can feel. "Party at the Spot", "Club Delt: Friday 10p.m-2a.m", with messages like these in almost any direction, one could easily get the idea of party college life. This is because what that person may not know, is that the parties occured a month ago or more. As previously hinted at however, these writings do no only occur on the side walk; many more can be found on the doors in the dorms.
"Sex, ...is a bitch, we have to try out for..." are a few of many writings I have personally seen on the doors of my colleagues. When one reads these, it is hard and uncommon not to immediately make judgement. When one sees the word "sex" on a door, the image formed in ones mind is probably not that of a straight A, soon to be great doctor or biomedical engineer. However, from the door in which I saw this on, it is likely to be true. I feel I must press the point that I am not saying that sex, drinking, and partying does not happen or is extremely rare; but rather that they are the brighter light in the dark.
Though college is fun, a fair amount that one sees on television is hype. A camera man would be quick to zoom on "party here" sign, rather than a group of students studying hard for their next exam. Though my message can seem negative about the writings we see in college, this is not so. I love the feeling they inspire and merely wish to point out something that one may not have known. Writing can have a stronger effect on the mind than often given credit for.

Acknowledgement: "My Freshman Year", by Rebekah Nathan

August 31, 2007

"If you are caught plagarising, even if it is unintentional, you will fail the course, if not worse." Many highschool students hear this every year; for it is most likely the best scare tactic. They are told not to "copy" each others work. However, this term has an area as gray as right and wrong. Was two plus two four before dos y dos era quatro? the chicken or the egg? This raises the question, how does one define cheating? Can one define cheating or plagarism? Perhaps, on some level, everyone plagarizes.
From K-12, we are taught to read and write. We are taught by analyzing the strenghts of writers and applying them to our own writing. We are even taught how to analyze other writing styles. Therefore, to some degree, one could say we are taught to plagarize. I do not mean to encourage one to claim another's work as their own; but to merely raise a question; a request of clarity. Perhaps plagarism, especially unintentional, is regarded as too high a crime. For we are almost groomed to plagarize from child hood.
If one looks at a highschool's student everyday writing, a.k.a texting, email, etc...one can see my point. You see things such as lol, uncapitalized letters, and even numbers that take the place of words entirely. The students see a faster way to communicate, and then apply it to their own writing. Some see this as progressing backwards while other see a new language forming. Either way, all the writing was built off of a foundation that also has its own roots.