The Core Message: Awareness leads to Deeper Experiences

One thing I definitely struggled with during the in-class discussion on Wednesday was defining the core message of my final essay. After all, I tend to view many things in shades of gray, rather than black and white. For this reason, can I say that technology should be avoided while traveling for the sake of experience? Or should I go the opposite direction, saying that technology should be used as much as possible to facilitate the experience? Like everything else, my true beliefs lie somewhere in the middle, because there are benefits and disadvantages to both sides. For this reason, I believe that the core message for my final paper is “Awareness”. It’s okay to rely on technology for some things and eschew it for other things, but we need to be aware of the choices we make and their consequences. For example, when traveling it is very easy to take the simplest option and catch a cab from the airport to the hotel. In fact, for many people this may be the best option while burdened down with luggage. However, it may be better for others to take public transportation – it’s not quite as simple, but it gives you the first glimpse of life in the city you are in, the first hesitant steps into a new ocean of culture.

Exploring this message, for me at least, is relatively simple. I want to make the reader think about their past experiences, and to make them start asking themselves questions. For example: “What will I want 5 years from now, the picture of the whale taken with a crappy cell phone camera, or the memory of watching the animal in motion, taking in the experience of watching it thrive it its natural environment?” This was a question I asked myself when I was in Alaska, watching the hoards of people lining up with cameras off the side of the ship, hoping to get the “shot”. These questions are what help me to explore my theme, because even outside of travel, nearly everyone has experienced a situation in which either they or someone they were with was too preoccupied with documentation than with experiencing.

Of course, I want the reader to explore the positive effects of technology awareness as well. For example, I view Airbnb as a newer travel technology that is almost overwhelmingly positive. It can easily connect travelers with locals and give them a “truer” experience. In this case of technology bring positive experiences, I believe that awareness is necessary in order to find opportunities similar to Airbnb. Many people aren’t aware of its existence, and may simply “default” to choosing the hotel where you return every night to a generic experience that can be replicated in your own backyard. Along this vein, there are probably even better ways to connect with the place you are visiting that are even better than Airbnb or couchsurfing – I just haven’t had the opportunity to discover them yet.

Overall, to me my paper’s purpose is to make people question their experiences, and to make them consider how their current methods can change to experience places more deeply, and avoid the technology black hole, while still accessing its good points that can improve connection.

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Apocalyptic Fears: Personal Reflection

As I began researching a topic, I began to think about the things that I liked to watch, specifically movies and TV shows. One thing that intrigued me was the thought of the apocalypse and those types of sci-fi topics. Even though everything in sci-fi is completely imaginative, it is still a topic that apparently intrigues a large population because more and more TV shows are coming out with this theme.

Even as a young boy, I loved watching movies, whether it’s a comedy, horror, or action/adventure. To this day, my friends and family always know that if they are thinking of a movie but can’t remember the title, they can probably ask me and I will know. It’s funny looking back on all the movies and shows that I have watched throughout my life thus far. But, I have noticed a theme; when I want to watch a scary or interesting movie, I tend to go for the apocalyptic movies.

For instance, I used to watch Waterworld as a kid, which is about a post-apocalyptic world that is based on a global warming issue. It is interesting because I could always imagine myself in another world, a new world. So, early on that new world meant anywhere but at this time on earth. Whether it is a post-apocalyptic earth setting or that the earth was wiped out so a new planet needs to be inhabited.

The movie, Time Machine is another good one. It’s about a guy whose fiancée got murdered right after proposing to her in a park, the murderer was trying to rob them. He develops this time machine many years later and travels back in time, only to find out that he can’t change her dying. In the midst of his distress, he accidently shifts forward into the future many centuries and finds himself in a world run by “moon people” who are trying to capture humans. As a kid, this was a frightening concept, moon people, but regardless it was fascinating.

In my researching a topic, I thought about the new movies and TV shows that I have watched recently: Helix, 12 Monkeys, Book of Eli, World War Z, even Planet of the Apes. All of these movies and shows reveal a world of desolation, whether it’s a virus outbreak, or Apes running the earth. I am currently hooked on the show, Helix, which is about a viral outbreak in a small population that if not stopped, could lead to a world epidemic. Do I think this could happen? No. But, it is interesting to think about, because there are so many diseases and drugs that could potentially wipe out a large portion of our planet.

So, needless to say, my topic is very interesting to me. My many years of watching movies and being fascinated with sci-fi concepts seemed to pay off. I personally believe that the apocalypse will happen according to God’s plan, but I do think that it is possible that some people could think that they can structure God’s plan around creating a virus that could devastate a large portion of the world. I am not naïve to the fact that, in the wrong hands, certain things could influence an apocalyptic world. Nuclear Weapons are another category to get into regarding this apocalyptic possibility, but that’s for someone else to write about.

Personal Research Reflection – Video Games

I have always loved video games, which is one of the reasons why looking at the evolution of gaming systems amazes me. This evolution is not just something that has happened over many decades, it can be seen from year to year. In my lifetime alone, I have experienced many of these changes.

It started when I was very young. My neighbor had the Nintendo-64 and I would go there almost every day to play for hours. It wasn’t until my parents said I was playing video games too much that my playtime decreased. However, a few years later my parents bought me the Nintendo Gamecube, and this was the first time I experienced some of the changes of an upgraded video game system. The first apparent change was that I had a larger selection of games to play. It seemed like what used to be only Mario games expanded to a much larger variety. Some of my favorite games were Super Mario Sunshine, Pikmin and NFL Blitz; all were much different but equally fun.

Many years later, I was fortunate enough to get the Microsoft Xbox 360 for Christmas. This is when I really started to see changes. The capabilities of the Xbox 360were something I had never seen before. First off, the graphics were much better. Everything seemed much more life-like and this was one of the main attractions compared to older systems. One of my favorite games was Guitar Hero, which was a game where you had a fake guitar with 5 buttons on it and you could strum along to real songs. This later made me believe I was good at playing the guitar, so I purchased a real guitar awhile later and tried to play, but the hobby didn’t stick. Another great feature of the Xbox 360 was the online capability. You could connect with players all around the world to challenge and communicate with them. It was very fun because it gave you the opportunity to test your skills against the best players in the world.

Many times I think back about how I got started into video games and some of the things that influenced me to keep playing them. The enjoyment factor is definitely the main reason. I have had so much fun playing video games in my life, and I have made friends along the way. However, I also feel that I have wasted a great deal of time. There are so many other things that I could have spent my time on. For example, I could have expanded my education and spent more time doing schoolwork. Video gaming is an activity that is fun in moderation, but excessive use is really just a detriment to you in many ways. It’s easy to see why the video gaming industry has boomed in the last few decades. With the invention of new technologies, the growth will only continue. I can’t wait to see some of the ways the industry will change, and I’m happy that I will be around to experience these changes.

Personal Research Reflection

All throughout my life, I have been very big into sports. It didn’t matter if I was playing a sport, attending a game in person, or simply watching a game on TV while sitting on my couch. Before I could even walk, I would have a soccer ball at my feet or a stick or bat in my hands. I had a natural love of sports and competitions in general. As I grew up, I became more infatuated with the concept of competition. I grew up with three siblings, and being the youngest, I had plenty of competition to grow up with.

If someone has been with me while I play in a game or watch my favorite teams play, they know that I get very emotionally invested in the game, probably to an unhealthy level. One of the aspects of sports that bothers anyone who is involved is the fact the refs sometimes get calls wrong. In the professional leagues and some major college sports, they have something most people never have the chance of using in a game; they possess the ability to have advanced technology to try to get the right call every time. Of course, the most widely used technology is that of instant video replay. I can’t even count the amount of times I would be in the middle of a competition and wish there was a way to go back and watch a play that recently occurred. However, with that being said, some of my favorite moments in sports were only able to occur because the use of advanced technology wasn’t available to be used. Another possible downside to the use is that it could ruin the momentum and flow of a game. Many people love sports for the roller coaster ride of events and emotions they provide.

Not only was I born with a natural love of sports and grow up around siblings that created a sense of competition in everything we did, but I witnessed my hometown sports teams win multiple championships throughout my life. Thanks to this, I became even more inclined to follow sports closely. I loved sports for more than just the competition and adrenaline rush that they provided. They give a way to learn valuable lessons and time to just relax without any worries.

For a while, I have thought about the effects that advancements in technology have in the world of sports. I never had any real desire to write a paper on it, but as I dug a little deeper and looked a little further into the topic, I found it would be easy to write about a subject I have been thinking about for years. Obviously there are many different opinions from many different people on how much, if any, advanced technology should be used in modern day sports. With all the opinions out there, I am more interested in the facts that lead to opinions. With a love for sports and competition I have held for my entire life, along with the events that led me to growing as a fan and participator, investigating something that affects sports so drastically is something I find easy to do.

Personal Reflection – Live Music

The main reason I have been brought to writing about live music stems from my childhood love of music. It started early in my life when my mom would play music throughout the house as I would play with toys, or whatever I did when I was a little kid. I remember her always playing the local Christian radio station: 104.9. As I was growing up, I remember wanting to branch away from that style of music and see what other types there were. This started my true passion for music. I started to see for my self how many genres of music there are and how each one can affect you mood in different ways. This added to the appeal I was already developing toward music.

When I was around 10 or 11, my parents came home from a neighborhood yard sale. They gave me my first acoustic guitar. Looking back at the guitar, it was in terrible condition. But, I didn’t know the difference. I had a church that I grew up in and there was a guy there that would play an acoustic guitar for service. I asked him to teach me how to play and he showed me the main four chords: G, C, D, and E. From there, I self taught myself to play by reading tutorials and listening to music and trying to imitate it the best I could. This solidified my interest in music, specifically toward live music.

After a while of learning to play guitar, and along with going to a few different churches, I was introduced to a pastor that was in need of some more instruments in the music that was played at his church. Adding instruments would create more depth to his services. This was important to him to enhance the overall mood of either praise or prayer. This experience was valuable to me to see the effect playing music for an audience and the mood that you are about to contribute to.

My love for live music started early. I’ve been to so many concerts that it’s difficult to place which concert was my first. I remember the local radio announcing when some of my favorite bands were coming to town and I always made an effort to go out to them. When I would go to a show I was always drawn to the energetic environment that the concert had. I typically went to hardcore and metal concerts, which have an incredible amount of energy to them. In addition to this energy of the crowd, I was amazed at the fact that something that an artist created had such a profound effect on such a large amount of people. In seeing them jump around and perform, the band member seemed moved by their own music as well. This may or may not have been an element of their stage performance, but it had a profound effect of the audience. This added to the desire to listen, learn, and now perform music.

I found out early on that forming a band is a little more difficult to accomplish than I originally thought. However it was still a good time to get together with my brother and play guitar while he played drums. I’ve had many fond memories of getting together with like-minded friends and playing music with them. Being around people with similar interests in music, along with my experiences with concerts has given me a strong bias toward how I perceive this topic.

Personal Research Reflection: Experiences that led to my topic choice

Personal Research Reflection, Blog Post #7

Following spring break the assigned topics, presented to the class, shifted to those surrounding the human experience. In particular, topics focused on the idea of an apocalypse, how race becomes biology, what it means to be human, genetic engineering, happiness, and end of life care. It was from this list of topics that I found the inspiration to choose my end term project subject. My subject choice evolved into Ancient Egyptian Funerary Technology; Mummification.
Given a choice, I believe all of us would prefer to write about something that we have had personal experience with. I am no different. After reviewing the syllabus topics, as listed above, I was comfortable in knowing that from the very broad topic of “Death and Dying” would come my research paper subject. My comfort writing about death and dying, also in a large part, comes from my personal experiences throughout my life.
In grade school, my best friend’s dad was my “larger-than-life” hero; Captain America and Superman would have had to surrender their place in line just to let this man be first. Dad Nick, as I called him, was an Army veteran and Chief of Police of a town west of Toledo, Ohio. He taught us to hunt and fish at a very young age. He taught us to respect the death of the animal we brought home. Dad would tell us that the animal surrendered its life to us that we could eat and be healthy. To note, we were strictly forbidden to shoot or catch anything out of season or that we were not going to eat.
My next introduction to death and dying came from the passing of family; grandpa, grandma, aunts and uncles. My mother’s family was Irish Catholic. The first funeral service I attended, on my mother’s side, was an old fashioned Irish Wake at the home of the uncle that died. When we arrived I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of my dead uncle sitting in a chair; with a celebratory drink in his hand, and the family laughing and toasting his passage to heaven. His death was seen as his greatest achievement in life; such that an all-out celebration was in order. The wake continued all night and into the next day; personal stories reminiscing about Uncle Bill could be heard all about the room. Even as a young boy I remember thinking about the overwhelming love and respect everyone bestowed on Uncle Bill.
My father’s family was old world German in heritage. Funerals for loved ones were only held at one particular funeral home, Jason’s. The family was galvanized when it came to certain beliefs and rituals. First, the signature directory was to be handled with care; one individual was assigned to make sure it went home after the funeral. Second, one or two family members took photos of the decedent, to be processed, duplicated and passed out to family members at a later gathering. And finally, decisions founded on beliefs regarding protection of the body were made well in advance of the viewing; the casket must be made of copper, the casket must be set into a sealed concrete vault in the ground, ultimately only the best of the best would do. I can remember my father and his sisters expressing their deep fear of water touching their body in the casket as well as insects.
I began my life’s work in medicine as a Registered Respiratory Therapist, spending 13 years working in all areas of patient care. I worked every position from Neonatal Intensive Care to the Trauma Team in the emergency room. My career took me to many hospitals in and around my home as well as hospitals in the Fort Myers, Florida area. This was the point in my life were death lost its surreal sheen. It was as real as real could get; I became a first-hand witness of death, from the still born premature baby to the geriatric patient whose body is just too tired. In between, death came as an automobile accident, a horrific gunshot, and the unthinkable blindsided blow that no one saw coming. I began to take courses on death and dying in an effort to get a grasp on this thing was insidiously seeding itself into my day. I studied other cultures and their beliefs and was impressed by the reverence and respect they had for the act of dying; not as an end, but as a new beginning of the next and final journey.
Whenever I covered the emergency room I often saw the dark side of death; the victim of a gun shot during a domestic crime of passion, the beautiful 14 year old girl who while walking along a busy road was struck in the back of the head by the side mirror of a truck speeding down her road, I remember crying for her father as he entered the trauma room to be with her. By this point I was becoming “Burnt Out” and began looking to other professions.
The cliff notes version, I went on to Veterinary Medical School and became a Doctor Veterinary Medicine. I loved working with dogs and cats; snakes – not so much. And then, there was that uninvited guest, “Death”, even in veterinary medicine death has its place. We see all the same end of life illnesses that humans face, only sooner. I will say that I have witnessed owners grieving more for the loss of their dog that I saw family grieving over the loss of a premature baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care. Currently, Veterinary Medicine offers euthanasia as a tool to end suffering of an animal. Euthanasia was a struggle for me to understand and to perform; it weighed heavy on my conscience, it went against everything I was taught growing up, it challenged my commitment to God and my faith beliefs surrounding death and dying. I almost stopped practicing medicine because of the stress it brought to my life. I had to find some means of reconciling the act of creating death. Finally, I settled on performing euthanasia if the patient met one of two criteria. One, the illness was terminal, there was no known cure, irregardless of cost, and it was clear the animal was suffering. Or two, it was a safety issue; a cat or a dog that had overt aggression issues and proven to have harmed another animal or a person. To this day I remain committed to this approach. I have turned away many clients, over the years, that I felt were turning to euthanasia for all the wrong reasons. I am proud to say that I have never compromised my position on euthanasia.
Each of my past experiences surrounding death led to my choice of writing about ancient Egyptian funerary practices, cultural beliefs and rituals, and the practice of mummification. From the first time, as a young boy, I saw an Egyptian mummy at the Toledo Museum of Art I have had an intense fascination and profound respect for the Egyptian civilization. I recognized their commitment to the cultural belief that death was merely a journey to continue their lives in another realm. They based their funerary practices on the most current social and scientific knowledge of the time. Moreover, the Egyptians remained committed to their beliefs and practices throughout their time as a civilization. Writing about their practices was an easy choice for me; like myself, the Egyptians saw death as a continuation of life that commanded respect, not sad ending. I will always remain fascinated with the Egyptian civilization and their cultural beliefs and practices.

Personal Reflection-Cinema

For my research paper I am looking into history of cinema. Ever since I was a kid I have watched many movies, and always had the curiosity of how they are made and how moving actors get captured on screen. This semester taking a class on art cinema has allowed me to get a better understanding of cinema and how far it has come since the late 1800s. From a simple photograph, to blurry movements, and finally to highly computerized content truly is astounding. Knowing the physiology of cinema from, editing, cinematography, aesthetics, and overall acting really is interesting. I believe this is one of many factors that has driven me to pursue this as a research topic. I remember when I was a kid, and used to watch a film I always thought the actors would stop what there doing and start acting just for me. It was a childish, yet naive understanding how films were created, and coming from that perspective, with the addition to watching movies all throughout my life has really compelled me to investigate this topic.

Analyzing my local identity, I have a lot of diversity. Seeing films in both Hollywood and Bollywood all throughout my life, has given me the opportunity to watch many films in both genres and to compare and contrast between them. Just like most people we all watch movies throughout our life, however we do not take into account of how it is made or how we have the technology to even create such films. Fortunately, for me I had the opportunity to take the history of art class designed for cinema, as mentioned earlier, and it has really opened my eyes and gave me a reason to strongly believe that cinema is a form of art akin to any painting or sculpture. I believe my personal identity has strongly influenced me to have this perspective on films, because I have been watching a diverse content of films from Hollywood to Bollywood. I believe it does depend on your identity and location because if you were more influenced in your childhood to watch films, you most likely take great pride in them to even consider them as a form of art. My art professor took an interest in cinema because her family used to sit down together and watch films all the time. Having that influence at a young age, and watching films throughout your life allows you to have a curiosity to better understand how what your watching works and how it has come about. Which is the main reason I want to pursue cinema as a research topic because I want to learn more of how it works and how it has evolved over the years.

As mentioned before, being exposed to a certain thing differs your perspective on that said thing opposed to something else. Cinema is a form of technology that really has taken great strides in the last 50 years, and being apart of a community that watches films, old or new, makes me want to analyze that technology even more. Which is why I believe personal experiences, identity, and location play a critical role when investigating an object or technology.