Tag: Notes

A pre-preparation of rites

A pre-preparation of rites

Like I mentioned in my post showing off the character sketches from my novel-in-progress, this Friday I will be presenting my Senior Honors Project at the Honors Project Interdisciplinary Conference.

We got the official email with the final schedule brochure and everything. It’s happening.

Not only is it happening, it’s coming up at full speed.

So most of my day has been spent preparing the Powerpoint I’ll be using. A few weeks back the Honors Program Director Sandra Perez asked me to help another student who wanted to do a creative writing project, as she said the pre-preparation I’d done was impressive.

That experience wound up being my lightbulb of inspiration. I realized that my project was better grounded in a Pre-Preparation of Rites than “I wrote part of a book.”

By the end, I’ve come to find that a whole lot of preparation was involved in my novel.

Most of it is stuff I’ve discussed on the blog before. The character sketches, map-making, research into Dungeons and Dragons and plotting out the story among them.

But then there are more exotic elements to the process as an overarching narrative — Such as my inspirational material, John Scalzi’s Redshirts and the prep work on earlier creative writing pieces.

And let’s not forget the elements I have yet to talk about.

Notably backend research into creating believable cultures for my fantasy world. I asked my old professor Paulo Simoes for some advice because a lot of his background involves researching ancient societies, figuring out how they tick.

He recommended trying to model my fictional cultures and the events that characterize my world off of real-world societies.

After all, he says it’s a successful strategy for shows like Game of Thrones, which modeled its famous Red Wedding scene after massacres in Scotland.

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Image courtesy of Game of Thrones Memes and Quotes Blogspot

Game of Thrones is in vogue to reference right now, yeah?

I’d hope so. Because I’m more than happy to capitalize on that, even though I haven’t personally watched the show.

For my project, however, I am not utilizing Game of Thrones in any capacity. Rather, I’m using “The Story of Civilization” collection of historical novels to base parts of my book on periods of history. As suggested by Dr. Simoes.

Along the way, I’ve been trying to craft the oral part of the presentation:

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I have 15 minutes to present, and then I’ll have to be ready for five minutes of audience questions. I’m hoping I’ll be all put together and confident by then.

While getting prepared, I took some time off with my Mom to go out and put something sweet together with the drawings from Elizabeth:

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Just a little something to help remember the project by. Doesn’t it look nice?

I think it looks really nice, personally.

First attempt syndrome

First attempt syndrome

Someday I’ll move on from talking about early semester school-related things. I promise.

However, today is not that day. I spent all afternoon doing homework and have nothing else to blog about.

Silly as it might sound, I actually do have a good amount for this only being the first weekend of the semester. Probably as a result of my seven classes, many of which only meet once a week if at all.

If you want to read more about that, you can check out my blog post from yesterday.

To be fair I’m not sure the content of the homework itself is necessarily why it has taken so long. A lot of these assignments fall under ‘first attempt syndrome.’

You know, that sensation where you’re more apprehensive going into the first of a thing? Happens all the time for exams especially in my experience, and even real life things like shaving or going on dates.

The most egregious example of that first attempt syndrome with today’s homework came out of my Comm Law class. My professor’s TITANium assignment portal is a bit hard to grasp for first timers like me, and at the end of the mini-documentary I had to watch there was a quiz.

Doubling down on that anxiety.

Her quiz system being somewhat strange didn’t help. We all got three attempts to take the quiz, and two tries at each of the fourteen questions.

It’s really generous all things considered, and for that matter the documentary-watching portion had a fill-in-the-blank note sheet available online. Something I haven’t seen since Mrs. Mata’s AP Psychology class back at Redondo Union.

So I guess my Comm Law professor is just really nice about her assignments.

… Though that alone isn’t the full story. See when I say two tries at each question, that apparently doesn’t mean full credit if you answer correctly by the second try. Instead it’s a system where there are 20 points for those 14 questions (scaled so every one offers a point or two points), and each wrong first try results in half credit.

Thus, despite getting every question right by the end of my first attempt, I had a 15/20 for second guessing three questions.

While I feel the general lack of clarity there is somewhat underhanded, I can’t complain too much because we were allowed to use all three attempts to average out a better score. After the first attempt I got 100 percent on the two following, bringing my score up to 18/20.

It was a lot of extra time and confusion, but the ends justified the means.

Especially considering every right answer came with a snarky response, like calling the Supreme Court racist bastards for their Dred Scott decision, or poking fun at Antonin Scalia’s quote about “never dying” from well before his death last year.

The rest of my homework has been more straight forward. For my Senior Honors Colloquium I simply had to make a game plan for the semester, and I’ve started to distill down my resume for my Internship class’s required Career Center visit.

The only other stand-out so far is my Gaming class. By our next meeting I have to read the first two chapters of this lovely book right here:

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An anthropological study of World of Warcraft? What’s not to enjoy!

I feel obliged to give my friend Darlene a shout-out here for offering to help pass along a few of the books I needed for this class, even though it didn’t work out. She didn’t own Night Elf or Coin-Operated Americans:

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Can’t blame her on either front considering the two bookstores my Mom and I visited yesterday didn’t have them either.

We wound up going to Amazon to find and order them, and miraculously they’re already here.

Guess I’m just further evidence as to why brick-and-mortar stores are going out of business. Kinda wish the book stores put up a bit of a more competent fight.

The funny thing about these assignments is I really didn’t have to put as much effort into them today as I did. I quite literally have four-day weekends to do homework this semester.

But I just get the feeling that the mentality underlying that procrastinating statement might get dangerous with so much dense work coming soon.

Finishing more of my homework now gives me time to focus on the important things going further into the weekend. Like video games, racking up hours for Gladeo or writing my novel.

I did tell Dr. Perez I’ll be trying to write about 20 pages a week, after all. I’m hoping to get myself in a state of mind that will better facilitate the extracurricular work going smoothly.

Only time will tell whether I gracefully succeed, I suppose. But with the sheer number of mental checklists I’m making already, I get the feeling we’re off to a good start.

Preparing for the Big Hunt

Preparing for the Big Hunt

Yesterday I slept for about 17 hours. Was real sick when I woke up, enough so that I wasn’t able to make it out to the SPJ Long Beach Post tour. Or write a blog post at all.

Frankly the only thing I’d say I accomplished yesterday was sending a few emails and binging the Emma Stone and Jonah Hill show Maniac on Netflix.

Which was worth watching, but probably a subject for another day.

While I’m feeling better today, I’m still not feeling better enough to go spend a whole bunch of hours at the Finals competition for the RUHS band. So I’m going to have to neg on that promise I made last week. Sorry Aly.

Thus, between bouts of sleeping and tending to a nosebleed, I figured I would finally do something fun and show you all what an obsessive freak I’ve become about Monster Hunter armor planning.

Armor planning in Generations Ultimate fills a very similar niche to Pokémon team creation for me in that it extends a game’s lifespan through a strategic planning task.

There are dozens of skills a hunter can utilize in battle against titanic beasties, each applied by a combination of a base armor piece’s skills, a talisman that can be equipped and all of a set’s supplemental skill decorations.

Building the full armor set for a specific monster yields skills matching their play style. For instance, the ephemeral electric unicorn Kirin’s armor applies Divine Blessing (to occasionally reduce damage) and Elemental attack damage buffs.

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So if a monster matches the play style you like, or works well with one of the game’s 14 weapon types (like the hammer-tailed Duramboros armor works with a hammer weapon), it’s an easy build.

However, if you’re someone like me that enjoys a challenge and wants to build armor with varied skills for a specific task, mixed sets are the way to go.

As a Hunting Horn main, I made it my goal to create a separate set of armor for every element and status type. The actual in-game armor forge isn’t very conducive for planning, so I turned to armor listings on Kiranico and my phone to generate ideas before wasting the materials.

Here’s my written plan for the horn that would apply a sleep element:

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Some key details to note. There are five armor pieces, one weapon and one talisman for each set. The armor pieces have pre-determined skills:

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As seen in the ‘Skill Tree’ box above.

Talismans have random skills when you find them, so planning out an armor set is partially about luck.

Also, note the asterisks near each piece’s skill listing. Those indicate the number of available decoration slots. Each piece can have up to three slots, and I’ve indicated what decor I’m putting in the slots though the subsection.

Most skills are applied when they reach 10 points on your overall armor, with a stronger version at 15 or 20.

Here’s how the fruits of that planning labor translated in-game:

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Sleeping and bombing at a quick pace!

In Generations Ultimate, a feature called armor transmog was added that allows hunters to put a decorative armor on top of the armor they’re wearing.

That way you can have your cake and eat it too: Make an armor with fantastic skills that also doesn’t look super ugly.

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Yikes.

Sometimes the armor planning process isn’t so simple. Multiple different monsters can give the same skills, and it’s important to balance that with the defense statistic, elemental resistances and the slot count.

For instance, when I recently pivoted to try out the Lance, I tried to build up an armor set that had the Guard and Guard Up skills applied. Thanks to having a few useful talismans, I wound up comparing three potential armors:

 

Obviously the one I wound up with had the most work put into it, as everything just fell into place.

Between those guard skills and Divine Blessing, I aimed to be more defensive for the Lance play style. Plus a status attack buff, considering all of the lances I wanted utilized those statuses: Sleep, Poison, Paralysis and Blast.

Even if Blast does not technically count as a status attack anymore and is only buffed by Bomb Boost. But I still put them together.

Here’s how the final armor came out:

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This one I transmogrified using G-Rank Basarios armor. Its bulky-looking stone armor appeared aesthetically perfect for a defensive set.

Because in Monster Hunter, aesthetics are just as important as powerful skill sets.

Out of all the builds I’ve planned so far, this Status Lance set is probably one of my most immediately gratifying and successful. Having never used the weapon before, coming in with a well-designed set made the learning process pretty painless.

Especially when it allowed me to discover the best killing blow in the game:

That’s a satisfying hunt right there. Even if my MicroSD card wasn’t pulling the video off properly.

I’ll figure that out eventually.

While I’ve built plenty of armor sets going from Low-to-G-Rank status, I still have plenty more planned out that I’m continuing to work on.

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Especially with friends around to help, I should be able to keep the train going for a long time. Unless a game like Pokémon Let’s Go or Smash Ultimate kills my current Monster Hunter addiction.

But I don’t have either yet, so no worries!

Hopefully this pseudo-instructional post on armor pre-planning has been helpful — or at least interesting.

If you did think this was cool, let me know. I’m thinking about also doing a post showing off a bunch of cool armor sets I’ve created that might make an excellent companion piece.

Just not right now. Because I think it’s about time I go back to bed and nurse this cold some more.

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Teaching Styles

As most students will tell you, over the years you begin to notice patterns in how some teachers decide to present their material.

Obviously some will be more lax while others are more strict just in general, but there are deeper distinctions when it comes to specific aspects of teaching that everyone approaches differently — especially at the college level.

For instance, one professor may only do the bare minimum of testing requirements to supplement one’s grades. Only a midterm exam, a final exam and a written paper (which is required for just about all undergrad classes in the CSU system at least).

Meanwhile, another teacher will inflate grades by doing something like scheduling a smaller quiz on material every week.

It all depends, and while there’s likely some answer to be drawn from somewhere on which method is more effective in hammering in material, it’s kind of just a subjective what one person prefers sort of deal.

All of that said, I wanted to write this quick blog post today before diving into this 13-page piece I have to read to talk about a decision in how to teach that I’ve discovered I really don’t enjoy.

Not involving that class with the 13-page reading assignment though. I’m probably going to keep these more annoyance-centric school blog posts anonymous.

Just in case.

This semester, one of my professors encouraged us to print out each chapter’s PowerPoint so we can follow along with it during lectures.

I’m not personally a fan of doing that sort of thing. I find that I retain more information when I’m writing everything down myself (something that I believe does have some precedent in research studies), so if I just have a print-out describing everything in the lecture it seems less effective.

So I decided to skip out on printing the PowerPoint and instead relied on good-old-fashioned note taking as usual.

Except apparently that suggestion to print out PowerPoints for each chapter was more of an expectation that we would be doing it.

Because this professor apparently zooms through his lecture so fast that I now have to go back and copy everything down off of the PowerPoint online so I can fill all the gaps I left before our quiz on Thursday.

Don’t get me wrong, especially in an upper level major course, I understand the desire to let students be somewhat self-reliant and go quickly through a lecture so that there’s time at the end to do other things.

We did get out of class at least a half an hour early as a result of going through things that fast. I won’t necessarily complain about that.

But to be completely honest, I would have preferred to get out of that class on-time if it meant going through the lecture at a slower pace so everyone could understand it better, regardless of how they take notes.

Yet in the end I suppose that’s a personal preference, so I’ll just leave it at that. It’s simply a form of teaching that I don’t really enjoy, but that doesn’t mean I won’t figure out how to adapt.

I’ll probably just print the PowerPoints from here on out.

To end this off, I figure I’ll throw this general topic out to you all in the audience. Have you encountered any teaching practices that you don’t enjoy? Or maybe the opposite, any teaching practices you really enjoy?

Let me know about them in the comments! I’m interested to hear about some preferences today