Tag: Technology

The Rochlins watch GTFO

The Rochlins watch GTFO

My Gaming in American Culture class has taken me all over the proverbial map when it comes to consuming all different kinds of media.

From tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons or Barbie to re-reading books like Ender’s Game or Ready Player One with new lenses. From watching terrible video game-based movies like Tom Hanks’ Mazes and Monsters to documentaries like Second Skin that touch on the psychological effects of an increasingly isolated digital culture.

For my upcoming class, I had to watch a kickstarted documentary from 2015 called GTFO.

But this time I was not alone. GTFO is all about the treatment of females in the video game industry — both in production and play. That particular subject matter drew interest from other members of the Rochlin household:

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I’m assuming they would have otherwise rolled their eyes at the prospect of a documentary about video games (or at least Aly would), so it’s nice that we all had a subject to collectively appreciate.

… Well, it’s not nice that we had to appreciate the examination of sexual harassment/discrimination/misogyny/insert-buzzword-here in any industry.

That’s about what you can expect here, if you’re interested in the subject.

Subjects ranged from women being pressured in professional eSports, the distinct lack of females in game production (only occupying about 10 percent of the industry), the day-to-day harassment in the voice chats of games like Call of Duty, and more large-scale harassment public scandals like Gamergate.

Though Gamergate was a smaller subject, as the major example of harassment highlighted was Aris Bakhtanians’ treatment of Miranda Pakozdi on a livestream marketing campaign for Street Fighter x Tekken in 2012.

I wasn’t privy to that particular story prior to the documentary, but luckily journalists like Jason Schreier have always done their jobs well.

It’s crazy stuff, but not that crazy. Which is an unfortunate takeaway of the documentary to me.

When interviewees shared and even read out examples of terrible rape- and death-threat filled messages they’d received while gaming, my mom and sister seemed pretty shocked.

And yeah, there was some pretty graphic and intense shit read out.

Yet I’ve been gaming for a long time and saw the proliferated multiplayer days of Halo 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on the Xbox 360 — before I refused to fix my broken console to spite my friends for some ultimately forgotten comment that annoyed me.

I’ve seen that kind of stuff happen, and I have a lot of female friends who play video games that have similar stories to tell.

So I can’t say I was surprised by anything in the documentary.

Which is unfortunate in itself, but the reality of the situation.

However, it’s not a reality that everyone knows about as multiple subjects remarked. The fact that such a well-composed and thorough documentary exists is great in that regard.

I’d definitely recommend watching it for that reason: More awareness is never a bad thing — even if it might put you back $5 for the day.

Especially given some interesting ideas fielded, such as hoping that encouraging more women to get involved at all levels would cause the toxicity to recess. It’s much harder to attack a woman if there are eight in the voice chat than if there’s only one or two.

But that’s enough of me sucking the oxygen out of the room.

I watched a documentary about treatment of women with a couple women, so it only seems right to let them have the last words.


Dara’s Corner:

I’ve always been aware of misogyny and how it is used in the video game industry. However, I was not prepared for how deeply pervasive it really was portrayed in this documentary. It think a lot of the problem stems from the anonymity allowed, and like my husband says, “on the internet, no one knows you are a dog…”


(And Introducing) Aly’s Corner:

Yayyy I finally get one of these! I walked into watching this thinking I’d be bored out of my mind, but it was actually super well done and intriguing for me. I never really considered myself a gamer, mostly because I can’t just sit down and spend hours finishing a game (Jason can attest to that), but the treatment that women in gaming go through is everywhere in society, and it’s kinda scary to see.

Tales from a digital voice

Tales from a digital voice

With the end of the semester coming up, we had our last big Society of Professional Journalists event today.

It was another guest speaker: Sonya Quick from the nonprofit Voice of OC.

Plus donuts. But the donuts unfortunately did not get into this Tweet I did:

This talk was slightly less hands-on than our last guest’s discussion of useful apps, but the focus toward online content engagement was certainly just as noteworthy.

Voice of OC has a strong recent history with CSUF and the Daily Titan. My old mentor Spencer Custodio is one of five full-time reporters for their newsroom, and my old News Desk Assistant Brandon Pho is a reporting intern there.

I was the middle generation that missed out on that family tradition I suppose. Gladeo got to me first, or I just might have considered it.

Getting to hear Sonya share some things she’s picked up during her time at Voice of OC, as well as other papers like the OC Register, was great.

One of her first comments was about the importance of being straight-forward:

“I’m an emotion on your sleeves kind of gal. If I have a complaint about something, I won’t hold back.”

— Sonya Quick, Voice of OC

She reportedly has not held back in the past, being responsible for manifestos that encouraged organizations to focus more on digital, and later mobile, reporting as those came into vogue (especially pertinent now, as she says that reporters should think with their phones first).

Yet, she also fielded a question from our Chapter President Harrison Faigen about how to not take editorial criticism too personally.

She said that taking things personally is not a problem unless it impedes your work, because the emotions show you care.

However, even more of an important point — and one that strangely echos sentiments I’ve gotten from my parents — was that the time to get concerned is when an editor does not read or critique your work.

The more effort they put into tearing apart your story, the more they care and believe you can be even better than you are.

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“Our goal is not to impact decisions, but to get people involved.”

A number of other topics were on the docket for our hour-long meeting:

  • She recommended hiring staff “by passion, not by skill,” as she herself did not know much about the digital world before jumping into it.
  • Her two major rules for creating good search engine optimization in stories were:
    • Don’t scam people. Ever.
    • Write content people care about, especially “guide-like content” that can be built-up over time. Much more engaging than daily event stories.
  • When making videos, she recommended editing them down to one minute each and focusing on pre-planning with storyboards to avoid overshooting.
  • While for-profit organizations often only look at whether a reporter’s work garners clicks, she said Voice of OC looks at overall impact through shares, comments and other social engagements.

Then, as any good editor would, she plugged a great piece published that morning with a juicy DUI scandal going on.

There were a few other tidbits that made me laugh throughout her talk.

For instance, when I asked her about dealing with vitriol in those previously noted engagements she said she has had to wade through the “Seventh Circle of Hell” looking at the OC Register comment section.

But the really important takeaway would have to be what she said of being a reporter, in reference to many college students with Communications degrees leaving the industry early, or not going into the industry at all:

“You work long hours, you get little money and you get shit on almost constantly. But it’s awesome! And you have an impact!”

— Sonya Quick, Voice of OC

If that isn’t true love for one’s occupation, I don’t know what is.

Putting the “Pro” in “gamer”

Putting the “Pro” in “gamer”

With Finals and graduation and all of that terrible real life stuff on the horizon, I’m staving off imminent insanity in the only way I know how:

Video games.

Specifically, finally trying out that brand new Nintendo Switch Pro Controller I got for my birthday. Two months ago.

To be fair, I mostly haven’t used it up until now for two reasons.

First being the obvious fact that I just haven’t had a whole lot of time to play as the semester has progressed. But also I’m just a stubborn baby that tried to convince himself his janky left Joy Con was still usable, despite a significant drift.

In retrospect I don’t know why I was such a stubborn baby. The Pro Controller is actually a solid accessory!

Not only does it fit comfortably in my hands, but I appreciate the grips not being made of the same material as the semi-transparent body, meaning they don’t get covered in fingerprints.

However, I did immediately come across some trouble with the concept of using a more traditional controller for the Switch…

It doesn’t work with every game.

I notably found this out while trying to play some Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee with Aly.

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She was complaining about the drifting Joy Con, so we tried to use the Pro Controller.

Turns out you can’t use it to do things like throw Pokéballs without the same gyroscopic technology, so they just didn’t add any functionality for the external apparatus.

Cool.

On the bright side, I’ve been able to properly try out the device with a pair of Indie titles I picked up again:

Both Wizard of Legend and Enter the Gungeon received recent updates, and I’ve been playing them to avoid slamming my head against a wall from all this work.

They both add a bunch of new content.

Wizard has a new locale called the Sky Palace (similar aesthetically to The Minish Cap‘s Palace of Winds, much to my nostalgic pleasure), new enemy types and a bunch of additional spells.

Meanwhile Gungeon got… Basically tons more of everything.

It’s amazing to me that such an already stuffed game has been filled with an almost imperceptibly large amount of extra content again. That’s good service if I’ve ever seen it.

The funniest thing about playing both of these titles in quick succession is how different the control schemes are, which makes it difficult to swap between the two.

For instance: In Gungeon, item pick-ups and general interactions are done with the “B” button, while shooting and dodge rolling are done with the triggers. But in Wizard, “B” cancels out all interactions and every action/magic command is done with the A/B/X/Y buttons.

But this difficulty context switching is only going to get worse tomorrow. Because we just found out that Nintendo is dropping the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 3.0 Update:

Joker is finally here with all of his funky Persona 5 music (and a ton of really well-done fan service by the looks of things).

Sakurai is appeasing his hordes of complaining fans by adding the Stage Builder we all thought was gone. Now with moving platforms!

Clips can be edited together and posted online via the Nintendo Switch.

Move over Adobe Premiere Pro, turns out I could have been learning how to edit video in Smash Bros. all along! That’s the future of journalism.

Frankly the only “bad” part of this whole update video is the fact that no teaser was dropped for the next DLC character. Nintendo could have kept us strung along for years if they doled out teasers for new fighters one at a time.

Yet that’s not even a reasonable “bad.” The fact that all this content is coming deep into the game’s life-cycle shows it has a god damn ton of longevity.

It’ll be rough switching between all those control schemes, but it’ll be worth it.

Especially on account of all these memes:

You’d be mistaken if you thought I wasn’t going to whittle my study time away building stages in Ultimate.

Even though the mode is based on drawing and I’ll probably be terrible at it.

At the very least I’ll try bringing back some Brawl classics for my friends and I to enjoy.

Who knows, maybe I’ll even introduce you all to the pit of death in the near future. We’ll just have to wait and see!

A video series to die for

A video series to die for

I can’t remember the last time I was so productive.

After a long night’s sleep, I got up early today and went to the gym. Then I came home, showered and made myself breakfast:

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Eggs AND bacon? Wild.

I don’t even know who I am anymore.

After all that, I also went ahead and kicked off my work for the day. Mostly sending out emails to various sources.

It’s the least I could do after wasting most of yesterday thinking too hard about Wacky Races. I love the post, but boy did I spend way too much time writing it.

Naturally that means it’s time to waste more time blog writing. Gotta finish what I started.

I’m always on the lookout for new videos and podcasts to play in the background of my life.

Those usually involve video game content (though I might have to reshuffle some mainstays after reading this stellar Kotaku article), but I also really enjoy movie-focused videos.

“Kill Count,” a new series I recently discovered by the channel Dead Meat — hosted by James A. Janisse — fits the latter.

Yet it fills a different niche than I usually focus on: Horror movies.

Specifically appreciating the often creative, over-the-top kills in horror movies. Or, as the pendulum tends to swing, also lampooning the uncreative and lazy sides of horror.

When the channel first appeared in my recommendations, I was a bit misled. I expected the videos to just be montages. A Buzzfeed-esque “top ten kills” kind of premise. Specifically my first experience was for John Carpenter’s 1982 classic The Thinga video of his I watched because I’ve been interested in the film’s practical effects recently.

But that video, and the “Kill Count” series as a whole, is much smarter.

It’s essentially a series of spoiler-laden reviews, talking about movie plots, development cycles and places in history as much as they focus on the kills.

Every video also includes a break-down of the victims in each film (showing the interesting bent toward male deaths in cinema), a specified “best” and “worst” kill distinction as well as a live bit playing on events from the movie.

However, I think one of my favorite things about “Kill Count” is how funny the series is. The videos are nearly satirical movie reviews that provide great commentary and mile-a-minute jokes.

Janisse breaks the fourth wall a lot to remind the audience that they’re watching a review for yucks more than a serious catalog of deaths.

My favorite instance was in his 2010 Predators Kill Count:

“I just do these videos to make jokes, y’all. I’m not an official dead body census taker.”

I’m in the midst of binging through his reviews of classics like the Alien movies, and they’ve been wonderful background noise while working on Gladeo pieces.

Pieces which should be published by the end of the month, as far as I’m aware. Just so you all can keep it on your calendars.

Janisse also has a podcast that I may have to be on the lookout for now that I’ve blown through The Dropout.

So that’s my recommendation for the day.

If you like horror movies, comedic takes and creative deaths, “Kill Count” is worth a watch. Just as long as you don’t mind spoilers.


Featured Image courtesy of Gaurav Shakya via Wikimedia Commons

Jason finally learns how to make GIFs

Jason finally learns how to make GIFs

Look at that, folks from yesterday’s post.

This is what we in the business call “good continuity.”

For those of you who don’t care to dive into the rabbit hole: Hello!

Welcome to me talking about today’s Society of Professional Journalists — Cal State Fullerton chapter meeting.

I’ve been our branch Secretary for a year now, but last semester the meetings conflicted with my three-hour Visual Communications class.

So this semester I’ve been better about going. Even if that means commuting for just that, like today.

Doing so has offered me the chance to live tweet a guest presentation by Washington Post editor Gene Park:

Then it took me on a tour of the CBS2/KCAL9 Broadcast Center.

Today, the train of interesting things continued as we hosted USC Digital Journalism Professor Amara Aguilar.

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Here she is (right) with our chapter president, Harrison Faigen (left).

The funny thing is, I’ve attended one of her presentations.

Last year at the ACP Convention in Long Beach, I learned about Google reporting tools like the Cardboard VR camera from Aguilar. Wrote all about it here.

Today she went over a couple of different tools that are useful for journalists to create a better social media presence on platforms like Twitter and Instagram.

The presentation started with a few general tips, despite the idea that most content is tailored to the platform.

Primarily that social media content is best if it “awe” a viewer, provides them “laughter and amusement,” or instills some sense of “empathy” and “surprise.”

Then I jotted down this quote about how social media should be used to connect with people:

“When you’re looking at your device late at night before bed, people want to see personal content,” Aguilar said.

Personal stuff is particularly effective when it’s visual, so she spent her time teaching us about two apps anyone can access on their mobile devices.

First, the graphic design portion of the Adobe Creative Cloud: Adobe Spark Post.

If you’ve spent a lot of time on social media or digital news sites like Now This, you’ve likely seen the kinds of images with text overlays that Spark Post is good for.

Because CSUF students have free use of the Adobe Creative Cloud, we were able to practice creating our own.

For the purposes of goofing around, I reused this image from my post-Us Twitter freak-out:

And reimagined it as this baseless Peanut’s fan graphic:

Nice, huh?

I think that resource is pretty neat, but mostly because it’s good for cropping images to dimensions used by specific social media sites.

The piece above being perfect for Instagram, apparently.

Dunno about that… I’ll let you know if I get more than just four likes on the post I made using it.

What I can see as being more useful to me in the long-run was her introduction to the GIPHY CAM app.

See, I’m a man who likes a good GIF — and I pronounce it both ways, so don’t bother asking.

I’ve always been interested in making my own, but never enough to seek out good ways to do so.

When I’m on my phone, this app seems like a pretty decent approach.

For instance, check out this practice GIF I made attempting to create a looping image:

Isn’t it amazing how I’m not only chubby, pimpled, clearly sleep-deprived and unshaven, but also that I couldn’t get the camera to sit perfectly still even when I had it propped up on a table?

I love that about myself.

Probably not the most successful first GIF attempt, but now that I know about this app I can get more practice.

Perhaps one day I’ll be skilled enough to make silly comic book GIFs in a big news story like this UFC girl piece from Medium Aguilar showed us.

Funny enough, this SPJ meeting was held in Professor Frank Russell‘s Comm 201 class. There was an issue booking the Titan Student Union.

Almost three years ago I first started my Twitter account in 201 because he required it. I’ve come to both thank him because it taught me a lot about social media, but also resent him after spending hours mindlessly scrolling.

Now that I’m about to graduate, it looks like I’m still learning new things about social media with him.

Isn’t it amazing how things come full circle?

Unraveling more YouTube recommendations

Unraveling more YouTube recommendations

You can spin this blog post today one of two ways.

Perhaps this is a public service for all of those affected by the over 10-hour Facebook outages that affected the social media platform and its company’s holdings (including Instagram and WhatsApp) for some reason other than a denial-of-service attack — an issue which they, in my opinion, hilariously had to go to another platform to report:

Those folks addicted to these apps like I sometimes become with Twitter are likely looking for something interesting to do to bide their time.

Interesting, time-wasting YouTube channels happen to be my area of expertise.

… Or, perhaps this post is a futile effort to write something on my blog daily, after a day of two-hour Comm Law exams and finishing my listen to Ender’s Game while at the gym where I could not come up with anything better than yesterday despite saying I would. But in place of that interesting subject matter, I’ve simply decided to guise my lazy alternative in the guise of the solution to a social media-driven turmoil that has long ended by the time I began writing; all due to the aforementioned requirements.

But I think we all know which is the true answer to the question.

That said, I’ve delayed the inevitable long enough.

While my parents travelled around California going to different doctor’s appointments on Monday, I was in charge of my sister back home. We more-or-less spent the afternoon sitting beside one another on the couch doing homework and watching YouTube videos.

Among the usual line-up of Game Grumps and Super Beard Bros. videos taking up time, we were recommended a strange looking think piece on the “Sonic the Hedgehog Bible.”

That’s the kind of offer we couldn’t refuse.

So we didn’t.

And thus we discovered the magic that is Unraveled: A show by the gaming news website Polygon, helmed by their video producer Brian David Gilbert.

As someone who appreciates few things more than highly-analytical, well-produced and funny content deeply examining video games, this YouTube series earns my highest recommendation.

The show, in essence, takes huge amounts of data and information from the video games themselves or from real-world (often governmental) organizations that can be used for video game applications and just distills them down into quippy 15-minute binges that use massive amounts of paper for on-the-wall diagrams with rarely an apology.

It’s a beautiful sight to behold.

While we started with their Sonic Bible episode, I was also a big fan of his dive into madness on the Legend of Zelda timeline, breakdown of hundreds of Mega Man Robot Masters and look at how Bowser’s army would be organized in relation to the U.S. Army.

An oddly prescient piece considering Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé announced his retirement just a few days after it dropped, leaving it in the hands of a man literally named Bowser.

I won’t say I’m much for conspiracy theories… But the truth is out there.

Anyway, yeah. That’s my recommendation for the night.

If a YouTube show can get my sister of all people excited to watch deep-diving video game content, you know it has to be good.

So give Unraveled a look, if you would.


Featured Image courtesy of Gaurav Shakya via Wikimedia Commons

Media re-consumption

Media re-consumption

Everyone always talks about the book being better than the movie.

But where do most people stand on the audio book compared to the book?

That’s pretty much what I’m going to be sussing out for myself in the next couple days as I listen to the Orson Scott Card classic Ender’s Game on Audible.

Not an ad for Audible, but could be an ad for Audible?

Hit me up, Audible. I could stand to listen to more books and it might help if I had extra motivation.

Anyway though. I will be listening to Ender’s Game over the next few days.

I’ve actually read the book before, years ago — sometime just before or after I blew through my Dad’s big physical collection of the Hitchhiker’s Guide series (condensed into one publication).

I was having a hell of a space phase back in Middle School/early High School, apparently.

However, as a part of the curriculum for Gaming in American Culture, I must read the book again. Apparently it fits in well with the themes of video game use by the military, our discussion for this upcoming class.

As much as I enjoyed the book years ago, and certain scenes continue to stick in my head (mostly the bursts of graphic violence and groin kicking oddly enough), I don’t exactly have a lot of time to sit down and read ~350 pages in the span of three days.

Midterms have stolen that from me.

So I’m going to be listening to the story instead. Work it in during my drives in place of podcasts for a while.

I don’t listen to audio books too often, so it should be interesting to see how the experience lives up to my time with the original book. Will I retain more? Will I notice things that I never have before? Will I use that momentum to finally go ahead and listen to/read the sequel novels past the quarter of Ender’s Shadow I read back in the day?

And the most important question of them all:

Will the audio book be better than the movie?

Yes, yes it will.

Because most things are better than suffering through Harrison Ford phoning things in.

Even if the rest of the movie was pretty good around that, from what I remember.

Now, I know what you must all be thinking. “Jason, is this really the peak highlight from your day? The most worthwhile thing you can talk about?”

To that I say… Yes. Kind of.

If I were to be completely honest, the most interesting part of my day was watching huge groups of butterflies migrate across Redondo Beach, as well as the rest of Southern California apparently.

When I was picking up my sister from school, there were so many butterflies going around that I thought they were leaves at first.

It was nuts.

But I also don’t have a lot to say on it considering I didn’t take photos or videos of the phenomenon. So that LA Taco article will have to do.

Beyond that, all my time today has been devoted to the gym and homework. So… Yeah, disregarding butterflies, listening to the audio book for a book I have already read is the most interesting part of my day.

Purely due to the more philosophical questions I’ll be considering about the difference in media consumption over the next few days.

So hey, maybe I’ll come back to this topic at the end of the week.

Or even if I don’t, maybe I’ll have some more interesting blog topics from here on out!

We’ll just have to see.

Schrödinger’s @

Schrödinger’s @

This little premise is probably something that could be served better as a brief question on Twitter, but I figured I would pose a more elaborate version on the off-chance I get interesting responses beyond the shelf life of a tweet.

It’s undeniable that the language of social media has injected itself into our common vernacular, to the point that I can say something like “the shelf life of a tweet” without turning any heads — Just imaging saying that to someone from the 1800s!

However, I’m not particularly concerned about social media terms in real life, general use.

My inquiry is aimed toward how people use an at sign (@) or hashtags (#) ((or the pound sign, though that’s not how I’ll be using it)) in the world of Twitter reading.

That probably sounds like dumb technobabble, so let me explain further.

Obviously the at sign and hashtags serve functional purposes in the world of Twitter. The prior acts as a mention to draw attention to individuals, while the latter compiles specific topics for analytics on what might be popular.

They are essential elements one must know when using the service to get the most out of it.

With brief research I found this hilariously academic and sterile handbook “tips” page for utilizing these two elements of Twitter. It reminded me that some people are not hooked into this stupid website yet and might not understand its digital language.

Outside of their mechanical functionality, both symbols have audible names so they can be discussed in the abstract. Even if I sometimes just mime mid-air finger drawings that vaguely resembles the “@” symbol during real life interactions.

Other symbols in our language have similar mechanical functionality while also being named for discussion.

The last sentenced ended with a period, which either sits silently due to our shared understanding of what it represents (an end point) or can be audibly referred to for emphasis.

Period. End of story.

Yet the period has existed for hundreds of years, affording it a place in the general lexicon that is taught in every high school English class. We all, I assume, have the same understanding of the period’s uses in the manner I have described.

I’m just not sure whether or not the same thing exists for modern pseudo-punctuation.

It does seem common enough for people to say the word “hashtag” before mentioning the word that follows.

But is it the same for the at sign?

There is a concept called the “Inner Reading Voice” that I guarantee you’re all familiar with. While you read this blog post to yourself, you’re likely reading it — as if out loud — in your own head.

For those of you who frequent Twitter as often as I do, I have to ask: How does your Inner Reading Voice handle an at sign in mentions?

I’ve always found that I struggle with two different approaches, and I’d like to know whether I’m crazy.

Do you…

  • Completely ignore the symbol’s existence and continue the sentence as normal?

Or-

  • Actually read the at sign out loud as if it is an extra word in the sentence?

This distinction seems small, but I would wager it makes a big difference grammatically.

For instance, this is the Tweet I wrote to promote my recent Umbrella Academy review.

Did you read this:

  • “… I just couldn’t get Netflix’s Umbrella Academy out of my head.”

Or-

  • “… I just couldn’t get at Netflix’s Umbrella Academy out of my head.”

For this sentence I wager it would not make sense to include the ‘at’ verbally.

However, let’s say I wrote half a dozen tweets asking Netflix to start streaming Umbrella Academy season 2 already. I get tired of throwing all my complaints at the service and express it in a further tweet.

How would you write that?

  • “I’m tired of throwing all these tweets at @netflix, why won’t they answer?!”

Or-

  • “I’m tired of throwing all these tweets @netflix, why won’t they answer?!”

Either could potentially work. Either you read the “@” as an extra word or ignore the “@” as a purely mechanical necessity when mentioning Netflix.

As someone who tries to sounding grammatically correct in my open publications, I suppose the usage I would consider correct depends on context.

If there would be an ‘at’ naturally before the at sign, I might be inclined to leave it out at risk of sounding repetitive.

However, if no at would naturally preceed the symbol, I would just ignore that at sign.

Thus my question remains: How do you handle the @ when you’re reading through Twitter? Are you like me, depending on context? Or do you adamantly always/never read the symbol out loud?

Science demands your compliance in this unofficial study.


Featured Image courtesy of Post of Moldova via Wikimedia Commons

What it’s like to live in California

What it’s like to live in California

Being a connoisseur of popular culture that often turns a self-reflective mirror on the land of its origin — Hollywood and California as a whole, I’ve heard every joke about the Golden State.

I know all about the country’s perception that CA is a safe haven for crazy health-nut vegans, sunrise surfers-turned-CEOs, nerdy tech moguls living life in their slide-filled Silicon Valley offices and high-price juice shops, stoners riding skateboards down the beach promenade and, of course, fashion-conscious movie stars making the exact same schlock which perpetuates these views.

When they aren’t starring in Marvel films.

Well I’m here to report that all of these stereotypes are, in fact…

Entirely correct.

Even as a 21-year-old native to the west coast, I’ve never quite been in a place that screams ‘California liberal kookiness’ quite as much as Lazy Acres Natural Market.

This place is a Whole Foods-esque supermarket born and raised right here in the Golden State, and I swear it’s the one place you need to bring anybody from a fly-over state to assure them that everything the T.V. says about California is true.

So first off, most of the products are the kind of low-everything, non-GMO, gluten-free products you’d expect to see.

My favorites were these knock-off versions of popular candies

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Sour Blast Buddies, Sweet Fish and… Gummy Bears. Not trademarked I guess?

However, it’s much more fun to look at some of the individual portions of the store beyond generally ‘normal’ things like rows of fruit or 20 bottled water brands.

For instance this chain-specific juice bar/coffee shop:

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Or this absolutely massive collection of nuts:

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Every creed of nut is in this store. I didn’t know there were this many kinds of nuts!

I also didn’t know I could say nut this many times in one place without bursting into laughter.

Maybe the laughter was suppressed by trying to figure out this bizarre self-filling water station:

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Because you know. When I’m looking for “deionized” or “high pH alkaline” water, I want to go to my local supermarket and fill up a jug using a machine that looks like a mutated soda or ice cream dispenser.

That’s definitely one of the weirder things here.

Slightly less weird, but also very Californian, is the fresh sushi bar:

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A sushi bar in the middle of the supermarket.

Sure, why not.

That sushi bar is actually a part of the larger ‘kitchen’ section of the store, where they also sell sandwiches and salad bars full of hot food like mac n’ cheese. Right next to some cafeteria tables and a private room where cooking classes are held.

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Oh but don’t worry, ladies and gentlemen, I saved the best for last.

After everything I’ve shown you, is there any part of a supermarket you think Lazy Acres is missing? Merchandise to show the world you belong to their unique brand, perhaps?

Well yes, that exists.

An Instagram account?

Wouldn’t be a hipster, vegan supermarket without letting fans interact with overproduced brand advertisements over social media.

Or maybe, just maybe…

You think they’re missing a massive beehive right in the middle of the store.

Well, if you thought so, you’d be wrong.

Because they already have it:

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Not the Bees!

Look, I’ll be honest with all of you right now. When this place opened up in the shopping center over by my house, I didn’t have a particular desire to go in. We only happened to be there tonight to buy dinner.

Looked a little bougie. Real expensive, healthy supermarkets aren’t exactly uncommon in California, so I’d seen plenty and didn’t expect much.

But when I saw a god damn case full of bees in the middle of the store? I lost my mind.

Why would anyone want to go to this place for a second time after they find out there’s an actual, legitimate chance for bees to be released on an unsuspecting urban population in the middle of an enclosed space?

It’s just wild.

If nothing else, I can complement Lazy Acres for having nice counters around the edges. The meat, seafood and bakery sections all had good selections:

Plus I got a really nice meal out of the kitchen area!

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Yet unfortunately, alongside the craziness of the bees, it also introduced me to this monstrosity…

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So I’m pretty sure everything balances out and I will never go back to this crazy place.

California hath bested me.

Unexpected technological developments

Unexpected technological developments

I had a few friends over this afternoon as a last-ditch hangout for Winter Break. Back to school Tuesday.

Woo-hoo.

We watched a couple of movies together. Mortal Engines was a total dumpster fire. Then Isle of Dogs was a decent palate cleanser in spite of it being super weird.

However I’m not planning on talking about either in heavy detail today. Nor am I planning on going back to talk about Green Book, as I mentioned in my Fantastic Beasts post yesterday. Though out of every movie I just mentioned, Green Book is the one you should see.

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A leftover from my plans to maybe talk about the movie today.

It’s a really solid period piece following a working-class Italian-American family man chauffeuring a gay, black, eccentric musician across the Deep South during the 1960s. Super great music, characters and a well-written script.

Would highly recommend.

Though if you hadn’t gathered it from the leading information on this post, instead of talking about movies I have an update on something totally different.

A few weeks ago I wrote about getting a computer for Gladeo stuff. I didn’t touch it for a while because the semester got busy and there wasn’t a lot of space in my room to fit a new PC.

But when I cleaned my room recently, I pushed back my TV cabinet so there would be that necessary space. After that I wanted to sit down with my Dad to set the computer up, but there have been various waves of sickness running through the house.

I didn’t expect all of that to come to a head tonight. I simply underestimated the drive of my friend Juan, who is super into computers. Like builds his own PCs from scratch.

Which sounds familiar if you remember my Bumblebee review, I’m sure.

When I first got the machine he asked about the specs, but as someone who doesn’t pay that much mind I wasn’t even really sure where to find them. Time went by and we all kind of forgot about it.

But then we went to grab something in my room tonight, he caught sight of the machine and started to look it over. One thing led to another and soon enough part of the hangout turned into setting up computer time.

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I’m officially a proponent of free labor.

Turns out that extra space I laid out works pretty well for what I need:

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Even though I might not keep the extension cords squished between the machine and my desk, I’ll have to decide later.

In the meantime we booted this thing up and decided to take a look.

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Check out that pretty display. It’s certainly a step up from the desktop Mac that was there before, which I might not ever have to plug-in again considering I took everything that I wanted.

So now I have a brand new computer to toy around with as the spring 2019 semester begins.

… Or actually, perhaps not so soon. Apparently the machine can’t connect to wi-fi, and we might have to figure out a different way to get the thing online.

I’ll have to sit down with my Dad and look things over later. Maybe tomorrow.

For now I’m going to go back to waiting on that super blood moon and watching Bob’s Burgers with the crew. Because god damn that show is funny.