Tag: University Honors Program

Giving back

Giving back

Happy Homestuck day!

The phenomenon may have ended a few years ago, but my friend Juan‘s adjustments to our group Discord server shows that it’s still a holiday we celebrate.

Amazing how much of an impact that webcomic has had even…

Ten years later?

God I’m old.

Okay, let’s move on before I lose my mind.

It’s rare that I come to Cal State Fullerton on a weekend since I left the Daily Titan, but somehow I managed to get myself here two days this weekend.

Yesterday I was doing some work on behalf of the Honors Center. Today I was doing some work on behalf of SPJ.

It was Welcome to CSUF day! An annual event for incoming freshmen and transfer students to visit campus and check out different clubs and organizations.

I have some pretty strong memories of my welcome day four years ago, speaking of getting old.

It was the first time I met Bonnie, the recently retired Daily Titan advisor, and her sweet little doggo in a stroller.

Talk about a good first impression for an upcoming three-year stint on the paper!

Thus I know the event works.

So now that I’m the Secretary for our campus’ SPJ branch, I figured it would only be right to give back by telling new students about what kind of experiences the journalism program offered me.

… Especially since it got me a little more gif practice:

I was stationed on the lawn between the Education and Engineering buildings, standing in the sun alongside Kat Abando, a fellow soon-to-be graduate who I’ve worked with on the paper.

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Looked a little flushed after all was said and done, even though we had a large tent for all the Comm organizations to stave off the heat.

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More gif practice, baby

That harsh sun wasn’t enough to keep new students away however.

A ton of people were admitted for the upcoming year according to the school’s Associate Vice President of Student Engagement, which means there were a whole lot of bodies wandering campus.

By the end of the day, SPJ had at least 20 signatures from people interested in joining the club. Not a terrible haul, and everyone I got to talk with personally seemed really interested!

Especially after I humble-bragged just a little about awards I’ve gotten thanks to my on-campus engagement.

To be fair I was usually just explaining stuff that Kat was suggesting as examples. So it wasn’t like I was being entirely self-serving of my own accord.

Though it did feel good to see people impressed as I told them about stuff.

So that’s pretty cool.

A lot of my time was just standing around talking, so I can’t say a whole lot of interesting things about the experience in retrospect.

However, it was definitely great getting to see the generation coming in right as I’m on my way out.

There was a passing of the torch kind of sentimentality to the whole affair, and while I continue to be stressed about the whole graduation, seeing a strong brood on the way made me feel a lot better.

So here’s to the next generation.

Opening a forum

Opening a forum

Not long ago, the University Honors Program gave me an opportunity to add “event planner” onto my résumé.

Now it let me add “forum moderator” to the list as well.

For the last few days, the program has been holding Open Forums to introduce students to the three finalists vying to be next year’s Associate Director.

Co-Curricular Coordinator Tyler reached out to see if I wanted to be a student representative and ask some questions, given I already had some clout with the Honors Center as an Ambassador.

I saw no reason why not. Sure there are superficial benefits to the event being résumé filler and something to do on a Friday (slyly for blog purposes), but it also seemed like fun! An extension of personally sitting on panels.

Plus I was slated to run the forum for Craig McConnell, who I know pretty well.

I’ve had a lot of classes with the guy, most recently my Evolution and Creation course last semester.

Perhaps that makes me bias. Especially considering I didn’t go to either Open Forums prior… But I was just there to ask questions, so I wouldn’t lose sleep over it.

At the same time as I was asking questions, I decided to take advantage of my recent training with SPJ by practicing image graphics for my social media feeds.

My role as a moderator meant I couldn’t Live Tweet as I often do, but I tried to put out at least two nice graphics at the start of the forum.

Here’s what I did for Twitter:

And this one is my piece for Instagram:

Figured having slightly different pictures to go along with the slightly different messages on each platform would make sense.

Perhaps I could have been more creative… But practice is practice.

Plus, there weren’t a lot of opportunities to get diverse pictures given the paltry audience we gathered on a Friday at the commuter college.

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The event was mainly for Dr. Perez (left) and Tyler (unpictured), as they are going to be voting on the new Associate Director soon. Other students were there mostly for McConnell to address and field questions from.

I featured two quotes in those social media posts, but those were drawn primarily from the start of the Open Forum.

We also went into specific ideas for improving the Honors student community engagement (because commuter campus) and the possible role of an Associate Director in helping students figure out their career trajectories beyond course adjustments.

Because you know. I work for a career oriented non-profit.

And wanted to write off this event as Internship hours.

Yet as vaguely self-serving as that was, Dr. McConnell had a good response:

“I think colleges should give students a few years to expand their minds,” he said of his concern that traditional schooling is too tunnel-visioned about post-grad careers. “But I’m also aware that it becomes more important every year for schools to help students find jobs as soon as they leave.”

He pivoted on my question quickly and easily, so I was impressed.

The only line of questioning I was unfortunately not able to delve into was arguably the most important.

I should have asked him what he thought of the Star Wars Episode IX teaser! It dropped about a half an hour before our event, so that would have been a perfect barometer of his cultural absorption.

But oh well.

Maybe next time.

The dungeons prequel

The dungeons prequel

We are officially one week away from Dungeons and Dragons day in my Gaming in American Culture class.

Toward the beginning of the semester I listed D&D day as one of the enticing course elements, so being on the cusp makes me salivate with anticipation.

Considering I barely have any experience outside of one character building session in high school, I’ve gotten a little practice. We played D&D at the party I brought my Redondo Beach friends to in Fullerton over Spring Break.

I kicked ass as my pre-built elf sorcerer Elfson.

But in-class today we prepared for our upcoming escapades in a different way: Talking about the moral panics caused by D&D.

Because you know. If something is fun and leaning in a pagan direction, parents are going to freak out about it.

Looking at you, Pokémon. And also Pokémon.

… Okay, it’s not entirely fair to simplify that into a joke. We actually discussed interesting aspects behind the 1980’s D&D panic, including the perceived loss of self-identity to multiple, fractured fantasy identities steeped in olde mythological traditions of witchcraft and monsters.

It just so happens that you can only showcase the moral panic by laying out all of the over-the-top examples of role-playing game hysteria.

Most notably: Dark Dungeons.

This amazing comic created by Jack T. Chick in 1984 seems to be the perfect embodiment of Big Brother wiping out imagination and personal expression in exchange for the conformity of true-blue American Catholicism.

Or that’s how my boy Mitchell perceived it, at least.

There are arguably kernels of truth in Chick’s fear of fantasy overwhelming reality. It’s hard to take the guy seriously when you write such lines as:

“Lord Jesus … you guide me through life. I want You to be in charge of everything…not that lousy D&D manual.”

Following the deus ex machina of random friend appearing to save the damsel in distress — having apparently prayed and fasted for her off-screen.

Or at least… I find it hard to take this comic seriously.

Apparently others do not, as a short film adaptation came out in 2014.

Something I only know about because my friend Jonathan reminded me that JonTron put out a video about the movie in 2016.

Isn’t the internet just a god damn beautiful mess?

But wait, that’s not all!

On top of Dark Dungeons, we spent part of our class period watching and discussing Mazes and Monsters.

The 1982 Tom Hanks flick where then-unknown sentient toy cowboy / crazy stranded FedEx employee / historic figure with a pension for chocolate almost kills himself after getting so invested in a parody of D&D that he can no longer distinguish fantasy from real life.

It’s amazing that Hanks went on to have one of the most successful actor careers of all time with a start as wild as Mazes and Monsters.

With all of that said, it only makes sense that we get to risk our lives playing the tabletop role-playing game for our entire next class period.

By God am I looking forward to it.


P.S. — There was another cool part of my day that I wanted to talk about, but could not think of an organic way to include it. Outside of there being vaguely related fantasy elements.

So I’ll just pin it down here.

During the break between my classes, Dr. Sandra Perez (the Director of the University Honors Program) brought over an underclassman while I was working in the Honors Center because she wants to write a fiction novel for her senior project.

Apparently I was the expert in that department, as Dr. Perez said she was very impressed with all of the pre-planning she’d seen me do for my novel.

It was nice to be considered an expert in something like that!

Or at least the most readily available spring of knowledge.


Featured Image courtesy of Philip Mitchell via Wikimedia Commons

Another day, another exam

Another day, another exam

The first day back from Spring Break went off pretty well all things considered!

Last night I expressed some concern about a Cognitive Psychology exam that would be greeting me after a week of lazing around.

My feelings were mixed about it. On the one hand I gave the material zero attention over the break because I was busy hanging out with friends and doing internship stuff, so I couldn’t help but imagine walking into a nightmare. On the other hand the class’s first exam was very easy, so I didn’t feel the need to spend a lot of time studying.

Luckily the lazy side of my intuition won out.

The test was rather easy, and even though I haven’t seen the official grades come out (we took it at 1:00 p.m. today), I did my own basic calculations off of what I didn’t know and figure I’ll get a 92 percent at the lowest.

Unless I’m wrong about what I don’t know, of course. But my intuition is usually solid.

The thing that got me about the exam was how haphazardly our professor seemed to handle things. Firstly, she decided to announce that she added extra free response questions to our docket only five minutes before passing out the exam.

Would’ve been nice to get some advanced notice over Spring Break… But then again, she promised to post the kind of scantron we would need and didn’t get around to that either.

So who knows. Teachers need a week to relax too.

There was also a stretch of seven questions at the beginning of the test where every answer was “C,” which made me second-guess my choices despite knowing they were correct.

I don’t have proof that it was on purpose… But that kind of trickery always felt like a joke on behalf of professors to stress us students out.

After finishing up the exam, everything else was smooth sailing clear to nightfall.

I managed to secure my Commencement tickets, another topic I touched on last night. Even made a fun little Tweet out of it:

It was a legitimately weird process.

Spent a little bit of time in the Honors Center after that, finding out some more about another event I’m taking part in this Friday and working on my novel.

Felt good when I sent the next chunk of the story to my mentor tonight, even if Spring Break wasn’t as lucrative for the writing process as I wanted it to be. At least I’ve done something, and the more I write the better I’ll look come my presentation in May!

I also watched/listened to some cool things I suppose. The latest Mostly Nitpicking podcast on X-Men: Apocolypse. The most recent KingK video on The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks.

Lots of nice things.

That’s really all I’ve got to say for the night, though. It’s been another lukewarm kind of day with a lot of work and not much else.

Tomorrow I’ll be able to break things up with a Fire Emblem Heroes post (as exciting as I’m sure that is for you all), and Friday I should hopefully have something to write about my next Honors event.

But until then, I’ll just be here keeping up the ‘mundane day-to-day’ posts train that the end of the semester has brought out of its station.

Truly wacky

Truly wacky

I was planning on taking today to write about a new YouTube series I’ve come to love.

However, that’s on the back-burner after I discovered something more wacky to discuss from a more traditional visual medium.

I’m not blind to the fact that the 2010’s media landscape is a minefield of reboots, remakes and sequels.

Properties that aren’t based on comic books or old television and movies struggle to break into blockbuster budget range. Just look at this line-up for remakes and reboots in 2019, which doesn’t include the glut of tentpole cinematic sequels.

From The Walt Disney Company alone we have Avengers: Endgame, Star Wars Episode 9, Frozen 2and now X-Men: Dark Phoenix.

I wager this proliferation of content comes largely from two areas.

Firstly, Internet remix culture. This 2015 Tech Crunch piece elaborates further, but in essence the Internet has created a people interested in re-consuming the same ideas with transformed variations and assimilated elements.

If the blanket of ‘memes’ don’t cover that idea in a personal enough manner, I’m in the process of writing a book that’s essentially just assimilating other fantasy genre properties.

There are no new ideas.

The second cause is the success of recognizable brands. Remakes are safer investments for studios than novel properties, as general audiences are more likely to pay for a movie featuring iconography they know and love.

It’s a phenomenon you see way before 2019 in all sorts of entertainment mediums.

So to reiterate: Content generally does better if it has an established name and does something to re-contextualize old idea.

Now, with all that said…

Who the fuck decided it was a good idea to bring Wacky Races back?

1968 vs. 2017

I discovered the 1968 Hanna-Barbera cartoon’s 2017 reboot while watching Cartoon Network’s IP graveyard Boomerang with my Mom this afternoon.

My two-year late discovery of the show might be a bad sign. But to be fair, I’m not as avid a Cartoon Network viewer as I was in the 2000s.

Considering the show has two seasons, perhaps it’s popularity in circles I don’t frequent.

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The Creepy Coupe [1]
Based on the two episodes I watched with morbid curiosity, I can’t imagine that’s the case.

It has a quickly cobbled together, rubbery and unappealing visual style akin to later seasons of Johnny Test (a show I enjoyed before its decade run gave way to factory-churned quality).

The show also has weird tonal inconsistencies. The original was true to its name, as every episode was a different wacky race with bizarre stipulations.

In the first episode of the 2017 series I watched, there was a wacky race in which the original Dastardly returned, suggesting less of a reboot and more of a continuation.

The next episode was in space, and wacky racers were now garbage collectors. For no explained reason. Even though they kept their individualized get-ups, there were no races.

A good sign for a show called “Wacky Races.”

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The Army Surplus Special [2]
That said, the show’s character designs are visually appealing and the theme song is iterated upon well for a decent soundtrack.

But these are elements lifted directly from the old series, and the 2017 characters are paper-thin archetypes at best that rely on forced, surrealist humor and returning elements like Muttley’s snickering that are somehow both referential and current, all-encompassing character traits.

I’m willing to bet the pitch for the show was simply bringing that iconic laugh back into mainstream consciousness.

One thing that stood out in my viewing: I’m not sure what audience this reboot is targeting. Its simplicity is bland even for a younger Cartoon Network demographic, but there is a heavy leaning on dated references for fans of the ’68 version.

For example: In the spacefaring episode, Dastardly pretends to be Space Ghost so he can sneak onto the garbage collecting ship.

This joke was actually the catalyst for my post, because… Really? Space Ghost?

I know Adult Swim and Channel Chasers kept him relevant well beyond his shelf life, but what kid in 2019 is going to know what Space Ghost was?

In fact, this lazily executed “fellow 60’s cartoon” reference raises more questions. Why would these characters know who Space Ghost is if, as the other episode suggested, they are the grandchildren of the original Wacky Racers?

Full disclosure, I know I’m overthinking things. But when your show is so dull that this is all I can think about, there’s something wrong.

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The Mean Machine [3]
Frankly this whole post probably seems like needlessly overthinking children’s entertainment. Why does Wacky Races matter as much as I seem to suggest?

The thing is… It doesn’t. Which is kind of the point.

I have fond memories watching re-runs of the 1968 show, but I’m under no delusion that it was perfect television.

Wacky Races suffered from the same budget shortcuts of endless animation loops and recycling story ideas as The Flintstones and other serialized Hanna-Barbara cartoons in its mold.

They were flawed, but incredibly important and popular parts of animation history.

The YouTuber Saberspark has a wonderful series on the rise-and-fall of different animation companies, and recently featured Hanna-Barbara.

It’s a great tribute, but perhaps it primed me to quickly perceive this reboot as a lazy cash grab. The kind of product that retroactively degrades a show’s popular perception, or even dissuades a consumer from seeking the original they may be unaware exists.

But to be honest, Wacky Races (2017) could just as easily be a catalyst for curious youngsters to seek out the original piece of animation history.

I would hope such a mediocre reboot at least succeeds in keeping its predecessor alive.


Featured Image, as well as [1], [2] and [3] courtesy of big-ashb via Wikimedia Commons

Under pressure

Under pressure

I told myself I wasn’t going to do this.

“It’s too cliché,” I said. “Everyone will make fun of you for capitalizing on a wave of popularity.”

But you know what? This is my blog and I can do whatever I want.

Also, I couldn’t come up with anything substantial enough to be a feasible alternative.

So. Taking inspiration from my pressure cooker as well as Queen after the music copyright lecture in my Comm Law class (a follow-up to lectures I watched this weekend), I decided to go with it.

Let’s talk about how pressure led to me not knowing what to talk about.

Yesterday I wrote about the cool things I learned from Archivist Therese Martinez during a brief visit to the Redondo Union High School Alumni House.

To be honest… I feel like I half-assed that post.

Everything I talked about is great, and I genuinely learned a lot from Therese. But I write the vast majority in ~30 minutes while sitting in the Main Branch Public Library with less than 20 percent battery.

The ticking clock of my power situation, on top of knowing it’s a topic I will return to, led to silly things like stuffing information into a slideshow.

However, in spite of my reservations about the execution, Therese loved it. So much so that (after I made adjustments to inaccurate dates), she shared the piece with Admin.

Then with the Archives’ Facebook group.

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I scratch her back, she scratches my back, I scratch hers.

Suddenly this interesting, somewhat half-assed look at historical goods in my alma mater made my dinky personal blog blow the hell up.

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As of 7:40 p.m., about four hours after she asked to share.

That’s pretty awesome.

Except…

I don’t know about you, but when I have a burst of popularity it comes with baggage. Most notably the desire to follow-up with something significant and not disappoint those newcomers.

I’ve been stressing over what to write for a while now.

My first inclination was to write about my recent purchase of:

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On the Nintandoh Splorch!

There’s a bit of a story behind that purchase.

Yesterday, WayForward announced that they are on the verge of releasing the fifth game in the Shantae series — a collection of games that have been around since the Game Boy.

I adore Shantae. In my Sophomore year I binged the first three games on my 3DS after finding the fourth on Kickstarter. Mostly while waiting for my history class with Dr. Paulo Simoes.

However I never got around to playing Half-Genie Hero when it came out because money.

So Shantae 5 was announced, and guess what I found out next:

It truly was a dangerously effective strategy.

That seemed like the perfect opportunity to write something about my adoration of video games.

Open-and-shut case for a blog post. Right?

Well… It would have been. If I had any time to play the game beyond the title screen. But I haven’t, and probably won’t until Spring Break.

Hold that thought. I’ll probably have a review of the game sometime soon.

With that struck down, it was onto idea #2: Honors Project stuff.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m writing a fantasy genre subversion novel for my big Senior Project — the equivalent of a thesis for the University Honors Program.

One of my favorite pieces of side-content for the project has been my world map.

You know the kind. Those continent overviews you see at the beginning of Tolkien books.

I wrote a whole long post all about my adventure in mapmaking this semester, so you can read that to catch up.

The important thing is that I’ve continued to make adjustments to my novel’s continent Drocux in the weeks since. Namely adding names to every location, but also adding details like rivers and roads for more realistic topography:

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HexTML continues to serve me well, and it has been fun writing out lore to explain outlandish names (such as the Xilbalar Canyon above being named after a prominent Elven activist).

But I’m still adding new ideas almost every day, and if I’m going to deep dive into my EXTENSIVE LORE, I would like to do so with the complete product.

Thus, two ideas have been struck down.

And I couldn’t come up with a decent third.

By the time I combed through possibilities, I was home and had my magical encounter with the InstaPot in my Featured Image.

The rest, as they say, was history.

Hopefully you newcomers don’t feel like this was a waste of time — or get too annoyed at my somewhat blatant attempt to throw a lot of my old posts at you. All I needed to add was something about my journalism awards to give the full flavor of Jason.

Speaking of, tomorrow I’ll probably have a more serious post about the next Society of Professional Journalists meeting.

Assuming I don’t change my mind, I’ll look forward to possibly seeing you there.

Coursework influences art

It’s never fun when I have to head to campus on a day where I don’t have class.

After forgetting the gift cards for my Honors networking panel game on Wednesday like a dolt, I had to make arrangements with the winners to deliver their prizes.

One of them was most available today around 12:30 p.m.

Because I was the one who fucked up, I couldn’t try to waive off their best time because it wasn’t convenient for my do-nothing day. So I went to Fullerton to deliver the card.

The whole meeting took literally two seconds. It was ostensibly just a hand-off, and they left immediately after the product was given.

So yay. An hour’s worth of a drive for two seconds of pay-off.

On days such as these I usually try to find things to do so that my time is not wasted. When my attempts to reach out to a couple local friends all ended in failures, I resigned myself to whittling time away in the Honors Center with homework.

By working on homework, I mean working on Comm Law homework. Because that stuff takes hours — and in fact I was working on it all four hours I sat in the Center until it closed at 5:00 p.m.

Then I spent even more time on it after I got home from my ~hour & fifteen minute drive.

As much as I’m enjoying the class, the sheer amount of work is absolutely killer.

Yet, the lectures we had to look over this weekend spoke to me more than usual. Our topic was the one and only:

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Now I know what you must be asking yourself. “You don’t have any intellectual property, Jason. Why did this speak to you?”

First off, rude.

Second, given the requirements for copyright (having an original work of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression), I would say I have copyrighted intellectual property in both my journalism and whatever I’ve written on this blog.

Especially given the fact that copyright is written into the Constitution as pertaining to works beginning at the moment of their creation.

Unlike trademarks, which pertain to brands and aim to create an association with product quality so consumers can knowing what they’re buying. Because capitalism.

I don’t have a brand to protect, and trademarks only begin the moment they are put into commercial use. So I can’t claim I own that as easily as I do copyright to an extent.

Now. I’m sure some of you must be asking yourselves a different question. “Jason, why the hell are you spouting Comm Law nonsense at us? This isn’t a lecture.”

The point I’m aiming toward is that I’ve taken the opportunity to think about copyright further than just my journalistic writings. I’ve been thinking about a copyright that, at least to me, feels a bit more important in the moment.

I’m working on having a copyrighted work in the completely original intellectual property of my Senior Honors Project novel.

Though it’s obviously a pipe dream for a product I haven’t finished yet, something about learning the bundle of rights that come with a copyrighted work made me kind of giddy.

Five rights come with copyright that pertain to how one wants to divide up and license out their work:

  1. Distribution
  2. Display
  3. Reproduction
  4. Adaptation
  5. Performance

I’m not going to say I expect my novel to hit the same heights as, say, the Harry Potter series (which we used as an example).

A series of books which were licensed out to be reproduced and distributed by a publishing company. Then a series of movies which were adapted from those books that, in turn, had their own bundle of rights as an independent copyright.

But hey. It’s a nice dream, isn’t it?

The kind of dream that I may have more to talk about in the near future. Hint hint, wink wink.

Until then… Who would’ve guessed that Comm Law, of all classes, would help contribute to that dream in the most clinical, detached way imaginable.

My Interdisciplinary Networking Panel debrief

My Interdisciplinary Networking Panel debrief

After months of build up, today was the day.

Networking panel was a go.

Not even hail could keep me out of Fullerton this afternoon, where I finally got to follow-through on officially adding event planner onto my résumé (though I already technically did weeks ago).

I’m serious. It hailed in Southern California. An event so crazy that I scoured my car to find evidence of it once I got to campus.

Don’t think I’ve seen ice fall out of the sky since Elementary School.

But that’s not the point of why you’re all here. You’re here to read my writing on how the event panned out — assuming you didn’t follow my live tweeting (or you’re reading this years in the future).

I’ve discussed my road getting here numerous times in the past, but for the sake of catching everyone up quickly: I became a University Honors Program Ambassador after not nabbing a space on the Advisory Counsel, as the Co-Curricular Coordinator wanted to put the creative power of all us interested parties to good use.

Since then, I’ve been meeting with the Coordinator, Tyler, and a fellow Honors Program student Melina, once a week to plan a panel about interdisciplinary networking tips to find jobs and make connections within jobs.

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Here’s us, post-panel.

Today we finally got to take over the Honors Center on campus:

Unfortunately, the visual arts representative we invited got sick this morning and could not make it out. But she was gracious enough to send us documents with the kinds of tips she was going to share so we could lay it out for attendees.

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How gracious!

Without her we had three speakers and a moderator, Cassandra Thompson — College Career Specialist from the Career Center.

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Finally got to put that arts & crafts to good use.
  • Dr. Sandra Perez — University Honors Program Director and Pre-Doctorate Program Faculty Coordinator for the Graduate Studies Office
  • Dr. Shaun Pichler — Journal of Occupational & Organizational Psychology Associate Editor
  • Spencer Custodio — Reporter, Voice of OC

Spencer, true to form, was late to the event because he was covering a story. Even hung out a bit afterwards to turn in his copy before we went out to dinner.

Gotta love that man.

I’ll admit that I didn’t personally absorb a lot of what got discussed at the panel. I was too busy live tweeting.

But that said, I did get a lot of great tweets out of the event:

It figures I could only really enjoy my own event through the lens of journalistic objectivity.

After the panel, Justin Gerboc from the CSUF Alumni Association gave a presentation on the Titan Pro Network — which is essentially LinkedIn but concentrated to CSUF alum:

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He was pretty great, too. Real nice guy.

The only other hitch was that I was a dolt and forgot the Fandango gift cards that were planned to be prizes for our networking practice activity at home.

I’ll be bringing the winners their prizes within the next week or so. It was simply yet another reminder that you always have to be ready to improvise, because something perfect on paper might have some last-minute problems in execution.

However, as far as I could tell the audience we had was sizable and decently engaged, in spite of whatever problems we had with late/missing speakers and delayed prizes:

By the end of the afternoon we went well over the hour-and-a-half time slot planned out, and people were sticking around afterward to chat.

So… Yeah. I’d wager that my first ever adventure in event planning was some kind of success!

While I had a great time working with Tyler and Melina to set this whole thing up, I’ll admit that I’m glad it’s finally over. The Ambassador event was a decent time suck while I’ve been low-key stressing out about my Honors Project, Internship hours and midterms.

But hey, all that stress had to be worth it based on comments we got about attendees learning a lot.

That’s the whole reason we put this together in the first place.

So I’ll consider it mission accomplished.

Arts & Crafts with Jason Rochlin

Arts & Crafts with Jason Rochlin

Before you say anything, I know “name tag” is spelled with two words and not one. I was just trying to better emulate a traditional forename/surname structure.

On Valentine’s Day last month I talked about my current stint as a University Honors Ambassador. Essentially putting together an event for Honors students to enjoy alongside a fellow member of the program and the Co-Curricular Coordinator.

Something, something insert another joke about adding ‘event planner’ to my résumé again.

Even though that’s not really a joke.

I’m 100 percent adding that onto my CV.

Since I last talked about the event, we’ve done a sizable amount of work putting it all together. After securing the Career Center representative that I talked about in the last post, we’ve also gotten a journalist, a visual arts teacher and the associate editor of a psychology journal confirmed to come to CSUF on March 20.

On top of that, we’re also going to have a representative of the Alumni Association come in to talk about opportunities that students can use after they graduate.

Which is something I should actually pay attention to at this point. Pretty scary.

We also have a plan in place for some food to have at the event and there’s possibly going to be a networking-theme game involved.

I’m not personally sure how that’s going to work out, but my partner has an idea in mind. So we’ll see.

The only thing that’s still mostly on the back burner right now is advertising the event. We already have a poster put together, but because Honors students are our only real audience so most of the messages are only going out to them through the program’s official channels.

As we’ve been meeting every Wednesday during the lead-up period, every week I’ve had a different task to accomplish.

For our meeting tomorrow, I was tasked with putting together name tags to place by each of the members of our panel. I decided to do a test name tag first, and I’ll bring that in to show everyone.

I wanted to talk about it here before I do.

In part because I had nothing else to write a blog post on today, and I’m really scrounging the bottom of the barrel trying (and failing) to write something every day while all of my school obligations kick my ass.

But also because the method I used to make these name tags are personal, in a way.

As my social media stinger said, don’t believe it when someone says you won’t use anything you learn in school.

In all three (four? I lost track frankly) of the classes I had with the now-retired Daily Titan advisor Bonnie Stewart, she made us create our own name tags. Even if she knew us for years.

They were simple. Just fold a basic 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper in half vertically, then fold the two ends into the center line.

Finally, fold the sides together for a quick, easy and cheap triangular name tag:

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Hope you enjoyed arts & crafts with Jason Rochlin. My brand new, impromptu category of posts that I’ll probably never repeat on purpose.

Figured it would be worth a post to thank Bonnie for everything she taught me — even if the useful stuff is as simple as name tag folding.

The magic of maps

The magic of maps

A good, old-fashioned map can add a whole lot of character to a place.

Sure, the colorful country-accurate map of the Earth on a globe is an impressive sight especially fully animated online:

But that view of the planet is a bit too modernist and clinical for my tastes.

I’m more of a fan of classic, stylized pieces such as the 1643 depiction of Europe by Dutch mapmaker Cornelis Danckaerts that I used for my Featured Image. It’s just the sort of rugged, swarthy style you’d expect to see in some kind of fantasy novel.

Replace that boat off the port of Spain with some kind of serpentine sea creature and it may as well be the map of a fantasy world. Like something you’d expect to see from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth.

Speaking of, did you know that there’s an interactive Middle-Earth map available online? It is full of complex names and points of time for different important events.

That’s the kind of stuff I love.

As I’ve made more progress in my Senior Honors Project novel, I’ve found it necessary to start keeping track of all the locations I’m name dropping to give the world a little more history and life.

To remember places I might want to bring up later and also lay everything out on a more cohesive latitude and longitude for when I explain travel across the content — as my book will include plenty of travel.

During class yesterday, I started to draw out a rudimentary sketch of my world map on a sheet of paper:

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Results not final.

I used to draw things like this all the time, inspired by the maps I’ve seen in the front of books like Lord of the Rings and Eragon.

But never before have I put one together that might actually be useful.

So it was serendipity that, while sitting in my Honors 400B class last night, my friend Mimi noticed my drawing and offered to point out some free campaign map making software she knew about for Dungeons and Dragons.

How was I supposed to say no to that?

Of the software I got pointed to, my favorite was a website called HexTML, which as the name implies lets you create a world of your own using hexagonal signifiers like the board game Settlers of Catan.

Many hours were spent last night screwing around to translate that hand-drawn map into something that could reasonably be shown off to the world.

It’s still open to adjustments down the line and I’d like to put names on all of the areas and towns through the site, but for now I’m really proud of where I’d gotten:

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The left side.

While the continent proper does not yet have a name, but a lot of the structures within it do.

The town on the lower left is Fehrn, where my main characters live.

The singular structures around Fehrn are ruins of the old western empire that have been used as treasure hunting locales. To the north, that black cavern, is an underground chamber where my story begins — just below the Redbark Woods.

To the lower right is the Gnarled Forest, a large mesh of roots, branches and bark that was nigh impenetrable for eons. The old elven tribe was able to thrive there before being attacked.

Just above that in the mountain range hides a small structure signifying the capital of the Sparrine Empire. The Sparrine being the bird people who are basically France, taking over the region under bird Napoleon. Talked about that recently.

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The right side.

Moving onto the other side of the map, a few new main areas stand out.

Hidden in another mountain to the right of the Sparrine empire is the Prophet’s Sanctuary, where my main characters must travel.

Below it is a yet unnamed lake with an equally unnamed port town to its right side where the player character of my story’s game world will have to take on bird Napoleon in a thinly veiled allegory to the Battle of Waterloo.

Spoilers, I guess. If you know historical stuff.

The walled city to the right of that lake is the capital of the Bresegon Empire, where the lordly prince character hails from. Just above it is the ruins of an older nation’s capital.

Essentially the ruins of Rome beside the now prospering Byzantine Empire.

All of those ruins to the leftmost side of the region being the desolate remains of the Holy Roman Empire’s holdings.

Those are some of my world’s major locations, as far as I’ve planned things out up to this point. With all of the plot beats generally worked out for my story, I’m especially excited to start using a bunch of them now that I have a spatial awareness of how everything fits together.

Hope you’re interested in seeing some more cool little behind-the-scenes details on my writing like this from here on out.

Now that I’m getting into the book, I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to share.


Featured Image courtesy of Cornelis Danckerts via Wikimedia Commons