Cover Letter

Seventy-nine to eighty-one percent of published statistics are incorrect, made-up, or found to be unsubstantiated after a deeper numerical analysis or secondary study (French Connerie Journal).

I originally had decided on a number closer to ninety, yet ultimately decided against anything above eighty-two. The suspension of disbelief couldn’t support such a number starting with a nine. I’d argue the citation to the French Journal might have helped support a few extra percentage points but I didn’t want to push it. 

From self-proclaimed health gurus to presidential candidates, people lie and perpetuate the spread of misinformation. Often, this is nothing more than a defense mechanism that people have developed to protect their own beliefs. When confronted with evidence or logic which contradicts a value held, rather than admitting a belief might be wrong or needing revision, false statistics are utilized. Oftentimes, the choice to lie or miscite information is not a conscious decision. Rather, a vulnerable opinion with no defenses left creates an escape plan and blurts out what seems like a white lie. It’s happened to me and I’ve even “won” arguments due to a faulty statistic or white lie, convincing myself that they could be accurate. Small fibs like “Yeah mom, I brushed my teeth” seem innocent to both the toddler and the parent who knowingly asks to smell the toddler’s breath (just me?).  

However, those porkies might not be so harmless. In SuperBetter, Jane McGonigal argues that “the more you repeat a thought pattern, the stronger the neural networks that drive it become … and the more likely you are to repeat that thought pattern in the future” (89). This argument results in two conclusions: people’s actions are direct products of their habits and those habits are hardwired into the brain. Therefore, a person’s sentience might not necessarily control the response to certain stimuli or events. For example, a student who typically procrastinates might create plans for a drawn-out and lengthy writing process for an assignment. Despite all their good intentions and effort to change, their habits, aided by YouTube tutorials on sleight-of-hand-card-tricks, betray the plan and last-ditch caffeine-induced all-nighter occurs. 

The college years are some of the most formative times for youth; in addition to our academic habits, we students construct our identity and set goals for who we want to become. Through a nontraditional course structure, I was forced to approach the course’s learning outcomes and build healthy habits for future academic endeavors and the game of life. 

This semester, I have greatly improved my skills as a mediator between my initial creative thoughts and the polished product. Often, I struggle with rushing into projects without a grand-plan or sense of purpose. Despite originating from harmless excitement, my “jovial and thrill-seeking nature” (SideQuest 1) often results in uncalculated risks, unplanned activities, and extensive backtracking. For instance, my vision for a grand green bean arch resulted in myself sowing more than 120 seeds without realizing seeds grow. Nor did I consider our garden is not “grand” enough to house twelve rows and thirteen columns of green beans. The assignment reflections require an introspective analysis of the creative decisions I make and their importance. Throughout the semester, I developed a habit of making more deliberate decisions during my writing process. I even brainstormed for a few minutes before this reflection letter . . . Progress!!

The podcast series greatly tested my collaboration skills; yet resulted in more confidence regarding group work with deadlines, navigating ulterior circumstances, and not squirming while listening to my voice. As an avid podcast listener, I’ve encountered numerous episodes with audience engagement issues. With a fear of mindless droning, we incorporated “comedic breaks, an active script… and upbeat music” in our first podcast (Risky Business). During recording, I uncovered a severe speech impediment: sounding much worse than I do in my head. In the second podcast, we went into the void and embraced full snark. The tone felt more natural and I even sounded less horrible. Taking the project less seriously and making self-aware jokes helped me feel at ease and enjoy recording more. Good vibes extended into the third podcast and resulted in the most refined and engaging podcast our group created.  

Embracing sarcasm with the podcasts represented a general trend of becoming comfortable in an intellectual setting. As a hard-core STEM major, I have a natural inclination to think analytically. This logic doesn’t leave room for creativity, clear group communication, and even hinders the overall enjoyment. With weekly writing assignments, I honed in on finding a better balance of humor and rhetoric which improved my outlook on my writing process. I had plenty of fun working on Sidequests and playing with the mix of analysis and banter. I’m specifically proud of the side quest about organizing the contents of our bookbag into an aesthetically pleasing way. Bummer I couldn’t put my award-winning calves in the photo. I’m a part-time Calve model, sometimes even Knees too. The faux anecdotes about the “next opportunity to try to get by as a D3 Cheese Roller” paired with genuine remarks about my insomnia was a nice balance of sarcasm and genuinity. Genuiness? Giannis Antetokounmpo?. It was difficult to decide which items’ utility can be undermined without subverting their importance. Overall, the second side required a topical synopsis of my identity. As I wrote descriptions for items I carry around, I considered how my possessions can incur judgments on my character, and if that representation is accurate. To craft a false narrative about drugs or sarcastically admitting I’m trying to appear quirky, I realized that I wasn’t as secure in my intellect as others might think. In addition to uncovering my Imposter Syndrome, exploring a lighthearted tone paved the way for more experimental writing throughout the semester. 

This extended into the final portion of our classwork, the Hometasks. The tasks resulted in some of the goofiest moments in my academic career. Literally, I put on a cowboy hat, threw a whip over my shoulder, and am receiving genuine college credit at a top 25 university. With the heroics of Indiana Knight, the Hometasks served as a form of enjoyment and creative output during a tough and unexpected transition. Additionally, they served a case study for applying the gameful attitude to substantial issues. If the attitude I approached a problem with helped bear self-quarantining, what else could be accomplished by adopting a more gameful perspective? 

Initially, we defined games as “intense focus and labor to accomplish an optional task” (Page 3 of My notebook). Adopting a gameful approach imposes a joyous and self-aware perspective on an issue. Recognizing a task might not be necessary can remove pressure and expectations while enabling creative thought. Throughout this class, the side quests, podcasts, home-tasks, and reflections enabled me to become a more decisive creator, maintain a lighthearted approach to difficulties, and supremely, become excited when a new challenge arises. Unless the challenge is explaining to my mother how us sharing a Spotify account prohibits both of us from playing music at the same time.  

Finally, as my work for English 101-7 comes to a head in this reflection letter, I welcome you to my classwork blog. Ignore the frequently terrible attempts at comedy, and I hope you enjoy it. Information about the course can be found at the course site. I’m going to go tell my mom that Spotify has a record player for each account and can only spin one song at a time. Wish me luck. 

SQ14: Rube-Goldberg

For the assembly, I wanted to capture the polarization of our semester. With the immense amount of trick shot and Rube-Goldberg machines being posted right now, I deemed it in style to follow that vein. The difference, is having an unexpected obstacle shift the direction of the machine in a different way. I tried to represent this through a Ping Pong Ball shot that starts as any RGM would. The Left side represents the first portion of the semester on campus, with each element representing a specific facet of our class that helps us become better writers. After the Cat, the virus, messes with the trajectory of the machine, the outlook becomes much more bleak. I represented this with the lack of color throughout the right side, barring the final cup. With the elements on the right being the tasks we completed at home (Hometasking, Podcasts, etc), we still found a way to have a successful semester of learning and growing despite the intense interruption.

#Assembly #SQ14

Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Fruit Bowl

If you search “Iconic movie moments”, scenes from the Great Gatsby, Good Will Hunting, the Matrix, the Godfather, and many more show up. As I aimlessly procrastinated through the scholarly consideration of clips–yes I was watching youtube– one caught my eye. Or, perhaps, my treasure-eye. #SQ13 #HT6

My Video is attached here.

Podcast Reflection 2:Chess

This podcast’s development process was unorthodox due to adjusting to remote collaboration. Group podcasts are inherently a group effort with constant communication and meeting; however, due to the situation, our opportunities to meet and speak face-to-face were nonexistent. We problem solved and found that the most effective way to produce a coherent podcast despite our geological differences was to divvy up the work more. Rather than multiple people working on a script, editing, and working separately on the same task, we found it easier to allocate responsibilities. With the most experience playing and studying Chess, I managed the brainstorming and script writing. Sadie took in the rough draft and edited, brainstormed, and finalized the script for all of us to record our lines separately. Giovanni, the tech-genius himself, took in all the voice memos and produced the final project through careful editing, leveling, and clipping. Throughout the process, we communicated via FaceTime and texts to explain and let each other know about executive decisions.

Primarily, we really wanted to tell a understandable explanation of a complex game while demonstrating the intense probing players complete during a game. Through lengthy, the description of the board and how certain pieces move was necessary for the analysis portion. To reconcile the monologging, I tried to spice up the script with different pop-culture references to keep the audience engaged. Through citing musicians Bob Dylan, Taylor Swift, and Drake, then cinematic events such as Avengers Endgame and Harry Potter, we wanted to reach as broad a group as possible. Obviously we recognize the listeners are likely in our class, but we still believe the change in tempo and voices was an effective hook. Next time, we aim to cut down on the excessive explanation in order to leave more room for analysis and prose.

Despite the challenges we faced with our spacial restrictions, I am super proud of this podcast. The group collaborated and responded to timing-issues with grace; for example, despite not being able to find a unanimous time to speak as a group, we collectively FaceTimed with each other at least once each day during the three-day process. Our communication was paired with understanding for the other group members. Recognizing that we’re all in this situation together and at the same time certainly helped us collaborate more effectively. I think we developed our group skills the most during this podcast and I’m looking forward to our third and final one!

SQ9: yOuR tIMe StArTS noW!

Prior to watching the video, it’s important to qualify my decision to post this. Though I often blur the lines of what is acceptable in a classroom setting, I’m genuinely asking to please let me know if the content is inappropriate or upsets you as a viewer or teacher.

Despite being a stereotypical urban location in a large city, Oakland’s culture and nightlife is an acquired taste. Transitioning from “the Town’s” sideshows to a prominence of greek life, I’ve experienced a significant adjustment period. Often, as I wasted away in a fraternity or local (18+, of course) nightclub in Atlanta, I looked back to the night-out-experience I yearned for from high-school: My video is attached here.

Thanks to my mother for helping. Plus my cat, I suppose. #SQ9 #HT2

SQ8: Banjo-Ball

Link to my shot.

The contest of the three-time defensive player of the year nominee (two time winner), Banjo Knight, was of no impact for the looping shot. Despite starting at a low point, the shooter still created enough space to get his shot off unhindered, arcing beautifully into the bin. This highlight encapsulated Oakland FC’s first win on their packed schedule, with their next fixture coming soon.

We will follow and document their progress throughout their indoor season. You might want to get your brooms out, a sweep is incoming!

#hometasking #sq8

Risky-Buisness Reflection:

Due to time-restrictions and technological difficulties, our podcast production process was very cooperative. After a group brainstorming session, we decided that Risk would provide more potential discussion over the other games we were considering. As Risk is such a dynamic game, we could analyze individual situations and decision making processes. After deciding on Risk, we all completed individual research about Risk with specific foci ranging from Risk’s history to rule changes. After consolidating our research onto one document, as the Producer for this episode, I wrote a script. The other collaborators helped edit and build the script to be more compelling, such as “game-excepts” and comedic breaks. Next, we spent about six hours over two days recording the podcast, then passed the editing responsibilities onto Giovanni. Considering his extensive background in musical production, he is very familiar with audio editing and expedited the finalized version rapidly.

For our podcast, we tried our best to avoid being a hard-listen. More specifically, Podcasts, if not completed correctly, can be very dry and difficult to listen and pay attention to. Consequentially, we tried to be as entertaining as possible; we attempted to achieve this through comedic breaks, an active script that tries to engage the listener, and upbeat music with breaks from monologues. Smaller details included constant and intermittent switching of speakers to avoid monotony. Challenges included creative differences and script organization; for example, background music was a point of contention through the group. Besides more idealogical distinctions, we worked extremely well as a group. From finding time where we can all work on the podcast to our strengths coming together, our group collaborated competently.

By definition, creating a podcast episode forced our group to compose a text in a new medium. Adapting to a different type of writing with different intentions was a unique provocation. With an essay, a given format is expected and deviations are unexpected; in contrast, the podcast should be as unpredictable as possible to maintain listener enjoyment and attention. Rather than constructing an argument in a linear logic based fashion, our podcast tries to jump from our narrative to examples from a hypothetical game. This form of writing resembles a formal literary essay where the typical format includes a topic sentence supported with direct evidence from the source. Personally, I am most proud of how our group collaborated and utilized each of our individual capacities for different elements of the podcast.

Fiasco Reflection

Fiasco is a cooperative multiplayer role-playing game that generates During Fiasco, our group weaved complicated narratives and challenged each other’s creativity through unexpected narrative switches. Fiasco’s rules and setup encourages innovation by the players. The limiting dice choices and permutations forces players to navigate through unique relationships that might have not been produced without the imposed restrictions.  In addition, the Tilt creates new and different additions to the narrative that must be incorporated. The game of Fiasco makes each player strive for originality, cooperate with other players, and develop critical thinking skills.  

In our individual game, we played with five players for roughly three hours. We told a pseudo-revenge story with each member wanting to “get even with this town for what it has made you into”. My character’s direct relationships were being drug friends and ex-spouses with my two neighbors. As my drug buddy was also the mayor of the town, I adopted a more radical representation of a drug-user and barely spent a minute sober. Consequentially, other’s needs and wants were prioritized over my own as play commenced. I offered comic relief, advanced other’s narratives, and cooperated for the best of the group. At times, I felt like a secondary character being used to push forward the storyline and solve or create a problem. Consequentially, I found enjoyment in trying to be the creative storyteller; whenever it was my turn, I would try to establish an innovative scene. For example, roughly a quarter way through the game, we had been trying to figure out what to do with a briefcase of money and drugs. During my turn, I asked where the briefcase came from and offered some possibilities: divine intervention, the mafia, and a hidden camera game show.  Though we decided that the mafia would be involved, having the options encouraged discussion about where our plot might go. These types of decisions are inherent in the game of Fiasco.  

Fiasco’s structure is unique due to the combination of freedom and structure. Compared to other board games or role-playing games, a significantly larger portion of interactions are set. For example, in first person games on consoles, interactions are prerecorded, but a player has agency to decide which path to choose. In Fiasco, not only are degrees of freedom infinite, but the scenarios are also being created. The guidelines and rulebook act as a primary way of sparking interest rather than forcing players to follow a path. However, Fiasco still provides many of the same functions as traditional boardgames or role-playing games. Much like creative writing, the processes and decision making is very similar; the difference is how much time is allotted to make a decision. In Fiasco, a player must commit to a path directly after being given a scenario. In contrast, one creating a novel or short story could create unbounded permutations of the same story until it’s satisfactory.  

Personally, Fiasco helped me progress by forcing me to step out of my comfort zone. I’ve always acted and been involved in theatre, but with people whom I am comfortable with. I joined the Fiasco group very late and didn’t anything about the group members besides their names. Fiasco challenged me to learn about myself and others through the decisions we made in certain situations. Not only was it very enjoyable, I learned that being the scapegoat can be entertaining and fulfilling; in addition, I also learned about my peers, developed my problem-solving skills, and worked on communication and collaboration with peers. 

#fiasco

SQ7: The puns with “Knight” should be post-pawn-ed

REFLECTION

I chose a chess peice because my dog, Banjo, wanted to send me off to college with a reminder of home. That is, I don’t have a full chess set, as I am missing a chewed up white-pawn. Consequentially, when this assignment came around, I had no option but to utilize it for my own benefit and sanity. Thus, I tried to find the best pawn piece I could, and one that would be structurally sound enough for a dog’s teeth; should it come to that.

I found the file through TinkerCad. A bunch of the pawns and other designs were fairly cool; however, I don’t think they would be a succesful print. I’ve had some experience with 3D printing and AutoCad during high school, and I’m aware about how finicky printers can be regarding plate temperature, plastic melting, or mistakes while printing. I tried to choose the easiest piece to print that would be of the correct size and shape to fit into my board set.

Here’s a photo of my dog I took (I miss him):

#sq7

SQ5: Night Knight

Similar to how I selected one image first then worked to make it “fit” during my Combo-photo, I decided to select an object and draw something to fit. As I read the prompt, I was in the reading room of the library. After scanning my desk and surroundings for potential objects, I remembered my case of Kleenex in my bag. Coincidentally, I had rushed to the library to get work done before sinner, so I had left my laundry and sheets unfolded on my bed. I think the idea of the Kleenex as a sheet came as a consequence of that, and I decided to run with it.

To manifest that idea into reality was difficult. I originally intended to trace the napkin, draw, then place the napkin down and take the photo. However, It was difficult to draw around the trace, and I constantly found myself placing and picking up the napkin intermediately. In addition, looking on Niemann’s tumblr, I noticed that the physical object creates a two dimensional part of the image, not an addition to the drawing as an afterthought. Consequentially, I created two drawings, one with the Kleenex, and then used the first to help aid the second drawing. In terms of physical issues, having the correct scale was quite difficult. Using the outlining process from my original plan allowed me to get past this issue. Overall, I really enjoyed this process: I think the most valuable lesson was being able to see objects as artistic mediums rather than objective things with purposes.

Link to Prompt. #SQ5