Contra Mundum – Episode 2: Epic Star Wars Discussion

Hey guys, remember when I said I wouldn’t have any guests on the show for a while. Apparently, I lied. A friend of mine came up to visit me for my 21st birthday, so I asked her if she wanted to record a short podcast.

Well, we ended up recording a not-so-short podcast, but it’s definitely worth the listen. We talked for about an hour about Star Wars. The conversation covered everything from the old movies to the new movies to the expanded (not extended, as I thought) universe.

This was just an audio podcast, so I’m just leaving the SoundCloud file. I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to post to SoundCloud, since they only allow so many hours of audio, and this podcast took a huge bite out of what I have left.

Luckily, I’ll still be able to upload to Youtube, so I can just host the audio files on there and you’ll  be stuck with a boring photo for the duration of the show.

I’m sorry about being a day late, but it’s my Spring Break, and I’m trying to have a little fun before I have to go back and start filming Flicker.

Next week’s podcast will feature my friend AJ, and we’ll be talking about technology. I promise, that one will just a bit shorter.

 

Flicker Teaser Trailer Reveal

I have a really cool thing that I want to share with you all. I mentioned in passing in my last post the massive project that I have during spring break. For a while now, I’ve been planning to film with my friends a pilot episode of a television show that we called Flicker.

It all started last semester when I took a class that focused on writing dramatic TV shows. My team decided to work on one of the my partners’ ideas. We ended up liking the concept so much that we wanted to make it a reality.

This semester, one of my partners, Alex, decided to use this show as his senior project. It’s been amazing to see it come together. Alex and my other partner, Daniel, have worked very hard for the last few weeks.

Let me tell you a little about Flicker.

Flicker tells the story of three guys, Aaron, James, and Thomas, who return from a no-tech camping trip to discover that the United States has been hit with an EMP attack. Their lives change forever when the electricity that they have come to rely on is completely eradicated. Along the way, the guys discover a woman who is much more than she seems. They must learn to survive in their harsh new environment, while facing threats including bandits, thugs, and rogue government agents.

Check out the pre-production teaser trailer:

Production for the pilot episode starts on Wednesday of next week. I’ll have only about 3 1/2 days of relaxing spring break before I have to back at Liberty for 10+ hour shooting days.

I’m really looking forward to getting to work. I’ll definitely post the full episode on here as soon as I can.

Until then, if you would like to help my team out, we have started an Indiegogo campaign to raise money. Mostly, we’re just trying to fund catering for our cast and crew and also some set design stuff. The link below will take you to the page if you’re feeling generous.

https://www.indiegogo.com/project/flicker-pilot-survival/embedded/16224135

*****

Come back on Sunday for a special episode of my podcast. I have a guest this time. Her expertise is in Star Wars, so it’s one you don’t want to miss.

Contra Mundum Podcast Episode 1

I told you in my last post that I’d be starting a podcast. Here is the first super short introduction teaser episode.

Follow my YouTube channel for future podcasts, or you can just subscribe here because I’ll be posting every episode here.

If you don’t want to watch a video, then you can follow me on SoundCloud:

Future episodes will include guests. The idea is that everyone is an expert about something. So I’ll have my friends come on to teach about whatever subject they’re an expert on. Some of the future subjects will be on graphic design, history, and journalism.

I probably won’t have any guests until after my spring break (ends March 19th) because I have another massive project, which I’ll probably be letting you all know about in a few days.

Why I’m (sort of) leaving Facebook

It’s March 1. I know it’s a little late for New Years Resolutions and major life changes, but to be fair, this is something I’ve been planning for a while.

I’ve had a Facebook for a little longer than I’ve had this blog, but I think it’s time to quit. Facebook, that is. I’m keeping the blog. And it’s mostly because of the blog that I’m leaving  Facebook.

I feel like Facebook has become something of an addiction for me. I check it every day, and I start to feel nervous when I haven’t checked it in a while. Which is absolutely ridiculous. I know that on a subconscious level, but I still feel the lure.

But more than Facebook being addicting; it’s also an incredible time-suck. If I’m not careful, I can spend hours on Facebook between looking up news articles, reading about my friends’ lives, and watching stupid videos. It’s not so much the news articles or my friends’ posts that bother me. It’s good to keep up with those. No, it’s the stupid cat videos and dumb listicles that do nothing but waste my time that I’m tired of.

I don’t need to read any articles about “10 things employees have done to get back at their bosses” or some such nonsense. I don’t need to watch yet another video of a cute animal. These might be good in moderation, but when I spend hours reading and watching nonsense, it just makes me feel like I’m wasting way too much time.

Now, I’m not actually quitting Facebook entirely. But from now on, I’m going to use in a much more efficient and thoughtful way. First, I’m limiting my mindless wandering on my personal page to just the weekends. Those are my rest days anyway, so I’m not trying to be productive. I don’t mind watching dumb stuff then.

Next, I’m going to be using my author page a lot more. I’m well aware that success these days has almost as much to do with quantity as quality. I made the page for a reason: to help build my personal brand. But the way I use it doesn’t do me any favors. I’m going to be actively searching out and posting actually good content for my author page.

And a few memes. I am a millennial, after all. We can’t just not post memes.

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If this seems like it’s coming out of the blue, it’s not. I’ve been thinking about this for a few months. Leaving Facebook (mostly) is actually part of a larger plan to revamp my writing practices.

It’s been bothering me that I haven’t been writing as often as I used to since I arrived at college. Writing makes me happy like nothing else does, and I’m pretty sure that my mood has suffered for not doing it as often as I’d like to. I know that I can spend more time on it if I just don’t have as many distractions.

I’m also pretty terrible at self-promotion, so that’s another thing I’ll be working on. I recently learned that, for people my age, Snapchat is almost more popular than Facebook. I know that for authors, Pinterest is a big part of their promotion. Now, I do have a Snapchat account and a Pinterest page, but I never use them.

I just checked my Pinterest account and I have 300+ notifications. That should let you know how long I’ve ignored it.

So, now I’m making a schedule for posting to my Facebook author page, Pinterest page, learning Snapchat, and probably Instagram. The Facebook page and this blog will be the main two platforms, but posting more consistently to the other ones should help with coming up with content for the main two.

Finally, I’m going to be posting MUCH more consistently to this blog. Yes, I know I’ve said that before, but now I have an Excel sheet to back it up. For now, the schedule will be once a week on Wednesdays at about noon. I have a lovely (read: long and incredibly boring) 4 hour break in between classes on Wednesdays, so that’s probably when I’ll make most of those posts.

I’m also starting a podcast that I’ll be posting here on the weekends probably. So you might get 2 posts a week. The podcast might be too labor-intensive to do every week, but I guess I’ll find out.

 

Do you still use Facebook? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments.

What happens in Vegas… is archery?

I recently returned from an amazing trip with my archery team. In Vegas. Yeah, I went to Las Vegas, Nevada for an archery tournament.

The road to Vegas for most people begins with way too much money and boredom. For me, that road began in Kentucky. For the second year in a row, my team competed in the US Collegiate Archery Association’s indoor tournament. This was two weeks after the semester started.

Now, last year when I did this, I had just joined the archery team in September, and my first competition was this one in March. It was incredibly nerve-racking and was made worse by the fact that literally all of my equipment with the exception of my hat was less than two weeks old. That, and my string broke when I got there (I had an extra, thankfully).

But I still did fairly well. I actually shot the best round of my life, a 207 out of 300 (pretty good for my division). Overall, the Kentucky trip last year was a blast, and I was looking forward to going on this year’s trip.

That is, until things started changing. First, we were told that the competition was being moved from March to January. Which meant that we had a whole lot less time to practice than we normally would. This was made worse because I planned to take time during my Christmas break to practice, but then I had toe surgery and couldn’t stand up for very long for two and a half weeks.

For those of you who don’t know, archery is rather difficult to do sitting down.

Then, we found out that this year’s Kentucky event wasn’t going to be part of the nationals like it was the year before, but instead, was only going to be a true regionals. The top 8 shooters in every division from every regional competition would be going to Vegas.

I had to ask twice to make sure that my coach was talking about that Vegas when he was telling the team this.

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My teammate Evan and me shooting. I’m on the right. (Pic by Meredith Dissinger)

I was ranked 5th nationally last year, and my goal was to stay there. I actually ended up doing a lot better, out-shooting myself by more than 100 points, and I moved up to 4th place. Which secured my place on the Vegas trip.

As you can imagine, I was over the moon, and I was really happy that two other members of my team also scored well enough to join me on the trip.

Which was, of course, only two weeks away. *Cue 80s-style training montage*

I was in the range every other day when I could be, and I competed in a local shoot for two days longer than I needed to just to make sure my form was perfect. Because I’m an idiot and a glutton for punishment, I bought brand-spanking-new arrows and got them fletched the day before we left.

So I shot like a blind monkey for the first day of the shoot, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

before we left.jpg

It was too early, but at least the sunrise was nice.

First, we had to fly to get there. Now I like flying. Most of the time. However, waking up at 5am Virginia time, flying all day across three time zones, competing two hours after we landed, and not finishing until 12:30am Vegas time. Yeah, that was less than fun.

The good news is that I apparently shoot better exhausted. Because after a whole day of phenomenally bad shooting (due mostly to the aforementioned brand-spanking-new arrows), I started shooting really well in the shoot-offs.

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My team standing with our bows and plaques. (Pic by my coach, Mitch Reno)

That is how I managed to come into the competition in 4th place and leave it ranked 2nd in the nation. The shoot-offs started at around 10pm Vegas time. My body thought it was 1 in the morning, so why I was able to stand up, much less shoot as well as I did is a mystery. I just kept praying as I shot that I wouldn’t just fall over in the middle of it.

That could have been… messy.

The rest of the shoot wasn’t as eventful. We did get to watch the World Cup of archery, so that was pretty cool. We also went to the trade show, and I picked up a sweet new quiver.

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Sweet new quiver

The trip didn’t end there, of course, but I’ll save for a later post the story of how my coach got us lost on the way to visit the Hoover Dam, so we just decided to run around in the desert for an hour. This post is a little long anyway.

I’ll end it by telling you that we left at 10pm Vegas time that day (Sunday), got back to Liberty at 11am on Monday, and I immediately had to go work for my other club until 8pm. Yeah, I don’t think I woke up again fully until Thursday.

If you’d like to here a little more about the trip and archery general, you can listen to the interview that another member of my team and I did for my friend’s radio show.

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Below are a few more photos from the trip if you’re interested.

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Freshmen are babies now… and other things that make me feel old

When I got to college I quickly fell in with a group of other freshmen honor students. We had lots of fun and thought that we were adults. We looked up to the junior and senior honor students that we hung out with sometimes. We called them the Bigs.

I am one of the Bigs now.

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I had this realization the other day while listening to some freshmen discussing one of their classes. They were complaining about a class called Biblical Worldview. They thought it was hard.

*Laughs maniacally*

For context, when I got my concussion two years ago, I wrote a paper for that class that I actually don’t remember writing. I got an A. I’m a pretty smart cookie, but it’s not an exaggeration to say that you can pass that class with half your brain tied behind your back.

But these freshmen were telling each other how different it was from high school and how much harder it was. All I could think was, “Oh you sweet summer child.” They have no idea what they’re getting into.

I keep wanting to sit down every freshman that I see and tell them all the mistakes I made and how to avoid them. I want to hug them and tell that everything is going to be okay, that they’ll get used to this, even though it’s hard. I guess what I’m saying is that freshmen are giving me maternal instincts I didn’t know existed.

The other thing that freaks me out a bit is that kids that I worked with when they were eight and nine are on Facebook talking about exams in high school. It’s hard for me not to keep seeing them as the fuzzy-headed little cuties that would run up to me and hug me around the waist because that’s all they could reach.

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Is this what getting older feels like? If so, I don’t like it. I want to go back to when my biggest worry was whether or not I would manage to finish my two page Evangelism paper in time to go see a concert.

Forget all this internship searching and worrying about my future nonsense.

My blogging class is wrong about everything

Yes, I’m taking a blogging class. No, I don’t know why.

Well, actually, I do know why. Journalism 358 is on my degree completion plan. What I really don’t know is why I have to take a class all about blogging if they aren’t going to teach me anything that has to do with blogging.

I’ve read most of the book for the class (nothing else to do in a four hour break between classes), and that is actually pretty useful. I might have learned a few things, not many that I didn’t already know from almost four years of blogging. For some reason, even though we have to read the book and take quizzes on it, the professor goes entirely against it most of the time.

We were allowed to pick any topic we wanted. Of course I chose the world of YA reading and writing. But we’re not allowed to do book reviews. Or talk about our opinions. Or do writing advice. Or ask the readers questions at the end. Or basically do any of the things that you would normally associate with blogging for that audience.

frustration

See, this is supposed to sort of be about writing the news. That way they can say that this is a journalism class. But my target audience, young adults and teens, are not going to want to read about news in the publishing world. It’s hard enough to get this audience to read anything. But if they do, they need personality and fun.

Not perfect AP style.

In all of the big, successful blogs that are not specifically news blogs that I know of, the posts are written in a relaxed style with lots of first person and opinions. Even a lot of the news blogs have a lot of opinions. In this class, we’re basically banned from having opinions.

I feel like, if I am going to be forced to write in a way that is going to bore my audience to death, then I shouldn’t have been able to pick this topic. But the professor did approve it.

I should have stuck to politics like I originally planned.

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I think that the problem is that my professor seems to have a warped idea of what makes a successful blog. He keeps telling us about this restaurant blog that he wants to make with his wife. He’s had the domain name for a long time (more than a year, I think), but it languishes unused. He thinks that he needs lots of interviews with people and perfect AP style writing. And I know he will likely never refer to himself or his opinions.

But I think that most people read those kinds of blogs exactly for the opposite reasons. They don’t want to read a news article about restaurants. If they did, they would have searched for one. Blogs are for opinions and personality. News has it’s place, sure, but it’s more interested to read a blog post about someone reacting to the news than actually reading the news.

There are news websites for that.

It’s the personal touch that makes blogs interesting. And I feel like I’m being robbed of that for this blog.

But if you’re interested, you can click here to view our (did I mention it’s a team project?) introduction to the blog, which would have been a whole lot better if I’d been able to use the word “we.”

Hey, at least my partner picked a cool name for the blog.

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