Breaking Up with a Job You Love

Creative and Personal, Education, Journalism, Portfolio, Thoughts, Writing

After teaching for six years (two in high school), I made the choice to leave secondary education. In retrospect it became emotionally similar to ending a long-term relationship…

(Article published on Medium.com)

It’s 10 p.m. and one of my best friends and I decide to compulsively go buy about thirty dollars’ worth of flowers.  We did this often–impulse buying after stressful days at work.  Flowers are practical. And so is that nail polish with a self-imposed misogynistic names.

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Crisis at the Border: The Hope of Words

Journalism, Portfolio, Thoughts, Writing

“Tender Age Shelters” where children are sent. (Source: FOX 25)

(Article published on Medium.com) 

While children sit in holding pens and parents are sent away — while lives are broken — we are sitting behind our screens debating the legality and blame of a horrific situation. We are blending and bending facts to our will when, by definition, facts should be defended as iron-clad objective reality. Lines that do not bend to petty rhetoric. The general argument surrounding immigration and detention is derailing us from the conversations we should be having. Instead of what is right or wrong, we need to shift to something akin to how do we fix this… or what are possible solutions? What is the damage we are causing? In the face of these questions, who did it and who could be arrested for it should be overshadowed by the blatant fact that it is happening in the first place.

A recent article written by Ben Shaprio stated that the media was “going insane” and “lying” over families being separated at the border. That these issues were present during the Obama era. That families entering the country legally were not separated and treated fairly. While Shaprio is not factually off, his points are moot and fallaciously non-sequitur. They are bait, meant to entice readers to partake in a cyclical examination of the current state of our immigration reformation and Trump’s no-tolerance policy. He covers no grey area and makes claims that easily fall into the binary of the political game.

STOP: Stack Up’s New Veteran Support Service Can Help Save Lives

Games and Media, Journalism, Portfolio

How non-profits and video games are picking up where government support of veterans falls short: saving lives.

Article published on SideQuesting

According to a press release from last September by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the suicide rate of veterans in the United States is 22% greater than non-veteran citizens. “We know that of the 20 [veteran] suicides a day that we reported last year, 14 are not under VA care,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin in the report. “This is a national public health issue that requires a concerted, national approach.” Even without this data, it’s easy to see that war affects all lives intertwined with its pervasive web. Being deployed overseas is not a nine-to-five job; war doesn’t stop for coffee breaks or lunch dates. And, over the last few years, there is an increasing lack of belief in the support the VA can offer veterans returning home; a question in credibility that stemmed from whistle-blowers who, in 2015, made the claim that hundreds of thousands of veterans have died while on the VA’s waitlist for healthcare.

The Weight of Your Words

Academic, Games and Media, Journalism

How language is manipulating our thoughts and why it is drastically important to teach.

The trouble with words is that, regardless of their size, whether they are salient or subtle, they matter. In their weightless form, they can move mountains and manipulate realities. They can inspire genocide and create peace. America’s national parks are built on their formless back. The Nazi Party was founded on their circulation (e.g., all race other than what Hitler deemed Arian were described as parasitic “bastard races” in schools). The anger, or hatred, or disdain you may feel toward our current political situation in the United States could be based on the graceful words from our president’s mouth, or his Twitter.

Elevated Sci-Fi and Why Stories Matter: Blade Runner 2049

Games and Media, Journalism, Portfolio

Blade Runner 2019 provides a gorgeous narrative that digs into age-old philosophical questions.

Article published on Sidequesting: http://www.sidequesting.com/2018/01/elevated-sci-fi-and-why-stories-matter-blade-runner-2049/

Some may argue that its financial downfall at the box office dooms the film as a failure — yet many critics deem Blade Runner 2049 the best film of the year. There is a strange dichotomy in thought here, as to what deems a film’s success: on one hand we have financial failure, perhaps not enough popcorn to draw in the casual fan; on the other, we have a resounding success as one of the best science fiction films of all time, thanks to the very thing that made it unfriendly toward the casual viewer: existential investigation.

In that case, Blade Runner 2049 succeeds. It is long. It is hard to digest. But, to that end, it takes the viewer on a philosophical exploration of the human soul. That exploration, hard though it may be, is all the more important in an age when we are inundated with mindless entertainment, instant gratification, and unreliable information (I write, as I sit in a café staring at a couple in conversation — the girl, uninterested, browsing through Instagram; the guy, attentive, stares in erudite longing at her “uh huh” responses).

The Benefits of Fandom: Rise of the Con

Games and Media, Journalism, Portfolio
Article published: http://www.sidequesting.com/2017/09/the-benefits-of-fandom-rise-of-the-con/

Why events like Dragon Con are holding contemporary geek culture together where E3 falls short, and how that is changing the industry.

It’s around 11 p.m. on a Saturday in Atlanta, Georgia. I am standing in a sea of people, all of whom are staring, in a sort of trance, at a strange amalgamation of pirate and goth singing sea-shantyish songs. Tongue-and-cheek lyrics that border on macabre and irreverence fill our ears, and we rise and fall with the sway of words despite the gruesome undertones—a stark contrast to the last hour, where we listened to the Atlanta Phil Harmonic Orchestra play music from film and television favorites. And the hour before that, when we perused an entire floor of artwork that ranged from Greek and Norse Mythology to dragons, faeries, and cats. Or before that, when we joined 600 other people and listened to the musings of Jim Butcher.

Interaction and Autism: How Games Help

Education, Games and Media, Journalism, Portfolio

Video games, unlike any other medium, offer the opportunity to help socialize children who have Autism.

(Article published on SaveGame.)

As an educator, I have an interest in researching how video games can help us to better understand learning through interaction, play, and experience. Despite their often negative reputation for being a “waste of time,” video games still provide us with a unique medium of entertainment because they require direct interaction from the player. This aspect introduces a new dimension in how forms of entertainment and media affect us, especially in fields like medicine and psychology.

On Wolves: The Fragility of Ecosystems

Journalism, Portfolio, Thoughts

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir

The game Okami is a beautiful title that puts you in control of  Amaterasu, the Shinto goddess of the sun, who comes to earth in the guise of a white wolf. Throughout the game your goal is to heal the world around you, giving life to plants and animals. The actions of the game, in essence, involve nature fixing itself. While Okami was not necessarily created with the purpose of displaying the importance of biodiversity in ecosystems, the wolf-like goddess affects her environment much like real wolves do in their natural world. Wolves have such a massive impact on eco-systems, in fact, that their very existence changed the geography of a landscape.

Infamous: First Light in the Right Direction

Games and Media, Journalism, Portfolio

Why the narrative and voices we are exposed to in games matter.

(Article published on Gameranx.)

There was a point in time where I thought I was immune to the gender of a protagonist in a game or movie. The majority of games I played, unless an RPG that allowed you to build a character, presented a male as the quintessential hero. I didn’t mind. I was young and accepted it.

But a spark ignited when I first saw that Samus, from the Metriod series, was a female. Precipitously, this character meant so much more. For the first time, the vulnerabilities I often felt about being a girl were shed. 

2Player: Time to Get Hyped for Destiny

Games and Media, Journalism, Portfolio

Without further ado, here is inaugural episode of Ryan Winslett and I’s new podcast hosted by Cinema Blend…. but it’s WRITTEN. Because why not check to see if people actually read anymore, am I right? This week’s focus is on Destiny:

There’s no denying that Destiny is shaping up to be one of the biggest launches of the year, set to arrive on PlayStation and Xbox home consoles on Sept. 9. The PlayStation beta begins this Thursday, with the Xbox crowd joining in on the fun just one week later. In other words, the whole world is about to find out whether or not the folks at Bungie, developers of the Halo series, are able to deliver on their promise to mix first-