In Conclusion

Today marks the end of three months of daily (week-day daily) blogging for my Writing in the Media course. I’ve been blogging semi-regularly since April of 2013, in fact from 2013-2014 I did almost a year straight of daily blogging, so I wasn’t new to the concept when we began in September. There was of course more structure for these blogs as they were an assignment and that’s where the rub came in.

We were asked to report on events, or news stories, things worthy of being in “the media” and finding these topics proved more difficult than anticipated. I do not have cable, I do not listen to the radio often, I do not get a physical newspaper, and I’ve discovered that a surprising number of newspapers won’t let you read their articles online unless you pay a subscription fee. This narrowed down my options.

Even with limited resources, I really enjoyed this project. It was a good experience getting to see what it’s like to write articles regularly and to have to hit minimum word counts and such in this context. It did not change my mind about journalism – I’m still not fond of it and it’s not the field I would like to work in, but it did give me a better, though still very basic, understanding of what it would be like.

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Space, Science, and Captain Blonde Beard

Starting off a movie with an emergency take off and presumed dead character is always a good way to go. Gets the adrenaline pumping and the audience engaged. So starts The Martian starring Matt Damon and it continues for two and a half hours of space, science, and the dangers of living alone, well, as the only inhabitant of a foreign planet with a limited source of supplies.

The movie does a great job of keeping the audiences attention as it jumps back and forth from NASA back on Earth as they discover Mark Watney (Matt Damon’s character) is still alive and figure out ways to communicate with him, back to Mars where Watney is completely and utterly alone. To keep the Martian scenes from becoming boring and drawn out, much of them is spent with Watney making logs into cameras around the compound. This gives a more personal feel to the movie as he is in a sense breaking the fourth wall for much of it and staring straight into the screen as he confides the dangers, fears, and discoveries he has while trapped on Mars.

It is a well done movie, drawing to a close with a high suspense rescue attempt. Overall a very good movie, would recommend to a friend.

Re-entering a Changing World

“What everybody became CIA or agents and stuff like that? Because that’s the only thing I can think of. Somebody walking around with wires in their ears.”

What if you had never seen someone wearing headphones, or using a cell phone? In seeing these gadgets in use for the first time, it could be quite easy to assume they were some kind of spy tech. Otis Johnson thought they could be when he re-entered society after 44 years in prison at the age 69.

Johnson is truly enjoying being free for the first time in decades and through a short documentary made by Al Jazeera we see as he relearns about the world around him and delights in the small things of life. He’s astonished by advertisements projected onto a window in Times Square, he enjoys sitting in the sun and watching people – a luxury that he was not accorded in prison. Grocery stores are a trove of new things to discover containing anything and everything from peanut butter mixed with jelly to brightly coloured Gatorade. “I started drinking that once and a while.” Johnson says, “Just because it looks funny.”

So many things in our lives can be easy taken for granted, watching someone discover them for the first time can be extremely refreshing.

Watch the full documentary here:

The Love/Hate Relationship of Photography

I have a love/hate relationship with taking photographs. I love photography and wish I knew more about how to make my camera function. I love looking at photographs and admiring the amazing shots people are able to capture through their lens. I love taking pictures and taking pictures that I like, that capture moments and tell stories, however, I have come to realize, that by taking pictures, I am not seeing things.

When I take my camera everywhere I see the world through a viewfinder. I don’t make memories I make photographs, copies of things I never truly saw. When I was younger I always had my camera with me. I have three full Facebook albums of photos all taken at one youth group bowling night back in 2008. I saw my world through a viewfinder and I missed so much. I have been able to capture memories for friend who are in the photos, they can look at them and remember what happened. I can only hear a story and reply, I think I remember seeing a picture of that! It’s not the same.

I love photography and I want to grow better at it, but I also know that its necessary to balance. See the world, experience things. Don’t just take copies of other people’s experiences, make your own too.

Planning to be Planless

Sometimes the best plan, is no plan. Spontaneity is actually something that is good for your health, essentially it means being more flexible and not requiring a strict plan that must be adhered to. Often people who crave structure see spontaneity as dangerous, however there is a difference between spontaneity and impulsiveness. Leon F. Seltzer from psychologytoday.com writes that “although a spontaneous act may be impromptu, unconscious, or casual, it’s generally seen as safe–rather than precarious.” (x) One does not generally get advised to be more impulsive in ones lifestyle, but recommendations to be more spontaneous are fairly common.

Spontaneity is known to make people more creative as well as generally happier. In the last few months I have been working on being more spontaneous and have found my stress levels to be lower and my general mood to be more cheerful. When you aren’t bound by a rigorous schedule there are less things to miss and fall behind on, leaving a less stressful life and more time to enjoy it. Going for a spontaneous walk or outing can not only be surprisingly fun, but a great stress reliever as things like exercise are known to reduce stress.

Good Neighbours

As terrorism attacks have increased over the past few years, retaliating hate crimes have increased too. The Masjid al-Salaam mosque in Petersborough, Ont was sunject to an arson attack on November 14 that caused an estimated $80,000 of damage.

A neighbouring synagogue has stepped in to help. Beth Israel Synagogue’s board of directors voted unanimously to open their doors to their fellow Canadians and allow them to conduct their worship services in their building. Larry Gillman the President of the board extended the invitation to Kenzu Abdella, the president of the Kawartha Muslim Religious Association which has begun a bit of a partnership between the two leaders.

“At the end of the day,” Gillman says, “it’s a house of God.” (x)

Oh my Sweet Summer Child…

… Winter is coming.

People who have only ever complained about the never ending winters have finally begun to wish for snow. Well, it seems winter has finally arrived in Winnipeg, Manitoba. On November 18th, late in the afternoon it began to snow covering the roads in a melty, icy sheen. This autumn has been an unusually mild on for the prairie province and the snow could be looked on as a welcome change covering the discoloured grass and leafless trees. However with the return of winter comes the struggle of driving. Winnipegers are notorious for forgetting how to drive in winter conditions, even with much of their year being winter conditions.

This evening there was a seventeen car pileup on Bishop Grandin Boulevard that is being blamed on the slippery conditions. Thankfully only one person suffered minor injuries with the others uninjured however this should serve as a reminder, we have to drive differently in winter!

Please be safe as you’re driving over the next few days! Winter is likely here to stay for a bit, we best knuckle down and get used to it.