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Lessons To Adulthood

The courses that we take and the lessons that we learn amounts to the practical and technical skills required to have a prosperous career. Outside the academics realm, we pick up hard work, dedication, compassion and care from interactions. These codes and ethics we have gathered are key to helping us build a profession. However, there is one thing that we need to truly be a pioneer.

This Thanksgiving, I met up with my high school friends who have now been studying in various universities in the States. Some were at the beginnings of higher education, some pursuing even more, while others are already venturing into the workplace. I myself belonged to the ones getting ready to graduate. I sought the opinion of my one successful friend who had obtained a respectable internship in one of the top 3 advising firms of America.

The advise I got from him was helpful but non was more useful than the last bit of conversation we had. During a long car ride in the Chicago night, I turned to my friend and ask:

“So, what are you suppose to wear? Business casual?”

The conversation went on and developed into a discussion on wardrobe. It was then that I realize that all the time I spent in college had not taught me this one thing, class.

Class is a peculiar thing. I do not mean my socioeconomic status nor do I refer to any categories and differentiation. Class simply means the nobility. Nobility not inherited by birth, but shown in words, actions and presentation. It is hard to learn this form of nobility because it cannot be claimed in a mere short amount of time. It takes careful grooming of the character to show class.

The way you speak can tell a stranger a lot about you. The simple language we use to converse with friends is informal. While this might bring personality and closure while you conduct a discussion in the workplace, it does not bring respect to the speaker. A strong grasp of vocabulary and vocal control commands attention and discipline.

Your movements and actions may very well define how you are judged. Leaning onto a wall or slouching  on your chair are extreme examples of sloppiness that fosters disrespect. Small gestures like firm hand shakes, early arrivals, prompt replies and maintaining eye contact are not just ethical but classy. These actions are very much like morals, it cannot be real unless it is always practiced.

Presentation is often the most prominent aspect of class. A man or woman will not be taken seriously if he or she does not dress so. Standing out with outrageous clothing is as good as a slap to the face to those who expect your presence. Dressing to the occasion is not only a showing of respect, it prompts returned esteem. The way you wear your clothes and the fine details of your jacket can show others what kind of person you are. During a formal meeting where everyone wheres the same design and almost similar colors, the small details like the perfect fit, neat tie, decorative cufflink and unwrinkled pocket square will tell your client how much you value them, and how much they should value you.

This information was not a mystery to me, but the application of it had eluded me for years. I have often told myself to produce professional products, but I neglected to realized that respect is also rated by class. I never wore a suit when I met my clients, nor did I use big words when I interact with them. These things weren’t second nature to me, but I had the power to switch it on. My friend had pushed me to start dressing up to the occasion, to give up the folly plays and venture into the world of adulthood.

When I think back, I remembered him in shorts, prancing around the campus like a fool. It seems that time and experience had seasoned him. Class does not mean wearing a suit everywhere you go, it means that you tidy up your speech, action and wardrobe. Even the smallest demand of class deserves your full devotion.

Changing Directions

The start of this blog had been building on the genre of zombies and our novel came to a stop a month ago. This post is intended to explain that sudden discontinuation.

I have been mapping out the story but I just could not find facts about zombies to write about anymore. Our format had consist of a single universal fact about zombies followed by an original chapter. Right now, I pretty much covered everything about a zombie apocalypse and all that’s left is the novel. I hate to just post a chapter without the context of an introductory passage into zombies so I have been holding back on it.

In this post, I will post the remaining plot summarized so I can let go of the novel and continue putting up content which are related to current issues. I decided to go with this motif because as I write upon up-to-date topics, I realized the importance of conveying the raw emotion and facts.

So here is the plot summary for those who had interest in the zombie novel, feel free to comment if you want me to finish it in full narrative:

Mike and Sarah waits for the zombie to leave the alley and goes down the fire escape. They met a police officer who led them into the local Walgreens. There, they met a community and began sharing stories. However, not all the residents of the makeshift shelter are friendly. Some had different agenda’s and soon Mike realizes they had to leave. One night, one of the police officer was shot and everyone panicked. Mike grabs Sarah and made a run for it. When the exited to the streets, a horde of zombies met them. Surrounded, they hold each other one last time before making a mad dash for a police car. Mike sprinted as fast as he could but Sarah tripped and fell behind. Mike turns away from the car and tries to go back for Sarah. Try as he might, the surrounding undead collapsed upon her and Mike fell to his knees. Shocked and devastated, he tried to kill the zombies but could not find the strength. He dragged himself into the car and drove for the university where it all began. He went into the classroom were he spent moments alone with Sarah. Chairs were flipped and papers were sprawled across the floor. There, he got cornered by a zombie and was forced to lock himself in the classroom. He fell to the floor… (Prologue). THE END

No Chill

“Record heat, melting ice, and rising seas.” Now is not the time to be concerned, that day has long passed. Industrialization, factories, combustion and mass production, all these advancements are not the solution, they are the problem. I’m not asking you to throw away your i-Phones or stop driving your Volvo. I’m asking you to care.

For years now we have trivialized global warming, even daring ourselves to believe it to be a myth. But global warming isn’t a bedtime story, it’s a worldwide issue.You can see it in the numbers from NASA: we’re having the highest levels of carbon dioxide in 650,000 years, the warmest weather on record and 4 years ago we had the lowest reports of ice.


With all this information at our doorstep, why does the United States of America still lead the world in climate change in denials. According to EcoWatch statistics, the US is the first to refute and the last to act. We have actors and public figures going out and giving speeches advocating change, then we have politicians and lobbyists that call it a hoax. One president advocates action while the next denies the existence. The contrasting opinions have to end.

Every two seconds, a forest the size of a football field is destroyed. In a year, over 9 thousand million metric tons of carbon are emitted by fossil fuel. For decades we have been prioritizing profit over logic, short term over long term, but every action we take against nature has a consequence. The symptoms are already showing, our glaciers are melting, rain patterns are changing and land masses are diminishing.  There will be no ice left, sea levels reaching dangerous heights, hurricanes of unstoppable force, crops ruined by droughts and heatwaves.

We don’t have the luxury to deny this problem anymore. No matter who you are, a lawyer, a doctor, a teacher, a parent or a student, we all bear the responsibility of educating the people around us about the issue of global warming. Let us spread awareness and reverse these numbers. Fathers and mothers, tell your kids so that their kids can live a better life. Teachers, educate your students so that they can change the world for the better. Friends, tell your buddies even if it’s not “cool” because soon enough there won’t be a “cool” place for us to live anymore.

All is not lost in this beautiful world we live in. In this year, 111 parties signed the Paris Agreement for a step towards saving Earth. They set limits to how much we could produce, goals that help reduce emissions and a joint effort to combat climate change. Leaders aren’t the only ones who can save our beloved planet, every one of us can contribute to the cause. So the next time you are about to throw a tin can, crumple a wastepaper or dispose of unwanted plastic bags, remember this, reduce, reuse and recycle. In the words of the great Michael Jackson, “heal the world, make it a better place for you and for me and the entire human race.”

Resources:

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/climate-change/special-issue/

http://climate.nasa.gov/

http://www.ecowatch.com/survey-shows-americans-lead-the-world-in-climate-denial-1881938913.html

https://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/kids/impacts/signs/index.html

http://onetreeplanted.org/pages/tree-facts

Personal is Political

I was doing a video profile assignment this week and had the luxury of being invited to an event that engages in discussion on life at the university. Dish It Up, is a weekly program that runs in the Oasis Student Lounge that invites students, faculty and outsiders to talk about topics each member brings up. Following the heat of the election, this week’s rendition had great rhetoric about the changes in politics.

The emotional investment that makes this events successful is driven by opinion. This raw take and perspective makes the event genuine. As I set myself up in the corner for the beginning, a pastor stood and introduced the topic that has been bothering his mind. The audience, made up of a diverse group of individual, listened and nodded their head in approval.

The topic of the day was “Trump’s Presidency”. While they were political science majors in the discussions, the voices of everyone were equal. Many agreed that republican values have justifiable appeals, but they’re discussion stretches across that. An African-American woman spoke out:

“Many of them are pro-life, and that’s all right. But can you support pro-life if it comes with racism, bigotry?”

This quote was strongly engraved in my mind. We each have our political ideals, our agendas, but truly are our needs so important? The core of the argument was that the privileged are willing to overlook racism and sexism because it does not affect them. This win-win scenario is not shared by the minorities and the poor.

The proposed solution by the group was education, not in the form of a degree or a PhD, but the simple human values that we cherish. Kindness, compassion, empathy, humility and love. If the individual is innately taught to be good, to be aware, there is nothing that can dissuade him or her from the truth. It doesn’t matter if you’re right or left, what’s matter is that your vote counts and it should be an educated decision.

Show, Don’t Tell

When you submit that first copy you worked so hard on, the reply you most likely receive is:

Show me, don’t tell me.

So what does this mean? Show, don’t tell refers to the technique of description using experience and emotion instead of words. This requires the use of specifics.

The Write Practice explains this as the use of details. The first example used describes a plot. The second example expands the plot. Simply put, it is not enough to just tell the reader what is happening, you have to show what the environment is. Immerse the reader and draw their attention. Every specific detail is a point of attachment, a way to help the viewer relate to the scenario.

A personal example I’d like to use is John going to the store.

a) John goes into the shop to buy a pair of jeans. He selects a pair in blue that fits him perfectly and proceeded to make a payment.

b) John visits the local store to try on a new pair of jeans. He had long been wanting to throw away his old khakis because they’d barely fit him anymore. He walks into the bustling store and skimmed through the sections till he finally reached the one with a variety of men’s jeans. His eyes locked on one in blue. The attendant notices his interest and removed it from the shelf. He thanked her and went into the dressing room. After a satisfying grin in the mirror, John walked out of the store a little lighter in the pocket but a lot happier around the waist.

This is how I would like to contrast telling and showing.

 

Chapter 7: Community

The meds ran out before the food. Agony grows each night as impulse overtakes sense. Sarah would wake to find me staring at the doorway. The occasional footstep and thump on the door stopped me from sleeping. Restlessness grew.

She wasn’t doing too well herself. Before our phones ran out of battery, she had attempted to reach her mum with no success. She would stare at a family picture from time to time. Sometimes it gets worst. The lack of food and the growing unease made us grumpy. We tried not to argue and managed a small victory.

“Maybe we should try Walgreens”

Sarah looked at me surprised.

“We can’t just sit here forever.”

“Do you hear what’s out there? Have you lost it?”

“Sarah, I mean it. We need to go out sooner or later, why not do it while we still have the energy.”

She looked down at her hands. There laid the picture of her parents. I had learned to regret not printing out a single photo of my dad. I was fortunate enough to have a 5 minute call before it was too late. He was overseas, somewhere in Bristol attending a seminar. Things over the Pacific seem to be calmer. News had spread but not the sickness. At that time, no one seems to believed it. I wonder if it’s still the same now. Where could dad be right now.

“Alright, lets go tomorrow.”

“Oh, I was thinking of going alone. You know, quick in and out.”

“I’m not staying here by myself. If you’re going, we’re both going.”

She had a point. What if something goes wrong, what if I can’t get back. Maybe it would be best if we both took the risk together.

The morning came in 2 hours. We managed a small nap before getting up and packing our bags for the worst. Each bag pack had a small amount of snacks and space for things at Walgreens. Just as I slipped into a fresh pair of socks, a siren blared out from the streets. I quickly remove the chairs and table blockading the door to reach the knob.

“Mike! Stop!”

The door swung open and the sound grew louder. I looked out of the complex window to find a police car zooming by. A couple of people were running after it. Only, they didn’t look very… human. I looked down and saw the same disfigured bodies walking away from the complex and following the sound of the siren.

I turned around and a slap came straight onto my cheek.

“What was that for?”

“There might be things out here.”

“The police car drew them away. It’s fine now. Sorry.”

We proceeded cautiously down the stairs to the fifth floor. Suddenly, the floor creaked beneath us and we both froze. Sarah started walking back up but I signaled for her to hold still. The creak grew in distance as we wait till it fainted back into silence. I grabbed Sarah’s hand and lead her into Eric’s room.

“What are we doing here?”

“There’s a fire escape in this room.”

I had always found it silly since Eric introduced me to the wooden stairs leading from his window out into the back alley. What good could a flammable fire escape do in an emergency. Right now, I thank the gods that it was there.

As I retreated the blinds and set my fingers on the window, Sarah grabbed my hand and pulled it away. She pointed at a moving figure down the stairs.

 

Resources:

http://thewritepractice.com/show-dont-tell/

 

Personal Interests

My favorite part of the day is to cook up a nice meal with red meat and toast. Cooking is not the only thing that makes the past time better. I always switch on my laptop and turn on a lifestream of an E-sport competition. Like football play-by-play and analytics, E-sports share a same setup on their online and LAN competition. With rising prize pool and the availability of a free streaming platform, one could argue that online gaming has been a globalization process long in its wake.

Commentary is a service that has often been crucial to the popularity of an event or phenomenon. While cable and TV stations are not open to broadcasting E-sports, Valve and Blizzard have openly sponsored and co-sponsored tournaments with national gaming entities. The first appearance of gaming in a different media was in TBS, an Australian based cable and satellite television channel.

Twitch has been the forerunner of the online distribution platform, it allows audiences to connect their own games for rewards. Amazon even partnered with Twitch to create Twitch Prime which is basically a premium account for online viewing with a discount and reward system for gamers. With such a successful platform, who knows where E-sports will go, maybe the internet is the only media they need.

For an example of what Blizzard (considered the best quality productions) has output, their newest game Overwatch sold for an ridiculous amount of 40 dollars a copy, recieved and overwhelming amount of 20 million buyers. Traditionally competitive online games have been free to play, this could shift the scene because more and more people are incentivized by the tournaments and streaming revenues.

 

Reference:

http://www.tbs.com/sports/eleague.html

http://blog.counter-strike.net/index.php/2013/11/7922/

https://twitch.amazon.com/prime

https://playoverwatch.com/en-us/media/

http://www.pcgamesn.com/overwatch/overwatch-sales-numbers

Writer’s Block

Back on track:

Last week I found myself with writer’s block. It never occurred to me that writer’s block has two extended definitions. According to Merriam-Webster, writer’s block is “the problem of not being able to think of something to write about” or “not being able to finish writing a story, poem, etc.”

Although I had a pretty good idea of what the coming chapter would be, I spent an entire day pondering on how to deliver it. To entice readers and to follow the story plot should not be two conflicting interest because an arrogant way of writing will never be successful. I sat and ponder about how not to bore the readers.

It was here that I pick up a trait used by films, time compression. Like many stories and novels, we skip explaining details about using the bathroom or other necessary functions unless it plays a role in the story arc. TVTropes has a pretty wide range of examples about time compression. The basic concept is to compress the length of a progressing event by only showing the important details.

This technique might not be rare, but when writing a story, we tend to get to caught up with the linear progression of time that we overlook the importance of capturing the audience. With that said, I decided to compress the time in the novel that I deem to be wasteful reading.

 

Chapter 6: Illusion

The first week went better than I expected.

We arrived at my place just in time to meet Eric. He busted the complex door open as Sarah and I arrived.

“Eric?”

I had never seen Eric panic before. My fifth floor neighbor who would always carpool me for grocery had a pale face and hair that looked like they’d met lightning. Without even acknowledging me, he ran across the street to his car, nearly meeting the front of a Ford Raptor.

We immediately got into my apartment room and lock the door.

“Should we go?”

“Where?”

She was right. Where could possibly be safe. Is this a local event? The news said that Kansas and Arizona had met the same crisis.

“I don’t have much food left, maybe just for half a week.”

I was not proud of the state of my apartment. Sheets of paper were scattered all over, undone dishes and an overflowing bin. Thankfully I had just done my laundry, at least I had that going.

“I don’t think we should be leaving your place.”

She was right. Who knew how much this zombie thing could have spread, maybe the entire campus will be overuned by now or it might just be room 2215. Either way, neither one of us would want to leave here now.

“Eric! Maybe he left some food behind!”

It suddenly hit me, why would Eric lock his door if he was going to run from this apocalypse.

Never have I been more surprised. We went down a flight of stairs and found that his apartment door had been shut tight. I knew Eric always had cooking ingredients to borrow. Once his car broke down and the both of us spent an entire week on just the top compartment of his fridge.

Bang!

“What are you doing?”

“He’s not going to mind, he’s probably hours away by now.”

I ran into the door with my shoulder until finally it gave way. My apartment complex was already in a state of decay before I moved in. 300 dollars a month was far too good of a deal for a student. Although our landlord had always been on time with repairs, the 90 year old building has definitely seen better days, or even years. Fortunately, Eric had been a generous shopper. I knew that Eric was a large eater, but I never known about his hoarding skills. We went on and unloaded his groceries into my place.

“What the fuck are you doing!”

I dropped the sack of rice and ran down to see Sarah fighting off someone who seemed like a resident of the building. The 5 storey building houses many strangers who are either anti-social or creepy lurkers. This five foot tall elderly woman seem to be trying her best to snatch a basket of fruit from Sarah.

“It’s fine, we can share.”

The woman wouldn’t let go until we finally agree to give her the entire basket. Thankfully she left without inquiring about the leftover contents of Eric’s room. We hustled the rest up the stairs and locked my apartment door shut. I barricaded the door and shut all the windows and blinds.

We lived in here for a week. Food seemed to be plenty. We decided to go through with the ones that would go bad first. Sarah was an amazing cook, she could even make orange and beef work. God, she was a hell of a woman. I never knew that zombies could help me find my true love. She was my only comfort for seven days. Each night we wondered how many people were still left in the building. Sometimes, something would knock on the door. We ignored it and proceeded to further stack up useless furniture against the entrance.

“What happens when we run out of food?”

“We’ll just have to eat each other.”

Sarah looked at me and laughed. The days before had brought us together in ways words cannot describe. It was poetic as it was paradise. We would spend the mindless hours in each others arms. At first it was because of the winter cold, but we both knew it was more that that. The heater went with the power during the second night, along with the phone lines. Thankfully the gas stove kept us in a jolly spirit.

“I’m serious”

Sarah said as I release her from a kiss.

“Maybe we can try Walgreens? It’s just around the corner. They’ll have rows of snacks if you can forgo healthy living.”

“Should we even leave this place?”

“We’ll do it if we must.”

With my arms around her, Sarah snuggled into the blanket and began a sleep. I peeked across her shoulder to the apartment window. The blinds had been shut for so long, I almost forgot about Dorothy. Dorothy had been my friend from day 1 since I rented the place. I was in the process of pulling up the blinds and opening the windows around my room till the third window ledge surprised me with a spider. Between the insect net on the outside and the window glass on the inside, Dorothy had made itself a home. I shut the window instantly wondering how it could even live and feed in that isolated chamber but I soon decided that it was not something I would bother with my 4 years of college life. The thought of my pet spider brought me a smile and sent me into my dreams.

 

 

Reference:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/writer’s%20block

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TimeCompressionMontage