Saturday, January 26, 2008

Where to look?

Out of all of the ways to present material to the public, I find that the internet is the easiest and fastest way to find something you are looking for. Honestly there are very few websites that I frequent, and even fewer websites that I admire. However, I can think of one site that I have used in the past and just recently had to use again. I have raised and shown horses pretty much all of my life, but a few days after Christmas we had to put my horse down because of some freak accident. Anyways, afterwards I needed a new horse to bond with and spend time with, so I went to this site called DreamHorse where you can basically find any horse in the world… literally. I also realize that this site does not really have an argument presented, but since it is really the only website I use I figured that I would give it a try.

Now I realize I might lose a few of you with the horse lingo, but I will try my best to explain what exactly I’m talking about. First of all, looking for a horse to buy or even selling a horse is hell. I’ve done both, so seriously trust me. The internet is the best and most effective way to find a good and decent horse. There are a few other ways to find horses, but like I said this is the easiest. This site is the best site that anyone I know has been able to find for buying, selling, and trading horses. Everything is set up perfectly on the home page. You can easily look for horses depending on where they are located, their names, their breeding and bloodlines, their color, their breed, or even whether they have a picture or video. Besides horses, you can also buy saddles, bridles, show clothes, horse blankets, horse trailers, and other tack. All you need is just a mouse click away.

The internet holds many advantages over the printed or oral selling and buying of horses. For instance, the internet allows you to sell or look at horses that are on the other side of the country. With printed or oral you are confined to your small region, town, county, and if you’re lucky your state. To buy a horse you want to see millions of pictures, from the time they were born to the present day. You also want to see a video of how the horse moves, know all of its bloodlines and if possible, all of its past owners. You want to know EVERYTHING. With the internet and this website, it allows the seller to post all of that and the seller to look at everything they want. This website also allows buyers to type in what type of horse they are specifically looking for. Click on the advanced search then select what breed, color, age, discipline (what the horse is good at), where in the country you want to look at, gender, and even price ranges you want. Click the submit button and hundreds, even thousands of horses for sale that match your criteria pop up for you to look at.

With the printed way of selling horses, you basically print off flyers with the horse’s picture and your phone number on it and leave them wherever you go in the “Horse World” (i.e. tack shops, horse shows etc.). After leaving the flyers wherever you go, you sit back and hope for months that someone might call to ask about your horse. Or on the other hand, you find a picture of a horse, and call the owners only to find out it sold three months ago. Orally selling and buying horses is pretty much a nightmare too. You can take the horse to an auction and basically take whatever people will pay you, which usually isn’t very much. Or you can spread the word by mouth and once again hope that someone will take pity on you and just buy your horse. It is very rare indeed that you will find a good horse to buy at an auction, you never know what they are like and definitely don’t know anything about its past. This takes so much time, money and energy to do that you get sick of it and usually give up.

Like I said before, it is pretty much impossible to sell or find the “perfect” horse without the internet to help guide you. With this website I sold one of my horses to someone in Texas, who seriously would have had no idea my horse even existed without this DreamHorse website. With printed and oral “translations” of this website there would be hundreds of random flyers floating around and a million lost opportunities of finding a wonderful horse that is a few hours away. Without the internet sites it can take months or even years to sell or find the right horse. The first day I started looking for horses on this DreamHorse website I found the horse I eventually bought. I typed in exactly what type of a horse I was looking for and POOF he popped up, I clicked on him and knew he was the “perfect” one.
Playboy (his new name) now happily resides here in Indiana with me as a spoiled and content horse. Without this website I never would have even known he existed.

The Fine Details Of Life

To start off I really was not all that excited about watching a woman lecture on how advertisements degrade and put women down. Thinking that it would just be another boring rant I reluctantly clicked on the link to take me to the video. However, as I watched the six and a half minute presentation I found myself captivated not only by the topic, but also by the efficient and compelling speaker. She was a very smooth and knowledgeable about her subject and set up the lecture perfectly.

This speaker was superb at briefly describing what the lecture was going to be about and at moving through her main points in the lecture. She was able to move from degrading ads about “You never thought you’d lose your looks either” to the ads about weight with one simple phrase that let the audience know the topic was shifting. This speaker set up her lecture so that it easily captured the audience’s attention. Between the speaker’s sense of humor and catchy wit, and the multitude of images and graphics to make her point, she made this a very attention-grabbing lecture. She integrated her images and photographs of advertisements with perfect timing into her lecture and I loved her comments on what the advertisements were presenting to the world.

By dressing well and looking professional, the speaker let the audience know that she meant business and really wanted to get her point across. This woman also had an amazing voice for speaking. She did a great job at putting in the voice inflections for mild disgust and humor, along with making sure that her voice was pitched just right so that everyone in the audience could hear and understand her. Another aspect of speaking that this lecturer managed to excel at was eye contact. She continually looked around the room she was speaking to, in order to make sure all of the people in the audience felt included in her speech. She also uses her body to communicate with the audience, she leans forward and uses subtle hand movements to help convey the points that she thinks are the most important.

I personally always hate sitting in class or at a lecture while the person speaking drones on and on about a subject that they don’t seem to understand or that they completely read from a PowerPoint. How is the audience supposed to get anything from the lecture if the person speaking does not even know what they are talking about? For me at least, this speaker seemed incredibly familiar with and well-informed about her subject. She was very enthusiastic about her topic and seemed to truly care that the audience understood the points she was trying to make. I’m guessing she used memory aids such as note cards, but she very rarely looked at them and when she did it was only for a brief moment. This made her lecture flow smoothly since she had no need to read straight from a PowerPoint or a note card.

I honestly think that the most memorable part about the presentation was the images that were added into the lecture and comments that she made on them. The advertisement about a woman’s husband wishing she had larger breasts was horrible. A husband should love his wife no matter the size of her breasts and honestly does not deserve to have her if he can’t appreciate her the way she is. Anyways, more than a handful is a waste. I also completely agree with her statements on “The more you subtract the more you add” advertisement. What an awful thing to tell young girls, or any woman for that matter. People have enough to deal with in their lives without thinking that the world will never accept them if they don’t weigh 100 pounds and are anorexic.

After my initial reluctance to listen to her lecture, I found it to be a very informative and somewhat horrifying slap in the face of what woman are being portrayed as. I mean seriously (in reference to the above picture) no one in the world will look like that woman in the picture just by eating that specific yogurt and it's just silly for people to believe that. Overall I thought that this was a very effective lecture. The speaker smoothly moved through her main points, effortlessly added in images, was always attuned to the audience, and more than got the information across the gape to the audience. I truly enjoyed watching this lecture and realizing how much advertisement really does affect our everyday lives.

Sandbox Memories

Once again I find myself scrolling through the thoughts and memories of our troops almost feeling like an intruder. I know I can never truly imagine what they are going through or have gone through, but these posts really bring the horrors home to me; whether they are the horrors of death and dying, of sending your children into war, or even of the horrifically ridiculous “care” packages. I am amazed at the talent that the troops use to voice their experiences, concerns, and thoughts.

This was a heart touching post about a man returning from war, only to send his oldest son back into the horrors of Afghanistan. The soldier posting was incredibly proud of his son, yet obviously worried. His comments about the majority of America being unaware of or not truly understanding the horrors really made me think once again about how little I know about the war. I can’t say that I fully understand how hard it is to send a child into war, but I can try to imagine. This man knows for a fact that the statements “it’s not really that bad over there” or “he will be safe” are just a way for people to distance themselves and give what are supposed to be the “make you feel better statements.” He knows what it was really like; he knows the hell he is sending his son into.

I thought that this was an amazing post in that the soldier was able to come to terms with all that he had seen, done and experienced. This man was able to see that the people of Afghanistan are worthy of our help; that they are real people who have feelings, get hurt, cry, get sick, and die like we do. This soldier had the strength to overcome the prejudices and hate thrown so casually around. He had the strength to care for not only his own country and people, but also Afghanistan and its people. He was able to understand them, to feel their pain, and to sympathize with the people. His strength amazed me, all of the soldiers who are fighting for not only their own country, but another country as well humble me with their courage and strength.

I found this post a nice refresher from the other, more somber posts that I have read. I think that this was a humorous way for the soldier to get across his feelings of frustration by making himself and others laugh. Most the soldier’s “list” made me laugh in sympathy, but I think that number 10 was a little harsh. No, people don’t understand what the soldiers are going through. They don’t understand the pain. They don’t understand the loss, but they are trying to and I think that that’s what should truly matter. However, some of the stuff people send to the troops is amazingly thoughtless. Once again I’m going to refer back to reading the letters for the “A Million Thanks To the Troops” project. We threw out so many goofy things. For example, an old used toothbrush, a tube of toothpaste that expired 10 years ago, half a roll of toilet paper, and an open stale box of cereal. I know people are trying to help, but the soldiers don’t need someone’s left over trash.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sosnoski Article Response

I honestly had some difficulty following the Sosnoski article. It was fairly interesting even though it was a difficult read. The parts of the article that I followed and understood were interesting and shed some light on the thoughts of hyper-reading, however, I had still had trouble following the author’s thoughts and therefore had issues discerning the deeper meanings of this article. Since I had trouble deciding the exact meaning of the article I will try to explain and illustrate what I actually managed to extract from it.

I did actually enjoy reading about the eight different issues of reading that Sosnoski hit on even though the introduction was fairly slow moving and drawn out. The problems such as de-authorizing, fragmenting, trespassing, skimming, filtering, pecking, filming, and imposing are all very real problems that people are faced with everyday. I found it interesting how he described them and what examples he inserted into the paragraph to get his points across. I myself have been guilty of “skimming” the text right before class, however, I have never been one to skim or peck through a novel that I am reading. Also, I cannot stand to watch a movie instead of reading the book or play and I believe that is just another way of cheating your way through life. Even though people say a “picture is worth a million words,” I feel as though the screen movies can never live up to a good old printed novel. As the author commented about the aesthetic pleasures of reading printed material, I completely and whole heartedly agree. I absolutely love curling up in front of my fireplace with a good book.

Besides the content of the essay, the author did very well setting it up; he made the structure extremely clear cut and nice flowing. He set up his essay so that it smoothly went from one subject to the next with very little confusion or puzzlement. The topics were easily discerned from one another with the excellent set up of the lengthy introduction that described what would be discussed. The essay was also very well researched and had a multitude of examples for all of the points that were made, along with a great section at the end that included his extra notes and citations. However, I do believe that he went off on a few too many tangents and a couple random anecdotes or stories that made his essay much harder to follow. It made the main points much harder to understand and extract from the essay. Even though he forewarned the hyper-reader about the many anecdotes included, it was still difficult to get my mind back on the topic that was previously being discussed. The author could have possibly cut back on his extra anecdotes, it made the essay incredibly wordy and not all that concise.

Even though I thought this essay to be a difficult and sometimes hard to follow read, I still enjoyed the challenge. I hope that in the future I will be better able to follow scholarly essays such as this one, and also that I will be able to better understand the deeper meanings that I had trouble finding in the Sosnoski essay.

Thoughts to the troops

Reading all of the different posts and blogs on the Sandbox “milblog” has been a very eye opening and rewarding experience. As I started reading I realized how very little I actually know about the military and the lifestyle of soldiers at war. I worked for the “Million Thanks to the Troops” letter writing campaign that was put on by GM and I read through, sorted and sent all of the letters that were to be sent to the troops. Working on that project was incredibly rewarding and it was a breathtaking feeling to be able to understand how the heartfelt 15 page letters or even the simple thank you notes would make the soldiers in Iraq feel. By reading these posts by the actual soldiers, it really brought home to me how much a simple thank you would help to bolster their spirits and help them find the courage to fight for our country.

I am not particularly for or against the war, but a person does not have to be pro-war to support our troops. Whether the war is right or wrong should not matter, the troops are still fighting for the country and all of the people who live in it. All of the posts I read on Sandbox brought home to me how little respect some people give to the troops. It is not their fault that they are fighting a war, they are not fighting just to kill others, they are fighting to help give others the freedom we take for granted every day of our lives.

I basically scrolled through some of the topics and posts on Sandbox and read a few. The very last one I did not think was going to touch me as much as it did. It was called “Final Post,” thinking it would be a soldier’s last post before being shipped off to Iraq I clicked on it not really thinking. Rather than being a last quick post before leaving, it was the last post of this man’s life. “Longtime blogger Andrew Olmsted was killed on January 3rd in Iraq. Andy gave me this post to publish in the event of his death.” This post was actually done by Andrew Olmsted’s friend hilzoy. This man wrote this post in case he died and made his friend promise to post it for him. Olmsted (pictured above) was able to speak of his death with dignity and was proud to die for his country. This was the most touching and heartbreaking piece of work I have ever read in my life. His love for his country and his wife came through with a few humbling words. Andrew Olmsted, may you rest in peace with our love.

Here is the link for his post if anyone wants to read it, which I think everyone should do. .

Hmmm Facebook huh?

While reading these articles about the dangers and horrors of the online networking sites, such as Facebook and Myspace, I found myself intrigued about how willing people are to put themselves out on the line and talk about every little detail of their lives as long as it is online. I personally have a Facebook, but I also have it set to private so that only my approved friends can look at… as far as I know. As the articles said there are ways to get around those minor settings and look at people’s personal and private profiles. The problems arising from these sites are very concerning and even possibly dangerous if not handled correctly. People need to learn how to use the Internet and these sites properly and safely as to not get themselves into a mess of trouble. No one wants to be turned down for a job interview because his Facebook lists “smoking pot, getting completely wasted, sex, sex and more sex” for his interests. Even though most of the content that people post on Facebook and Myspace is exaggerated or completely false, it still shows how irresponsible you are or would like to be.

I understand that people want to make themselves look “cool” by putting up pictures of them drinking or other risqué pictures, but honestly I think that is something that needs to be kept a little more private rather than posted all over the Internet. Many of my friends post pictures of themselves drinking or doing other activities just to prove their popularity, prowess in bed, or their awesome underage drinking abilities. Every one of their friends knows what went on, where it was, and what happens since the friends are usually there too. Why bother bragging about it online where it can only cause trouble? Obviously no one wants to hire a drunken, pot smoker who sleeps around; it only shows that you have little or no responsibility. If someone goes to turn in an application for a job, the least he can do is cleanup his Facebook and Myspace profiles by removing incriminating pictures, irresponsible messages, and the multitude of pointless applications such as, “Which Condom Are You?”, “What Kama Sutra Position Are You?”, or even the “Let’s Play Beer Pong.” Let’s not get me wrong though, I absolutely love Facebook and I have even been guilty of taking the random quizzes out of curiosity, however, I deleted them off of my profile afterwards.

On another note, I also have a few thoughts concerning the Internet and the “predators” to be found on there. The Internet is a great thing and a great place to talk to friends and read about interesting topics; however, I believe that precautions seriously need to be taken that many people either do not know about, or just don’t seem to care about. I personally never add someone as a friend if I don’t already know him personally or know him through a friend. There is no reason for people to put their phone numbers or addresses all over the Internet, which is seriously just asking for trouble. All in all I still think that the Internet is an extraordinary thing as long as people pay attention, stay safe, and are careful about what they say or do on it.