Mixed Race in a Box

This week I finally got my hands on a part of the Mixed Race in a Box that we all put money towards for our American literature module. It was published by the Asian American Literary Review in 2013. It is a multimedia project to teach mixed race in a different artistic and innovative way. It is used in classrooms here in Ireland as well as in America, Poland, Germany, Hong Kong and Argentina.

The box itself includes:
– a set of playing cards
-mixed race is a black box
-mixed race is a Pandora’s box
-mixed race is an inbox
– a poster

They all come in a lovely wooden box. I was lucky enough to get my hands on the pack of playing cards that I had my eye on. Every card has a quote from an author or a story on the back and the front of the cards contain beautiful images displayed in artistic form.

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I have studied William Faulkner and Nella Larsen as part of the curriculum for this module so seeing quotes from them on the cards themselves is a nice memento to have of this semester. These authors are inspiring when it comes to issues of mixed race. I find that the box is a perfect way to teach about mixed race using a modern way of teaching as opposed to the old-fashioned form.

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I have attached two personal photographs of a selection of cards in the pack. I must say that each and every individual card is worth taking a photograph of. The other pieces in the box were taken home by the other students in my group. Mixed Race in a Box is by far the most exciting literature I have studied this semester. I feel it may open up the eyes of students that find it hard to learn about race.

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Web Usability

This week I learned about web usability in class. The concept of web usability is the ease of the use of the world wide web. Information should be shared in a clear and concise way in the simplest form. Placement of information is important. Any links should be leading to appropriate information regarding that link title. Another key method of web usability is to ensure that the content can be displayed on various devices and browsers.

I also learned about a web usability consultant by the name of Jakob Nielsen. He is Danish and has a Ph.D. in human-computer interaction. His usability goals consist of five quality components, these are:

  • Learnability
  • Efficiency
  • Memorability
  • Satisfaction
  • Errors

Drafting up a website before publishing is good practice as you can tweak words and/or images with fresh eyes after returning to it. The most important thing is to get your relevant information across simply by focusing on the essential message and starting with the context.

This information I learned is beneficial for the website I am building that will give information on media ethics. It is not until you break down the different methods of having a good website, that you understand that it is a lengthy process.

Studying Sherlock Holmes

This week I am learning about Sherlock Holmes in Victorian literature class. The first short story we are focusing on is ‘The Man with the Twisted Lip‘ 1891. There are at least four other short stories belonging to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the Sherlock Holmes series that feature a facial deformity in the main title. Other novels that can be related to Sherlock Holmes’ short stories of doubling are The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde alongside The Picture of Dorian Gray. The trope of double-consciousness is a major theme in these stories. Bram Stoker’s Dracula can also be classified in this category. Sherlock’s intellectual mindset allows him to solve crimes and in this particular short story, he solves the mystery of a character that leads a double life. This character is comparable to those of Jekyll, Hyde and Gray as they lead double lives through the personality changes that they all endure.

Holmes himself is a master of disguise with his ever-changing array of characters. In ‘The Man with the Twisted Lip‘, he puts that theory into effect with his clever disguise in the opium den which leads to Dr. Watson’s bewilderment when he is finally told by Holmes who he is. Of course, the most iconic relevant Holmes is portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch who does a remarkable job in the eccentricity of Holmes’ character. His puts in an astounding performance of him onscreen and brings Sherlock Holmes to life for all viewers. Above is a link to a youtube narration of the short story.

Housekeeping – A Novel

This week in my American Literature module, we are studying and reading Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. The story is an interesting one about mainly women and family and their journeys after suffering some sort of loss. The novel juxtaposes the idea of keeping a house clean with the idea of spiritual keeping in a house. The theme of abandonment is used throughout the novel, with the women suffering different losses.

It reminds me of a book I studied in Belgium titled If I Told You Once by Judy Budnitz. They are similar in several different ways, but the abandonment by the male species is abundant throughout. The women suffer loss but gather courage and strength again and again as time heals their wounds.

I learnt that although the novels are set in different era’s, it is positive to see the strength that women display through characters such as these written by strong independent authors. It is important that we keep writing and reading novels such as these to portray a good role model outlook for the young women of today. They suffer greatly in the novels but manage to gain courage again and become strong, independent women.

Imagery sourced from: https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81xZtBhLjEL.jpg

The Presentation of Jekyll and Hyde

This week in our Victorian literature module, we had to give a presentation on The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. There were four of us and I must say that we worked well as a team. We communicated efficiently through Facebook chat to organise what we must do beforehand. We decided on incorporating abjection, double-consciousness and the other into the presentation. I was inspired to write about abjection through Julia Kristeva‘s essay Powers of Horror. Researching the story was actually more interesting than I thought as I found it to be quite intriguing learning different aspects of it. The fascination with the human mind is extraordinary but especially in Jekyll and Hyde as the emotional war between the two characters makes for a good read.

I also watched the 1930’s film Jekyll and Hyde for research purposes. It was dramatically different from the novel, however it did provide good insight into the characters and how Hyde was the true alter-ego of evil.

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A screenshot from our presentation

We also had to have a class discussion at the end of the presentation. This consisted of a few questions we composed ourselves and had the other class members answer them and lead a discussion that way. While I do suffer from nerves giving presentations, I found that working well as a team eased my conscious somewhat.

Overall I think that the presentation went well and we hope as a team to achieve good results.

The link to information on the 1931 film starring Fredric March can be found here on the internet movie database site:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0022835/

 

 

 

 

Charity Week

This week in UL, I have learnt that even though the majority of students use charity week as a big drinking session, some students still give back. I am fortunate enough to be an MnM which stands for Meitheal na Mac Léinn. We work in teams on day and night shifts to provide safety around the off-campus estates. Our presence puts residents at ease and they can confide in us when a distressing matter arises. The night shifts are more entertaining and busier as most students would be at house parties and would be walking around the estates. We do have to put up with negative personalities and drunk students at all hours. However the positives are being in a team and working well with each other.

Other students volunteer by taking charity buckets and collecting money for charity that way for a few hours a day. Events take place in the courtyard throughout the week which consist of dunking people in water and nearly naked miles. All these things are fun ways to raise money.

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All Tvvins playing in the courtyard for Charity Week. 

Students forget that RAG stands for Raise and Give. it is not just an excuse to binge drink for a week, but to raise money for worthwhile charities. Reflectively, I find that UL is a great university when it comes to events such as these.

Photograph is my own.

Time-keeping

This week in college I have learned that time-keeping is essential when trying to balance out several different projects going on in my life. The phrase ‘bitten off more than I can chew’ comes to my mind here. I am associated with several different groups in college such as the Filmmaking Society, student council and ULFM to name a few.

I dedicate certain hours to volunteer with these groups on a weekly basis. However, this week I have learned that too much dedication to societies and other projects such as these leaves me little time to focus on why I attend university in the first place. My studies have suffered this week due to that fact. Therefore, it is crucial that I make use of good time-keeping skills in order to balance out my studies with my extra-curricular activities.

In order to do this, I have decided to make a study timetable in which to designate hours to study. I find that having these extra-curricular activities make college more fun and less grueling when it comes to assignments and exams. Hopefully this will help me create a balance between my college workload and my volunteering duties. It is already week 5 so now is the time to start focusing on time management.

After Erasmus

I am home approximately three weeks from my Erasmus stay in Ghent, Belgium. After having an amazing time, which I will definitely blog about, I feel the need to share my after Erasmus experience. Everyone gives you advice and guidelines before your Erasmus and even during your Erasmus, but no-one tells you how to deal with the after effects. I am happy to be back in UL studying media again, but I am left with this feeling of longing for Belgium. I am definitely unprepared for this. I thought that I would naturally miss it for a week or so but three weeks later and a part of me wishes I was back there.

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Ghent, Belgium

It’s strange how you can get accustomed to a place and how it feels like home when your University home has been Limerick for the past two years. I miss walking through the plaza with St. Pieter’s Cathedral staring down at me. I miss the smell of chocolate I got when I walked by the sellers on the street. I miss beer. I am not a beer drinker, at least not in Ireland. The beer there is amazing; cherry-flavoured, mild beer, any beer you can think of, they have it. I never realised that I would miss these small things when I came home. I was lucky that I enjoyed my Erasmus experience, but the negative side of that is wanting to go back.

Picture is my own.

Best Music Videos of All Time??

According to nme.com, the top 10 greatest music videos of all time are:

10.  The Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up (1998)

I remember seeing this video singing along to its catchy tune and then getting a big shock at the end.  Did not see that one coming.

9.  Sigur Ros – Viorar Vel Til Loftarasa (1999) (Good Weather for Air Strikes)

A really powerful video, set in the 1950’s.  When you compare it to the likes of pop videos made nowadays, you realise you watch those sugary pop videos to get away from reality for a while.  A touching song and video, representing really the milestone we aim to achieve on May 22nd.  #voteyes

8. Beastie Boys – Sabotage (1994)

A piss-take of 70’s cops shows and the like, but done in a great manner.

7. Weezer – Buddy Holly (1994)

A homage to Happy Days, superior editing for the time that was in it.

6. Foo Fighters – Everlong (1997)

A really well edited video full of monsters and metamorphosis.  Love the ending.

5. Bjork – All Is Full Of Love (1997)

A futuristic video that still stand the test of time to this day.  It’s also on permanent display at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

4. Soundgarden – Black Hole Sun (1994)

Satiring the perfect American family, with a psychedelic feel of a melancholic song.

3. Chris Isaak – Wicked Game (1989)

Romantic song, 50 Shades of Grey-esque video.

2. Radiohead – Just (1995)

A man is lying on a pavement.  Why? Well….

1. Johnny Cash – Hurt (2002)

One of my favourite songs of all time.  The Man In Black is a legend.

”What have I become
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know goes away
In the end
And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt ”

Originally a dark Nine Inch Nails song, Cash covers this song with such emotion.  Everytime I hear it, I feel it.  It has special meaning to me.  The video itself is so well done and artistically beautiful.  I love great songs but when the video compliments them and makes you love the song even more, it’s incredible.

” I wear this crown of thorns
Upon my liar’s chair
Full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair
Beneath the stains of time
The feelings disappear
You are someone else
I am still right here

The original by Nine Inch Nails (1994)

All videos sourced from YouTube.

IKEA….The Maze of All Things Household-y

Ah Ikea….a labyrinth of wonder containing every woman’s (and man’s) household dreams.  The excitement of taking the exit of Ballymun and turning into the road that seems to be made especially for this Swedish masterstore.  The carpark…oh so big and wide, full to the brim of eager shoppers wanting the sacred IKEA items to glorify their house.  Taking the escalator upstairs builds the excitement.  A woman waits with a yellow shopping bag and asks if ‘you know what you’re doing?’  A stand awaits with special mini IKEA pencils and measuring tape so you can measure to your hearts content.  Ah the joy!  Walking into the showrooms is like trespassing into someone’s very well presented, chic home.  I want to buy that,that and that!!  Oh no, not that.  We need one of these!  We don’t!  We do!  The urge to go to the toilet increases as you see toilet after toilet.  You think, hmmm….I wonder, no I can’t, someone might see me, oh and they’re not plumbed, but…no, I’ll wait.  What?  The bathroom stuff AGAIN?!  But we already saw that stuff earlier,ugh!!  My feet are sore.  Oh, yep, getting those.  Ok, I’m ready to go, how long else will this take?  Walking.  When will this end?  My feet are sore, this chair is comfy.  I need food.  So thirsty…. Walking faster.  Yay, there’s the cafe. Oh wifi.   Coffee machine isn’t working.  Eat half a sandwich with coffee….finally!!  Ok, so now we have to actually go downstairs to the warehouse bit and pick up everything that we saw.  Whoops, picking up more than we saw.  Keeping.  Putting back.  Going back, no…don’t need it.  Next time!  I forgot how big this warehouse was.  When is it ending?  My feet are sore.  Great, now my legs and whole body is sore too.  Ugh, I just want to get out of here already, stupid household crap that we don’t really need but kind of do.  Why didn’t we just go to Argos?!

 Time to pick up boxes.  Almost out of this entrapment.  Wheres the bloody aisle?  Odd and evenly numbered aisles.  Trolley is going sideways, can’t push…must go back to gym.  Get these fecking boxes and get the hell out of here.  ‘This product has two boxes.’  Ok, grand, its that one and that one or whatever.  Queue up, beep.  Beep. Beep.  No beep.  Looking for barcode.  NONE.  Off he goes down to look for the mystery box we somehow left behind.  Avoiding eye contact with people in queue behind.  Here he comes, no box.  Must be another box.  Off he goes again.  Definitely avoiding eye contact with people in queue now.  Oh just look at these cups, lovely.  Jesus, hurry up!  Here he comes again…with a box.  My inside slowly turns happy.  Wait for it….BEEP!! Yes.  Lets get out of here.  Young lad bashes into my trolley slightly, in fairness, these trollies are uncontrollable.  Almost there.  Almost there.  Where’s the car?  Oh right.  Almost there.  Unpack without breaking anything.  Throw trolley into holder thingy.  Get back to car, sit…breathe.  Yay we got crap for the house, woohoo!!  5.5 hours later (I.KID.YOU.NOT).  Let’s go to Blanchardstown, I’m starving!!

Like the gym or Alice in Wonderland...or something...

Like the gym or Alice in Wonderland…or something…


One Week Later…Almost

Bathroom cabinet is in kitchen, half assembled.

To Be Continued….