Sunday, September 5, 2010

Why the Blog?

Yes, I know that isn't a loon.

For a while now I've been thinking of the merits of creating a weblog, livejournal, online diary, or what-have-you. The benefits are attractive and varied. I can keep track of what I'm doing, create opinions and reviews of whatever I encounter on a day-to-day basis. I can take my obscure hobbies and talk about them in a way that would be infinitely more open to commentary instead of maintaining a written diary. A main goal will be accessibility, writing about my many interests in a way that would be interesting and understandable to those unaware. Finally, and perhaps most important, I can practice and hone my writing skills, an ongoing goal set years in the past.

So here I am, my first blog post down, and voraciously eager to write more.

What can you expect in my blog?

Endless, detailed analysis and commentary on the things that I do and see. This encompasses a broad range of hobbies and interests: video games, politics, history, biographies, science fiction, fantasy, education, movies, television, culture, and countless things besides. My inspirations and obsessions change over time, but one can look at that short list and know that those are the subjects I will touch on the most. I like the idea of being a prolific writer (of good material) so I aim to blog often if not every day. I hope to also have friends use it as a platform to supply articles of their own, to provide other perspectives. We'll see how it all goes.
Now for a couple of updates to get you up to speed on my interests as they are currently.


On the book front I'm slowly working my way through biographies of the American presidents from Franklin Delano Roosevelt onwards. My decision to do so was based on interest in two things: the personalities/leadership approaches of the presidents themselves and seeing precisely how the Cold War started and the long-lasting hostility between the United States and Russia. My knowledge of the shift from World War II to the Cold War is embarrassingly limited, so I began this endeavor to help account for that. At the time of this writing (9/2/10), I have finished a biography of Roosevelt and Truman, and am moving on to President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Video Games

Despite the often negative connotation applied to those who love playing video games, I can freely admit that I'm quite the video game enthusiast. Scratch that, I'm completely addicted to the media format; I always have been since I was young. Given this adoration, I recently created a long list of video games I would like to play and experience, and am tackling those games one at a time. While I tend to be open to all genres, I tend to gravitate toward role-playing games (RPGs) the most because of their sharp focus on story, vivid characters, and deep, complex gameplay.

These days I've been playing through Final Fantasy IX, the ninth installment of a massively popular and complex game saga, each game populated by angsty superpowered teens and psychotically hyperactive golden ostriches. Sadly, my playtime has been sporadic for a number of reasons: the endless demands of playing other games with friends, the awesomeness of my girlfriend, socializing, reading, working, eating, sleeping... That and the oncoming tidal wave of class and volunteering, which will likely nuke my free time back into the Stone Age.

But worry not, reader. I will find time in my day to update this regularly. In the name of writing improvement if nothing else!


I have aspirations toward becoming a high school teacher of Social Studies. The next prerequisite college class is this Fall, and I'm raring to go. Many of the classes at Portland State University have been relatively easy, but I've detected a distinct bias among the students that brings out much gnashing of teeth and an inability to hold back from contesting silly opinions. Consequently, every class I've taken there has been an exercise in patience and ongoing verbal deathmatches with the rest of the class.

Given that the school year is about to begin again, I will also be tutoring at a high school nearby in Portland. Expect harrowing, desperate tales of myself trying vainly to teach math and science to kids when all I want to do is treat the massive tomes like rotting coconuts. Hopefully more kids will come to me with Social Studies or English homework this semester.


I'm excited, and I hope anyone who chooses to read this will be too. I especially look forward to the possibility of debates opening up over the topics I address, from hobbies to politics to the meaning of life and the possible existence of giant space hamsters lording over all in the universe. Yet, at the same time, I won't be surprised or put off if I don't get any internet traffic for some time to come. Which is why I'm doing this for my own benefit, with the added bonus of being able to potentially benefit others as well.

This will be a learning experience to be sure, from writing to managing a web page. And hopefully, as the blog grows, I'll be able to pass on new ideas, experiences and catharsis; the blissful feeling that comes from learning, expanding one's horizons, and discovering things true about yourself from what you choose to read. To accomplish that for complete strangers on the internet (and friends/family who decide to read this) will make this all worth it.

And thus does the blog begin, with summary, hope, and interest.


  1. I wonder at the lack of students needing help with English and Social Studies. As a nation we are constantly complaining about literacy, especially for our kids. Are the subjects not taught at a challenging enough level to require assistance, or is the focus for standardized tests etc. more on science and math, leading students to value their grades in those subjects more?

  2. I think a contributing factor is the fact that I have been helping kids with homework; homework for English and Social Studies are often heavier on the reading whereas Math and Science are more worksheet heavy.

    But I also believe, as you brought up, that both subjects are not being taught at a challenging level. Or at least, they aren't at the high school I volunteer at and the high school I attended when I was younger. When asked what their favorite subjects were, my students answered English or Social Studies 95% of the time. The rationale seemed to be that 50% of the students believed that the subjects were easier on the homework and thus preferable classes whereas the other 50% did so because they actually liked the subjects.

    The emphasis on science and math is an interesting observation but, from my experience, is a factor that does not affect the majority of students. Most of them focus on science and math because that is where the homework load leans.

    Hopefully this trend will change in time, as I would much rather teach history or English than the data heavy subjects. We'll see!