Debit Cards

I have a suggestion for the future if anyone who has the power to make the change is reading this. I know that as someone who rarely ever has cash on him, I would really appreciate it if stores on campus would accept debit cards as a method of payment. No stores do, not Freshens, not Snygg Snacks, not the store in Lanigan, not the store in Rich, not the store in Penfield, etc. The only stores on campus that do are the stores in Hewitt such as Artville, and even then, I have been told that the cost needs to be at least $5 in order for you to use a debit card. It is very inconvenient, because as I said, I don’t like having cash on me, and even if I did, the ATMs don’t always work, anyway. Just a few days ago, one of them took $50 out of my boyfriend’s bank account even though it didn’t give him the $50, so now, he has to submit a request for an investigation in hopes to get his $50 back.

Every now and then, I like picking up a small snack or a beverage from a store on campus to enjoy before or during class, or maybe at the library while I get some work done, and I can pretty much only do that for as long as I have money on my Plus-Plan, which goes quickly. When I was a freshman here two years ago, students only received $50 per semester. Now, they receive $70, which is a lot better, but it still doesn’t last all that long, especially since Freshens is so expensive. I just wish that this could be changed, because I can recall back to when I first discovered that stores on campus only accepted cash and Plus-Plan as methods of payment; I was very, very surprised.

After all, this is 2011, and this should pretty much be a method of payment everywhere, especially on a college campus. It is especially ridiculous when the idea of the Oswego Debit Card is put into consideration. Yes, they can be used off campus and at Hewitt, but the majority of stores on campus do not accept them because obviously, they are debit cards, so is there really any practical benefit to issuing them? Don’t get me wrong; if debit cards were allowed as a method of payment, then I’d be more encouraged to spend money, since it would be more accessible to me, but I trust that I could teach myself to be reasonable; I need to save money more than ever right now, and I’m well aware of that. I would just appreciate the chance to not be so limited.

Kick It! Kickball Tournament

This past Saturday, I competed in a kickball tournament that was put on by Active Minds. To play, two requirements needed to be met. Firstly, you had to put a team together of eight to nine members, and secondly, you had to pay a $100 fee – not for each member but for the whole team, so it came down to about $10 a person. It is rather pricey, in my opinion, but firstly, you get a t-shirt, and secondly, proceeds went toward a good cause – mental health awareness.

It was a lot of fun, for the most part, but sports aren’t really my cup of tea, as I am, by no means, an athlete. We did, however, win a match, which was pretty awesome. We are really proud of that, and we lasted three matches. We lost the first match, won the second, and then lost the third, which is when we were eliminated. The team that we beat had great sportsmanship, though. Because Ray (my boyfriend) was our captain, he named our team the Stingrays, and the team that lost to us said afterwards that they had been stung by the Stingrays, which was funny.

The third match was next to impossible, which is why we lost. The kickers on the opposing team were excellent kickers, and they kicked the ball so far out that it was next to impossible to get the ball before anyone in the field could get it in time to get them out. Plus, I had a difficult time catching the ball because it was a sunny day, and I therefore couldn’t see where the ball was headed.

Overall, it was a really great experience, especially since we won a match, and it was a lot of fun being on a team and having to work together. Everyone, for the most part, was a really great sport, and it’s awesome that this is going to be a good experience to include on a resume. Not only did we work on teams and therefore have to demonstrate leadership, the money that was paid went toward mental health awareness in schools, so it will be helpful for Ray and I to include this on our resumes, since we will be teachers. I want to close by saying that Wednesday, I have an interview with the Sheldon Hall Director for a Desk Attendant position next year; it’s my birthday that day, as well, so hopefully, that will bring me some good luck!

Squatting in Your Residence Hall

Something that I find to be rather senseless is the fact that even if you are squatting in the exact same room the following semester, you are not permitted to leave your possessions in the room over the summer unless you are a Village resident, which is an extremely unfair advantage. It makes no sense to me, because it would save a lot of time both for students returning to the same rooms and for Welcoming Crews assisting students when school begins again.

Summer break really isn’t that long; it is only two to three months, so what kind of sense does it make to remove all possessions from the room and then return them when it comes time to return? It is such an utter waste of time and ultimately defeats what the primary purpose of squatting should be (key word – should).

For example, I keep a refrigerator here, one that I do not really need at home, and even if I could just leave that here, it would be so helpful. I have office supplies, silverware, plates, bathroom supplies, and so forth that simply do not need to go home, and it is such a hassle to have to bring them home and store them when they are coming back here, anyway. The same is true of wall posters; I have to take the time to decorate the room but then have to take everything down in May only to put it back up in September; it simply doesn’t make sense.

However, for the most part, I really feel like I am, more or less, repeating the same statement over and over again, just wording it differently, and I don’t want to do that. I just feel like something should be done to reform such a senseless policy. I have very mixed feelings about the semester being almost over, but mostly, I really don’t want to go home. Here, I have a happy life, and I am with whom I love. I really wish that I could stay here and take classes over the summer.

To conclude, I saw a Roller Derby game here in Oswego this past weekend, and it was fun. The best way of explaining the experience is to start by explaining what happened to me a week ago this previous Sunday. To cut a long story short, I hit my head pretty hard, and I lost my ability to speak properly, but it was only very temporary (only a few hours), and for a good week or so following the accident, my head hurt so bad. I had terrible migraines that made me sensitive bright lights and loud noises, and at the game, there was an obnoxiously loud band playing beforehand, and then when the players’ “fake names” were being announced right before the game started, someone was blowing a whistle not too far from where we (my boyfriend and I) were sitting, so my head was killing me. Other than that, though, it was a lot of fun and was an interesting experience, because other than the film Whip It!, I have never seen a Roller Derby game. It was against Cortland, and Oswego won 160 to 69.

This weekend, I am playing a kickball game with a team of friends at Lee Field. It is some sort of tournament against other teams, not all of which are from Oswego, I don’t think. It cost $100 to register our team, which I think is ridiculously expensive, but proceeds went to a good cause. It should be fun, even though it is three hours, and I will likely be writing about it. In the meantime, take care.

Just an Update

I am writing this right before going to bed at 2:15 a.m., so forgive me if I am at all incoherent; I’m sure that, at the very least, I will be random. Anyway, today (as in Wednesday, April 13th) marked two years that I have been with my boyfriend Ray, so that was something special; we are going to celebrate this weekend by going into town and doing some fun things such as hitting up the Coffee Connection and seeing a movie (Scream 4). I just really hope that isn’t going to rain, because otherwise, we may have to invest in a couple of umbrellas (as long as Oswego doesn’t display its usual ferocity of winds, as well, that is).

I am currently catching up with the Scream films so that I can see the fourth one this weekend. I really love Wes Craven and am enjoying the films. Last week, I saw the original Last House on the Left film, and I can’t really say that I enjoyed that; it was the strangest and probably the most disturbing movie that I have ever seen, but I absolutely love the new one. Something that I really love about Craven is that his films are not what I would consider the “typical” horror film, because by the end of the movie, the hunter usually becomes the hunted, and revenge is sought out and achieved, and going even beyond that, I have recently noticed that it is usually the female(s) that accomplish this, so perhaps, Craven is a bit of a feminist, which is very cool.

Anyway, on Saturday, April 30th, I am playing in a kickball tournament here on campus. Do not get me wrong; I am, by no means, an athlete, so it is really just for fun and was not ultimately my idea (that would be Ray). I am looking forward to it, but at the same time, I have my reservations. Like I said, I’m not an athlete, and I have no coordination, so I’m worried about just making myself look ridiculous, and also, it is for three hours, which is a very long time to play kickball, especially if it’s going to be hot and sunny that day; I guess we will just have to wait and see how it turns out. I don’t mean to be negative, because I’m sure that it will be fun. Anyway, signing off for now, as it is getting very late, and I am exhausted.

SUNY Oswego’s Production of Grease

Last night, I saw Grease at the Waterman Theatre and was fairly impressed. The production was definitely pretty to look at, as it was very colorful and visually appealing (with the smoke on the stage and what not). The actors/actresses were very talented, but I do have my slight issues with it. The actor who played Danny and the actress who played Sandy didn’t really fit into their roles, and I didn’t think there was any chemistry between them. The actress who played Rizzo was utterly flawless, though; she couldn’t have done a better job, and I thought that she nailed Stockard Channing’s portrayal right on the head. I have only ever seen the film; this was my first time seeing a stage production.

Because I had only ever seen the film before last night, I wasn’t aware that the musical lineup was different on Broadway than it is in the film, so some songs were in slightly different order and were even omitted, songs that I would argue (again, based on my sole experience with the film) are crucial to the story, such as “Hopelessly Devoted to You” and “You’re the One That I Want.” The play is also missing “Sandy” and instead has the song “Alone at the Drive-In” during that scene. Also, there are two different versions of “We Go Together” in the stage production, one right before the end of Act 1 and then a reprise at the very end. My favorite musical number was probably “Those Magic Changes,” and the actor who sang that song did so beautifully, and I also really liked “Freddy, My Love.” Another crucial difference between the stage production and the film is that in the stage production, Sandy doesn’t go to the dance and sings “It’s Raining on Prom Night” in her bedroom, while in the film, she attends the dance.

It’s definitely a much different experience than the film, that’s for sure, and while I couldn’t have been happier with some of the cast members, there were others that I was not so happy with. I also feel that with the way some of the songs are ordered and with the lacking of “Hopelessly Devoted to You” and “You’re the One That I Want,” the stage production is a lot choppier than the film and doesn’t flow as well. Lastly, I couldn’t help but look at the story through a different lens this time, since it has been quite a few years since I have seen the film, and looking at it from a feminist perspective, I couldn’t help but feel really disappointed. Throughout the story, Sandy and Danny just don’t click regardless of how many times they try. He keeps abandoning Sandy for other girls, and when they do make attempts to sustain a relationship (the drive-in scene is what I am referring to in particular), he tries to take advantage of her. Only when she submits to his will and conforms to his style do they finally work, so not only does it do away with the “be yourself” idea, it provides an example of a relationship that only works after the female realizes that if she wants to be with the male, she is going to have to conform, which echoes quite a few Disney films. I had a great night, though, and it was fun to watch.

Too Much Homework!

Does anyone else feel the same way? The semester is nearing an end, so everything is beginning to come an end, and it’s pretty overwhelming. There is simply too much to do as you look at your semester agenda and realize that April and May both mean that a lot is due, and no matter how hard you try to stay on top and get it all done as soon as you possibly can, you find yourself frustrated because the amount is simply too high to successfully accomplish that. You get something done with ten other assignments still ahead of you. That’s how I feel, anyway.

I am doing a relatively good job, mind you. I got a great deal of work done over Spring Break, work that wasn’t due until April, but to help exemplify my point, I still did next to nothing this past weekend except a lot of homework. I worked most of my day yesterday (Saturday) and all of today so far, and I’m still not done. There are so many papers and so many reading assignments. It just gets so tiring.

On a good note, April is almost here, and while that does serve as foreboding for me in a sense (since it means summer is approaching, and I don’t want to not be here), it means that warm weather is on its way. I was expecting weather in the 50s and 60s already, since it’s near the end of March, but instead, the weather has been really cold, which has been kind of ridiculous. Ray and I still really have not explored the town on foot, and that’s something that we really want to do. I can’t wait to walk into town, just take a day to explore the town and visit shops, go see a movie, and so forth; that’s why I can’t wait until April. Also, April 13th will mark two years that we have been together.

Right now, I’m just trying to get through as much of this work as I possibly can while still enjoying myself. I can’t really say that it’s a challenge, because I do love being here, and I love this campus, but I am definitely ready for Spring. I do know of some crazies who love Winter, but I am not one of them (I am here, to make a long and repeated story short, because I didn’t have much of a choice, but don’t get me wrong – I love Oswego). I find Winter to be so exhausting and numbing, and I’m sick of it. Luckily, calendar-wise, it’s gone. I will be writing again soon.

Enjoying the Good Weather

Am I the only one who is really happy that Spring is pretty much here? With any luck, we won’t get any more snow in Oswego, because I hate Winter and really love Spring, especially in Oswego, as Oswego is simply beautiful in the Spring. A really close friend of mine came to visit last year, and he was here from April 1st to April 11th; during that time, it tended to be pretty hot during the day, usually in the 80s, and that’s not too far away at all, so I’m keeping my head up and my fingers crossed.

I have, for the most part, enjoyed my break, but I really can’t wait to get back to school. Now that I have my boyfriend Ray here, I am so happy to be in Oswego, because I can have the best of both worlds. My break got off to a rough start, but it quickly got a lot better, and I also got a considerable amount of work done; I figured (as did Ray) that I have nine days away from everything – I’m going to take advantage of that and get work done, so I actually got work done that isn’t even due until mid-April or so. The more that I get done now, the more relaxed the rest of my semester will be, and relaxed is always a good condition when the weather is beautiful.

April 13th will be two years that I have been with Ray, and there is so much that I would like to do with him on that day, so hopefully, it will be all shine, no rain. I would definitely like to walk into town, get food somewhere (which might be tricky, seeing as how we are both vegetarians), visit the river, and so forth. It just sucks that it is on a Wednesday, not only because that’s a school day but because it is a really rough day for him (he has class until 7:45 p.m. on Wednesdays), but I really don’t have a problem celebrating the following weekend.

I don’t want to say that I can’t wait for the semester to be over, as that is far from the truth. I love being in Oswego; I just don’t like all of the work. Some people say that they work well under pressure, and that just isn’t me. I need to feel relaxed to produce good work; pressure makes me feel very chaotic and tends to make me focus more on quantity, not quality, that is, consider it more important that I get an assignment done than that I do it well, and that’s certainly not good, but I usually manage. For now, I need to run, but I’ll be writing soon – next week at the very latest.

Review of Goodbye Lullaby, the New Album by Avril Lavigne

For me, Goodbye Lullaby, Lavigne’s fourth album, has been one of the most highly anticipated albums of my lifetime, as I have ultimately been anticipating it for seven years. While The Best Damn Thing was released in Spring 2007 (which was still quite a long time ago), I was not too thrilled with that album (save a handful of songs), and Under My Skin was released in Spring 2004. Many months ago (it was, in fact, close to a year ago), I read that this album would be a closer return to Lavigne’s earlier work as opposed to The Best Damn Thing, and I can agree with that.

While Goodbye Lullaby is not at all “heavy,” as some of the tracks found on 2002′s Let Go and 2004′s Under My Skin are (such as “Losing Grip,” “Unwanted,” “Take Me Away,” “Forgotten,” etc.), it is far from being the “cheerleader pop” (for lack of a better term) that The Best Damn Thing is, and Lavigne, with a majority of crisp melodies layered on top of simple acoustic accompaniment that is Goodbye Lullaby, affords her fans (such as this one of almost ten years) a very pleasant, refreshing experience. I do know quite a few people who loved The Best Damn Thing, so I apologize to them if I offend, but that certainly does not change my opinion.

In regards to The Best Damn Thing, Lavigne seemed to have retrograded, moving from a sophisticated, alternative style to adolescent high school craze with an array of songs that one might expect to hear at athletic games (such as “Girlfriend,” “The Best Damn Thing,” “I Don’t Have to Try,” etc.), and for that reason, I was very disappointed with the album as a whole with few exceptions (such as “Runaway,” “When You’re Gone,” “Innocence,” etc.). Goodbye Lullaby attempts to break away from that, painting a much more serene picture.

I purchased a physical copy of the album, so I have the benefit of seeing all of the graphics included in the package, and it is really beautiful; I consequently find myself quite impressed with that, as well. However, I also find myself in opposition to only one (rather trivial) feature; Lavigne, on the album cover (which, mind you, I do find very beautiful), looks rather morose, while the album’s content is primarily very relaxed and gleeful, dealing with lyrical themes such as being in love and enjoying the beauties that life has to offer. I reiterate, however, that the artwork (meaning all photographs, designs and additional art) is very beautiful.

The album opens with the very short (only 1:34) “Black Star,” and most fans should remember this from her Black Star fragrance commercial, in which a small portion of the song is featured. While I am slightly disappointed with the fact that the song is so short when I had been expecting it to be full-length, “Black Star” is one of my favorite songs from the album, as it is an incredibly beautiful, simple song accompanied by a simple but catchy melody composed of very high notes on the piano. The song sounds very much like a lullaby and would serve as a good introduction if it didn’t make such a rough transition into “What the Hell.”

“What the Hell,” the album’s first single, is the closest that the album comes to The Best Damn Thing, and, because of that, it, with the risk of using a cliché, sticks out like a sore thumb. When I first heard the song, I didn’t like it a whole lot, but when I began to find it consistently stuck in my head, it really began to grow on me, and I do really love it now, even though, again, it really doesn’t belong on this album. Next, we hear “Push,” a song that sounds a lot like Alanis Morissette’s style. I really like the song, especially with the male vocals, which I am assuming are Evan Taubenfeld’s, since he co-wrote the song with Lavigne.

The fourth track is titled “Wish You Were Here,” another one of my favorites on the album. “Wish You Were Here” operates as Goodbye Lullaby’s “When You’re Gone,” since it is nearly identical thematically (while it reminds me melodically of “Innocence”), and I am sure that it will be a single. “Smile” is a fast-paced song with attitude but is still a great deal of inches away from nearing The Best Damn Thing territory; “What the Hell” is definitely closer. “Stop Standing There” and “I Love You” are both mellow songs about being in love, and “Stop Standing There” is possibly the closest the album comes to Let Go, while “I Love You” is, for lack of a better description, an adorable song about loving someone for exactly who that person is, having no desire to change him or her. It is definitely a stand-out track, sounding a bit like something that would fit on Under My Skin, and it may just be me, but I think I hear a mandolin in the song.

The eighth track on the album is titled “Everybody Hurts.” Yes, when I first learned of the album’s track-listing a few months ago, I wondered if the song would be an R.E.M. cover, which it is not; it is, however, nearly identical thematically; “Everybody hurts some days,” the refrain advises. “It’s okay to be afraid. Everybody hurts; everybody screams. Everybody feels this way, and it’s okay.” It would seem to me like Lavigne draws inspiration from the R.E.M. song and attempts to recreate it for her generation. The song sounds a lot like something from Lavigne’s days prior to Let Go having been released.

“Not Enough” is nothing special, definitely not making any attempt to stand out on the album. However, like “Everybody Hurts,” it also reminds me of Lavigne’s “demo” era, reminding me especially of “Get Over It.” The tenth track, “4 Real,” has a beat and a melody that are guaranteed to stick with you, and while I definitely love the song, it sadly loses a bit of credibility due to its use of the number “4” in place of the word “for.” I am not amused when artists do that, especially not ones for whom I have a lot of respect. Pay mind to the fortunate fact that you are not Kesha (or should I say Ke$ha?), Avril.

Next on the album is “Darlin,” and I love this song because of how positive it is, seeming to be an attempt to cheer the listener up, reminding him that the world is a beautiful place in which he is loved. “Darlin” was written when Lavigne was only fourteen or fifteen years old, which is another reason that I love it. “Remember When” and “Goodbye” are slow, beautiful tracks with very similar stories; they are both memorandums in which the speaker apologizes for having to temporarily leave her lover physically but reminds him that he is very loved, while explaining why. I love “Goodbye,” because lyrically, it has sentimental value to me. I only wish that “Goodbye” had ended the same way as “Remember When,” that is, included a band at the end of the song. “Goodbye” seems to lack a component without that, especially since I expect it, but the strings are beyond gorgeous.

The album closes with an extended version of “Alice,” including an additional verse in between the original first and second verses. Fans will remember the song being featured on the Alice in Wonderland soundtrack last year, titled Almost Alice, and if one did not know that the song has ties to the film, either the title or the line “I found myself in Wonderland” should give that away. The standard edition of the album ends at this point, but the deluxe edition (the one that I purchased) includes acoustic versions of “What the Hell,” “Push” and “Wish You Were Here,” as well as the cover of Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” and a bonus DVD. Overall, I am very happy with the album; it was worth the wait and definitely worth the money.

NOTE: Please excuse a lacking of italics where they are necessary; this was copied and pasted from a Facebook note, and the formatting was not transmitted correctly.

No Practicum Setting This Semester

So, as it turns out, I will not have a Practicum Setting this semester. That is for a couple of reasons, but the primary reason is that it is not ideal for me at this point in time. My concentration is English, and what I would be observing is Special Education in AIS Math and integrated Technology, Social Studies, and Health, no English at all. The main reason that this is not ideal is because I took my Third Block before my Second (which I am taking now), and that means that my next block (which will be Spring 2012) will be Student Teaching, so the thought that the Practicum placement right before my Student Teaching experience does not involve observing English is incredibly scary.

Fortunately, because of the very fact that I am ahead a semester, I can afford not to have a placement this semester and then just fulfill this requirement next semester. I was hoping to not have to do that, but I think that it will ultimately benefit me, especially due to the serious health problems this semester. Later this month, I have to have surgery done, and that is going to result in me being off my feet for a week at the very least, maybe two, since that is what the surgeon told me. I think that this is really going to be beneficial; the only other downside is that it’s looking like I am going to have to take sixteen credits next semester, which means that the Dean’s List likely won’t be happening, nor will very much free time, but I tend to make the best of difficult situations, so I’m not too worried.

First Day of Practicum (Spring ’11)

Today was my first day of my Practicum assignment, and I observe six students with Special Education needs (only three today) and follow them throughout their first four periods. These students have a Special Education teacher as well as a Teacher’s Assistant who also follow them, as the students are often in need of additional help as far as reading and writing and following directions (etc.) is concerned. Five of the six students have Autism (the other has speech problems), so it is very difficult for them to stay at the same pace as the other students, which is why they need that intervention. I observed four classes: Technology, Social Studies, Health, and AIS Math.
Technology, Social Studies and Health are all taught by male teachers, and, for the most part, they are not very interactive with the students; instead, they simply give directions and attempt to manage the classroom by asking students to do what they need to do, such as quiet down, for example. The one exception is the teacher who teaches Social Studies. He is not the “official” teacher of the class (that would be a woman), but he is a Student Teacher who is actually teaching the class currently. He, by integrating the topic, of course, makes conversation with the students.
Many of the students have books that appear to be of choice taken out from the library, and this makes me wonder if their English teachers are asking them to read books as an Outside Reading Book (ORB) assignment, or if the students simply like to read outside of school time. I also noticed that the teaching methods used are not very interdisciplinary, since the teachers really seem to make an effort to keep their content areas compartmentalized. In fact, one student in the Social Studies class tried to connect something to Science, and he/she was told that this was a Social Studies class.
In the Health class, the students read out loud in a method which can best be described as the “popcorn” method, which is when students read a paragraph or two and then call on another student to do the same, and then that keeps repeating. It is a “Round Robin” method of reading, which is probably best for the students with Autism, since most of them seem to have trouble reading to themselves. The teachers are very patient with the students, despite the students’ need for so much additional help, which is really good to see. I also don’t mean to pass judgment as far as there being a lack of interdisciplinarity is concerned, because that works for some and doesn’t for others and is still a debate up in the air. Ultimately, what I saw today is quite different from what I have observed in other schools. In other schools, the students tend not to be as respectful as most of these ones are, and the students are also incredibly animated and mentally energetic, even early in the morning.