Friends and Family Weekend!

Oswego is excited to welcome Friends and Family! This weekend is Friends and Family weekend at SUNY Oswego and excitement is in the air! Families and students are excited to be reunited – for some students this may be the first time they have seen their family members since moving onto campus in August. Many stories about classes and making new friends will be told and many hugs will be given; but after the initial excitement passes, what else is there to do on campus?

Oswego proudly offers many activities this weekend to entertain all the visitors. Starting Friday, there will be tours of the new Rice Creek Field Station facility (located on Thompson Road) from 9 am to 5 pm. These tours will continue on Saturday 9 am to 3 pm. Also on Friday, there is a free art gallery in Tyler Hall from 11:30 am to 3 pm.  Later on in the day, the Women’s Field Hockey is playing SUNY Oneonta at the South Athletic Fields at 4 pm. Also being held at 4 pm is a 3 Point Basketball contest in Lee Hall gym with on-site registration.  Parents are welcomed to check in at the Welcome Center Desk in the Campus Center from 4pm to 8 pm – come pick up your registration materials and unwind after your travels in the hospitality area.

Looking for something to do Friday evening with your family? Support your peers and attend the Theatre Department’s presentation of “Fahrenheit 451”at 7:30 pm in Waterman Theatre (located in Tyler Hall). For tickets: http://tickets.oswego.edu or call SUNY Oswego Box Office:  315-312-2141. Also at 8pm, enjoy the Splash-In movie “Wreck-It Ralph” in Lee Hall Pool. Bring a swimsuit and enjoy watching a movie while in the pool!

Highlight events on Saturday include many sporting events! The swim and diving teams are competing with SUNY Oneonta at 1 pm in Laker hall and it is free and open to the public. The Women’s Field Hockey team will play SUNY New Paltz and it’s Senior Day! 1 pm at the South Athletic fields – free and open to the public. It is also Men’s Soccer Senior Day, 1pm at Laker Soccer field. The Men and Women’s Ice Hockey Showcases are also on Saturday. The Women are up at 3pm and the Men take the ice at 7pm.

There are many activities going on around campus this weekend students! Make sure to take advantage of them and show off your school to your friends and family! For a full list of activities please visit http://www.oswego.edu/student/services/campus_life/mainoffice/schedule.html

PRSSA Meeting: Donuts, Cider, and Registration

PRSSA Logo

It’s crazy to think that we are already past halfway through this semester. With midterms in the rear view mirror, the focus begins to shift on closing out this semester and starting a new one. That means it is time to register for spring classes.

As a freshman, I really have no clue what registration is all about. Despite meeting with my peer advisor and learning my registration date, which was helpful, there is still a lot that I do not know. What are the classes that I should take? What professors should I consider having? What are the helpful hints and tips of registration that can make the process go smoothly for me?

For those like me, who have many questions and uncertainties with registration, PRSSA is hosting a registration assistance meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 22nd in Lanigan 101. While current members are invited to participate, non-members are invited to join as well. Anyone willing to learn more about registration can come to the meeting.

At the meeting, the e-board made up of fellow Oswego students will go over MyOswego and Degree Works. They will discuss how those programs relate to the registration process. They will also answer questions about what classes people should or may be interested in taking, which professors to take classes with, and even information concerning internships. Any other questions relating to registration and courses will be answered as well.

Oh, and donuts and cider will be served. That’s cool too.

Once again, the meeting takes place Tuesday, October 22nd in Lanigan 101. It begins at 7:30 p.m. Hope to see you there!

Technology and News: A Necessary Combination?

Photo Credit: FoxNewsInsider.com

Photo Credit: FoxNewsInsider.com

We live in a very technologically advanced time. It seems there are always new phones being introduced to the public, new operating systems like iOS7, new apps with amazing features, and even new cars with incredible capabilities. Taking a step back, it is amazing to watch all these advancements unfold.

Many people believe technology is a good thing, a way to solve problems and make life easier. Others, however, disagree. Some say technology can cause more problems than it fixes, hurting society as a whole. While a controversial topic, the same idea applies to the media today and how it relates to news.

Photo Credit: FoxNewsInsider.com

Photo Credit: FoxNewsInsider.com

There is perhaps no bigger part of society more impacted by the advancement of technology than the media. In an age where there are new ways to gather information about what is happing in the world, an important question is brought up: what is necessary in reporting?

A few weeks ago, Fox News launched a brand new, technologically advanced studio. Called the “Fox News Deck,” the revamped studio features a massive video board and multiple “BATS” (Big Area Touch Screens) where “information specialists” gather details to report on. Viewers can watch as these “information specialists” work on massive screens to bring the public the most up-to-date information in real-time.

The switch to the new studio layout has gained quite a fair share of attention – especially through parodies from “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.”

Stephen Colbert devoted a whole segment of his show to poke fun at the “Fox News Deck.”

“Yes, the Fox News Deck,” Colbert said on his program. “It’s like Star Trek’s holodeck. It feels like you’re surrounded by news, but it’s all an illusion.”

“That’s a big map,” Jon Stewart said on “The Daily Show” referring to Fox’s massive video board. “You do know though, that no matter how huge you blow up your in-studio maps and monitors, our televisions are still the same size.”

Some call these innovations futuristic. Others call them meaningless. The question is: are these modifications really necessary?

Does having a giant screen with large monitors interest viewers? Do these features enhance the news? Are these features turning into the news itself? Has the “news” turned into a “show” more than anything else?

These are all questions for the viewers of Fox News and news programs in general – Fox is not the only network that has made big technological changes. Some people may prefer the advanced style of reporting with the most up-to-date technology available to TV networks. Others may prefer a more simplistic, old school style of the news.

In defense of these networks, reporting the news is not the only responsibility. Ratings need to be solid, especially in comparison to competitors, to sell spots to advertisers at a decent price to make a profit. Reporting news is just as much of a business as anything else. So, if these kinds of changes help with viewership and overall interest of programs, then it can be deemed a success. Only time will tell if it pays off.

As a college student in the Communication Studies Department, this is a huge topic of discussion. In one of my courses, Introduction to Mass Media, we devoted a whole class to discussing this hot issue relating to the media. For many of us in the lecture hall, we have a planned and desired future in the media. Even as a Public Relations major, the characteristics of the media and news reporting can impact how I do my work in my field. The media is constantly evolving, job titles are constantly changing, and the future is very uncertain. Still, I look at this as an exciting time and I look forward to finding my place in this crazy environment one day.

Even for those college students not associated with studies similar to mine, they are still impacted. Anyone who consumes media and news is affected by these changes like the ones made by Fox. Consuming and understanding news is an important part of keeping up with society. If the process of reporting news is altered, it can change how people view the world.

So, with all these complex changes, the debate continues. Is this good?

2013-2014 School Year/Pride Alliance Event This Week

It sure has been a while since I have posted a blog entry, but boy, has life been busy. As a graduate student, I am taking three grad classes, and I also have a job as a Desk Attendant in Sheldon Hall, where I am also currently living. I am a Pride Alliance member (thanks to everyone who wore shirts this past Friday!), and I am also on Sheldon’s Hall Council. I am nothing if not occupied. I try to find fun within the mix, but it isn’t always easy; being a graduate student eats a lot of time. It will hopefully be worth it, though. I plan to graduate with my Masters this coming May 2014, and I will hopefully have a place of residence and a decent job lined up.

On an unrelated (although previously hinted at) note, Pride Alliance continues to be really great and productive this year. The events and gatherings have been both fun and informative, and keep in mind that this month is not just noteworthy because of Halloween; it is also Outtober! That means that it celebrates the notion of being proud of your sexual orientation and not being afraid to hide it. It is a great time to encourage those who are afraid to “come out of the closet” to finally do so, and I know that it helped me in the past. I did not come out until I was a freshman here five years ago, and that was, in part, due to the fact that I witnessed overwhelming support on this campus, and that is something of which I am proud.

This Thursday at 7:00 p.m. in Campus Center room 133, we will be holding an event titled How’s your Gaydar 2: Meet the Men. It is a follow-up (as the title suggests) to an event that was held last semester; the only difference is that last semester, the panel consisted entirely of women, while this time, it will consist of men (which will include yours truly). The men on the panel will be asked questions such as “What kind of body soap do you use?” Afterwards, the “audience” will take a stab at guessing a sexual orientation for each one of us, and the ideal objective is to break stereotypes apart. I hope to see you there, as it will be a lot of fun, and be sure to check out the Pride Alliance’s website at pridealliance.wix.com/pridealliance, and check out the Outtober calendar below.

Outtober Calendar

My Journey In Japan, Part One

(NOTE: This is one of those blog entries that I probably should’ve started working on much, much sooner. Perhaps one could consider this a testament to the amount of adventures I’ve been having as of late?)

As I write this, I’m not currently in Oswego. Or in New York State. Or even on the North American continent.

Nope, right now I’m in the middle of a semester abroad at Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata-shi, Osaka, Japan. I’m only halfway through the semester, and I already have found it to be the most worthwhile experience of my entire life. This is the realization of a dream I’ve had since I was in middle school (and probably even before that), and is the culmination of over a year and a half of diligence, hard work, and perseverance.

Eleven years in the making, and I'm finally here...

Eleven years in the making, and I’m finally here…

 

 

I’ve got so many stories to tell about my adventures thus far in Japan that I’ll need more than one post to talk about them. But first, let’s talk about two things that have been fundamental in making this even possible in the first place: choice and responsibility.

This is my senior year. I plan to graduate in May, which means I have a little over a semester and a half before I’m expected to go out into the “real world” so I can “make something out of myself.”

As a Creative Writing major, I get a lot of comments from people asking me what I plan on doing after undergrad with that kind of degree. These comments often have a somewhat derogatory tone to them, as if I’ve somehow wasted all my money on something completely worthless.

Now, this is the part where you’d probably expect me to say something along the lines of, “The Creative Writing major is actually super-versatile, thank you very much,” and then drone on and on about how I could be a technical writer or a PR manager, both of which are rather profitable jobs.

Fortunately, that’s not what I’m gonna do. Instead, I’ll tell you the absolute truth.

The truth is, I don’t know what I plan to do outside in “the real world.” I sure as hell don’t want to spend my life rotting away inside a cubicle at a job I hate just because somebody else told me to. That’s not me; it’s not my kind of environment. Sure, it’s secure, but it’s also boring as hell. As Joseph Campbell (whom I’ll probably get to talking about in a later post) once said, “There is no security in answering the Call to Adventure. Nothing is exciting if you already know what the outcome is going to be.”

Now, where does Japan come into all of this?

Well, it’s simple: I’ve wanted to go to Japan since I was a little kid. Over the years I’ve heard a variety of people say a variety of things about the variety of reasons why it would be impossible and/or stupid to go to Japan.

“It’s too expensive.” (Nah, it wasn’t really.)

“Someone like you wouldn’t survive a week over there.” (Try eight. And counting.)

“You’re too stupid to get into a university over there.” (Honors Program with a 3.3 GPA.)

“What’s the point? You’ll just end up owing boatloads of money over nothing.” (See below.)

“Stop being irresponsible, Tom. Just graduate and get a job like everyone else. Worry about Japan later.” (Again, see below.)

Well, if this post is any indication, in the end I didn’t listen to them, and I’m so glad I chose not to. The truth is, this semester abroad wasn’t just the best decision I’ve ever made, but the most NECESSARY, as well. I’d been exposed to too much cynicism to that point, and I needed to break free.

[*cue minor tangent*]

You see, I hate cynicism. It’s probably one of the worst qualities to find in a person, as it more or less translates as a sign of laziness and apathy (which are two equally terrible character traits). I especially hate when I hear my fellow classmates back home (many of whom are juniors and seniors) whine and moan about how “the last four years have been worthless” and “I still don’t know what I want to do with my life” and “[Insert name here]‘s got a degree in [Insert Liberal Arts major here], so he’s gonna be flipping burgers when he gets out of here.”

Here’s the thing: people who say that kind of stuff seem to have missed the point of college; they act like all they need to do is attend class during the week and party during the weekend and they’ll somehow magically figure out who they are and what they want to do. They neglect opportunities like study abroad or clubs and organizations, saying that they’re just a waste of time. School is work, and to them, work should always be separate from play.

And then when they realize they were wrong, they blame it on their parents and other adults who told them that getting a degree was the only important part of their college education.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

See, the thing that so many of those cynical students seem to forget is that college is about learning to make your own decisions, as opposed to following the will of someone else. Thus, whining about how you gained nothing from college is a sign that you didn’t learn how to think for yourself. That’s a skill you often can’t fully learn how to use in a classroom setting; you can only apply it there. You have to learn about yourself and the world around you by actually getting out and being there.

[*end minor tangent*]

Which is where I turn once again to my experiences in Japan. I’ve known for a while that I probably won’t become a full-time writer; for one thing, it’s been hard to come up with something original, and for another, I have a rather short attention span that makes writing for significant length of time somewhat difficult. (Which is why it’s actually kind of weird that this post is as long as it is…)

[*cue another minor tangent; don't worry, kids, it's all relevant in the end*]

But I do know one thing: I love stories. I love telling them, I love reading them, and I love learning about how they work. And I also love games; playing games, talking about games, and learning the science behind games.

And I know that I can take these two bits of knowledge and tie them together. And I know that by tying them together I can see the world from an entirely different perspective. And from that perspective I can find things to do and make that can change the world as we know it. Things that take my creative writing and cognitive science backgrounds and turn them into the impetus behind a force of good.

Knowing that, I feel there’s only one choice I can make, because I have a responsibility to myself (rather than to the people around me) to do something extraordinary with my life.

And the best way I can think of is to pursue cognitive video game studies in graduate school.

[*end minor tangent*]

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Man, does that Tom Kline likes his tangents. But trust me when I say that this all ties together rather nicely.

Because when I first came to Oswego as a freshman, my parents and high school teachers had already told me that I had a responsibility to study what interested me, because in doing so I’d learn to appreciate the gift of choice that came with that opportunity. And so I became a Creative Writing major and Cognitive Science minor, and somehow ended up in Japan.

There, we’re back on track.

Now, having finally come to Japan, I’ve been rewarded for my self-faith and conviction by being granted so many other opportunities while being here. My birthday, September 19th, was the day of the Jugoya full-moon festival in Kyoto, and I got to go to a celebration at Shimogumo Shrine. That night, the full moon was said to be the prettiest full moon of the year (in contrast to a similar festival in May, which is said to be the most powerful full moon of the year).

It was a great night.

 

What’s more, I spent the next four days in Tokyo for the Tokyo Game Show 2013, which was an industry expo similar to E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo, held every summer in LA). Unlike E3, however, the last two days of TGS are open to the public.

The ticket for TGS 2013

 

While I was there, I got to play a bunch of crazy games that might not even come out in America.

 

This guy was from a Sega game for the Nintendo 3DS that had something to do with fighting using Japanese yen. I barely understood what was going on. At the end of the demo they gave me a box of tissues that looked like a 10,000 yen bill. Japan, people. Video games.

And my favorite part of the trip was getting to meet a bunch of independent game developers. These are two-and-three-man studios who come together to make games on their own terms, free from any corporate meddling. They often make more avant-garde games with interesting mechanics that in turn can influence the rest of the games industry.

Here’s me with the guys at VisionTrick, who are working on a game called Pavilion for the PS4 and PS Vita. There’s an interview with them that I’ll post soon. They were pretty awesome.

Rickard Westman(left) and Henrik Flink (right) of VisionTrick Media. Talking to these guys was really, really cool.

 

And here’s me with Henry Fernandez and his brother, who are working on FluffEaters, a mobile game for Android and iOS devices. An interview with them should also be going up in the near future:

Me with Henry Fernandez (aka Henry Kun), left, and his brother (whose name sadly escapes me at the moment…), right. These guys were also really cool to talk to.

It’s great to talk to these developers because they operate on a more easily-approachable level; they make games, but they’re not Shigeru Miyamoto or Cliff Blezinski (from Nintendo and Epic Games, respectively). You can go up to them and talk about game design and playing games without feeling like you’re speaking to a suit (or, in the cases of Miyamoto and Blezinski, a legend). In a way, these guys are artists who are making their dreams come true by creating something unique for others to experience and interpret and learn from. They could’ve gone and become businessmen, rotting away at a job they hate, but instead they decided to do something awesome with their lives.

Thus, we’re not really different at all: I love games, they love games. I’m in Japan at the Tokyo Game Show experiencing the insanity that occurs within, and so are they. And most importantly, I’m here because I never gave up on my dream, and neither did they.

That week alone was one of the greatest and most life-changing periods of my entire life. And none of it could’ve happened (or at least, not to the extent that it had) outside of Japan. If I hadn’t made the choice of going to Japan now while I’m still an undergrad, I’d be letting down so many of the people who got to where I am today.

But that, friends, is a story for another time. Until next time, stay tuned for more coverage from the Land of the Rising Sun!

2013 Steinkraus Lecture on Human Ideals

“Today, when politics is unconvincing even as entertainment, science has taken on the role of mankind’s deliverer.”

- John Gray

Hey readers,

Here we have it: this year’s Steinkraus Lecture! As science becomes increasingly intertwined in our everyday lives, it is ever more important to understand how it all works within the constraints of our society and culture. Heather Douglas from The University of Waterloo came to SUNY Oswego last weekend to talk about just that – the role of science in a democratic society, such as ours. Luckily, I was on hand to film the talk in case any of you wanted to go but missed it! So, here it is in it’s entirety and be sure to get a discussion going in the comments section below!

Monday Night Trivia

Question MarkIn the recent weeks, I have always had something to look forward to on Monday nights. No, I’m not talking about Monday Night Football, although that can be true as well. I’m talking about Monday night trivia in Cayuga Hall.

Six weeks ago, my RA convinced me to join her team in what would be a six-week trivia competition for residents of Cayuga. I joined, despite never being an expert in trivia questions. I also did not go into the six-week competition believing that I would set the world on fire, either.

Guess what? We lost.

We earned some points along the way, however. Each week, the top scoring team earns three points while second place earns two and third earns one. If you do not place in the top three, you walk away with nothing. At the end of the six weeks, the most points wins. The first four weeks did not go so successfully for us – we never scored a single point. However, the last two weeks, we scored one point each time. Not bad, considering it was not good.

Besides the agony of defeat, it was a fun six weeks. As a freshman, the first stretch of something new can be unsettling, but trivia night allowed me to quickly find a fun activity. I also got to know some people on and off of my team. Plus, late night was always a weekly routine following trivia. We celebrated our losses and small victories with food each and every time.

After six weeks, it is all over. While we did not quite take the championship – we were not even close – trivia will return next semester and give us an opportunity to redeem ourselves.

Watch out, Cayuga. Our team is just warming up.

Oswego’s Big Wi-Fi Workout

photoSeptember 18th was a big day around campus and it had nothing to do with college. It was release day of Apple’s new operating system, iOS7.

When midday hit, the Wi-Fi across campus took a beating. Hordes of people began syncing up their phones to receive the highly anticipated update. For the iPhone loyalists out there, this day could not have come soon enough.

If you ask those who downloaded iOS7, they will tell you the process was no easy one. With so many downloading at once, the update took some time – time that many folks did not want to give up. The anticipation was high and the wait was long.

“The download was extremely frustrating and took forever to complete,” Dylan Galusha, a freshman, said. “As soon as it finally was finished, it then told me that I couldn’t install it on my phone, which was very annoying. I had to wait another few hours until it would let me install. It was definitely time consuming.”

It has now been over two weeks since the update went live and people are still eager to discuss the change, just as they were on day one. For many, the new style is refreshing and positive. Still, the opinions of iOS7 are not completely upbeat and perfect.

Laurie Werner, a freshman, has a positive view primarily.

“I think it’s really cool and advanced,” Werner said. “It’s more colorful and it is a lot better than the other iOS versions. This is one of the biggest changes I’ve seen before on the iPhone.”

Some students on campus, like sophomore Lindsey Moses, did not even download the update.

“I heard negative things about it and I kind of like my phone the way it is now,” Moses said.

No matter what the opinions are, iOS7 certainly has been a big topic to those iPhone savvy users on campus. The innovation by Apple has sparked talk on local, national, and international levels.

The Asian Student Association (ASA)

asa

The Asian Student Association is one of many very fun clubs you will find in SUNY Oswego. President Thomi Kamilla leads the club with his Executive Boards who are alongside him to help ensure everyone gets to know one another while experiencing engaging events happening throughout your time here at SUNY Oswego!

The ASA welcomes every person of all kinds of ethnicity.  The purpose of the club is to go about informing and educating others about the Asian culture. Get to know us because we want to get to know you. I am proud already to be a part of this club after our first general meeting. Speaking of meetings, they are bi-weekly on Thursdays at the Campus Center in room 210 at 8:00 pm. There are plenty of programs Thomi and the Eboards have planned for every meeting ranging from games, movies, foods, and also community services! According to the Lakerlife website description of the club, “We act as a bridge of connection for others to connect through cultural experiences”. There’s even an event for those of you, including myself who miss or crave Bubble Tea! Members of the ASA enjoy meeting new people and learning other cultures and interests.

Personally, I love having an already good amount of friends made just after the first general meeting, I can’t wait for the next one and many more. Thomi and the Eboards did such great work having us step out of our comfort zone in a fun way that made us get to know at least one thing about everyone attending the meeting. So come join us and most importantly have fun!

-Javier Fernandez

Getting Involved in PRSSA

PRSSA Logo

Every college student has been encouraged to get involved and to make the most of their years at school – probably so much so that it may get annoying to hear at times. But people don’t just say this to be nagging; there really are benefits to doing something with your time. Surprise!

Not only is there the opportunity to meet new people and actually become social, there is the likelihood that being involved is…wait for it… fun!

SUNY Oswego offers many opportunities to do something other than eating, sleeping, and studying. As a freshman, it was slightly overwhelming to see all the different clubs and organizations available. How did I know which club would be the right one for me?

I’m a Public Relations major, so I figured the top of my list should be the school’s PR club, the PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America if you have enough breath to say it). I took a look around at the club fair a few weeks ago and signed up for PRSSA. Quite honestly, I didn’t know much about the club when I put my name down, but I figured I would at least give it a shot.

PRSSA is a nationwide organization of students who are groomed in PR to gain more experience and to learn more about the field. Oswego’s group works closely with clients to help publicize and promote events. Members are given opportunities to work in all areas of the broad field, from making fliers to writing press releases and anywhere in between.

I have already attended two meetings (meetings occur every Tuesday evening) and so far, I am feeling good about this group. Not only am I getting a jump start on my PR studies through this club, I am already gaining experience which will only help me as I search for a job down the road.

I am going to make a shameless plug here, but if you are slightly interested in what Public Relations includes, check it out! Even if you think you may not have an interest in what PR has to offer, it wouldn’t hurt to look into it. You might be surprised to find out that this is right up your alley.

Even if it turns out that PR is not your thing, there are plenty of opportunities to become involved on campus. After only a month living here, it is amazing to me that there are so many different clubs for so many different people. A friend of mine, who is a freshman as well, is in the American Marketing Association club to gain experience in his major.

I’m sure there are clubs out there that I am totally unaware of, but are probably perfect for me. In my years here, you can bet I will be looking into as much as I can.