Monday, December 16, 2013

Time and People Matter, Mary McKinnis

Time and People Matter

Mary McKinnis

Sitting in Major Duckett’s highschool ethics class, I listened to a sage. His bellicose uniform honored beloved brothers of battle and memories. He paced in prudent panoply of exhilarating experience. Major Duckett tested our limits leaving us stranded on desert islands, swinging samurai swords, fighting hellish battles, and walking in the masses of Ghandi’s peace march. His humorous, but strikingly pensive eyes stretched our self-centered seventeen-year-old minds daring us to delve into the unknown. The 65-year-old man dived into danger skydiving, parachuting, and living each day with purpose. The last day of class Major Duckett silenced the room draining his humor-filled eyes to seriousness. He stared at us as if he was staring into our souls and said, “TIME and PEOPLE matter…if you walk out of my class only learning that, I will have done my job.”

I pondered Major Duckett’s words for about ten seconds, shoved my books in my bag, and then rushed out the door to my next class.

I was a junior at Culver Academies, a coed boarding school divided into a boy’s military school and girl’s academy. Students came from all walks of life traveling from Mexico, England, South Africa, and China to seize service, leadership, academic, and athletic opportunities. The typical Culver student doesn’t casually stroll to class or meetings, but plows through unwanted traffic having not quite discovered the purpose of sidewalks. In the Culver bubble, free time is nonexistent because everything is scheduled. Dinner could be free time, but Culver students are overachievers and often rush to multiple meetings conveniently occurring at the same time. I was a typical Culver student mindlessly obeying the rules.

If I were brushing my teeth at 10:46 instead of 10:45, my short and stocky dorm mom would waddle down the hall scolding me for not being in bed. My day consisted of breakfast, academics, lunch, more academics, scheduled work out time, dinner/meetings, two-hour homework time, and occasionally sleep. I interpreted the schedule literally lacking time to just be and enjoy. To Major Duckett, my lifestyle was pathetic.

During my summer at Interlochen’s six-week vocal artist camp, I began to understand Major Duckett’s words. My voice teacher warned me about overanalyzing everything and said, “Mary, do me a favor and just absorb.”

I did.

I absorbed an artistically enriching and aesthetically pleasing environment wasting no time. In just six short weeks, I developed lifetime friendships. While I practiced, sang passionately, laughed, listened, and developed without fearing failure or a daunting grade, my grandma suffered pushed from nursing homes to hospice care to hospitals. My family suffered together and I suffered alone unable to comfort them. I heard Major Duckett state firmly, “TIME and PEOPLE matter.” I was blessed with my time at Interlochen and its people. My friends Aaron and Jess patiently listened during times I suffered for my grandma and family. In Interlochen’s presence and people I felt peace.

After six weeks, I abhorred leaving my source of peace and reluctantly slouched into the car seat next to my dad. Just as we were about to drive out of the parking lot, my dad received a phone call from my uncle. My grandma insisted the doctors unplug her ventilator. My dad and I drove panicking driving through Michigan’s towering, verdant pine trees to Indiana’s unending cornfields. I dried my tears shoving my PIDS (Post Interlochen Depression Syndrome) aside and held his hand in the car and at the hospital.

The shadowy, wraithlike veneer hid her usual jovial expression like a shroud. Her arms were covered with dark purple bruises. The thick, beautiful, brown hair my brother, sister, and I used to playfully style with was thinned and not combed. Her sweet, gentle voice struggled gasping for air to form syllables. My grandma’s admirable ability to patiently listen was decimated in a sea of suffering and medication. For almost an hour, my dad and I sat listening to her drift in and out of short bursts of conversation and snoring. The sound of her oxygen tank pierced my ears.
Major Duckett’s advice created an uneasy feeling in my stomach punching me with regret. I could see “TIME and PEOPLE matter” written on the ceiling of my grandma’s hospital room. My mom often suggested I visit her. My mom would say, “Mary, she’s not going to be around forever, and you can walk to her house.”

I would always reply, “Mom, that’s an awful thing to say,” failing to accept the truth. I made excuses like having to study for tests, service projects, homework overload, and social events at school. When in reality, the time I wasted Facebooking, texting, online shopping, and listening to music, I could have spent talking to my grandma, enjoying her humor, wisdom, and kindness. In the hospital, her taciturn voice intensified my regret. I wanted time back to be with her.
To our surprise, one month later my grandma was living at home, driving, and visiting her horse. Instead of visiting her, I allowed Culver’s time trap to torture me with college apps, leadership positions, and schoolwork. Once again, I lived a life where time and people didn’t matter, but senior spring served as a wake up call.

I wanted to fast forward through graduation, but also wanted to press pause.

I stood dressed in white amidst the panoply of graduation celebrating girls in white floor length dresses and boys wrapped in colorful sashes and metals. I wasn’t a girl standing on the sideline watching her upper classmen transition from childhood to adulthood. The arch separated us from them ultimately signifying the separation from life at Culver to our future. As a member of Culver Girl’s Academy’s senior class, I walked perfectly to Culver band’s cadence planting my feet in front of our head of schools, Mr. John Buxton.

My friend Jacque and I exchanged anxious, but excited glances watching each girl pass through the arch receiving her diploma from Mr. Buxton, shaking the Dean of Girl’s hand, and finally passing through the arch. I quickly glanced into the crowd and saw my mom, dad, aunt, uncle, and two grandparents, but not my grandma. My heart sunk noticing her empty presence. The academic dean called, “Mary McKinnis, Honors in Music.” I stepped forward taking my diploma, shook the Dean of Girl’s hand, and joined my classmates. I was a Culver alum and adult now. My days of kilts, nametags, knee socks, and time-consuming schedules were over!

After the thrill of graduation, my dad mumbled, “I hate to tell you this after all your accomplishments this past weekend, but Grandma’s not doing well.” He explained it was up to me if I wanted to visit her or not. I didn’t visit scarred from her past suffering in the hospital.

I rejoiced reminiscing on our last memory together during my senior recital. In her royal red suit, she radiated with joy. I received her joyful rays with gratitude for her powerful presence. My grandma sacrificed her health to happily support me. After my recital, I promised to visit her, but I never did. I could have gone to visit her many times, but I blamed school. Now I realize, I was too busy chasing ambitions to realize her significance in my life. Three days after graduation, my grandma passed away. My mom and dad slowly inched towards the porch silencing the obnoxious girl chatter between my sister and I. My dad said softly, “Grandma passed away peacefully this afternoon.” While my sister and mom broke into tears, I just sat there numb.

A week passed and our house was filled with plants, sympathy cards, and food. My graduation party felt like a vicious cycle of hopping on the celebration train, crashing into a funeral procession, and hopping back on. Guests congratulated me, but also offered their sympathy. I felt torn. I celebrated. I lamented. How could I be happy when my grandma just died, but how could I not be happy because I just graduated? Wouldn’t she want me to be happy? I thought of Major Duckett’s words. The poignant connection between Culver, Interlochen, and my grandma’s recent death . While during my ambition driven junior year Major Duckett’s words were worthless to me, now his words resonate with me. His theory isn’t one to be practiced only at six-week summer camps or neglected to reach ambitions in a time demanding environment. Time is merely a measurement without people to celebrate, lament, and experience it with.

A Life Without Gaming, James Douglas

A Life Without Gaming

James Douglas

Unlike many teenagers who started playing video games from a very young age, I have learned to embrace a life without video games. Growing up, my mother never allowed us to have gaming systems. Systems such as the PlayStation, Xbox, or GameCube have never had a place in my house. As a child, many of my friends were raised differently than me. I had a couple of friends whose parents allowed them to play all of the video games they desired. Honesty, I sometimes caught myself wishing I had the lives of those friends. I thought it was completely unfair that my parents didn’t allow me to play video games with my friends. Nevertheless, I always found a way to slip around my mom’s rules.

I knew that I could always find gaming across the street from my house. One of my childhood friends, Jonah, had all the game systems you could imagine. The original PlayStation, a Nintendo 64, and a Game Cube made up his bedroom. With these gaming systems, we used to spend endless hours playing games. I thought “adventures” were leaving my house and playing the games that my parents would never let me have. Looking back, this huge adventure was really just sitting on our bums for hours on end and staring at a screen, living virtual lives. On occasion, numerous friends would come over and we would all be antisocial together as we played games like Mario Kart and Donkey Kong for hours on end. We could sit for minutes, hours, and days doing nothing but sitting in front of a screen; somehow we still always had tremendous fun. However, when I went back home, everything changed.

No gaming systems could be found anywhere near my house. My two brothers and I never stayed inside like all of my friends. We were always outside playing in woods behind my house. We didn’t live lives where hour upon hour was spent staring at a television screen.

My brothers and I had to create the games and activities that occupied our time. Our imaginations helped us to create games that provided us with laughter and adventure that the virtual world could never replicate. Instead of staring at screens all day, I spent all of my time in those woods. We would pretend like we were warriors from the stories that my mother had read to us. Our favorite adventures to reenact the escapades of the “Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy. All five of us would run around the woods behind our house with fake swords, guns, and other “weapons” fighting imaginary orcs, ghouls, and goblins. Unlike the meager two-player option found in the game systems across the street, there was no limit on the amount of people that could play my games. We may have had looked ridiculous in our Salvation Army salvaged attire, but we were alive. On days like these I realized that I didn’t have to play video games to have loads of fun. I didn’t have to ask for the newest video game for every birthday and Christmas. I could just make up games of my own. The lessons, adventures, bonding, and love that came with imaginary battles in the woods are ones that I could have never experienced from video games.

In addition to the fun I experienced with the family, I developed other skills. As my friends sat in front of televisions, I started taking piano lessons. The time and practice that I put into playing piano would have been lost had I played video games. I am currently in college as music major and playing the piano has been very beneficial to my grades. Sometimes, all my friends will tell me how much they wish they could play the piano. Whenever I hear this, I look back to the time I learned to play. I feel blessed to have parents who provided me with the opportunity to learn to play the piano. I never would have developed this skill had I stared at a screen all day.

A life without video games has allowed me to discover who I am. In my free time, instead of playing video games, I did more productive things with my time. I joined the swim club of my hometown. We had practice about five days a week. Through that swim club, I was able to not only exercise, but I made friends who were more like me. All of us stuck together and stayed part of the same swim club for many years. We were all on the same swim team in high school. We won swim meets and other championships together. We won medals and were able to experience the world of real competition. Thee since of accomplishment I got after winning such meets is a feeling I have never gotten from a video game.

The absence of video games in my home also brought my family closer together, more so than most families I know. Instead of playing video games alone in our rooms, my family loves to gather together during free time. We will always continue to grow closer as a family every second we are not on a virtual adventure. My parents taught me to go on real trips and adventures outside rather than on a television. As a family we traveled all over the country and around the world. I was blessed with the sights and sounds of each new place that many of my friends had only experienced in the virtual world.

A life without video games is not a hard life to live. Such a life brings about a vivid life experience that video games can never imitate. If I had spent my childhood in the confinements of a room with my eyes glued to the television screen, I would never have had the chances to explore the real world. Now as I look back, I know that whatever the future holds, I will set the same rules for my children that my parents have set forth for me. Children can grow in the natural world mores than they ever can in a virtual reality.

Just Dance, Molly Peterson

Just Dance

Molly Peterson

During my junior year at Wheaton North, my dance team and I achieved an accomplishment that the Falconettes had never achieved before: we won state. When I heard “And in first place… the Wheaton North Falconettes” announced over the loudspeaker I could hardly believe my ears. On Friday, my school had an assembly for my team and me as a reward for winning state. We were excited to show our school our dance, but our week went from good to bad as we endured whispers and sneers in the hall regarding our win.

The wrestling team, who had also gone to state that weekend, came back with one of their wrestlers, Mike Swider, third in state. The wrestlers felt as though we stole their light and criticized our win by yelling things like, “Dance is not a sport, it is not hard to win state for you girls! Swider is the true champion” as the dance team passed them in the halls.

That Friday, my team and I put on our uniforms as we prepared to perform our state winning routine one last time. As we entered the gym, only about half of the school was present. The usual cheering that took place during assemblies was replaced by dull clapping. I could hear my heart thudding and the noise of my fellow teammates shoes against the floor. As we walked to the front of the gym we sat down and watched as Mike Swider walked in. The wrestlers stood and started cheering for him, eventually the rest of the school also started to cheer for Swider. I could see on my team’s faces that they were disappointed in our classmate’s attitude towards us. After all the support we showed our school during our season through drum lines, assemblies, and games, they did not even have the courtesy support us for our achievement.

The Wheaton North Falconette’s season is the longest season compared to any of the sports in the school ranging from June until March. Meeting five to six days a week for two hours every day, the Falconettes and I worked extremely hard perfecting dances for football season, basketball season, and our own competition season. Yet, despite all the hard work, both physically and mentally, that my team and I put forth, we were considered a club. Dancing challenges the body both physically and mentally and possesses the same amount of technique and dedication as any other sport, therefore, schools should treat dance teams like a sport.

Although dancers may look lean, one would be surprised by the amount of muscle they possess. In order for dancers to leap high off the ground, or balance on releve—standing on the balls of your feet—with no help for minutes on end, they must have strong lean bodies that allow them to properly execute flawless technique. Surprisingly, both dancers and football players strengthen many of the same muscles. Many football players find dance, ballet in particular, to be helpful in their training. By practicing turnout—rotating the hips outward—football players strengthen injury- susceptible muscles beneath the gluteus and around the pelvis better than they would in parallel during a normal football practice. In the 1970’s the Pittsburgh wide receiver Lynn Swannconfessed to taking ballet lessons, which sparked coaches to push their players into taking ballet as well. Dance focuses on increasing strength in the lower body using methods no other sport would think of to train their players. Standing on releve helps strengthen the Achilles tendon in the ankle and bahtmahs—high kicks—helps strengthen kickers hip muscles.

Many players such as the NFL nose tackle for the Steelers, Steve McLendon, has also admitted to taking ballet lessons, as well, in order to help him in football. McLendon states that ballet is harder than anything else he does but deals with it because it strengthens his knees, ankles and feet for football. Strength in the legs is very important for dancers. Before a dancer leaps into the air, a chasse—a gliding step in which one foot displaces the other—is necessary for the dancer can gain the proper momentum for them to travel in the air. Similarly, baseball players incorporate the same technique of a chasse right before they throw the baseball because it helps them gain power so that the ball is thrown far enough. While chasse helps a dancer travel in the air, a plié helps them gain height in the air. A plié requires a lot of strength in both the knees and the ankles. In order for a dancer to properly execute a plié, they must bend their knees to gain power and momentum so that they can jump into the air. This can be seen during basketball games when players must complete a plié in order to gain the proper amount of air for them to reach the basket and dunk the ball.

Dancing may look easy, but it requires a lot of endurance. Cross-country runners possess great endurance because they run for long amounts of time, yet they only need to exert force in one direction—straight. Dancers may perform for only three minutes, but the countless number of turns, leaps, and movement throughout the floor causes the dancer’s entire body to be engaged the entire time, exerting force in numerous directions. Pom, a style of dance, requires the dancer to have extremely tight sharp motions that cannot be accomplished without engaging all the muscles in their body. This can be very tiring to do for a whole dance; therefore dancers must build up the muscle endurance so that they can execute the entire dance without faltering. Endurance is also important for dancers because while they perform they must keep up their facials instead of showing how tired they are. While tennis players view Serena’s famous tennis grunt as a sign of dedication and effort in her game, dancers do not approve because they are trained to make dancing look effortless. Without the proper endurance dancers would not make it through a routine without showing the pain they are feeling on their faces distracting the audience from the dance.

During football and basketball season, dance teams can be found on the sidelines faithfully cheering at every game. These dancers, however, not only attend all the games for football and basketball season, they also have their own competition season in which they compete against other dance teams. College dance teams sign up with Universal Dance Association, in order to compete at the “most prestigious college dance championship in the country.” All styles of dance—lyrical, modern, hip-hop, pom—can be seen at UDA’s championship. The picture below shows a dance team at the UDA championship performing their pom routine:

Unlike a football game where teams win based on how many points they score, dance competitions have many expectations the dances must consist of in order to earn points. Based on the UDA’s official score sheet, dances are given points based on execution of technical skills (turns, leaps, jumps), difficulty of choreography, uniformity (spacing and group synchronization), and overall effect (ability to connect with the audience) (Rules and Regulations, n.d.).

In order to earn points, dancers must perfect a dance that impresses the judges in all categories of the score sheet. Although dancers can control the difficulty of their technique and the choreography in their dance, they cannot control the outcome and earn their points through a process that ultimately leads down to whether or not the judge likes their routine. Working months on a two to three minute routine can become extremely aggravating. Each practice focuses on improving technique—jumps, leaps, turns—and perfecting the same dance over and over again. Dancers must learn to adapt quickly to changes made in their dances. It is very rare for a competition dance to stay the same throughout the entire competition season. Changes to weak spots in the dance can be replaced with new choreography. This causes the dancer to change the muscle memory he or she had built up and train their body to learn the new choreography.

Dance is a versatile sport that challenges a dancer both mentally and physically. These tough athletic dancers deserve to be treated like a sport by their schools. Even Nike, one the biggest sports brands, has started showing their support for dance in their 2013 ad for ballet shoes and so should everyone else:


Rules and regulations, (2013). Universal Dance Association. Retrieved from

11, Matt Turner

Matt Turner
“Hey, neighbor!” yelled Bill as he furiously waved across the ten foot barbed wire fence.
Eric plastered a huge grin on his face and waved back to Bill. Bill raised his shotgun in salute, then blew the brains out of a zombie that was trying to clamber up his fence.
Y’know, when I first built this thing, I thought I’d use it to keep out them Mexicans, but now…” Bill guffawed and shot the zombie once again for good measure. Eric smiled and turned back to his vegetable garden. He only had a white picket fence to protect his yard, but it had looked so cute when he’d first bought the house. Then Bill Randall had moved in next door, and Eric’s property value had plummeted dramatically.
A zombie started to drag itself over Eric’s fence. Eric quickly grabbed his Buddhist staff (imported straight from the mountains of Tibet) and daintily walked over to his fence, praying that Bill wouldn’t notice.
Bill noticed. “Want me to get that one for ya, neighbor?” he called down from the makeshift hunting tower he had built on the top of his roof.
Eric furiously shook his head. “No, no, no, I’ve got it!” he yelled as he poked the zombie with his staff.
Ya sure?” Bill put down the shotgun and pulled out his highly illegal sniper rifle. “I really feel like a headshot right now!”
Eric prodded the zombie again, accomplishing nothing but enraging it even more. For a split second, he thought of how useful it might be to have a stockpile of high-powered weaponry like Bill, then he violently pushed the thought away. Guns were evil, twisted instruments of Satan himself, and Bill….well, Bill was just a narrow-minded hypocritical redneck.
BLAM! A significant chunk of brain and bodily fluid splattered across Eric’s hand-woven hemp shirt.
“Sorry neighbor! That one was sneakin’ up on ya!”
Eric couldn’t speak, he was so furious.
“I didn’t graze ya, did I?” called down Bill. He grinned. “That’s a whole lotta blood on ya, Eric m’boy.”
Somehow, Eric found the strength to sputter out, “Zombies are people too!”
Bill frowned. “What the hell you talkin’ ‘bout?”
“You didn’t have to kill it!”
Bill stared blankly at Eric, who suddenly felt that something more than a couple of fences separated them. “But I like killing things…” Bill mumbled.
“What about the natural rights granted to every human being, infected or otherwise?!” Eric screamed. “Zombies are a repressed group of people who are hunted and persecuted their entire undead lives! They are the 99%! They are!”
Bill simply reloaded his rifle. “Mister, I’m on a roll! I’ve killed at least fifty-seven of those things this month, and I sure ain’t stopping now. Oh wait, look out!”
At least half a dozen zombies suddenly lurched over Eric’s pitiful fence. BLAM! One fell with a gigantic hole in its face. BLAM! Eric fled to the safety of his house and slammed the door just as Bill opened up with his AK-47. BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM! “SUCK ON THIS, YOU STINKIN’ REDS!”
For the rest of the day and night, Eric hid in his bedroom closet, listening to the terrifying screams of the zombies and the even more terrifying rebel yells of Bill. There must be a big pack of them, he thought. And then: What do you call a large group of zombies? A pack of zombies? A horde of zombies? A clique? A team? Or do you just say ‘a large group of zombies’?
Morning finally came, and Eric wished for something to calm his nerves. Lighting his very last joint, he decided to take a pleasant walk outside. He opened his front door to find a dead body. And another. And another.
“Hey neighbor!” Bill waved to Eric as he sucked greedily on a cigarette. What a disgusting habit, Eric thought as he took a puff on his joint. “There was a big clique of zombies comin’ through here last night!”
It was then that Eric truly saw the devastation. No less than fifty bodies lay sprawled across the yard, all in various stages of dismemberment.
“A couple tried to climb down your chimney too, but don’t worry, I got ‘em!” Bill chuckled and waved his bloodstained katana. “I wanted to save some ammo, so I pole-vaulted into your yard and killed ‘em with my samurai sword! Pretty cool, huh?”
“My vegetable garden….” Eric moaned. As far as he could tell, it was buried underneath a particularly large clump of bodies.
“Yeah, sorry ‘bout that.” Bill waved something dead and furry at Eric. “I got some squirrels though. Want some?”
Eric was mortally offended. “I, sir, am a vegetarian, and therefore a better example of humanity than you.” He sniffed in contempt and turned back inside, narrowly avoiding a dead zombie that fell from the roof.
Bill watched him go inside, then shrugged to himself. “I have weird friends,” he told the squirrel. The squirrel said nothing.
Inside the house, Eric swore to himself. Those poor squirrels! Bill was a murderer, with his fascination with guns, and eating meat, and constant playing of Johnny Cash…
Right on cue, a few bars of guitar music floated into Eric’s living room. “Love is a burning thing…”
Eric hated Johnny Cash, not so much because of his music, but because Bill seemed to have some sort of weird obsession with him. I hate that man, he thought. I hate him, I hate him, I hate him.
BLAM! “That makes ninety-seven!” Bill bellowed.
Once again, Eric whimpered and retreated to the comfort of his bedroom closet, where he tried to meditate. Even though Eric didn’t strictly believe in shallow Western concepts like hell, he couldn’t help but picture Bill’s two-hundred-and-fifty pound body being consumed in a lake of eternal hellfire. He allowed his mind to dwell on that picture, and felt a wave of serenity wash through his body. At last, he had peace….
WHUMP! KA-BOOM! An explosion rocked the very foundations of every building in the neighborhood. Eric rushed to a window just in time to see Bill blow up another car with his RPG. Bill smiled and waved. “Hey neighbor!”
Eric groaned and decided to go to bed. Which he did.

Don't Know, Peyton Smith

Don’t Know

Peyton Smith

Hunter Keel happened to be one of the biggest role models, idols, and someone I looked up to all through out my youth. He happened to be like a brother to me that I never had and someone that I could call “bro” or my best friend. Hunter took the best out of every situation and made everyone around him have the best time they have ever had no matter what it was. I could say I am very lucky to have known Hunter and be in his presence. I grew up being around Hunter and his family because of going to my grandparent’s lake house. The Keels had a house right next door so I got to see Hunter and his loving family a lot. Being around not only Hunter but his family too would make my day so much better and it could be for the shortest amounts of time. I can count many memories with the Keels not even doing anything but just hearing them talk to each other and joke around would put the biggest smile on my face. Now if people know me well enough they will know that I am not the one to always walk around with a grin. The Keels brought this out of me and this just would show myself how much not only Hunter but his family as well mattered to me.  

I always had loved to go fishing with Hunter up in the river and hearing the water run against the rocks. One day while listening to the water I heard a huge splash in the water knowing Hunter caught a huge fish. I will never forget screaming at each other with excitement and joy knowing this was the one we were trying to catch after recently having lines being broken from such a monster fish. Finally reeling the fish in we had got back to the dock and had to clean this monster fish. While watching Hunter clean the fish I thought about how crazy and just how much I looked up to him. To clean the fish he had a hammer, pliers, and a screwdriver. Everyone looked at Hunter and me like we were crazy and had no earthly idea what we were doing. I sat and watched him and took in every detail trying to learn his ways since I wanted to be just like Hunter. What he did was nail the catfish through its mouth and against a tree, using the screwdriver to have it pinned down. Then, he would use the pliers and carefully peel the catfish’s skin off his body. I would have never thought to do this in all my life! To this day I use that technique when I catch catfish and that same exact screwdriver Hunter used. The screwdriver is always in the same spot as well and has never been moved since that very day.

Driving down the lake some days I would see a boat with this teenage boy and hearing music blasting with cute girls hanging all over the boat. Not knowing but this was Hunter with all his friends. Hunter was an amazing wake boarder and I was never that good at all. I couldn’t even get up on the wake board and my grandpa would tell me that pulling me was basically equivalent to pulling a pile of bricks.  Trying to get up would make me so mad and irritated that I would have to give up and start to pout. Hunter would notice this instantly and without a doubt come over to pick me up and teach me how to wake board. Hunter would then wakeboard and try to show me how it was done and let me say he did a very good job at making wakeboarding look easy. I sat in the boat in amazement as if he were the best out there. Watching Hunter wake board was amazing to me since I was someone who was not very good. There eventually was a day when he came on my boat and taught me how to wake board but not by sitting in the boat watching by sitting in the water and being left behind after finally getting up and being towed by the boat. I was so excited when I got up, not only that but also to see Hunter be so proud of me and cheering me on. This was such a huge deal because it was my first time getting up and seeing someone that I looked up to so much being proud of me made it even better.

Hunter was basically an older brother that I never had because I could tell him anything and we could talk for hours and hours about nothing and still have a great time. Hunter and I would go sit on his dock all night and I could tell him anything, this would include things that I couldn’t go to my parents about because it happened to be very personal things. I remember one time talking with Hunter about girls and all that kind of stuff. One time I remember discussing with him about all the girls in his life and what happened between them, knowing this it taught me many things about what to do and what not to do. Hunter was the perfect person to talk to since he was older than me and had been through the same situations and could give me the best advice. This was something that had a huge impact on my life because I am a very shy person and could not express those kinds of things to other people. Hunter was far from shy which made me realize to not get so caught up with the people I know and going out and being more social. With expressing myself more to people it helped me become an even better person with who I am today and that is something I can thank Hunter for.

Something that made me realize to appreciate things more in life was when Hunter had passed away in a terrible car accident in the year of 2009. I thought about this when his sister Sarah went to the podium at Perimeter Church to say a few memories and words about Hunter. She described him to be the best brother in the world and someone who would do anything for his little sister. To see Sarah breaking down and bawling crying in front of the whole church made me start to cry. Especially with hearing what happened that very night Hunter had passed away. Sarah was in the car with Hunter when they crashed and had to hold Hunter in her arms while waiting for help. To have this imagine in my head and sitting next to my little sister made me think that of the very expression that you don’t know what you have until you lose it. From that day on my sister and I were best friends and helped one another through thick and thin.
After Hunter’s funeral and walking outside seeing everyone crying I never thought about how much I had until it was lost. Hunter had taught me many things that I can now teach others now that he has passed away. Everyone loved being around him because Hunter always knew how to have a good time, enjoy the little things, and impacting each and everyone else’s life’s as well as mine. For that reason Hunter will always be in our hearts, especially mine because I looked up to him so much. I now know how much I loved Hunter and how many lives he impacted as well as being a huge person to look up to.

Hopefully everyone can realize the people that impact their lives and people that truly mean a lot to them. If not then we never know might happen and someone or something that means a lot to you could be gone in a blink of an eye. Hunter passing away happened to happen to me so fast that I never actually took in how fortunate I am and all the great things and people I have in my life. Even though Hunter is now no longer with us I am glad that after when he did pass away that I was able to hear what others thought about him and to take in every single thing that makes us who we are today. People now a days take things for granted and do not know how lucky they actually are. That is why we really need to take things in and be thankful before we do not know how much we have until we lose it forever.

Is One Really Better than the Other?, Will Maddox

Is One Really Better than the Other?

Will Maddox

DICE and Activision have been competing for buyers for over a decade. DICE created its Battlefield franchise in early 2000 and followed up with its Game of the Year winner, Battlefield 1942 in 2002 (Mclaughlin, 2011). Activision and Infinity Ward did not release Call of Duty until 2003 (Call of Duty: History and Timeline, 2013). For some reason Call of Duty is far more established in the gaming market then Battlefield. And because Call of Duty is more established DICE feels that it has to attack Call of Duty verbally in order to ruin their reputation.

The feud between DICE and Activision is nothing new in the world of advertising. There are numerous brands that are well established in a particular market and their rivals feel the need to attack them.

Microsoft’s BING ads have been known to bash one of the most popular search engines on the web, Google.  Microsoft claims that people who try Bing are more willing to use the website over Google. 

Android phones such as the Samsung Galaxy 3 and 4 have countless commercials attack Apple’s iPhone by stating that the iPhone is old tech compared to the new Samsung Galaxy or other Android phones.   

So why do franchises feel the need to bash their competition? Well brands like Call of Duty have a winning formula that sales product.  The game has been known to change very little each year but sales remain high. The latest installment into the Call of Duty franchise, Call of Duty: Ghost, sold $1 Billion dollars worth of games in the first day alone (Lejacq, 2013). 

Nick Cowen of The Guardian wrote a review of the latest Call of Duty and stated,

            With Call Of Duty: Ghosts, one gets what one expects.
While this may sound like a damning appraisal of the game, bear this in mind; if your lip is curling into a contempt-filled sneer, this game is no longer aimed at you. It's aimed at the people who buy CoD every single year and, for all it faults, enjoy the heck out of it. It's aimed at trash-talking eSports crews, potty-mouthed online warriors and connoisseurs of Big Dumb Entertainment that blows your hair back until the roots snap.
Infinity Ward's core audience is bigger than the population of the greater London metropolitan area. To that end, the developer deserves a couple of nods for creating a campaign that takes risks with a template that, while eminently recognisable, contains a new narrative and attempts to make the player's progression more varied than before (Cowen, 2013).

Call of Duty does in fact have a faithful following.  This following is what scares DICE into bashing the Call of Duty name.  Naturally DICE does not want to compete with Activision for sells therefore they bash them. 

While Call of Duty has a formula for success, Battlefield is constantly being updated.  Battlefield titles always have the latest and greatest technology behind them and DICE proudly promotes this like a parent proud of their child.  Battlefield 3, released in 2011, was suppose to be a complete overhaul of the Battlefield franchise. Rus Mclaughlin of IGN stated: 
For a series not generally know for spectacular graphics, Battlefield 3 just might rank as one of the best-looking, best-sounding games of the year. Jets make a welcome return, campaign gets co-op mode, and environmental destruction now works in both macro and micro directions. And in a supreme show of confidence, for the first time, DICE and EA chose to go head-to-head against the Modern Warfare juggernaut that unseated Battlefield as gaming's premiere military shooter. (Mclaughlin, 2011)
Battlefield 3 had the latest gaming engine developed by Electronic Arts, EA.  This engine, named Frostbite 2, was used in many of EA’s sports and racing games that provided gamers with spectacular visual and audio effects. 

Battlefield 4 was supposed to be even bigger and better than its predecessor.  Battlefield 4 was made with Frostbite 3, which allows for larger maps and more people to play together on one server.   But boasting about the new engine wasn’t enough for DICE.  DICE felt that their accomplishments weren’t enough and they still had to attack the new Call of Duty game.  The picture to the left is from the back of the Battlefield 4 box and it clearly has a quote that bashes the new Call of Duty game.

The box for Call of Duty: Ghost has nowhere on it anything about Battlefield 4 or DICE.  The only thing it has are the good things the game offers such as a new Squad mode and a free map download in the box. 

From all this bashing and new tech Battlefield must be the better game.  On the other hand, Call of Duty did sell $1 billion dollars worth of games on the first day.  So which game is better?

I must admit that I play video games quit avidly and own both Call of Duty: Ghost and Battlefield 4. Having played both I can say that comparing these two games is like comparing Star Wars to Star Trek.  They appear to be the same on the surface but when you get right down to it, they are completely different.

On the surface Call of Duty and Battlefield both appear to be first-person shooters.  They both have a campaign and a large multiplayer online mode.  This is where the similarities stop.

The main difference between the two games is the style in which you play the multiplayer mode.  Call of Duty is known for its relatively small maps and its run-and-gun style of play.  Battlefield is more for strategy and communication.  Battlefield also has massive maps because of its extra strength computing power from the Frostbite 3 engine.  

Call of Duty also has a much shorter campaign compared to Battlefield.

Despite the fact that they are so different, these games are continuously compared.  And because they are compared so much, DICE feels that it must bring down the Call of Duty franchise in order to sell Battlefield games.  This is why DICE bashes Call of Duty and every game they come out with is bigger and better.

Both Call of Duty and Battlefield have die-hard fans that like to think that one game is leaps and bounds better than the other.  In reality these two games are two very different things that should not be compared. 


Call of Duty: History and Timeline. (2013, June 13). Retrieved from

Cowen, N. (2013, November 13). Call of Duty: Ghost – Review. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Lejacq, Y. (2013, November 6). 'Call of Duty: Ghosts' ships $1 billion in copies — but how much did gamers spend?. Retrieved from

Mclaughlin, R. (2011, October 3). The History of Battlefield: A look into the past to bring you the full story of the twists and turns that have brought us right up to Battlefield 3. Retrieved from

Cyber Crime, Sahila Bahra

Cyber Crime

Sahila Bahra

Last year, nine teenage suicides were connected to cyber-bullying on social network sites. One of them was Joshua Unsworth, a fifteen-year-old teenager who became the victim of cyberbullying. Joshua lived in Lancashire area in England. His body was found hanged in the garden of his family’s stone-built converted farmhouse situated in the same place where he used to live. He apparently was bullied on the social network site for months, which finally forced him to take the path of suicide. People and his peers used to tease him for his dating habits, father’s job, and often called him farmer. Joshua tried enough to defend himself but due to constant bullying on the social network site, he finally lost hope and hanged himself (Tozer, 2013).

The Internet has improved the quality of life; we can easily get information on any subject, research work and its usage is basically growing vastly day-by-day in this world that is making everyone closer to each other.  Cyber crime is one of the latest problems people face in life actually. Technologies like Internet has created a lot of crime in the cyber world and it’s usage has increased nowadays basically to harass, threaten, hurt and annoy people in a purposeful, intentionally manner constantly by using their information and skills. There is no escape if an individual once gets tricked in cyber bullying. Sometimes it becomes difficult for the near and dear ones to differentiate between bad moods and warning symptoms of a particular child that confirms that this child is being bullied. People, especially teenagers, choose paths like suicide only when they think that now enough is enough and they have no other option to come out of this problem (Cyber bullying, 2013).

Cyber bullying is not only limited to children or teenagers, but sometimes the adults are also the target of Cyber crime. Sending emails or texting dirty or warning messages can do Cyber bullying to someone who doesn’t want any kind of contact with the sender and gets irritate very easily. In most of the cases, the cyber bullies have uncovered all the personal information of the targeted victim like victim’s address, phone number, real name and address of the working places on common social network site. Sometimes they even use this information and make fake accounts and post things that just ruins victim’s image and embarrasses the victim in front of million of people. These cyber bullies have no limits when they get their target. The cyber crime basically depends on the range and the character of the criminal. The cyber bullies do so because they just want to use their knowledge and information so that they can get benefits quickly. They are basically using their own knowledge to torture, harass people for money or other purpose that can benefit them and they don’t have to do any hard work like other people to earn money. This is like the easiest way to earn money in less time. One of the recent cases was that a group of cyber criminals stole a total cash amount of forty-five million dollars in couple of hours from the ATM’s with the help of their most common technique, that is, hacking. They hacked the whole database of the prepaid debit card (Cyber bullying, 2013):

According to the cybercrime statistics, each year cyber crime increases more than a hundred percent from the previous year. Cyber crimes have now a day become a genuine cause of damage and danger to other people living in the society. In most of the cases, the planning of these crimes are done by a single person and in computer crimes the best part for these criminals is that there is no need for them to be present in actual during the crime, that is, there is no requirement of the criminal to be physically present. The crime can be committed from any location and at any time. Different countries have different strategies or practices to deal with the cyber crime. Many countries have started some kind of Cyber Crime Prevention Acts, for example the one initiated by the Philippine government that basically aims to focus on the issues, which are lawful and are mainly concerned with interactions that are online on the social network sites and the Internet. Cyber crime that is considered as legal and the government takes action on them in most of the cases includes cyber squatting, cyber sex, identity theft, child pornography, libel and illegal access to the personal data. Earlier acts like illegal access to the data and libel were not considered under the cyber crime prevention act but now a days due to the increase in cyber crime everywhere in this world has limited the law that gives people full right to express their feelings, that is, the right of expression (Cyber crime prevention act, 2012).

It’s very difficult to analyze or detect some cyber crimes. Because it’s very common that the strategies and techniques used by these cyber criminals keep on changing very quickly with time. It becomes very difficult for the agencies like law enforcement agencies to work so quickly and effectively. This is one place where all the organizations of the government and institutions that deal commercially should change their methods to tackle with these crimes. Organizations should focus more on creating effective Online Data Protection Systems that can reduce the chances of other people being the target of cyber crime. There are thousand of cases where the police have shown their excellent techniques to tackle these problems. For example, the one case in which the cyber crime police had arrested a sixteen-year-old boy in London, who was a part of a big cyber attack and the police, said that if this attack had been successful, it would have affected the Internet system worldwide. The other method to deal with crimes that are connected to Internet and social network sites is the solutions provided by the Cross-domain solutions. In their system, all the information that is exchanged is under the security decorum. This basically helps to keep the networks safe and protected. Corruption, crime and delinquency are some things that have been associated with human beings from a very long time. Cyber crime now days have created a big impact on the societal and financial development of a country and even of an individual (Multi domain, 2013; Professor Prosch, 2013). 

Internet, the worldwide network has made our lives simple and effortless. At the same time, the cyber crimes have increased the threat of using it and it is somewhere worth paying some attention on this issue. There will be always new and unpredicted cases of cyber crime happening in different parts of the world. Cyber crimes are crimes that are everywhere in this world, any one can become the target of these crimes and at any time. Last thing, be aware of all the frauds that are on the Internet especially on the common social network sites like fake advertisements or advance fee emails. And the best way to deal with these crimes on personal level is to use a system that protects all the information stored and on the regular basis check or evaluate the financial records. According to Professor Prosch (2013), “Privacy is necessary to prevent us from living in digital glass houses.” All the people in the society should do companionship and collaboration with the government to make a change in the society and to eradicate all the cyber crime criminals (A guide to computer crime and prevention, n.d.).


A guide to computer crime and prevention. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Broderick, R. (2013, September). 9 teenage suicides in the last year were linked to cyber-bullying on social network. Retrieved from

Cops: Cyber thieves stole $45M from ATM’s in hours. (2013, May). Retrieved from

Cyber crime prevention act could curtail Internet freedom in the Philippines. (2012, October). Retrieved from

Cyber bullying. (2013). Retrieved from
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Passeri, P. (2013, March). February 2013 cyber attacks statistics. Retrieved from

Prof. Prosch, M. (2013). Privacy on the web: how to make it a priority. Retrieved from

Tozer, J. (2013, April). Schoolboy, 15, bullied to death by trolls on the Internet: friends
            say vile posts drove him to despair. Retrieved from