PVDVETS and Tending the Creative Garden

The majority of my program planning and writing instruction has been with the Providence Clemente Veterans’ Initiative (PCVI) over the past few years. The PCVI is an extraordinary humanities program open to veterans. It is put on by a top-notch group of department chairs, directors, and leaders in the veterans’ space. Somehow, I ended up in the mix. I suppose it makes a lot of sense how my path ended up here, and why I’m doing what I’m doing, but it remains humbling to be part of such of an amazing and effective effort. One of the skills and modes …

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Letter Writing Assignment for Veterans

As an educator and instructional designer, I find it extremely useful to write about lessons and projects after I’ve completed them. It codifies what I’ve done. I’m often working on several projects, teaching various subjects to groups, or learning about education as a student, and honestly, these activities can blend together. By conducting a written reflection, I’m able to establish clear boundaries, better evaluate what happened, learn from it, and improve the process for next time. So much good work happens in this world that makes an impact. And then…it’s gone. It lives in the memories of those that carried …

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Veterans Day – A Reflection

My perception of Veterans Day has shifted over the years. Before joining the Marines in 2005, to me, Veterans Day was a holiday for heroes, a day for honoring gods among humans—those that had sacrificed their lives and those that were selflessly serving their country. I wanted to join those ranks, and eventually I did. The USMC was eager to take me on as an infantryman in 2005 as the war in Iraq was intensifying. When I came home from boot camp on leave in the spring of 2006, I was settling into my new identity as a Marine. Returning …

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Road to Immerse-A-Thon 2020

I recently competed in an event at the University of Rhode Island called Immerse-A-Thon. The event was a competition centered around designing innovative VR/AR applications. This article is a detailed telling of how I became involved with the event, what the stages of my app prototype development looked like, behind the scenes takeaways from mentor meetings that happed during the event, challenges encountered, solutions that I came up with, and a narrative of the competition from my perspective. I’ve included images and videos captured along the way. I’m learning a ton by reflecting on the experience through this writing. If …

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Initial Thoughts and Big Self-Efficacy Takeaway

This past Wednesday was the final meeting of the PCVI Summer Writing Seminar ’20 class. The dust is settling, and I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on what happened in terms of instruction. The good news is, I can say the class was a success! We ended up with 5 excellent, experience-based short stories. As far as the instructional content goes, I’d rate it 7.5 out of 10. I want to trim some of the readings out and focus more intensely on the ones that resonated with students. I firmly believe we wouldn’t have ended up with the stories that …

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Starship SN5 and Elegant Flounder

As I sat down to write this post, I pulled up YouTube and was presented with a curious thumbnail of a video titled “Starship SN5 150m Hop.” The video was under a week old and already had nearly 5 million views. It had been posted on the SpaceX YouTube channel. It’s a minute-long video of the Starship SN5—which looks more like a shiny, silver grain silo than a starship to my non-rocket scientist eyes—launch and unhurriedly ascend maybe a few thousand feet, all the while moving to the side in a composed manner, and then slowly descend onto a landing …

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Virtual Reality

I’ve been on a spirited virtual reality kick for the past 3 months. My VR foray began maybe a year and a half ago with the purchase of a Playstation VR. I found some of the games to be interesting. Carolyn and I had fun with titles like Beat Saber and Super Hot. The system exhibited limitations, especially when it came to the motion controllers which were introduced during the PS3 era. The whole PSVR system is actually an amazing repurposing of discarded proprietary tech from Sony. Shortcomings revealed themselves in terms of tracking. I wasn’t a fan of movement …

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Uplifting Moments

I was frustrated this morning after a Zoom meeting. We’ve all needed to make big changes on how we’ve done things since this COVID-19 thing hit. Some of us have handled change better than others. In my world, it’s been adapt or die for a long time. I know I’m being a prickly hard-ass about it, but it’s meant that I’ve been able to excel even in the hardest of times. As a teacher, adapting during COVID-19 has meant becoming more proficient using online tools and platforms. Granted, I’m a tech guy; I use this stuff every day. Heck, I’ve …

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The Correct Way to Eat Pie and Other News From the Front

I made a strawberry-cherry pie this week; nothing extreme, just canned strawberries and cherries with a Pillsbury crust. The pie isn’t as good as grandma’s but not half-bad considering its humble roots! Anyway, before I ate my pie this evening, I sprung for the deluxe treatment and capped the pastry with slices of Colby cheese and nuked it. The result? Deliciousness. Cheese stacked on pie might be a Wisconsin thing—one of the many home-field strategies to help Wisconsinites consume more cheese. I wouldn’t put it past state lobbyists and lawmakers. After all, the state legislature banned yellow-colored margarine in the …

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Ted Chiang Put My Brain Into a Freaking Time Loop!

I’m currently reading Exhalation by Ted Chiang. I’ll write a more detailed impression of the book after I’ve finished it, but I need to share this little anecdote. The first story in the book, “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” deals with the mind-bending concept of an alchemist’s gate which allows a person to travel 20 years into the future by passing through one side and travel 20 years into the past by passing through the other side. There are no Back to the Future rules here. You can say hello to your past or future self. You can interact …

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