Thursday, May 8, 2014

Blog 9: My Last Day

As I sit here in my last class of my college days, I can't help but feel a little sentimental. I have learned so much during my time at UNI. I have met great people (and some not so great), I have had countless eye opening experiences, and I have grown as a person. I have decided upon a career path, and have made valuable connections through my line of work. I have taken classes that don't pertain to my major. I have taken classes that I learned almost nothing in, and I have taken classes where everyday I learned something new.

I have lived with a man from a foreign country, a man extraordinarily different from myself, and 6 of my closest friends. I have lived in the dorms and off campus and seen the benefits of both. I have managed to maintain my sobriety, and my sanity, through all four years. I met a girl, whom I love, and she, and her family, has changed my life forever.

I have stressed myself to the breaking point an come through the other side successful and triumphant. I have been on the brink f failure only to pull myself up at the last minute. I have changed majors; twice. I have passed tests without studying, and bombed them for the same reasons. I have butted heads with professors, and made friends with others. I have struggled through the abysmal scheduling and gotten all most of my credits taken. I have learned the dos and don'ts, ins and outs of being a student.

I look forward to being able to share my experiences with my younger siblings, cousins, and friends. I look forward to being able to help enhance their college experience, so that it may be even better than mine.

But, my journey is not over. I have been accepted to graduate school here at UNI in the field of Leisure, Youth, and Human Services. I will be emphasizing in Leisure services with my end goal to be an administrator in charge of facilities and operations at a large university. I have worked at the UNI Dome and McLeod Center for all four years of my college career. Through working here and moving up in the ranks to where I am now - a Student Supervisor and hopeful Graduate Assistant - I have gained more experience with customer service and crowd control than I thought imaginable for an on campus job. It has lead me to my career path and introduced me to something I am passionate about.

I have not only survived my years at UNI, I have thrived.

 UNI Till I Die!

Blog 8: Game of Thrones Review

Game of Thrones: Season 4; Episode 3

We join Tyrion in his holding cell as he awaits trial for the murder of his nephew, Joffrey, king of the 7 realms of Westeros. Tyrion is the main suspect in the murder after being accused by his sister, queen Cersei, after having watched her first born son die in her arms. Grief stricken, she demands Tyrion be locked up and tried for murder. 

Sansa is smuggled out of the city by the fool, formerly Sir Dantos. Once out of the city, they board a small row boat which they use to get to a larger ship waiting in the harbor. Aboard the ship is none other than Lord Littlefinger, Petyr Baelish. He reveals to Sansa that it was he who was the mastermind behind her escape, and it was he who planted the necklace that was eventually Joffrey's downfall, although nobody would ever know. Now, it is his intent to wed the lady of The Vale, Lysa Aryn, Sansa's aunt. They set off for The Riverlands. 

Arya and the Hound continue their journey through The Riverlands towards The Vale where the Hound plans on ransoming Arya to her aunt Lysa for a cosiderable amount of gold before being on his way. They happen across a farmer and his daughter. The farmer inquires as to who the Hound fought for at the Red Wedding, having not recognized who he is. Arya lies to the man an says they fought for House Tully. The man invites them to his home for supper and offers the Hound work. "Honest work for honest pay," says the man, to which the Hound agrees. The next morning, Arya awakens to a scream and find the Hound standing over the farmer having apparently just robbed him of his silver. "They'll be dead by winter, and silver is no good to a dead man," the Hound tells Arya as they ride off.

Davos Seaworth remains scrambling for a way to regain favor with King Stannis and begins to concoct ideas of obtaining a new army. However, Davos realizes Stannis simply does not have the funds needed to produce an army, so he seeks out the Iron Bank of Bravos in hopes of a loan. 

Sam has Gilly moved to the brothel in Mole's Town for her own safety as an attack on the Wall is imminent and he wants her and her child nowhere near the battle. Back at the Wall, Jon tries to warn the acting commanders of Mance Raider's army and roounds up a crew to march on Craster's Keep to kill the betrayers that still reside there. Mance and his army must not get any information pertaining to how weekly the wall is actually manned, and killing those that would give him such information is the only way to prevent it. 

Dany takes her army to the gates of Mereen, another slave city she plans on freeing. Dario Naharys, one of her newly appointed generals, easily disposes of Mereen's champion in single combat. This leads to the fear of Mereen's masters as Dany calls out to them to revolt as they outnumber their masters 3:1.  

Blog 7: American World Cup Analysis

With the World Cup fast approaching in sketchy  lovely Brazil, the United States National Team manager Jurgen Klinsman needs to begin to zero in on a twenty-three man roster. There has been a lively debate among supporters of the club as to whether he should take an older, yet more experienced squad, or if he should bring in the young guns with great talent but a lack of international experience.

Many supporters leans towards the latter strategy due to the "Group of Death" that the United States finds themselves in. This group includes: 1)Portugal, widely known for their great team speed, flashy play, and having arguably the best footballer on the planet on their squad in the form of Cristiano Ronaldo. 2) Germany, considered by many to be the best international club in the world who have seen the older US players before. 3) Ghana, possibly Africa's best international club and the team responsible for knocking the United States out of the past two World Cups. Some lack of experience with these teams may prove useful.

The main argument being made for the older, more experienced crew is due to their great international experience.

Klinsman is challenged with finding the three or four best strikers to score goals for the United States. A shoe in is Clint Dempsey of Seattle Sounders fame. Dempsey currently leads the MLS in goals scored, but had a dismal showing in a recent stint with European club Fullham, only scoring 1 goal. Another likely spot goes to Jozy Altidore, a player representing the United States in the Barclay's Premier League. Although, there is some argument to be made that Klinsman would be better off taking someone currently more "in form" as Altidore has been struggling of late. Some of these struggles may be attributed to the overall lack of team success as well, seeing as how Sunderland has been fighting relegation from the Premiere League. Chris Wondolowski seems to be the front runner for the third attacking spot. At the age of 30, it would be his first World Cup appearance, but the form he has been in during qualifiers and recent friendly matches has been impeccable. Aaron Johanson of Icelandic American decent is the dark horse in all of this and seems poised to replace Altidore or Wondolowski should one of them drastically fall out of form or get injured.

The midfield of the United States is considered the strongest point of the team with MLS stalwarts Michael Bradley, Graham Zusi, Landon Donovan, and Brad Evans residing around the center of the pitch. All four of these players are well experienced in both the World Cup and international play in general, with Donovan being the hero of four years ago scoring the tying goal against England in outstanding fashion.

The back four of the Americans is seemingly the teams weakest point. Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, Fabian Johnson, and Geof Cameron seems the most likely combination for the USA backline with Maurice Edu and Demarcus Beasely making cameo appearances in relief.

Fortunately for the weak USA backline, they have world class goalkeeper Tim Howard of England's Everton between the posts. Backing him up is equally capable, but someone less known, Brad Guzan. Howard has been the American's go-to keeper for the better part of a decade.

The final decision date has already been pushed back once by Klinsman because the competition in training has been so intense. It will be interesting to see how this pans out for the American side, as their initial goal will be to escape the group stage.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Project 2: Life of a Traveler

"The life of a traveler is never easy, but it can be most rewarding." This is the way one particular plane hopper views her job and lifestyle. Star Sneller, a higher up employee of a Fortune 500 company, travels, on average, 1.5 weeks out of every month. You'd never know that by looking at her. Always bubbling with energy, always the life of the party. This is a big step down from when she first signed on with the company. At that time, she was approaching every week at a different site throughout the United States.

Star's job requires her to be in charge of 8 different sites throughout the nation. They are all in different states, spanning the length of the country. She has sites in Ponca, Oklahoma; Spokane, Washington; Sterling, Colorado; Moralton, Arkansas; Wilton, Maine; Lakefield, Florida; Nogales, Arizona; and Bismark; North Dakota.

Along her travels, she has managed to make an appearance in countless cities, 43 states, and at least 9 countries. She has had breakfast with Mickey Mouse, lunch with Super Bowl champions, and dinner with celebrities. She has gone bungee jumping in Arizona, saved a man's life in a restaurant in Florida, and gotten lost in Maine. Star has almost done it all.

"This lady has to be single then" you might be thinking. Not a chance. She has a loving husband of close to 25 years and two children whom are attending college. Photos of them and the rest of her family line the fridge and walls of her home.

How do they handle her being gone so much? "It's honestly just routine at this point," says her oldest son, a senior in college. "About once a month we will get a text with where she is headed that week. Usually Denver or Tampa, hard to feel bad for her down there when it's been a record breaking winter here." Do you even miss her at this point? "Of course we miss her. But at the same time, we are in college so her being in a different state doesn't affect us as much as it would've in highschool. That got rough sometimes, her not being able to make it to some stuff or be around to help out with homework. But God bless her she never missed a football game for either of us. Whatever it took, she'd be back for Friday night."

When you think about it, that is actually an insanely difficult feat to pull off. Six years of highschool football games (for an admittedly sub-par team) and through cancellations, weather delays, and a plethora of unforeseen circumstances, she never missed a Friday night where her children were playing. Her younger son weighed in on this too: "She's amazing. It's really that simple."

Star is a member of the platinum million miles club for Delta airlines. In short, she basically gets whatever she wants when she flies with them because she gives them so much business. She also has an ever increasing abundance of hotel loyalty points that she is more than willing to share with her friends and family. Her view on it being that there is no way she could use them all. "I sent my son and his girlfriend to New York to see a friend of his last year during spring break for essentially nothing. I love being able to do that," she says.

Star has some stories of her own that's for sure. She talks about a time where she was out with clients at a dinner in Tampa, Florida when a man at the table next to them began choking. Instinctively, she wrapped her arms around the man's midriff and performed a perfect Heimlich maneuver. Needless to say, they got that client's business.

At a recent Denver Nuggets game, she got to meet and take pictures with a current Denver Broncos player, Malik Jackson. Her son, a longtime, huge fan of the Broncos, was incredibly jealous. "I hear my phone buzz and see it's a pic from mom." he says, "Open it up and there she stands next to Malik. Not to mention she was in a luxury suite at an NBA game. Just another day in the office for her."

Seeing the Nuggets play might not be as cool to her as it is to her sons or husband, but the rest of Denver, and the whole of Colorado might make up for that. She has dined in the John Elway's restaurant, the premiere eatery in Denver. "It was just surreal to be sitting there, in Denver, in John Elway's restaurant. "I'd move to Colorado in a heartbeat. It's so beautiful there with the mountains."

Colorado isn't her favorite site to visit, however. "Maine is absolutely gorgeous. Everything about it is beautiful," Star says. She has a story about Maine too. She got lost there once. "I turned either either before or after the GPS told me to because it hadn't been updated yet for the construction on the road. I ended up 30 miles away from where I wanted to go in the mountains before I could finally turn around. It took me three hours to go 45 miles." Looking back now she laughs while telling it, but she admits it was very scary at the time.

Star has come to appreciate the cultures she has been exposed to as well. Even here in America, she has realized there are many different cultures and ways of life. "The food! Maine has some great lobster shops that I will never get to enjoy. I'm allergic to seafood unfortunately, but the South has great food. In Nogales, you're only 10 miles from the border of Mexico. Naturally, that is some of the best Mexican I've had."

Surely someone that travels so frequently has seen her fair share of celebrities around town? You betcha. Off the top of her head she can list Miley Cyrus, George Clooney, Julia Roberts, and Justin Bieber's mom. "I was in the Atlanta airport in a shop and I see this huge guy get off the escalator and stand there with his arms folded the way secret service does. The clerk says 'O, here come's Justin's mom. She's in here all the time with her bodyguard.'" Good to see that Star doesn't just know who Justin Bieber's mom is then. That'd be weird.

It takes a tole on her too though, all the traveling she does. "You effectively lose two days of your life out of every week. Hopping time zones means you don't really have a full day, especially when there are layovers and inclement weather." She has been sick on the road before and had to stay overnight one more time before she was fit to fly again. She has been part of emergency landings and day long cancellations. She had been delayed more times than she can even guess at, too. But through it all, she continues her travels; because she loves it.

Her job has opened an endless number of doors and has even given her the opportunity to live in a different country. She spent a year of her life living in Ireland before she could no longer stand to be away from her family, the bi monthly visits and long distance, extended phone calls just weren't cutting it anymore. So what did she do? "I brought them with me! I told the company move me back and have the branch fail or move my family to me." So the company did just that.

Now, with her kids in school away from home and her husband busy with the improving housing market and the middle of every hunting season imaginable, she has begun traveling a bit more frequently. "Soetimes I hate my job because I'm a manager and I have to fly down somewhere solely to reprimand or fire someone. But then I remember that this has presented me with so many opportunities. I can't imagine my life without it being classified as 'the life of a traveler'".

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Blog 6: Donald Sterling

Sterling; Silver: Unpolished

Recently, Donald Sterling, the owner of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers, was caught on tape making racist remarks. His mistress girlfriend (Sterling and his wife are long separated, not divorced) posted a picture to her Instagram account of her at a Clippers game with Magic Johnson. Johnson, a former NBA star famous for an abundance of things, is black. Here is where the trouble starts. 

In the tape, Sterling asks his girlfriend to "not bring blacks to my games. Don't take pictures with them and put them online. Do you have to be affiliated with them?" The tape continues in a similar manner with Sterling making it incredibly apparent that he is unhappy that his public girlfriend affiliates herself with people of color. Here's the kicker, the woman in this situation is HALF BLACK, HALF MEXICAN. Yeah, no Caucasian or "white" in her at all. Pot, meet kettle. 

In light of these events, the recently appointed new NBA commissioner Adam Silver was faced with his first major decision. How does the NBA handle this situation? If you do nothing, it gives the impression that you simply don't care about what was said, or worse that you as a league SUPPORT what was said. Being that the NBA is a majority black league, this cannot happen. 

On the other hand, if you as the NBA commissioner for Sterling out of ownership, you open a can of worms that needs be avoided. This route sets a precedent where anything anyone in the league has said, publicly or privately, is up for debate and able to come under scrutiny. So now, if an owner of one of the most valuable franchises in the sport can be forced out, nobody is safe. 

So what do you do?

Silver, in a bold statement of power and authority, banned Donald Sterling for life from all NBA activities. Can of worms: opened blown up. On top of the lifetime ban, sterling was fined $2.5 million - the maximum amount that can be fined per the NBA constitution. Admittedly, this is a drop in the bucket for someone with Sterling's wealth, but it was a necessity with whatever the punishment ended up being. Sterling was also strongly advised to sell the franchise. Valued at roughly $550 million, buyers - including people such as Oprah Winfrey and Floyd Mayweather - are already lining up at the chance to own this team, and the bidding war, if it happens, is expected to rise above $1billion. 

The majority of the country has praised Silver's actions. But a few analysts and fans have spotted the new issue: the precedent has been set, presuming the NBA governors (the owners in the NBA) get a 3/4 vote (expected to be unanimous 29-0), Sterling will be forced to sell. This means anyone can be forced out; nobody is safe. 

It is also interesting to note the absolute uproar that arose from these statements. While what I say next may ruffle some feathers, it's not untrue. This type of incident can't still cause problems. The guy is 80 years old, grew up in a time where segregation was still a thing, and was, in good likelihood, raised by racist parents. People are surprised by this? People are genuinely surprised he said something like this? Naturally, the man has a strong set of views deeply engrained in his mindset and thought process. It is true that racism needs to be vanquished, but it is an ongoing process, it cannot be done with just one foul sweep.

Sterling has practically lived in court throughout the majority of his adult life, so an appeal or lawsuit is very much expected to happen. This will prolong the process into a saga rather than an incident. It will be interesting to see how this develops in the future. 

Blog 5: "Live Tweet" from QUASH

On April 25th I attended the annual UNI QUASH event. Unfortunately, my phone died mid updates as the teams began to return. It was however, a great turnout for the event and they raised a lot of money for Alzheimer's research.