A Gift of Adventure

By Mona Malacane

Everyone loves and appreciates a thoughtful gift. When you put effort into choosing what the gift-receiver would truly enjoy, you’re giving someone something that they can cherish (hopefully) for many years to come. Perhaps this is why gift-giving is sometimes referred to as an art.

Being the ever-thoughtful couple that they are, Teresa and Nic recently decided to really embrace the challenge of giving a good gift. For Christmas last year they sought to gift memories rather than material items to their loved ones. “We had decided that this year for family and people that we were buying gifts for, we would do a bit more of buying experiences,” Teresa explained. “So for [Nic’s] parents, we bought them a paddle-boarding trip and we bought my god children passes to a nature preserve, things like that.” Little did she know that Nic had something very unique and special under the tree for her.

He had found a Groupon for a flying lesson at a local small airport. When she opened her present, she was a little confused and completely surprised. “I opened the card and had to read it twice and I was like … I’m going to fly a plane? …”

The answer was yes and on March 8th, the two drove up to Indy Sky Sports for the lesson. Because it was a flight lesson and not just a passenger ride, the flight instructor had to go through some specifics before they got up in the air – the ergonomics of the plane, the physics of flying, and some safety info. All pretty necessary stuff if you’re going to be gliding around above the ground in a plane that weighs a little more than 600 pounds soaking wet. And from takeoff to landing, Teresa was pretty much doing all of the flying with the instructor there for support. No really, Teresa literally taxied and lifted the plane into the air for takeoff, and centered the plane to the runway and brought it down to the ground for landing.

Twithplane

After takeoff when they had climbed to about a mile above ground, the instructor threw her a curveball. “When we got up to cruising

A side view of the small plane (Photo credit to Indy Sky Sports Website)

A side view of the small plane (Photo credit to Indy Sky Sports Website)

altitude, which was about 4700 feet, [the instructor] said, ‘one of the first things I like to do to instill a sense of confidence in my flight students is I tell them to cut the engines off …’ And I’m thinking to myself, well you’re in the plane too so you’re not going to tell me to just fall out of the sky.” With the engines off, the cabin was silent and for a few seconds they were just gliding through the air. And then the nose started to dip a little and things got a little dicey for a minute … But just as easily as the nose started to dip, it corrected and tilted up. “Essentially we were dolphin-ing through the air but there was no forward momentum other than what we picked up from flying up.”

The rest of the experience was equally as adrenaline-rushing and yet smoothly effortless. With a huge grin on her face, Teresa told me some of the amazing (and probably terrifying for the average person) tricks the instructor did with her like banking, 360s, and flying towards the sunset.

Tselfie

#aerialselfie

 

The instructor took over for some of more advanced tricks they tried, like the corkscrew rise. It is exactly like the name suggests, the plane was climbing at about 60 degrees in a spiral movement. Another advanced maneuver they tried was called astronaut training. “Basically what we did was we went straight up in the air with high acceleration and we were probably at about a 70 degree incline, so I felt like I was laying almost completely flat on my back … and when we got to the top of this ascension we dove straight down. It was like coming over a roller coaster.” Before the ascension, the instructor had handed Teresa a key chain and told her to throw it up in the air when she felt weightless to visually see the loss of gravity but she said that she didn’t need the key chain to feel it because she was already floating out of her seat.

Flying a small plane wasn’t something Teresa had really imagined herself doing before her birthday trip, and understandably so. Flying is kind of a rare and exceptional thing to do, usually reserved for professionals. “I had never thought that I would fly before, not because I didn’t think that I wouldn’t want to, but I just didn’t think it was an achievable thing.” Now that she has a taste for it? “I definitely want to fly again … I would say it’s probably not the last time I’m going to fly, it was really really cool.”

TgmaWhile she hadn’t given much thought to flying before March, T’s grandmother was actually a pilot in World War II. She flew both large and small cargo planes behind enemy lines and would drop supplies for soldiers on the ground. She said about her grandmother, “Growing up she used to always tell my grandfather, who was a paratroop ranger [during the war], that any monkey can jump out of a plane but it takes someone with real brains to fly one.” She sounds liked a real aerial Rosie the Riveter.

 

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Fifth Brown Bag of the Semester – April 3, 2015

 

Rachelle Pavelko, PhD Student, and Jessica Gall Myrick, Assistant Professor, Media School

That’s so OCD: The effects of disease trivialization via social media on user perceptions and impression formation

Informal discussions of mental illness take place every day in social media. In the case of obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), in particular, widespread use of the hashtag “#OCD” indicates that social media users often trivialize the disease. The present study used a 3 × 2 × 2 between-subjects fully factorial online experiment (N = 574, recruited from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform) to test the impact of trivialized framing of this disease on perceptions of social media users who employ such language, as well as on perceptions of people with OCD as a group. Additionally, this study tested the effects of the gender of the Twitter avatar and self-identification in the avatar biography as an individual with OCD on these perceptions. Three-way analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) assessed the impact of the manipulations (i.e., content frame, gender of the avatar, self-identification with OCD). Results indicate that language use, gender, and self-identification influence impression formation in a social media environment.

 

Teresa Lynch, PhD Student, Jessica Thompkins, PhD Student, Irene van Driel, PhD Student, and Niki Fritz, MA Student, Media School

 An analysis of female game characters over time

A well-documented gender imbalance exists in the professional and fan culture of video gaming. For instance, women comprised only 22% of employees in the video game industry in 2014 and women report frequent instances of sexual harassment when playing online games. Critics have argued that one consequence of this gender imbalance is that male interests have guided the creation of video game content for over two decades. This presentation will share the results of an analysis of in-game content from video games released between 1983 and 2014 (n = 571). Analyzing content over time allowed us to determine how closely patterns of female character portrayals align with recent feminist movements in the industry (e.g. #1reasonwhy). These findings complement earlier analyses of video games by examining variables such as sexualization over time and expand on previous work in this area by considering the in-game, playable character as a unit of analysis.

 

Lean, Mean, Kick-balling Machine

By Mona Malacane

Some graduate students fill their Thursday nights with grading, writing papers, reading articles, catching up on their DVR, or gathering at Crazy Horse. But Ashley Kraus, Glenna Read, and Teresa Lynch, have been spending their Thursday evenings a little differently lately … As the lean, mean, kick-balling machine of Telecom.

Formidable kickball athletes

Formidable kickball athletes.

This semester, Ashley (a kickball veteran), Glenna, and Teresa are playing for Team Swift Kick in the Grass, one of 12 kickball teams in a league organized by the Bloomington Adult Sports Club. The rest of their team is made up of other kickball enthusiasts from the Bloomington/Bedford area (including some SPEA students). So far, the crew has played four games, with a record of 2-2 – their most recent W is from last week’s game against the Alcohballics.

They all play different roles on the team and appreciate different aspects of the sport. Teresa plays infield at second base and switches with another team member as first base coach. If you know Teresa Lynch at all, you won’t be surprised to learn that her favorite aspect of the game is the competitiveness and kicking butt and calling names; she currently leads the team in “RKIs” (runs kicked in). Ashley covers the outfield and says that her strength is “avoiding getting on base.” Glenna handles the left center of the infield and her highlight of the season so far was catching the game-ending fly ball when they played against last year’s league champions, Derby Sanchez.

Team Swift Kick in the Grass after beating the Alcohballics 8-2

Team Swift Kick in the Grass after beating the Alcohballics 8-2.

But competition and winning aside, Teresa summed up their favorite part of playing kickball together quite nicely, “It’s fun getting together with people and doing something that isn’t school related and is not drinking … so often we just get together and go to bars. It’s nice doing something active.” I’m sure the Telecommandos, FC Telecom, and the Telecom running group would all echo this statement.

Although I’m not part of any Telecom intramural teams and therefore can’t speak from that experience, I still think it’s great to feel camaraderie with your colleagues both on a field and in the building – a feeling that I think we foster pretty well in our department. Because in the end (yes, I’m going to use the trite saying), it’s all about having fun.

Their team motto: “Sometimes we win … sometimes we lose … but we always have fun … unless we don’t …”

So if you want to go and support Ashley, Glenna, and Teresa, and the rest of Team Swift Kick in the Grass at Olcott Field, they would love cheerleaders! They only have two games left in the regular season (schedule available here) so go out and cheer them on into the playoffs!

Go to a game, you know you want to.

Go to a game, you know you want to.

Sine Qua Nonsense

The Halloween Report

Isaac and the roasted pig (photo courtesy of Alicia Eckert).

Isaac and the roasted pig (photo courtesy of Alicia Eckert).

Halloween may officially be tomorrow, but the Telecom costume party took place last weekend. Rachel Bailey hosted the shindig. Isaac Knowles and his friend John Killian, a professional chef, roasted a pig, decapitated it and placed its head on a spike for all to see and fear.

The costumes varied wildly, but I believe they were all meant to convey subliminal messages. Teresa Lynch, for example, dressed as Executioner Miralda, a character from the video game Demon’s Souls. This is her attempt to promote the death penalty, especially by beheading. The bodiless pig’s head drove her point home.

Dustin as Captain Morgan (Photo Courtesy of Michelle Funk).

Dustin as Captain Morgan (Photo Courtesy of Michelle Funk).

While Dustin Ritchea, Mona Malacane and Yongwoog Jeon wore very different costumes, their underlying message was the same. Dustin as Captain Morgan, Yongwoog as Sherlock Holmes, and Mona as the government shutdown were embodiments of the libertarian worldview. Less government is better. Private citizens like Captain Morgan could do a better job roaming the high seas than taxpayer-mooching Navy SEALs. The best detective in literary history was a private investigator, solving the crimes the inept official police couldn’t. And again, the main course helped convey the message that if Telecom students can cut the pork, so can Congress!

Nancy Tyree dressed as a bearded artist. Her boyfriend Jon was a canvass. They brought markers and encouraged others to draw on the canvass. Just like Tom Sawyer got his friends to paint a fence, Nancy got her own friends to do her job for her. I believe she was trying to teach us to delegate authority – if you’re smart enough to get others to do what you’re supposed to do, you aren’t being lazy.

Yongwoog as Sherlock Holmes and Michelle as an alien (photo courtesy of Michelle Funk).

Yongwoog as Sherlock Holmes and Michelle as an alien (photo courtesy of Michelle Funk).

Irene Van Driel and Mariska Kleemans brought a taste of the Netherlands to the party. They wore orange wigs and red, white and blue clothes. Orange is the Dutch national color, and red, white and blue are the colors on the Dutch national flag. This was a veiled attack on American Exceptionalism. They tried to subliminally remind us that the flag of the United States is not unique in its choice of colors, which it shares with about 30 other countries. This was also a pro-monarchist, pro-House of Orange message. They may be planning to topple our government.

Edo as the High Road (photo courtesy of Michelle Funk).

Edo as the High Road (photo courtesy of Michelle Funk).

Dan Levy promoted peace and tranquility as The Dude from “The Big Lebowski”. He wore a blond wig and a bathrobe. He also walked around with an empty carton of half and half. That carton really tied the costume together.

I conveyed my own message to the world, as well. I wore yellow and white stripes, a hippie vest, an Interstate sign and buttons with the peace sign, psychedelic colors and the word “love”. I also held a comically large joint with fake marijuana made out of green pompoms. I was “the high road”. Get it? Oh, you had to be there.

And no, my subliminal message had nothing to do with drug legalization. I was trying to promote the use of puns while raising awareness of the flimsiness of our nation’s infrastructure.

sine_qua_nonsense

Good Luck, Teresa Lynch!

By Edo Steinberg

Last week we welcomed Mona to the blog, but we never bid her predecessor, Teresa Lynch, a proper farewell. On second thought, “farewell” may not be the best term, since she is still very much a part of the department. Teresa is now finishing up her MA thesis and starting her first year as a Ph.D. student. Over summer Teresa decided to leave the blog in order to teach. That was probably a smart decision, because she is teaching her own class this semester, rather than serving as an AI. In T340: Electronic Media Advertising she’s her own boss. She will definitely do a great job as instructor of record.

Teresa was an excellent partner to have on the blog. During story meetings, we would often discuss silly ideas we would never really put on the blog, with each person adding more layers of ridiculousness. Her deadpan sense of humor will be missed. She was also always willing to help with everything from technical difficulties to (real) story ideas.

Her influence on the blog lives on even after leaving the team. As a professional graphic designer, she is responsible for the look of the blog, which she redesigned when she joined the team a year ago. She designed the superb “Sine Qua Nonsense” logo, as well. She was also the driving force behind last year’s successful photo contest, where graduate students were asked to submit pictures of grad life and life in Bloomington.

Teresa said she has full confidence in Mona as her successor. She trusts Mona will do a great job on the blog.

So, we’re not saying farewell to Teresa, we’re saying good luck with whatever comes next!

It’s a Trav-IGANZA

by Ken Rosenberg

“I have always enjoyed Halloween and dressing up, the whole role-play aspect of it,” said Travis Ross, PhD student and party-throwing master. “Growing up, I was into D&D and that kind of stuff, so the idea of getting to put on a costume – to make a costume – it’s all really fun. So, to have an excuse to do that, I decided to start hosting Halloween parties.” With his wife, Emily, on board, Travis had his first party in 2007, the first year of his PhD program.

Things started out small but, over the past few years, Travis’ Halloween party has become a staple of graduate social life. There used to be competing parties; some people left early. Now, “we’ve earned our place,” Travis said. Word of mouth and a years-long reputation have made the party an unofficial Telecom event for grad students.

Graduate student Steve Burns and his wife have attended every party, as have Steve’s sister and her husband—who drive from Michigan to Bloomington every year. “It’s extremely flattering.” Travis said. “That sort of stuff makes my day. The fact that people would drive from Michigan for my party, it’s cool. Since they’re driving all that way, though, I don’t want to disappoint them.” Travis and Emily have been hosting for 40-plus people the last three parties. Surely, Steve, his sister, and everyone else have a great time.

The night before each party, friend and colleague Matt Falk comes over to the house to help prepare. “I always say to Matt, there are three things that make a party good: lighting, lots of people, and music. “I’m a big proponent of lighting,” Travis said. “If you want to have a good party, you should have good lighting, and so we’ve accumulated tons of strip lights for the party, as well as different colored light bulbs.” Travis enjoys selecting music and making playlists for himself and others, and the party is a great way to share his passion. Though he now uses a computer, Travis has had turntables for several years and used to play DJ with them. “Emily has always been helpful,” he said, “and we’ve collected more and more decorations each year.”

Of course, since it’s a Halloween party, there is another oft-unspoken prerequisite: costumes! Plenty of people get costumes just to attend Travis’ party. “That’s cool,” Travis said. “I make mine just to go to my party, too.” He has gone as a Rubik’s cube and Jack Skellington (from The Nightmare Before Christmas) and, this year, he’s going as the prodigal son of Gallifrey.

The scariest costume, without contest, belongs to Teresa.

“She wasn’t in the department at the time and a lot of people didn’t know who she was,” Travis said. Quickly, she made an impression. She dressed up as a nurse from the horror video game Silent Hill (as seen in the photos) and it “scared the crap out of a lot of people that year,” Travis said. “She would just stand next to people and stare at them. It was so scary, it was downright terrifying. She had a mask, so you couldn’t see her – and it looked like human hair. Creepy, creepy stuff.”

“Nic and Teresa always have great costumes, though,” Travis said. Last year, they went as Margo and Richie Tenenbaum .

The scariest music? Well …

“Every year, Bridget Rubenking always requests the worst songs, at the worst times – and then demands that I play them. And so, I play them. Sometimes, they’re okay but, sometimes, it’s the most inappropriate song at the most inappropriate times – which is, was, a good thing for the Halloween party. I guess we won’t have that this year.”

“The new class seems like they’re excited about it, so I hope it works,” Travis said.

“Every year,” he said, “I think about whether or not we’re going to have enough people. I think there’s a threshold of people that makes it feel like a party. If you don’t have that, it’s not crazy enough. I always want that. Every year I worry – except this year.” Right now, Travis is working on his dissertation. “I haven’t really worried at all,” he said. “I hope people hear about it, because of the reputation and the fact that it should, hopefully, have its own legs by now.”

“There’s a lot of buildup for me,” Travis said, “because I enjoy planning and, now, I’ve got a system in place. I think my favorite parts are getting ready for it and setting up. The party itself is great. I enjoy DJi-ing. It flies by, it happens so fast. Then, the next morning – well, everybody’s been helping with cleanup the last few years, so it’s great, too. There are a couple of spots on the floor, but that’s about it and they’re totally worth it.”

His advice: “Have as much fun with it as you can, because Halloween only comes once a year and it’s a great excuse to let go – not in the sense of losing control, but of letting your barriers down to meet people. Let yourself have a good time. Laugh, and dance – and dance! Every year, I work so hard to get people dancing.”

“I hope that people in the department can get to know each other better,” Travis said, “and reflect on having a good time spent together. I know people are already doing that on their own, but I think that this is a great opportunity to get everybody together and just have an event we can all enjoy.”

The sixth annual Spooky-Scary Halloween Costume and Dance Em ‘N’ Trav-IGANZA will be on October 26.

Georgia on Their Minds

by Ken Rosenberg

When most people hear the song “Georgia on My Mind,” they are very likely to think of Ray Charles’ 1960 rendition but, actually, the song was composed by Howard Hoagland “Hoagy” Carmichael, 30 years earlier. Hoagy played piano and his jazz-influenced pop songs have placed him in the annals of music history. He was a Bloomington native and a graduate of Indiana University, where he studied law. In memory of her beloved son, Bloomington hosts a plaque downtown, as well as a statue next to the IU Auditorium, complete with piano. So, whenever you pass by the bronzed figure of a man intimately playing at the keys and wondered about his story, now you know: Hoagy was a man with great talent – and had a sister named Georgia. His co-author, Stuart Gorrell, wrote the lyrics (Hoagy composed the music) for Carmichael’s sister but, to the public, the ambiguous lyrics quickly linked the sweet sentiments to the state, as well.  In fact it is now the official state song of the state of Georgia.

Telecom building overlooks Hoagy’s statue. This is fitting, as our cohort most certainly has Georgia on their minds. Hundreds of miles away from the state of Georgia, four grad students cheer for the Bulldogs: Teresa Lynch, Mona Malacane, Nic Matthews, and Sade Oshinubi. They have a rare bond, borne of a common set of backgrounds and cultural references. I sat down for some roundtable reminiscing last week with Mona, Nic, and Teresa (and a follow-up phone call to Sade), in order to understand just what their home state means to them.

Mona and Sade are both taking T501 this semester and, during the requisite round of first-class introductions, Sade perked up when she heard that Mona had arrived from the University of Georgia (UGA).  “I remember sitting there,” Sade said. “I couldn’t wait to talk to her about it.” Mona, like Sade before her, was about to find out what it means to be a fellow Georgian at IU. Sade’s sister went to the same college as Teresa, Armstrong Atlantic State University – a small institution of about 3,500 students – and, in Teresa’s experience, “I don’t know anybody outside of Savannah that knows about that college,” she said. Mona got her degree only twenty minutes drive from where Teresa and Nic grew up.

In the beginning many grad students try to return home for each break, “but the longer you’re away,” Nic said, “you realize it’s just not possible. You have to get this new group to share your successes with, because the phone can only do so much.” Every student who moves away from home must adopt a new social circle, but it helps to have friends who know about what things were like ‘back home’ because “there’s this weird disconnect in leaving and coming here, then meeting all these people,” Teresa said. “They’re from all over the world … and that’s great, and it’s an incredible experience but, at the same time, it’s really awesome to get to meet people from a similar area, that get you in that way. You can make references to places that you’ve been, or things that you’ve experienced that are similar.”

(For the full discussion between three-fourths of the cohort that “bleed red and black,” click here: On Georgia: Mona, Nic, and Teresa.)

clockwise, from top left: Nic, Teresa, Mona, and “Hoagy” Carmichael (pictured here in statue form)

What is referenced most often? Sports, since the whole state is apparently dubbed ‘Bulldog Nation’ and everyone – regardless of the school they went to – hangs a flag to honor the University of Georgia’s football team. “I do miss the solidarity of game days,” Mona said. “Those were so much fun; it was a sea of red and black. But, when you’re away from that … where everyone is a Georgia fan – and then you find fans when you move eight, thirteen hours away, it brings back that solidarity. You feel like you’re part of the group, still. It’s pretty great.” Teresa is not a UGA alum, but she still roots for the Bulldogs. According to Nic, “all of Georgia is called ‘the Bulldog Nation.’ It’s everywhere, anywhere you go. On their porch, everybody has a Georgia flag. It’s crazy.”

Besides rooting for the home team, Georgia denizens identify much more with their local background. “I don’t really think of the state as being where I’m from,” Nic said. “I think of Athens and Savannah, because Georgia to me, I think ’Oh, yeah. Sixteen electoral votes …’ Georgia, to me, it’s just a name and a state. It’s the cities that I really think of, because those – that’s what defined me. Where you stay, and who you stay with.”  It is only the tourists who try to unify Georgia’s essence into a feature-defined buzz word. Many have called Atlanta “Hotlanta,” based on an old marketing campaign. (For the record, when you visit: don’t do that.) While those people were wrong to use the pointless amalgam of words, they were right to choose the word “hot” as a primary component.

“If there’s one thing I don’t miss, it’s the weather,” Mona said. “I love Bloomington. The weather here is incredible. I’m wearing a sweater at the end of September – this is awesome.”

“It’s still beach weather, down in Georgia,” Teresa replied. Weather in the south is “one temperature, one humidity, all the time,” she said. “Bloomington is a beautiful place to be outdoors.”

“Talking about home kind of makes me miss it,” Mona said, “but I do not miss that weather. I only applied to schools that were far enough north that they would get me the heck out of that humidity and heat.” Mona equates walking outside to stepping into a sauna – while placing a hot, wet towel over one’s mouth.

“There are parts of the day where you just don’t go outside,” Teresa said. Mona explained that, during the worst months, the pollen and heat indexes are broadcast every ten minutes.

Another “weather” phenomenon: love bug season. “Yeah, that’s its own season,” Nic said.

Despite the harsh climate, there is still plenty to love about Georgia. “Food is a bigger deal,” Nic said. “It just is.” Fortunately, he and his wife both enjoy cooking. “I love to make southern food,” Teresa said, “and, so far, any time I’ve made southern food for people up here, they love it.” Sade loves when people cook good soul food, and even considers that one of Georgia’s best , most defining features. “I could be anywhere at any time,” Sade said, “and the people I was with would always have good food.” This includes cornbread and greens, as well as a dish that both she and Nic made a point to mention:

As they lived near the coast, Nic and Teresa fondly recall the freshness of catch-of-the-day seafood, as well as the lifestyle afforded by a coastline’s beaches. While Teresa misses the live oaks, Mona misses the ‘tree that owns itself’ (seriously, look it up). Mona is more interested in the facts and stories that surround historic locations – like presidents’ houses and Civil War-era landmarks – while Teresa is more enamored by the macabre tone set by Georgia’s plethora of cemeteries. Sade, on the other hand, misses downtown Atlanta and the culture of its museums, art galleries, and music festivals.

Beyond the cultural trappings, though, “I think there’s kind of a similar hospitality to people, in the Midwest,” Teresa said. The Georgia natives stated that it was difficult to decipher the demeanor of Hoosiers, but that the town now feels like a modern and welcoming place. That new feeling of home, while never quite the same, is part of what makes it possible for people to make it through grad school in a sane, emotionally fulfilled fashion. It’s what unites our whole cohort as a family that, while from many different states and countries, will always have a little peace – with (yup, you guessed it) Georgia on its mind.

Play on, Hoagy.