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Portfolio & Reflection

Portfolio and Final Reflection

Unit 1 Education narrative

I decided that I wouldn’t change anything. I had done the revision before and established then that there wasn’t anything that I figured needed to be added/removed. I feel like I adequately expressed myself and my views as I needed to. It also took the kind of tone that I wanted to see in it as I would reminisce about my time throughout school. Thinking about it was kind of bittersweet. Also, the time I did revise something for the final draft, I did really only change a single word which I thought was a bit funny if you ask me.

Is mediocrity a bad thing? Is accepting mediocrity a bad thing? Throughout our lives we are always trying to do our best to get something that we want. I feel like this was especially true for many when it came to their time in school. To me I feel that generally you do not need to go out of your way though, especially with school (unless of course you have some really big career plans down the line). I believe it is acceptable because I have been in the same position before, and to me, keeping in the middle ground is not such a bad thing. Above all that, I also learned that there are some things you can’t change no matter how hard you try.

I have been on both sides of the equation and it has let me understand what both sides offer you at the very least. From as early as 1st grade up until 8th grade I had held the top position of the class for the sake of making my parents and myself proud. I was always on top of my assignments and while my friends goofed around in class I was attentive and ignorant of the kind of distractions that would either get me in trouble or hinder my progress. Years in and by around 6th grade I had noticed that I wasn’t even trying to do well yet I was still just a model student. I began to notice how much freedom I truly had to do what I wanted. Things got a little complicated going forward especially in 8th grade, but that’s another point to be made. After a while of me easing up it began to be a normal thing and I subconsciously dropped myself down in standing as it is still to be expected. It included my lowest point academically and my climb back to an acceptable level with me emerging as I am today. In it all I have learned a few things. From my years of trying my best, I would only impress the teachers, other students on an academic level, and my parents. To anyone that exists out of that spectrum they see me as just me, unless of course the me they see is some sort of doctor, engineer, rocket scientist, etc. I never had those intentions with a career anyway so it was pointless to go beyond what I’m capable of at a comfortable level.

My biggest take away in all my academic years so far has been how much not trying as hard made part of my life that much better. I was aware of positions like honor roll and Valedictorian/Salutatorian, but those things kind of fell away from me. Instead of working my way (at least I still got honor roll) towards the higher positions, Instead I used my time to hang out with friends and generally mess around. I have so many fond memories in high school from playing sports with my friends, walking around Manhattan, playing video games with them, and generally just living in the moment. My father always used to say to live the present too and though it is a one track mindset I can agree. For what it is that I want to be (a programmer to make video games) studying and focusing on work primarily would have meant I didn’t have the kinds of experiences that I had in the past few years. Trying to do your best kind of makes you miss out on some of the simpler things at the moment. Of course for some people they can’t afford to do that and it’s understandable, but for those who can, I see no reason why if you can help it.

The thing is, it isn’t an innate lack of motivation to try that alone led me the path that I have traveled to reach this point. A lot of it was circumstantial and has led me to my third point. You just can’t change some things. My lowest points came in the period of 8th to 9th grade. For that I have to blame my home situation. It pretty much became such a toxic environment for me and I couldn’t simply focus on school, I had given myself an escape in video games at first mostly as 8th grade didn’t give me many other options than go to school then go home since it was a few blocks away. It wasn’t until 9th grade that I could just roam Manhattan with a friend of mine if I didn’t just cut school to stay in my room and play games feigning sickness. By 10th I moved out to my eldest sister in Long Island where I could start anew. I actually tried again contrary to what I have been saying, sitting with a 3.5 gpa. I even got a part time job and still I had time for things like video games. It was great until due to unfortunate circumstances I found myself back in the apartment that I had moved from initially to escape and it was somehow worse. I had to transfer back to my old high school and all, but something had happened that just shattered my state of being. My hard work was all washed away to just show transfer credits, in fact I got to take back my old GPA with attendance and all from 9th grade (the beauty that is the New York City DOE). It was a huge blow, but at that point I became numb to it because I realized then that it didn’t matter because I could do nothing about it. From there on I simply went with the motions of normality where in my last 2 and a half years (I transferred halfway into 10th grade) it ended up being some of the best years I have consciously had. Sometimes life is just unfair and you can’t do anything about it. The best you can do is tough it out and make the most of things. In my case, the friends and the time that I had on hand was what I made the most of and I don’t regret the attention I gave towards them rather than my academic life.

Accepting mediocrity rather than going out of your way for being exceptional is acceptable. Having experienced all spectrums of what you could be academically I have realized that mediocre stands to be my favored point and even the most desirable if life has it out for you. Because nothing stings more than to lose what you worked so hard for to something you had no control over. So what is it to take away from this? If you want to be known by many and achieve your biggest of dreams then ignore this. This wouldn’t apply to you rather than just give you the satisfaction of having read this. For everyone else, you can’t win everything. If you know what you want and you are prepared and able to do what you need to do, then just do that. Nothing more and nothing less.

Unit 2 Annotated bibliography

For this one I will be changing one somewhat small thing. However, I’d like to say that this time it’s due to time constraints and that’s me being brutally honest. Getting the research and putting it together in a manner that doesn’t just feel slapped together was already a task in itself given the time that I had to finish it. With this being said, I’m changing up my question to include that of space exploration. It was something that I realized and wasn’t sure I wanted to adjust when I got into the research. Space exploration is a big precursor to space colonization by quite a huge margin. It is also the case since I happen to mention space exploration a lot more.

Question: “is it responsible for the US to pour a significant amount of money into space exploration/colonization?”

Introduction:

As we move forward, we advance in technology and as a civilization. This progression involves us in trying to achieve even greater feats than what we have already accomplished as a society. One of the things heavily considered to be an amazing feat of humanity is achieving space travel. It was and still is considered to be humanity’s next step in advancing. There are scientists who work really hard to help bring humanity to new heights by bringing us closer to understanding outer space and finding ways to reach even further out from our planet. An idea that has intrigued me and one that I’m confident is an objective for many of those scientists whom I referred to is the idea of space colonization. It seems like such a Sci-Fi like concept, but it is something that would bring humanity to a much more advanced point then it is now and it would solve our problems regarding the planet’s ability to sustain 7 billion of us. I wonder why it is that we haven’t heard nearly as much about getting closer to that goal besides maybe the recent rover landing on Mars. It then makes me wonder how much effort is actually given to the purpose of furthering our advancement into space. Now we already know that the U.S has its own space program NASA that is responsible for the country’s space expenditures. Like all of the United States’ assets, everything has a budget and I wonder how much of government spending goes towards NASA. Now I’m not saying that I think that the U.S isn’t pouring as much money as they should be into NASA, but rather what if they would pour more money into NASA for the purpose of furthering space exploration and in turn reaching the point of space colonization. That is my question, “would it be responsible for the U.S to pour a significant amount of money into space exploration/colonization?” While searching for a reasonable answer to this I expect to find things such as the U.S’ budgeting and how much goes towards NASA, and how far we currently are in the ways of space exploration. I’m quite curious how far we truly have gotten to spreading humanity past just this planet.

Source 1: Richard S. Conley and Wendy Whitman Cobb (September 2010) “The Perils of Presidential Leadership on Space Policy: The Politics of Congressional Budgeting for NASA, 1958-2008”

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1642810

In this research paper, they explore what it is that limits NASA’s budgeting and their space policies. Multiple factors go into the budget for NASA such as the president’s position on space programs, members of congress and their positions, and NASA’s own history of endeavors. Though there was a lot of support for NASA during the APOLLO era, since then it has essentially become a side objective compared to pretty much every political standpoint. While the coming president’s continue to put objectives of space exploration to the side, it lessens the attention that the people give to it as well while letting those in congress want to cut the government budget at points to target NASA. Other reasons include the nature of NASA as an agency being almost stand alone with no major group of interest behind them. Because of these kinds of circumstances, NASA has been cut billions out of their annual financial requests.

In all honesty, I pretty much expected the case to be a lot like this. At least, I had pictured that part of the reason why they probably don’t get as much of a budget for various endeavors of space exploration. However, I wouldn’t think that they would have billions cut out of what they would normally receive. This paper opened my eyes a bit to the larger issue at hand. I figured that more domestic issues might find themselves center and drawing funds, but the capacity by which it affects the president’s actions, that of congress’, and the people’s view is interesting to say the least. When you really consider it, it does make perfect sense that this is the way that things are.

This paper was written in conjunction by an Associate Professor and PHD candidate from the University of Florida. According to a caption also present at the start, this was prepared for the American Political Science Association Conference in Washington D.C. For that reason their presentation was very formal. This conference is meant to support scholars by presenting an environment by which they can present their work. For this case a paper breaking down the issue of presidential influence on space policy with each main case and point sectioned off accomplishes their objective quite directly. These 2 handled the paper in a very informative and explicit manner even in small things such as citing every quote verbatim that comes up during their analysis.

Source 2: Stephen Petranek (March 2015) “Your kids might live on Mars. Here’s how they’ll survive.” https://www.ted.com/talks/stephen_petranek_your_kids_might_live_on_mars_here_s_how_they_ll_survive?language=en

In this presentation, Journalist Stephen Petranek explains how life on Mars would be possible and how soon we may actually be able to accomplish living there. Thanks to various tools and theories created by the likes of NASA and many other individuals, we solve some of the issues that we thought may be impossible for us to overcome on a planet such as Mars. These issues include our basic necessities required for Living. As it turns out our needs for food, water, clothing, shelter, and air are all covered to some large extent by those tools and theories that I mentioned. There is a CO2 to O2 converter created by a scientist at MIT, a dehumidifier tool to turn the extremely yet surprisingly humid atmosphere of Mars into drinkable water, a space suit created by another MIT scientist to block radiation and keep you warm enough for Mars like temperatures, shelter in the form of pressurized buildings and landers (I assume they mean the space shuttles to carry people there initially) or underground settlements, and dried food plus whatever crops to be planted during the process of terraforming/making Mars more like Earth. On that note terraforming according to what is mentioned is possible with all the ice that was actually found underneath the surface. The biggest issue in it all is the means by which we would get to Mars as that has been the biggest issue thus far. However, with the likes of Elon Musk with his company SpaceX we may be seeing a breakthrough (Elon Musk says people will be on Mars by 2025 according to Petranek).

I was so pleasantly surprised to see that this much was done in the way of preparing for colonization on Mars, especially since that is our target for creating sustainable life on another planet. This particular presentation was one I decided to use as a source for the added proof that there is viability to colonizing another planet and as it would show, it is more than likely possible. It seems that the big thing to worry about now is how an individual would be able to make it to Mars. That is why there is still time and money to be invested into the likes of NASA and SpaceX.

Stephen Petranek is a lead editor of the Breakthrough Technology Alert, a newsletter that introduces scientific breakthroughs and investment opportunities in them. He has also had a book “How We’ll Live on Mars” published through TED books the same year as well as having given another TED Talk presentation 12 years before. He is obviously experienced enough on the matter to speak on it and it shows in the presentation. He does well to prove his point that it is more than possible for humans to be on Mars by covering each point of viability with extreme detail. He even says that he has spoken with Elon Musk for the purpose of showing how ambitious he is and how confident our progress will be. It is executed in such a light yet informative matter that would keep both the average viewer and endowed scientist/researcher entertained.

Source 3: Michael D. Griffin “Space Exploration: Real Reasons and Acceptable Reasons”

https://www.nasa.gov/pdf/168084main_griffin_quasar_award.pdf

This was a speech given by Micheal D. Griffin, an administrator at NASA after receiving the Quasar award. He speaks on the urgent matter of why the people still support NASA and endeavors in space. These reasons as he explains them are either “acceptable reasons” or “real reasons”. As far as the acceptable reasons go, there is what he quotes from President George W. Bush, “The President, quite correctly said that we do it for purposes of scientific discovery, economic benefit, and national security.” He also brings up what was said by Presidential Science Advisor Jack Marburger which is that space exploration comes down to “…whether or not we want to bring the solar system within mankind’s sphere of economic influence”. These “acceptable reasons” are the more logical ones to bring up when considering the reasons for space exploration. The “real reasons” are those by which we would want to see advancements in space exploration. Reasons such as seeing an actual person rather than a drone sent out to experience something out there in space as a representative for all of humankind. These kinds of reasons can be described as those of competitiveness, curiosity, and monument building. There is also the point that in addressing the real reasons, we actually satisfy the acceptable reasons in the process. One great example being those that built the cathedrals hundreds of years ago. They did it for accomplishment yet it made way for things of engineering and societal benefits. NASA according to Griffin would accomplish more than just advancing technologies of space exploration and satisfying human curiosity/accomplishment.

In all of the research so far finding reasons for why space exploration is necessary was key to bring it all together. After searching and finding this I have to say, it is far less than I would imagine. While there is a list of reasons you can make the case of needing to expand our progress of space exploration, they would be somewhat redundant and avoid the reason like Griffin explains, because it would satisfy our curiosities and senses of accomplishment. It makes sense though. It is what I was thinking before I started this research. I resonated a lot with what Griffin was saying in this speech. I feel like we all support NASA without knowing much of what they’re even doing and who knows how much that will actually hold up. This is especially when you consider it includes those that have to make the decisions on how much is focused on NASA as far as funding goes. Overall, this was quite the satisfying piece to come across in my research.

As far as credentials go, it speaks for itself that he is both an administrator at NASA and receiving an award. This speech, then is done for the purpose of uplifting those gathered for this occasion. While everyone is gathered like that he takes it as an opportunity to address NASA’s purpose to the people and why they support it. The points that he makes about the reasons they continue to work towards advancing technologies for the purpose of space exploration are interesting in content. It is especially interesting and effective how he uses pathos as both an appeal to his audience in the moment as well as the major point of his speech.

Conclusion:

This research has been quite the experience. It was difficult finding exactly what I thought I needed to fully explore my question and I am satisfied with the results of it. Through it I have gotten an idea of what kind of process goes when the U.S government wants to budget their agencies and the scenario that NASA finds itself in. From the second source I learned how viable colonization is at this point to prove whether or not it is still reasonable to point a substantial amount of effort towards pushing space exploration technology. Surprisingly, we are a lot closer to the point where it could actually happen then I thought that we would be. And from the last source I was searching for concrete reasoning as to why it was necessary to back these efforts. While it isn’t some heavy research piece on those reasons, I find it to be just as effective in doing so. It touches base with logical reasons as to why, but finds the true reason for it to be on a more emotional level. I think that’s perfect though because when you trace the logic behind supporting efforts such as NASA back to the core, it has to do with what satisfies the people of this country. They influence the political climate and therefore would affect how much the government puts towards an agency like NASA. With all this being said, who should be the ones that receive this information? To that I believe that it should be your average person. It could have been something that I directed in a more statistical and informative way, but it would change my intention and audience. My question is one that I formulated with the intention of satisfying the curiosity of the matter. To that extent I feel that your average person going about their life could scroll through their social media and come across this showing mutual interest. After all, if this were to go beyond just being something people see and forget about immediately, it could be something that influences (like I mentioned) the political climate as something the people want. I think overall that what I found was more than sufficient to answer my question.

Unit 3 Writing in a new genre

First off, If something were to change for this unit’s piece it would have to be me actually making the commentary video. I’ve come really far into the semester and it feels unfortunate to trip up here at the end, but the framework is what I’ll put out to show that I have still given thought to the process. In the video, I was considering what I would have in the background while I speak. In the videos I watch, I normally see a video game being played. That is mostly because of the people that I watch specifically, but it could be random clips and gifs on top of I guess a game that could be universally appealing. Something that you would just look at mindlessly while you actually pay attention to the argument, so not a flashy kind of game. Of course I would keep the tone a lot more light as to keep it casual. When writing out a script or some sort of general guideline for myself, I would probably try to leave parts in where I could go on a mini rant based off of something that I brought up that wasn’t immediately present in the research I did. Lastly, I was thinking it would go exactly in order with my sources because I figured explaining the logistics of budgeting for a space program like NASA, the viability of actually colonizing Mars, and why we would actually want to do it, all in that order. It seems like it would flow well for a continuous rant from the way I see.

Before I began:

I tend to watch a lot of commentary videos on youtube and I like to be pretty open minded. I remember hearing someone talk about how interesting it would be if we actually managed to colonize Mars. These kinds of videos are always nice to listen to because it’s almost relaxing. I would imagine it’s like the lesser version of a podcast where the rant is isolated to just one topic rather than the speaker going on tangents. I honestly do that instead of podcasts for the sake of time, but I digress. I always had a fascination for space though, and listening to the video I wondered why we haven’t already gotten further in the ways of space travel. There could be any amount of things holding us back from actually making any breakthroughs, I just never went out of my way to figure out what those kinds of things are.

When we began unit 2 I was already aware of the kind of question that I wanted to ask. If I was going to research something, it had to be about space colonization and whether or not it was actually possible. At least if I didn’t ask that directly it would be something that allowed me to still find the answer to that. For this project I would want to hold people’s interests. I want to give people something to think about when they hear the points that I make. People could agree, disagree, question me, and be shocked with the things that I bring up. That is why the target audience in this case would be your average person/viewer. They could be on Youtube or on social media and see my case being made. And just like me before, they could click on the video and see what it is I have to say. Then they can take that information with them however they want, but I just want it to be interesting and to make people wonder. If it wasn’t clear, I would like to make a commentary video of my own for people to see. I envision it being somewhere around the 5-6 minute mark, maybe even longer depending on any particular rant I would come to. Based on the research that I’ve done, the video would touch bases with ethos, pathos, and logos with almost each of my sources resonating with one of them respectively (interestingly enough). Given my intention I see no better way to cover my topic than in a short commentary video, especially with how familiar I am with them. I would honestly just want to get people to think about the wonder of space and how close we are to it.

Doing the project: N/A

Now that it’s done: N/A

The Final Reflection

This has probably been my toughest semester out of the two that I’ve gone through thus far. I had a lot on my plate compared to last semester and time was a lot harder to manage than I could have ever imagined it to be. It was comparably easy at the start of the semester as I wasn’t as occupied with anything besides my other classes at the time. I made it an effort to stay on top of everything as it came, but exhaustion hit really soon, about halfway into the semester and I was just struggling to keep up. I wouldn’t say that I am regretful of anything that I put out (besides the lack of a finished unit 3 assignment).

In terms of content over the semester there are a few things to mention. I honestly found just two assignments particularly interesting. There was the “Like vs Love” assignment and the time we had to watch the norwegian prison video plus the video essay on abandoned facilities and their documentation. The first one was really something else because I found myself actually getting a bit worked up over it for the strangest reason. Well I’m sure it was whatever mood I found myself in when I was doing it, but I just did not agree with what I was reading at all. I remembered thinking, funny enough, that this writer was not fit to be writing opinion pieces like that. I know I definitely got a bit cynical in my response, but I’m not sure if it really came off like that. Looking back at it, I just think that it was sort of funny. As for the other case, I was just dumbfounded by the excerpt of the documentary covering Norwegian prisons. I couldn’t imagine that prison could be anything different than what it is like here in the U.S. In fact, I thought that the video was satire and that we were looking at it as an example of something you could do as a statement for an argument you were trying to make. Other than those the content was average, the kind that I expected to read and respond to.

Our interactions in class however I actually enjoyed in its entirety. I didn’t speak up as much as I would as the conversations were very guided by the questions at times and I personally think it took away from what I guess I would see as a thorough discussion. Speaking with other students was interesting to say the least though. Since we are in an online environment I can see why people feel like they don’t really need to get involved because they aren’t really “there” for class. The breakout rooms were usually just a conversation between two or three of us while everyone else sat silent. Peer review on the other hand was something that I basically did not get to experience. My first partner did not follow up to review my Education Narrative and I’m not sure I remember them posting theirs either. I also didn’t get my Annotated Bibliography in before anyone would be able to review it themselves. Overall, I can’t say that the online environment is really thriving with interaction, but the time I did have to do so was enjoyable.

I would have to say that over the course of this semester that my thought process that goes into writing has not really changed at all. Like I mentioned in “Response to ‘Shitty First Drafts’ ”, I Usually only think a sentence or two ahead when I’m writing something one note and paragraph by paragraph for an essay like piece of writing (kind of like this). Other than that, the research paper was me treading in unmarked territory. I have done research for writing and presenting before, but this time I was using the library functions with City tech and Google Scholar. It was definitely difficult to find a source that I was actually fond of while trying to stick to the general format of answering my question by covering multiple bases. In fact, I feel pretty lucky finding 2 of my sources, 1 and 3. For the TED Talk, I chose it because I actually looked and saw that someone else used one and I thought about the credibility of using one. It actually works out just fine considering a lot more research goes into what they create than the section that I allot to them. Then of course, I wasn’t able to make a commentary video like I would have wanted, but I know it would have been more than fun to do especially since it’s something in the genre of what I would normally watch.

The genres by which we wrote each unit definitely made me try to be more flexible and fit the tone. For the Education Narrative, I feel like I was writing in my normal style and as such was able to put in a lot more of my voice like I would normally want to into my writing. Something like in the conclusion of it where I say “So what is it to take away from this…then just do that. Nothing more and nothing less”. I liked putting that in because it really kept that mild and nonchalant tone that I feel like I normally keep about myself when I speak with others. There are plenty of other times in it too where I write as I feel I would be speaking with someone normally. Though whenever I actually speak there is a distinct lack of sophistication in my language compared to when I write because I actually have more than enough time to formulate what I want to say. Whenever I write out of my comfort zone, I feel like I am more linear and robotic in an attempt to write in a formulaic sense. This was an issue in my introduction for my Educational Narrative and I found myself thinking that with my first paragraph for my first source in the Annotated Bibliography. For example, I listed reasons for why NASA gets budget cuts and then later said “Other reasons include the nature of…” It didn’t really flow well for me, but I’m not sure I have it in me to figure out how to fix it.

Overall, this semester has been a trip. Probably the hardest couple of months in my life besides all of 2020 (though I think that Covid has that effect overall even after it’s initial rise). I’m glad to put it all behind me though and emerge with the knowledge that I gained in a much more persevering manner. It would have been a bigger statement to myself if I could get the video in too, and I’m sure people have as much stress to deal with as I do. If anything though, that just means that I have to try harder. I suppose that is growth especially with my point from the Education Narrative. Getting by is actually a lot harder when everything is crashing down on you. I’m relieved now to say that it is over and I wish the best to all of my peers who have got through with me and especially to you who are reading this all the way into the end. Take care!

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