Stater Website

Looks like the site for the Cleveland Stater is updated now.

We tweaked the layout a bit this time.  Now you can read the lead for each story as a blurb on the home page, and follow a link to the complete story.

i noticed the headline font sizes aren’t consistent.  Darn it.  On the bright side, it’s a laboratory class and the point is to learn.  So if i may paraphrase one of my all-time favorite movie lines…

The next one will be better.”


Each one was better than the next.  Wait…

Anyway, here’s a handy bit of links to my articles for volume 14, issue 17:

Cleveland State students win study abroad scholarship

New interim vice provost puts focus on student success

Creative voices come to Cleveland

And unfortunately the video i’d embedded also does not appear to work properly on that last one.  So about halfway down, after the line “Sometimes behave so strangely…” imagine watching this video clip:

We’ve got one more issue to go this summer.  i wish we had more time to do more, and to amp up that website as well.  Maybe in News Media Lab II in the fall?  Pretty awesome time so far already.

In other school-related news, it was really wonderful to read the comment on my last post from my buddy Brett.  It’s very cool to think i have even a teensy part in inspiring anybody to do anything positive so that was my cockle-warming moment of the day.  Anyone who knows me knows i’m quite a geek, and a nerd, and although i’m in my mid-30’s still without a bachelor’s degree, i’ve always done what i can to encourage people to stay in or go to school.  Guess it was time for me to follow my own advice, and it feels really terrific.


Now get off my jock, fool.  <– inside joke


Pre-website update

Today was distribution day for our second summer issue of the Cleveland Stater.

Note to self: jeans are a bad choice when it’s 80 degrees and i have to trek across campus and surrounding environs toting 3 stacks of newspapers.

Anyway, the updated website isn’t published yet, but i wanted to share this page.  Inspired by my colleague Ronnie Holman, who posted his stories on his Tumblr, i thought i’d share this page here on The Long Shot.

This is page 2 of Volume 14, Issue 17.

i had a great time at this event hosted by Radiolab‘s Robert Krulwich and Jad Abumrad.  They were really cool and allowed for a post-show interview in the green room.  As a big ol’ science geek (conceptually at least) it was a real treat.  In addition, i am happy to see i got the whole second page to myself, which included the photos i took after the show.  They didn’t allow photos during, which kinda sucked.  The official photog of the event emailed me his pics though.  That was really cool.  They were terrific shots, but my professor/Stater adviser urged me to use mine because, well, they’re mine.  And he said they’re more “newsy.”

Another nice thing about this page is that i also did the layout, which i thought turned out well.  Two nice photos, a pull quote, and an inset box from a colleague who also attended the event and provided a different perspective.

The website version of this story was fun to layout as well.  i got to experiment some more with Dreamweaver, added some links and embedded video that ties into the story.

Really digging News Media Lab I this summer.  We get to do everything.  Editorial meetings to decide on stories to cover, the actual coverage and reporting, interviews, writing, photos, copyediting, print design, website design, and distribution.  In the fall i’ll be in News Media Lab II and of course i’m stoked about that.

14-17 Page2 Layout by me-page-0

Okay so it’s a little stretch to read this.  Had to use Zamzar to convert the PDF to JPG and stuff.  But if you click it, then zoom in, you’re gtg.

Also today, i had my initial meeting with the Center for International Services and Programs about potential study abroad to finish up my college career.  There are a dizzying array of options.  Going in, i had London and Tokyo on my mind.  Exiting, that had morphed into Morocco, Italy, and Tokyo.

There’s a lot of research still to do, and probably a lot of anxiety after that trying to finance it.  But hey…YOLO and all that.

yolo tennant

The challenging this is finding a program that offers what i’m looking for.  Believe it or not, journalism isn’t the prolific discipline i’d expected to find in study abroad.  You’d think it would be everywhere, right?  The most intriguing ones i found so far involve working with functioning professional journalists and getting a chance to do real reporting with them – some of which has the potential for publication in US media outlets.  Um…yeah!

At this moment, the Italy one is sounding really terrific.  It’s field work, plus it includes a language immersion program.  And, you know, it’s Italy.  So my stomach and taste buds are definitely campaigning hard for that.  On the other hand, Tokyo holds a strong appeal for the same reason.  Sushi!  But not that traditional fermented stuff.

Not-quite summer


What a summer so far.  And by summer i mean the colloquial version of it.  This year’s solstice occurs on June 21 at 5:04am.  Which of course means it’s still spring right now.  But with the recent run of consecutive sunny days, summer classes, and the season of blockbuster films in swing, it’s kinda like summer has already begun.  But unlike childhood years of blissful days of freedom, or traditional student years of well-deserved breaks, i’ve been pretty darn busy.  So busy, in fact, that the Long Shot got shunted down the list of Things i Have To Do.


After graduation i want to spend a week here.  i don’t know where this is but it looks very nice.

In its place, stuff like “school,” “work,” and sometimes even “sleep” shot up a few notches.  But right now, as it was about two weeks ago, i find myself with a rare bit of extra time.  Curiously, at the very moment i tapped out that last sentence, my phone began to ring.  Instinctively i reached for it…but then withdrew my grasp.

i’m writing, dammit!

That’s something i’ve actually done a lot this summer so far.  All told, i’ve tapped about 42,000 words in the last five weeks between my advertising class, articles for the Stater, and the little bit of blog posting i managed to squeeze in.  According to Convert Words to Pages that’s about 105 pages.  Bear in mind that doesn’t include correspondence emails to article sources, transcribing interviews,  and other miscellany.

Okay, confession time: i have taken several nightly excursions to a galaxy far, far away after discovering Star Wars: The Old Republic, upon which i am hooked.  What a terrific, well-crafted MMO.  Color me impressed.  Probably the best aspect of that game is the story, or stories, that your character crafts for themselves during a playthrough.  Gotta hand it to Bioware – they know how to put a story together and immerse players.  i’m an unabashedly gigantic Mass Effect geek, unhesitating to name it as the best game(s) i have ever played.  By the time my beloved FemShep sniper brought about galactic synthesis, it felt like she was a real person.  The decision-making choices throughout the game became a non-issue; it was very clear what my Commander Shepard would do in any of those situations.  And even though she was kind of a bitch, she would never do anything to endanger the crew of the Normandy.  Everyone made it through to the very end (except Kaiden).  Ahh, Kaiden…i should have let you live.  If Barda Shepard was a bitch, that would make Ashley, well, it’s not polite to use that sort of language (unless you’re British, but that wouldn’t mean the same thing).  Once i learned that Jennifer Hale lends her excellent voice acting to the female trooper, i just had to make one of those.


Who doesn’t?

So yeah, SWTOR.  It’s a sandbox game and it’s got something for every taste.  Player-versus-environment, player-versus-player, minigames, co-op, space combat, customization, collecting, crafting, you name it.  i settled on the Imperial Agent for my main toon because it offered my #1 favorite role of any combat-inclusive game: the sniper.  But you know what?  When it came time to choose an advanced class, i went the other direction and chose the Operative.  Why?  i don’t know.  In the moment, i thought i ought to branch out a little and try something different.  i am regretful.  Picking off baddies from a mile away is certainly more my style.  But i stuck with my decision and i’m having a lot of fun mixing it up.  Sure, i could have re-rolled but i was already in too deep.  My agent had developed a personality that i liked and i couldn’t bear to delete him.  He is a complicated fella, cold-blooded Imperial assassin one minute and defiant operative the next.  Mostly this is due to the fact that Force-users in general rub me the wrong way, and he’ll go out of his way to thumb his nose at orders handed down by the Sith.  Why the empire (or the republic for that matter) leaves important decision-making to Hatfield-and-McCoy zealotry is beyond me.  Lest he ever get too vicious, my stalwart RL friend and DDO partner – also a newly converted SWTOR fan – is usually there to choose the goodie-two-shoes conversation options.


Go ahead.  Try it.

As for other snippets of relaxation during this hectic time, i’ve got a big ol’ backlog of Dr. Who to catch up on.  Coming in eight years late, i picked up the series with the ninth incarnation of the Doctor (not counting the fourth doctor that i watched as a kid).  Like it is with so many things that are widely loved, i felt pretty skeptical that i would like the show when i started watching them.  i could not have been more wrong, and now proudly consider myself a Whovian.  There’s just something special about the series, and countless others have already described it much more eloquently than me.  It’s just fun.  i will say though, part of the hook that got me literally one minute into the revived series episode “Rose” was immediate nostalgia for London.  When i visited there in 2001 i absolutely loved it.  The memory of emerging from Victoria Station will forever be burned into my mind, and right away i thought “i want to go back to London.”  Who knows, maybe after i graduate next spring, fate will find me a gig there.  i’m certainly open to relocating outside of America.  In fact, that’s my main plan.


So silly, yet so compelling.

Outside-the-home entertainment is another thing i’ve had the opportunity to rekindle this summer as well.  Used to be i went to the movies a lot.  A LOT.  Like, there’s so many times i’ll see something on cable and think “gawd, i actually paid money to see this in the theatre?!”  Over the years i’ve become much more selective in what i’ll shell out money to see.  In the last couple of years, i think i went to the movies twice, to see Drive  in 2011 and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  This year, i’ve seen Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Man of Steel (shocking choices huh?).  Liked it a lot, a little too pandering, and loved it, respectively.  Looking down the pike i’m very excited to see Pacific Rim, and The Wolverine looks pretty good too.

Huh.  In light of all that, i guess this summer hasn’t been too bad after all.  i found a great new game to sink my teeth into, saw a bunch of cool movies, and discovered the wonderful gem that is Dr. Who.  Why was i thinking it’s been so rough so far?

Oh yeah.  Sleep!  Or, the distinct lack thereof.  Up until…yesterday…i hadn’t slept more than five hours in one night.  Granted, that was often due to my own method of over-doing things.  But that’s how i do.  Sure, i could have banged out those articles for the Stater using press releases and sorta phoned them in.  And maybe it’s a sign that i’m not all that great at journalism, but i really took my time to craft the best articles i could muster for those and i hope that showed.  And yeah, i could have half-assed my advertising class assignments.  “C’s get degrees” and all that.  But most of them were writing assignments and, as you may guess, that’s something i enjoy doing.  Plus, i’m a big time nerd and i want to keep my straight-A streak going as long as possible.

Yesterday, i decided, would be a much-needed mental health day.  i do not work at my job on Mondays (during this semester anyway), and i could manage to miss our not-strictly scheduled class meetings.  With the whole day off, i could have gotten really ahead with school work and/or put together a much nicer post for you to read (thanks for getting this far today btw).  Instead, i slept in, took a walk through the Metropark, finally got that stubborn video card installed, went out for tasty coffee beverages with a friend, caught up on gaming with another, and watched three Dr. Who episodes – in a row!  i felt a bit guilty about shirking my other duties.  But lo and behold, by 4pm today i’m all caught up again.  Sort of.  There still remains one more article for next week’s Stater, a couple of writing assignments, and a Powerpoint.  But i’ll get ’em done.

As long as i get five hours of sleep, i’m golden.

At least for the next five weeks until i can sleep in again.

Where the magic happens


Me:  Hi, I was wondering when we might see the online version of our issue.  Just curious.  Thanks!

Adviser: Doug, the FTP password was not working and the person who manages the server was not there today in school. I am afraid we will have to wait until Monday. I will check tomorrow. Sorry about that.

So if you are feeling ambitious, or if you’re a Viking taking summer classes, or you just happen to be in downtown Cleveland for some other reason, then maybe wander around the CSU campus and snag a hard copy of our first summer issue of the Cleveland Stater.

Producing our issue was really exciting!  i had the opportunity to do some more real reporting and found a good thematic story that developed from what might otherwise have been a ho-hum episodic news item that already enjoys huge coverage.  Using Photoshop and Dreamweaver to layout the pages, digging in for some serious copy editing, and learning how to manipulate the website as the online editor were all very cool and very rewarding experiences.  The distribution was a bit of a chore.  Bear-hugging three stacks of papers to leave all around campus while clutching an umbrella in the rain wasn’t my favorite.  Talk about sore arms!  Though i’ll admit by the time i was done i felt kinda exhilarated.

Definitely bears a shout out to Jacob Guinn for being the guinea pig for my first Long Shot interview, Anthony Snitzer for the years of inspiration, Paul O’Connor for giving me the opportunity to pick his brain, Jim Mahfood for the geek-out moment of a lifetime, Chad Zumock for being a hometown hero, and Wolfie for his in- and out-of-game contributions.

Interviewing you folks was a real honor, terrific learning, fun times, and very cool!  i love talking to people, hearing their stories, and getting the opportunity to share them on The Long Shot.  Those are priceless gifts.

After we got done with the post-publishing table discussion and online updates, and everyone else had left, i was alone in the Stater office.  Feeling particularly newsy, and packing a camera (now-essential SwissGear gear), i snapped a few photos of the place where it all went down.  Well…not all – the reporting took place out in the field, and the writing in my Sanctum Sanctorum – but all of the physical production stuff.


Sanctum Sanctorum…i wish!  Mine’s more like a boring apartment bedroom in Willoughby Hills.  Actually it’s exactly a boring bedroom.

Stater Office 1

Cleveland Stater office.  About what you’d expect – messy, kinda blah-looking.  The energy is in the paper.

Stater Office 2

The conference table where we discuss important matters.  Also where i conducted several phone interviews and worked on stories a bit.

Stater Whiteboard right direction

The whiteboard where our E-I-C figures out the Big Picture – which stories go where and who is responsible for the individual page layouts and edits.

Stater Newsstand

The newsstand.  Got me a lead story and my own large color photo made the front page.  Woot woot.

To me, my blog!

Hey, guess what?  i’ve actually got extra time today, this very morning.  One hour, to be precise.  For the next 60 minutes you’ve got me all to yourself, Long Shot.  So what do you want to do with your hour?


Time enough, at last!

More than likely i’ll just ramble on about this and that, and you’ll wonder while reading “what’s the point here?”

Then you’ll reach the end and be all like “oh…I see what you did there.”

That’s the plan at any rate

*     *     *     *     *

Okay first topic: school.  i skipped out on the spring semester, because…well i can’t say for certain.  Anxiety, mostly.  And for a bit i was thinking like my old, 23-year-old self: i don’t need no degree!  Then i wizened up and realized how much time and effort i’ve put into getting that piece of paper, and deep down how much i wanted to accomplish the goal.  So now i’m back at CSU and loving it.  Learning stuff is very rewarding.


Also, it gives me another avenue to hone my writing skills because this semester i am in News Media Lab I.  This is a fancy way of saying i am on the staff of the Cleveland Stater – the official school newspaper.  Not only am i a writer for the paper this semester, i snagged credit as the online editor and assistant chief copy editor as well.  In fact, our first issue arrives from the printer today, and we have to distribute it on campus this afternoon (why i only have one hour to myself).  i’ve got three articles in this issue.  One is about eTutoring at CSU.  There was a news announcement on the school website about the new eTutoring program, something i felt worthy of reporting on.  But after ambushing the program coordinator for an impromptu interview, i learned that eTutoring was launched in 2010.  So why the announcement?  To raise some awareness i suppose – it seems that eTutoring is woefully underutilized.  However, i did manage through good interviewing skills to get a bit of a scoop.  You’ll have to read the Stater to find out what.  Don’t worry, i’ll give ya’ll a link later (after i update the online version – my duty as online editor).  In another article, i covered the appointment of a new VP of research at CSU.  This one was quite a learning experience. Three lessons i learned here:

  1. Never agree to show the interviewee the article prior to print
  2. Always explicitly state that the interview is recorded
  3. Be a prick when they insist on changing their quotes and stuff

My third article was originally about how the filming of Captain America: The Winter Soldier was causing problems for CSU commuters.  After challenging the authority of roaming PA’s and insisting upon my rights as a free individual to stand and take pictures wherever i wanted to – including one step away from where their “set” was – i encountered a protest by the musician’s union.  My nose for news smelled something interesting there so i walked over, introduced myself, and wound up doing the story about that.  Guess what?  Front page of the Stater.  Got a nice big color photo to go along with it, too.  Unfortunately, my clandestine operation into the Cleveland Public Library did not yield the amazing photo i thought it might.  The 6th floor had a fantastic view of the set, and i stood up there about an hour and a half waiting for something to happen.  Naturally, five minutes after i left, they blew up an SUV on the street.  Damn.


This could have been my shot!  (It wasn’t)

As for my copy editor credit, on this issue at least, i’ve got to give a hearty thanks to a classmate for being unable to devote much time to the lab class.  Since i have my class days free (no work those days) i can be there all day. When it came time for “print day” – the day we do layout and copy-editing, pretty much just me and the E-I-C were there doing the work.  While he was arranging the credits box, our professor told him to put me down as copy editor, since “he’s assumed those responsibilities on his own.”  Hey – i was just trying to help out…but i’ll take the credit, sure.  Thanks, classmate who couldn’t make it to class!

Now, on to some bittersweet news.  As Long Shotters know, i’ve been playing DDO on-and-off again for about seven years now.

Well, it’s off again.

i’ve never been able to exactly put my finger on it, but just about once a year, i will reach a point where i log in, muddle around a bit, and feel like there just plain isn’t anything to do.  Mind you, i’m not a hardcore grinder.  i have no greensteel.  Haven’t done much raiding.  You get the picture.  But there always comes a point when my brightly burning passion for DDO just fizzles out, for a couple of months at least.  This time, i think it’s a combination of several things.

First off, time.  During the spring and early summer, since i wasn’t in school i had oodles of free time.  If i may out myself as an uber-geek, i pretty much came home from work, ate dinner, and logged in for the rest of the night for much of 2013 so far.  Now that school is in session for me, time is a valuable commodity and i just don’t have the kind that i enjoyed before.

Because of all that time, i became quite involved with my guild, the Sacred Flame Guardians – SFG.  They are a great bunch of players on Sarlona and they taught me a ton!  Particularly Wolfie and Boeregard, who showed Wrongside and i the ropes of a bunch of raids and high-level quests, generously passing off powerful gear to us and generally showing us a hell of a good time.

But then Neverwinter Online released.

For my money, i hate to say it because i’m such a huge D&D nerd – but i think that game sucks.  i know, i know, it’s still in beta, yadda yadda yadda…but i’ll tell you what.  i’ve played A LOT of games in my life, quite a few MMOs included, and i can tell whether or not i’ll like a game after a day or two of playing it.  If i’m not mistaken, Gamer Geoff has a similar outlook and states his case much more eloquently.  NWO fans will say “you’ve got to play it up to cap to enjoy it” and stuff like that.  But to them i say this: if i play a game for 10-12 hours and do not have any fun during that time, then to me the game is a failure.

Now, how does this relate to DDO?  Unlike me, many members of SFG think NWO is the shizit.  In fact, there is a branch of SFG on the Mindflayer server there.  i was actually present when it was founded, and my title within it was Founder (at the time – it’s very likely i’m not even in the guild anymore).  For those guys, who do have greensteel and have done all the raids countless times, NWO is a breath of fresh air.  So i hope they are having a blast as much as they showed me in DDO.  Good gaming, SFG!


SFG mates battle a Bone Golem

It wasn’t just NWO’s release, and my lack of free time,  that caused the DDO wave to break this time though.  It all seemed to start around the time of the forum migration.  i don’t know if that had anything to do with it directly, but it seems like the playerbase severely dropped off at that time.  Not only just in the game, but on the lively forums as well.  That probably had to do with the fact that a lot of people couldn’t even access them for a while – myself included.  And i did not like the solution either, or going into my computer’s host files to change stuff so i could visit the forums.  While it was useful that Turbine provided those solutions, it wasn’t very confidence inspiring.  i shouldn’t have to alter system files to visit their forum.  They should have fixed it themselves.

That kinda lead me to look at Turbine in a different way.  For many years, i’ve been a bit of an apologist for them.  More than a few times i’ve defended DDO and Turbine on the forums.  i’ve been VIP my whole career.  i’ve tried to get new people to play.  Heck i devoted a significant part of the Long Shot to DDO!  But, i don’t know…it just feels like i’m being let down more often than not anymore.

The launcher crashes all the time.  In fact if you check out the DDO Facebook page, almost all of the posts are about client crashes, game crashes, game down for maintenance, billing problems, and so forth.  Not exactly the kind of excitement that says “come play me!”

And then there’s the expansion pack.  i’ll admit it – when the pre-order was available, i rushed home from work just like Wrongside and snatched it up.  Even got the Legendary upgrade too.  And for what?  A new wilderness and a handful of quests with no raid?  Granted, pre-orders are typically for the exclusive stuff.  So what did we get?  Some cosmetic pets and cosmetic gear, the owlbear hireling, epic tomes, and skill tomes.  Okay, not too shabby i suppose.  But nothing really all that exciting if i’m honest.  At the end of the day, i definitely experienced cognitive dissonance after purchasing the pre-order.  Oh and we got to utilize the bladeforged too.  But as Long Shotters know, i’ve never been a fan of the living constructs so i was pretty meh on this.  i did roll up one as a monk though, because i thought it would look neat fighting with the fist blades and stuff (it does).


Cognitive Dissonance

Additionally, Update 18 was a let down.  Let me preface that by saying when DDO was released, i was like “Eberron?  Strange choice for a setting.”  But over the years, i’ve come to really like that world.  It’s unique, and interesting, and thoughtful.  And it’s the only game in town that takes place there.  So, while i understand that the ‘Realms are much more popular…it smacks to me of Turbine losing confidence in their own IP that they’re shifting so much to the other setting.  Look – every fantasy RPG takes place in a setting like that.  Kinda pastoral, kinda medieval, but with more magic and stuff.  We’ve seen that a million times.  DDO was built on Eberron, so own it!  If the game isn’t as successful as they’d wished, then just make what you’ve got better!  i don’t like the shift to the Forgotten Realms.  So when i see all the new content is there, i’m disappointed.  Plus, all the new quests were level 15-ish.  This means all our toons, who had to be around level 18 or so just to be able to get to Eveningstar in the first place, are above level for the new content!  That was a major bummer, to rush over there with Wrongside and find out we were 10 levels above the new quests.  i don’t get what they were thinking there.  They made the Iconics so you could start at the level of the new quests, but you wouldn’t even be able to get there to do them – especially since Spinner of Shadows was bugged and unable to be completed.  But fear not!  Now there’s a cheesy portal in the Harbor to take you there.

Now, i’ve still got a gaming bug.  Always have, always will.  What to play, what to play?  A friend suggests Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Okay, i’ll check it out.  It’s F2P, which is always a good thing to get you started.

Um…damn.  That game is freakin’ awesome!  i can’t wait to tell you all about my experiences there so far as an arrogant, vicious Imperial bastard.  But it will have to wait – my hour’s up.


Force schmorce – i’ll take a sniper rifle and a vibroblade over hokey religion anyday

While you’re waiting with rabid anticipation for a Long Shot update, check out the Cleveland Stater and see what thousands of dollars in loans is doing for me!