March 18, 2017

Definition: Vemödalen

n. The frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist. This can make the focal point of the photograph feel mass produced, and hollow, unlike the unique thing that it actually is.

March 16, 2017

Announcement - "The Forgotten Feelings"

It has been just about a month since the last post, and there are numerous reasons for that. However, I'm not going to go into all of the details, as it's just plain boring. All you need to know is that I'm an engineering student, and we seldom have free time. 

That being said, I would just like to make a quick announcement that I will be attempting a new series of poems. The title of this series is "The Forgotten Feelings" and will be tagged as such. The basic premise of this is that I was browsing Pinterest a couple of weeks ago, and I came across a post with 23 words for feelings that we all notice, but either don't know what the feelings are called, or it is a feeling that no word in the English language can explain. The posts with these poems will be in two parts, the first post will be the word, and its definition, and the second post will be the word as a title of a poem based upon that emotion or feeling. As of the moment, I only have one feeling completed, and it may be a long while before I am able to come up with a poem to describe the feelings and or emotions accurately.

February 17, 2017

Déjà Vu

Dan Jira - 2/14/17

Have I done this before?
But how could I have?
I only just met you.
Haven’t I?
Is this a dream?
Reality doesn’t make sense.
I know where I am,
But how did I get here?
How long have we been walking?
Wait.
How long have we been stopped?
Has it always been snowing?
What happened to the sun?
The moon is pretty,
And so are you,
But who are you?
Who am I?
Have we done this before?

Have I done this before?
But how could I have?
I only just met you.
Haven’t I?
Is this a dream?
Reality doesn’t make sense.
I know where I am,
But how did I get here?
How long have we been walking?
Wait.
How long have we been stopped?
Has it always been snowing?
What happened to the sun?
The moon is pretty,
And so are you,
But who are you?
Who am I?
Have we done this before?

February 15, 2017

Wind

Dan Jira – 2/14/17

It was August the first time I walked this path,
I was nothing more than a new student who was lost
I was wandering around campus,
And here, in the back, away from everybody,
I found this strip of tarmac,
Carved out of the surrounding fields.

That first night, out on the path,
As I stopped to admire the windmills,
I felt it.

I felt the wind for the first time in forever.
The wind I used to feel, on a calm day on the lake.
Gentle, reassuring, and carrying the sweet scent of summer.
Although I had felt this wind earlier that month,
This time it was different.
This time it also carried a new scent. Freedom.

I have since walked that path
Almost every night that I have been here,
And I still feel it.

Now it is February, and its different again.
This time, I do not walk the path alone,
This time I walked the path with you for the first time.
Although I didn’t know you for that first stroll,
A familiar feeling blew upon my face.
This time stinging my nose, and cheeks.

But it still felt the same.
As we hold hands, and walk into the night,

The wind still blows.

February 7, 2017

A Review of Google Pixel Reviews

Dan Jira
Professor Beery
Writing Seminar
6 February 2017
A Review of Google Pixel Reviews
            The problem with buying a new Android cell phone is that there is too much choice. I will admit that life would be a lot easier if I was in the Apple camp of mobile devices, just buy the new one that came out three days after you bought your current phone. However, that is why I prefer the Android operating system, a Google developed OS, for the choice. Eventually, you end up choosing an Android phone on little things that are easy to nit-pick, for example, the camera quality, or battery life. When it came time for my cell phone’s upgrade in early August, I was dead set on the newest offering from Motorola. Until I saw an advertisement for a brand new device from Google itself. The Pixel. It ran the newest version of the Android OS, and had a suite of goodies unique to that phone, such as the Google Assistant. However, I wanted to read some of the reviews on this new device to make sure that it was not just a rebranded, and Android running iPhone. Some of the reviews I found were terrible, and some of them sold me on the phone completely; however, they made me think. We spend so much time researching products, and reading reviews of products, but we never take time to look at the reviews themselves. So, I determined, four months after purchasing the Pixel, to take an in depth look at some of its reviews, and give them a review of my own.
            I chose four reviews to be the back bone of this paper, and they are all reviewing the Google Pixel / Pixel XL. These four reviews are from different websites, and all four are from four different countries where the Pixel is sold. These four reviews were selected by Google-ing “Google Pixel Review” and selecting the first four reviews that came up. Additionally, some of the reviews were either posted or edited less than three days before the writing of this paper, and some were posted over a month and a half ago. However, all four reviews will be judged on the same four criteria, the date of publication, quality of writing, if there is a bias in the writing, such as an Apple fanatic reviewing Google’s product, and if there is a rating system, and if it makes sense or not.
            The Google Pixel has only been out for consumer purchase for 5 months as of the time of writing this paper, and has only been available for press use for the past 6 months in order to have reviews of the product available to the public by the time it was available. The first review that I looked at, from androidcentral.com, was posted on 18 October of 2016, two days before the public release date of 20 October 2016. According to the site, this review was published after six days of using the phone (androidcentral.com). Another site, knowyourmobile.com, has recently updated their review as of 27 January 2017, however, the site also provides an initial review for the phone, an update after two months of use, as well as updates to the review for whenever the software gets updated as well. The third review, from trustedreviews.com, posted the 23rd of January 2017. The last review I looked at, from catchnews.com, was first published 25 January 2017. These last two reviews gave the reviewers ample time to use the device, however a review published this long after the initial release date, no matter how in depth or relevant the information might be, would be irrelevant to the early on consumer.
            The quality of writing on a review can be the determining factor for some people when looking for a product. They may not want to purchase a product with a horrifically written review because they do not wish to be roped into a stereotype about a product’s users. All four of the reviews that were looked at for this essay were professionally written, which kept the writing clean and organized. However, as all four articles were written for different sites, and in four different countries, the articles reflected what the reader-base of those articles would be concerned about. The review from androidcentral.com was by far the most technical of the reviews, covering everything from unboxing videos, to processor speeds with everything a hardcore phone nerd would want to know about in-between. However, the article from catchnews.com focused more on its general readers, from lower and middle class India. The title of the review is even “Google Pixel review: You’ll love it, but here’s why you absolutely won’t buy it”. The reviewer, Sahil Bhalla, makes it plain to his readers that the Pixel that he has to rave about the features of the phone, and how they compare to Apple’s offering of the iPhone 7; however, he also compares it to the OnePlus 3, another Android based phone that is available in India. He makes it plain to the Indian readers that although the Pixel is a fantastic device, the Rs 29k price difference between the two phones is incredible, and if his readers have the option between the OnePlus 3, and the Pixel, then they should go for the OnePlus 3, and “go on a holiday somewhere toward the South of India.” (catchnews.com) The other two sites, trustedreviews.com and knowyourmobile.com are based in London, UK, and the reviews show it. Although cost is mentioned in the cons list of both site’s reviews, it is not as much of a major roadblock as it was in the review from catchnews.com. However, there are a few problems with the two sites. The review from trustedreviews.com is littered with ways to get the best deal for the phone in the country, however, these somewhat helpful additions end up looking too much like a mess of advertisements on the site, which distracts the reader from the review. The review from knowyourmobile.com is a well written review in its own right, however, it brings me to my next criteria when looking at these reviews.
            The review from knowyourmobile.com is clearly written with an Android fan’s bias. Even in the verdict of the review, the author, Richard Goodwin, states that “I used to be a Nexus [another phone with the Android OS] purist. Not anymore. Now I am a Pixel purist.” (knowyourmobile.com). Even the article from catchnews.com, which advises its readers that they should probably purchase a different device because of the Pixel’s price, even acknowledges that “You’ll definitely buy the iPhone if you’re already embedded in the Apple ecosystem” (catchnews.com). However, Bhalla does acknowledge that he also uses the aforementioned OnePlus 3 as his actual mobile phone, but he does a good job telling his readers that they could get all of the features on this lesser known device by presenting it as nothing more than an option for them, instead of telling them that the OnePlus 3 is the phone that they should definitely buy. Additionally, the article from androidcentral.com is very obviously biased in the form that it is written by an author who writes for an Android based website, however, this type of website attracts similar type of visitors, who are also very biased towards the Android system, so it ends up working out.
            A review isn’t a review if there is no rating system, and this essay reviewing reviews is no different. Two of the reviews out of the four did not include a rating system, however, the verdict was very clearly written out in paragraph form at the bottom of the review. They were both proper conclusions to the reviews which allotted a very distinct verdict of the product. However, the other two, from trustedreviews.com and knowyourmobile.com, both included a 5-star rating system with pros and cons underneath the stars. Trustedreviews.com and knowyourmobile.com both gave the Pixel 4.5 and 5 stars respectively. Of course, I can not leave this review without rating these reviews on my own scale. In honor of the random fast food reviews that litter YouTube, I have come up with my own rating system these reviews will be scored out of 8 schnobbles. The first review, from androidcentral.com I have given 7 schnobbles for being informative, but it loses a point for not having review system that is easy to glance at. The next review, from trustedreviews.com I have given 7.5 schnobbles for being clear cut, and concise. The next review, from knowyourmobile.com I have given 8 out of 8 schnobbles for having a day one review, as well as a two month update, and a review on each of the updates for the phone that has come out. The last review, from catchnews.com I have given 7 out of 8 schnobbles this review has strengths in the fact that the reviewer tells it like it is, telling his readers that the Pixel is wonderful, however, it is not worth the price in India where there are better options available.
            Out of the four reviews that I have read for this paper, there were many interesting differences. Such as the locations of the reviewers, and their perspective on the new device. All in all, these reviews highlight the pros and cons of this new phone, while both telling it like it is to their readers. Although all of these reviews were posted too late to help me choose my new phone, they will be perfect for their readers, in determining if they should purchase the Google Pixel / Pixel XL or not.



Works Cited
Bhalla, Sahil. “Google Pixel Review: You'Ll Love It, but Here's Why You Absolutely Won't Buy It.” CatchNews.com, Catch News, 27 Jan. 2017, www.catchnews.com/science-technology/google-pixel-review-you-ll-love-it-but-here-s-why-you-absolutely-won-t-buy-it-1485365712.html
Dobie, Alex. “Google Pixel + Pixel XL Review.” Android Central, Mobile Nations, 11 Nov. 2016, www.androidcentral.com/google-pixel.
Goodwin, Richard. “Google Pixel XL Review: The Best Android Phone Right Now.” Know Your Mobile, Dennis Publishing, 27 Jan. 2017, www.knowyourmobile.com/mobile-phones/google-pixel-xl/23846/google-pixel-xl-review-specs-price-features-detailed-best-smartphone-assistant-AI.
Parker, Max. “Google Pixel Review: Easily the Best Camera on a Phone.” TrustedReviews, Time Inc. (UK), 23 Jan. 2017, www.trustedreviews.com/google-pixel-review.

February 6, 2017

Essays

This post will be a little different, as it is just an announcement of things to come in the following couple of months. This semester I have been enrolled in a Gen Ed course entitled Writing Seminar. For this class, I will be writing a number of essays, and have written one already. I will be posting these essays under the tag "Essays", and the posts will be titled as the papers are. Feel free to ignore these as you wish. Cheers!

February 1, 2017

Progression

Dan Jira
1/28/17

It was six months ago,

I laid my eyes upon you for the first time.

It was five months ago,
We said our first hellos.

It was four months ago,
I had first fallen for you.

It was three months ago,
I told myself no, and put the thought of you aside.

It was two months ago,
I had thought of you as no more than a friend.

It was one month ago,
I looked upon you with new eyes.

It was last week,
I finally considered it.

It was two days ago,
I thought about how to ask you.

It was earlier this evening,
I finally decided to ask you.

January 8, 2017

Book Review: Murder on the Orient Express



Book Summary:
"Hercule Poirot is a private detective. He is summoned to London to solve a case and boards the Orient Express, securing a first class compartment, through his friend M. Bouc. Once aboard the train a passenger, who is traveling under the name of Rachett, asks him to make sure he survives through a possible attempt to end his life. Mr. Poirot refuses and soon after Rachett is murdered. While the train is stuck in a snow bank, M. Bouc asks Poirot to take on the case and find the murder. 

When Poirot takes on the case he finds incriminating clues such as a pipe cleaner and a button from a Wagon Lit conductor uniform. These two make it seem as if Colonel Arbuthnot and Pierre Michel both took part in the murder. The description of the murder by the Greek doctor, Dr. Constantine, showed that Rachett had been stabbed repeatedly to a total of twelve times all with varying amount strength. Due to further investigation of the room Hercule Poirot finds a burnt piece of paper linking this murder to a crime, which had happened years ago in America. It was the Armstrong case, where a man named Cassetti had kidnapped and killed a baby leading to a string of deaths, including the baby's mother, father, and nursery maid. 

Hercule Poirot questions all the people on the train and finds that the murder went into Rachett's room and killed the drugged man and snuck out through Mrs. Hubbards room and awakened her. Then he or she snuck into their room before the Matron was able to call for the Wagon Lit, Pierre Michel. Then he begins to notice certain factors relating the set of passengers to the people who took part in the Armstrong case. He suspicions are most aroused when Princess Dragomiroff claimed to be Sonia Armstrong's godmother and the close friend of Linda Arden. Despite the fact that some of his information is false because of the loyalties on the train, Poirot makes a valiant attempt to solve the mystery before the snow melts and it is left to the idiotic police. 

My Review:
This is a very good murder mystery novel. It made me take a few steps back and think about the case, just as Poirot has done. Sure, there are a few things that pop out, for example, I thought it was very strange that all of these people were connected, and how they came to be on the same train is never explained. However, I must admit, the ending annoyed me because although it was very clear, and well thought out, its just not the ending you would have expected, as in, it wasn't just one person, and it feels like a sort of cop-out to me. All in all though, it is clear to see why Agatha Christie is one of the most beloved mystery authors of all time.

Review Summary:
Readability: 4.5/5
Characters: 3/5
Writing Style: 4/5
Total Pages: 336
Reading Time: 8 Hours
Would I recommend this book? Yes

Book Challenge Qualifications:
Back to the Classics Challenge 2017: A book by a woman author
Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge 2017: Book 1

January 5, 2017

Tired

Dan Jira
1/5/2017

It’s 5 o’clock in the morning
I’ve been awake for 34 hours.
My watch says it’s Thursday
I don’t know if I believe it.

I’m tired.
Every fiber of my being aches.
It screams for relief.
I wish I could comfort it.

I lay down,
And the only comfort I receive
Is the strain on my eyes
Disappearing.

After an hour,
Other than counting,
To keep myself from thinking,
Nothing is achieved.

My eyelids no longer hurt,
Seeing is no longer painful,
My brain takes these inputs,
And wakes me back up again.

My body is tired.
I want to put my brain on mute,
So I can’t hear my thoughts,
And finally fall asleep.

December 20, 2016

Breaker One-Nine

Dan Jira
12/20/2016

Shout out to bad editing due to writing at 3 AM, and the existential crisis that helped this idea become a reality.


“Breaker one-nine, anybody on coms?” Jon jerked upright in his chair as the receiver crackled its way through the message. He’d been driving through this empty desert wasteland of northern New Mexico for the past six hours, and the whole time that darned thing was completely silent. He didn’t mind the quiet though, driving this time of night was peaceful to him, barely any traffic, (not that the three other vehicles he saw during the day shifts counted as traffic along this route…) and he could see the stars meet the hills of sand in the distance, which always made him think. Sure, it was hard some nights, being this alone, sometimes it was downright terrifying, but those nights were few and far between.
 “Breaker one-nine, I repeat anybody on coms?” the receiver crackled again as Jon reached for the radio. “This is Night Hawk, receiving you loud and clear.” Before he was even able to put his hand back on the steering wheel, the receiver came alive again, however, this time it was a set of numerous rapid tones a multitude of different pitches, each one slightly different than the last, but not resembling a melody or scale. After the tones finished, there was  30 seconds of silence in which Jon wasn’t sure if he should pursue the conversation, or just leave it alone. As he was still deciding, the radio came back to life “Night Hawk, do you have a navigational computer on board?” Slightly perplexed, Jon responded with “Well yeah, the GPS, why?” Even though he had driven this route what felt like a million times, Jon always had the GPS on, the monotone female voice keeping him company through his journeys.
“Hm, strange I can’t seem to locate its signal. Alright, I guess I’ll just have to do it the old-fashioned way. What is your orbit level Night Hawk?”
“My what?”
“Your orbit level.” Said the crackling voice, somewhat annoyed that he was asked to clarify himself.
At this point, Jon had determined that it was some kid playing with an old radio he found at a thrift shop, and he decided to play along, besides, it is not like he had anything better to do. Jon pushed the button on the transmitter and said, “Well, I’m on I-40 just west of Edgewood, so I guess I’m at orbit level 40.”
“Orbit level 40? There are only 5 orbit levels around a planet of this size. If you could stop playing games with me, Night Hawk, that would be…” At this point, a metallic sounding voice, not entirely unlike the voice of Jon’s GPS, but somehow different due to the crackling of the receiver, cut in and said: Captain, it appears that we have entered an uncharted system. Under Federation Regulation five-zero-zero-four-point-six-point-seven-b (5004.6.7b), we are not allowed to make contact with any alien life forms unless they have achieved faster than light propulsion. Would you like me to make the calculations for the jump back to the stargate? There was a moment of silence before the other voice returned to the receiver saying rather sullenly, “Night Hawk, what do you call this system?”
“The solar system?” Jon asked the voice.
“Yes, what do you call it?”
Jon thought for a moment, trying to think of something better to call the solar system than The Solar System, but that’s all he could think of. “We call it the Solar System.”
“How about the Sol System?”
“That works, and the planet is called Earth by the way.”
“Very well, goodbye Night Hawk of the system Sol, and of the planet Earth. Computer, jump.”
And just like the at the usual droning of static from the receiver carried on throughout the night.

≡ ≡ ≡ ≡ ≡ ≡


For years to come, two different stories were told in bars across the Southern United States, and the Milky Way Galaxy, one a story from a trucker named Jon who told a tale of the most elaborate prank by a couple of kids that he’s ever heard over the airwaves of CB radio. And the other a story of how an explorer got his name in the Holomap Index by finding a new star system, and communicating with one of the life forms to find out the name of the planet, and although he doesn’t know it, how the young captain came to christen his ship the Night Hawk.

December 13, 2016

Reading Challenges

This year, I have decided to take my free time, and make something of it by doing something I love, reading. So, I have signed up for a few reading challenges!

  1. Back to Classics 2017
  2. Cloak and Dagger 2017
  3. 2017 Distopia Reading Challenge
  4. 2017 Steampunk Reading Challenge
I do not know how well this will go over as the next two semesters of school are pretty jam packed for us Engineering Majors, but we'll see!

December 5, 2016

A Trio of Haikus

Dan Jira - 12/5/2016

And yet, here we are,
E'er so close, but no cigar.
Not near, not too far.

How you look at him,
Is how I look at you too;
If only you'd see.

A man, gentle yet
So shrouded in mystery,
Stole her thoughts, and heart.

November 24, 2016

The Cold

Dan Jira - 11/24/2016

There are different types of the cold.

Theres the cold that gives you a slight chill,
As you walk around in a hoodie,
The type that makes you look around,
And admire the torrent of leaves
As they swirl all around you.

Theres the cold that nips at your nose,
As you wish that you had listened
To the weatherman as he said
“Bring a heavier jacket out today.”
But your pride got in the way.

Theres the cold that sends shivers down your spine,
As you sit on the couch,
Under a blanket, and shiver
At the phantom chill that had just befallen you,
As you look uneasily around the room.

Theres the cold that gives you a reminder,
Winter is here, go inside,
Enjoy all that the television has to offer,
Snuggle up next to someone,
And share your gift of warmth.

October 3, 2016

I Just Smile and Nod

Dan Jira
10/2/16

As I sit at the computer
And my roommate finishes
Talking on the phone with his girlfriend
He looks at me frustrated and says
“I just love her so much but sometimes
She just makes it so difficult.
Ya know what I mean?”
I just smile at him and nod.

As we walk around in the dark,
And converse about whatever
Comes to our minds,
She turns to me and says
“The breakup was hard,
But it had to be done.
It's better this way.
Ya know what I mean?”
I just smile at her and nod.

As I sit in the theater with my friends,
And watch both the couple in front of us
And the feature film with interest,
My friend turns to me and says
“PDA is kinda weird when you're watching it,
But when I do it to my girlfriend,
I just want her to know that I'm there for her,
And that I'm not going anywhere.
Ya know what I mean?”
I just smile at the screen and nod.

Well, I'm tired of it.
I'm tired of smiling.
I'm tired of nodding.
I'm tired of not knowing.
I'm sorry but I don't know
Of these struggles you tell me of
Of these terrible things you tell me of
Of these wonderful experiences you tell me of.
I wish I did.
Oh God I wish I did.

I just want to understand.

September 8, 2016

Sand

Dan Jira - 9/8/2016

Three weeks ago,
I picked you up,
My handful of sand.


And like a delighted child,
I brought it everywhere,
Showing off
My handful of sand.


For the two weeks,
We were together,
We knew from the beginning,
That it would never last.
But I never thought
That it would be so soon.


I carried it around
For as long as I could,
Until I brought it to the water,
And the currents washed away
My handful of sand.


When the long weekend ended,
And I saw you again,
I smiled,
But you didn’t look at me
Like you did the weeks before.


And when I brought it up,
The river of life had caught up,
Between prior commitments,
Classes and their work,
It had washed you away too.


And just like when I was a child,
I wade in the river,
Kneeling, and searching
For my handful of sand.