Friday, January 28, 2011

Today in History

There are lots of websites that will give you a breakdown of what HISTORIC events happened on this day in the past:

Each will give you some random facts about events that have changed or influenced our history, and some that have been forgotten by history.

So yesterday, I was scrambling through the site and read through what's happened this week in history, and came across an image that sparked a memory i hadn't thought about in a very long time.

On January 28th 1986, way before most of you who will read this post were even born, the space shuttle Challenger exploded during its take off. I remember this vividly for a number of different reasons.

1) I was on a school tour of the NY newspaper "The Daily News".
2) We paused during the tour to watch the liftoff along with a ton of journalists and reporters on the TV's.
3) I had never witnessed a space shuttle launch before.
4) Christa McAuliffe

 I recall Christa because she wasn't an astronaut - she was a school teacher. And she didn't even teach math or science - she was a social studies teacher.

NASA had this idea that if they gave the opportunity to train with astronauts and actually fly into space to everyday folks, it might stir up some interest in the space program again. Because let's be honest, unless you are already a fan of space travel, you likely don't remember anything NASA related since we landed on the moon the first time. The result: The Teacher in Space Project.

Over 11,000 teachers applied for the chance to put on a real-live space suit, but it was Christa who won over the selection committee. NASA official Alan Ladwig said "she had an infectious enthusiasm" (from Wikipedia).

It was that infectious enthusiasm that endeared her to the public. Tons of kids dream of becoming astronauts, but that number starts dwindling fast when they find out how long and hard road is to get there. It makes space seem even father away then it already is. Something us average folks will never get a chance at.

Christa reminded me and my classmates and people all over the country of that enthusiasm we once had. For the possibility of...well, almost anything. NASA's plan worked - it seemed to me like the entire world had tuned back in to the space program. Everyone was behind Christa and cheering her on. She was even going to teach a couple lessons from space.

The morning of the space shuttle launch, there were people jumping up and down, dozens of signs and posters - not just at the actual launch site, but everywhere that large groups had gathered around television sets to watch one of "us" head into the atmosphere and then out of this world. Everyone counted down with the TV announcers and screamed with joy as the shuttle fired and took off. It was actually happening.

That excitement didn't last for much more than a minute. I remember seeing all the kids around me. We were huddled in tight like we were trying to conserve body heat in a winter storm. And a wave of cold shock hit us all, 73 seconds after takeoff, when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded. There were no survivors.

At first, it was like time had stopped. Some mouths hung open, others had been clutched by hands. We all stood and watched in disbelief. For us kids, it would have been sad no matter what, but a teacher had been on the shuttle. She could've been our teacher...and that thought was just too close for comfort. A moment later, the newsroom went ballistic as journalists and reporters all ran rampant, grabbing ringing phones and getting to work on telling the story of what had just happened.

I personally don't recall anything about the rest of the tour. But it was all over the news for days. Eventually the attention moved on. Later that year there were scholarships and schools named after Christa McAuliffe and in her honor. I didn't know her, but i felt like i did. I haven't watched any NASA related stuff on the news since.

Teen Link Staff Member

Monday, January 10, 2011

Disney Princesses...on repeat?

At 8pm this evening, I decided to go channel surfing! I scrolled through the channels and noticed that Disney's Aladdin was playing on AbcFamily! I turned to my dog and partially screamed, “of course I have to watch this!” So I proceeded to change the channel and I immersed myself in Disney magic.

As I watched, I noticed how incredibly sassy Jasmine is. I couldn’t help but compare her to other Disney princesses. By the end of the movie I had realized one thing: all Disney princesses are openly rebellious OR they are asleep!!!…

I found this extremely interesting if not a little strange. Every single one of these princesses disobeys their parent (except for Aurora who is asleep).

Does Disney have the same plot for every single princess movie?!
A girl, unhappy with her very luxurious life, rebels against her parents and in doing so meets the man of her dreams and assumedly gets married at age 15? WHAT?!

I guess it makes sense to not change something if it’s entertaining.

Although the plot is extremely predictable, I still find myself experiencing new stories with every movie. Disney is so successful because by using the same well-liked story, they can just change out the characters and setting.

It’s so great that it’s easy to overlook these illegal (by today’s standards) marriages and to not question what happens in ten years. But hey, why would you? It’s pure entertainment.

P.S. My dog watched me while I wrote this… I think she was spell-checking my work…

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Call yourself a Gamer?

Short on cash? Let your favorite video games make you money.

It's 2am and you've just entered your sixth hour of gaming. You are three Redbulls in and forty-some games deep. You've been perfecting your game all night and have been destroying everyone who dares to challenge you on Xbox Live all night.

You've have proven your skill. But what do you have to show for it? Nothing, but a few empty cans of Redbull and an unfinished essay you swore you would have written by 11pm.

How about $100?
Impossible right? Thanks to the brilliance of the internet and some creative web designers it is completely possible.

The job of being a competitive gamer has always been a distant dream of late night basement gamers. However, the exclusivity of this profession is no more. Recently more and more sites such as Gamer Saloon having been popping up, offering everyone with a gaming console that has the ability of online play to make money through winning matches.

Sites like Gamer Saloon give you the ability to setup an account where you can enter in online tournaments or one-on-one battles in a chance to win some money. They support tons of titles, such as Madden, Call of Duty, Star Craft, and many more.

You have the option to enter free tournaments which have anywhere from $5 to $1000 pots. Many of the tournaments require no buy-in cost. However, if you feel you would really like to prove your skill you can enter one-on-one matches or more exclusive tournaments which usually have $1 to $5 buy in fees. The site then keeps track of how much money you are making and once you're ready to cash out the site will send you a check or deposit the money into your Paypal account.

So "what's the catch?" you might be asking at this point. Well, the site obviously needs to make money. So, the site will take off $1 from the winner on any game where $7 or less is won. If more than $7 is won the site will take off 14%, not too bad in my opinion. The other catch is that it works on an honor system. I know what you're thinking, there is no way I'm trusting an honor system with my money. However, the honor system has a fairly good backup system. Once the game is won, both players must report to the site who won. If no winner is verified than it is "disputed".

In a dispute you may send in either a screenshot of the winning score, a picture of your game history showing you were indeed victorious, or in some cases an email saying you won (many games can be set to automatically send you emails after a win). If a player loses three or more disputes their account will be suspended. To date less than 5% of disputes are unsolved.

As competitive gaming grows to more and more casual gamers betting and paid tournaments such as those found on Game Saloon are becoming more and more common. In the new, highly anticipated game Call Of Duty: Black Ops there will be a built in betting mode. This will eliminate the need for an honor system and will likely further the popularity of competitive gaming.

Soon competitive gaming may be built into many popular online games. So, the next time someone tells you you're wasting you time with games, just remember, someday in the near future that same game could be making you hundreds of dollars.