Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spending Some Time In The Studio

This past Saturday was spent hiking up yet another hill (This was a hill as opposed to the magical mountain of West Virginia (Wild and Wonderful) and then orienteering a bit followed by yet another trip to WYEP.

There's something amazing that happens when I am on a hike anywhere, call it a sort of awareness of what's around you or whatever, but bottom line, something amazing happens.

There's also something to be said for getting to a point where you have a map in the woods and need to decide how to get a group of eight people out of those woods and back to the cars from which they parked earlier. I don't know how to explain it, but something snaps and I go into this weird quasi-leadership mode, where I suddenly know more than I consciously realize.

After getting out of the woods, I hitched a ride down to the WYEP studios. I just love going down there. We start out in a conference room and then split off into groups working on the various projects that Re(Imagine) has taken on. We filmed a promo for the Re(ImagiNATION) contest that I am a part of, but (amazingly) I didn't make the video for.

Anyway, after helping take part in that, I went to one of their state-of-the-art recording studios with another Alex (not the Unicorn Alex, but another Alex) for about an hour just kicking around what will (Cross your fingers) become the podcast Alex Squared which will basically be our random podcast where we talk about stuff. It's still in EARLY development, but we're working on it.

There is something completely free, or possibly even carefree in radio that you don't have in television. Don't get me wrong, Television is absolutely amazing to work on. My point here is that you don't need to care about physical appearance to do radio.

Radio focuses solely on content, which I kind of like. Television and YouTube have this pressure of making things LOOK fancy as well as having good and short enough content to keep the viewer's attention, and it is stressful.

So keep tuned to our blog (moderated by me) at for more on our project.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wild, Wonderful, and Apparently Not Wireless

So this past weekend, my backwards troop fulfilled a tradition that has been going on for about 15 years and took a trip to the West Virginian wilderness to spend a weekend at a Girl Scout camp.

It is kind of a feat just getting there. As with many places, there is no direct way to get from my house or for that matter, the Greater Pittsburgh area, to the tiny town of Bruceton Mills. So, what should take about an hour directly takes about two going further south than needed via the highways, and then the magical back roads to this camp.

I didn’t know why we went to a Girl Scout camp until we got there. The “cabin” we were in was basically a secluded ski lodge with indoor and two outdoor fireplaces, bunk beds, heated floors, and a huge kitchen. This “camp” was a hotel in comparison to winter camping in Guyasuta in tents.

So Saturday rolls around and our Scoutmaster Extraordinaire proclaims that we have a “mandatory hike” to a place called Coopers Rock. I am not a huge fan of large rocks, or hikes for that matter, but because it was mandatory I went.

He had proclaimed that this hike would take a little while and would be a short hike. What he hadn’t accounted for was the fact that the road leading to the part where we would have started was closed. So we start at the trailhead which proclaims about 3.2 miles to go.

Anyone that has been to Laurel Caverns can testify that the signs proclaiming usually one mile are in fact terribly wrong. Coopers Rock is no exception.

About 4 miles and a change in elevation of at least a good 300 or so feet brought us to the actual site which had a drop of about 1700 feet. To say the absolute least, the view was fantastic.

After successfully injuring my ankle and my knee, we hiked the 3.2 miles back to the car. Unfortunately, when I got back to the luxury cabin, it donned on me that I had not even tried getting WiFi to publish my previously written blog. A few clicks and it would have been published. But alas, the beautiful views and amazing wilderness-ism came at the cost of not having Wifi. I also attempted to text from there. I am however trying to piece together a hike video that I filmed as a “Thoughts from Places Video” a la Vlogbrothers.

I learned later (Keep this in mind) that our carrier (Verizon) does not have any towers in the entire state of West Virginia. (I am dead serious here – West Virginia and Verizon almost had a monopoly deal a few years back but decided that they didn’t need West Virginia, so consequentially there are no towers there) So, West Virginia is amazing, mountainous, wild, and wonderful but apparently not wireless.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Education Continuum VIACOM'd

{Note - I wrote this post Friday during Eighth Period... I haven't had internet since as I was in West Virginia. I'll post about that next... but as for now, here is a lovely post/rant thingy}

If you were to go ahead and walk in during an English class, you’d probably see some form of the written word being, well, written. Odds are, we would be clacking away at some outdated laptops writing a paper about some old piece of literature, and giving our modernized thoughts on it. What you wouldn’t see is any actual literature being created.

I think it is a major flaw with our education system today that we study works that are out of touch and do not encourage the creation of anything new. However, as my last blog implied, I am not qualified to give comments on this matter.

 I think that we are victims of a flawed system. As a video that I talked about in an earlier post said, our education system is designed to work with the thoughts of the Enlightenment, not two hundred years later in a modern school system.

I believe that if we threw out the archaic thought that only PhDs should write a curriculum, and let retired teachers, or even teachers currently in the workforce write the curriculum, we will once again be on top of the education game.

I bring this to your attention not because I want to have a revolution, but rather to use it as an exaggerated segway into talking about writing itself.

This past Wednesday, our school had a community service day where we as high schoolers gave back to the communities in which we reside. I got to go (huge surprise here) to the Andrew Carnegie Free Library. I organized, dusted and went through their entire {American} Civil War collection, and also cleaned up a hallway or two and part of their storage.

In a period of downtime, I talked to the executive director of the library about the building itself, and if anyone had ever written a complete history of the place. The building is well over 100 years old, and yet she informed me that no one had ever taken on anything of the sort. I have made it my mission to over the next few years publish such a project.

I apologize for the brevity of this post, but I am strapped for time.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Qualifications, Kony, and Other Stuffs

So recently I have been working on too many projects. This usually leads to my temporary insanity as well as increased tiredness. Bottom line, if the below lines in this blogpost seem murky, that's because I am on limited sleep and a tad distracted.

Apparently in order to have an opinion, one now needs to be "qualified" to do so. All to often does the phrase at my lunch table get thrown out that "YOU CAN'T SAY THAT!" Which leads me to the question of what, exactly is qualified, and who Can say that.

Qualified as far as designing a corporation website (or at least helping) means having an incorporation myself or the three letters LLC (What does that mean?) tacked on to your name (Oh yeah, from now on I am calling myself "Alexander Popichak and Associates Web Firm, LLC") and did I mention you apparently needed to charge an arm and a leg?

Due to moral and practicality issues, I cannot charge much (So far I have never had a paying customer - YET; I have mainly been doing volunteer work) for a website design job. I do some talking in a prospective client meeting session, some fancy work on the part of my image editing programs, and coming up with something that looks pretty cool.

I work on the idea that the content builds the website, the images draw the users in. Basically, if you don't care about what you are putting out there as far as content outreach goes, no amount of flashy imagery can fix that. It WILL shine through.

Qualified as far as CPR goes is having a magical little card, and taking a course. Does that necessarily mean that you need to have an EMS or CPR certification to save a life? Heck, no! That's what the scouts are for!!!

Qualified for being an SPL on paper is a Star rank (yeah, I have one of those). As for in reality, one would need character, a sense of adventure (IM GOING TO JAMBO!) and a real belief in the people he leads.

Qualified as far as tech goes, well, you got me.

As for what I can and cannot say can be debated, and I welcome any feedback.

So one of the internet trends that made news this week was #KONY2012. You can Google all 900,000 different opinions on it but here is what I learned by watching CBS's take it. Basically, the firm pushing this ad campaign took in about $17 million last year, and of that only $3.3 million went to aid. The "charity" is pushing itself as a wonderful cause that is worthy of your patronage. Please please please look into any charity before donating anything! I am not saying that the KONY guy is not bad (in fact he is just plain terrible), I am just saying that these "action kits" that they are selling are not going to be as effective to direct aid as would be calling your congressman, and urging your neighbors to do so also.

I rarely plug my own things, but my WYEP teen group is sponsoring a band competition for high school students and we will be accepting submissions from MARCH 12 2012 UNTIL APRIL 14TH 2012.  If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact me at with the subject Re(imagiNATION) Contest.

As for the Re(Imagine) Media website project, it is still a work in progress, but I do have this awesome animation thing that I can't post here due to issues with my incompetence at 10PM with HTML coding.

Other than that, I'll give a shoutout to my secret sister Mikaela as I hope she is doing well.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Culture. Cultured. Culturing.

So I guess this week's "theme" if you will, was the arts. Tuesday morning I spent on Pittsburgh's North Side to see The Elephant Man (to be detailed later). Wednesday brought TIED to the arts. Today, well, I did the morning announcements — does that count? {The only reason I felt obliged to have three things in that sentence is because three-thing sentences are much better than two-thing sentences.}

Tuesday. So I went to Pittsburgh's North Side with my school's GATE group to watch The Elephant Man on stage. This group called the Prime Stage Tehater was putting this on at this neat little theatre called the New Hazlett. The show itself was about the true story of this man who was born horribly disfigured into a circus family (his mom was trampled by an elephant when she was pregnant-get it, elephant man?). Anyway, when I go to theatres I look at three things — the acting, the content, and the tech.

The acting was phenomenal. This theater is set in an intimate fashion, and the acting made you ask yourself whether or not they are talking to you, the audience, or to the offstage "public".

The content was not overly amazing, rather it was the way in which it was presented. Each scene was divided by a 30 second music break with a slide with a quote from the upcoming scene. The interesting thing about the set is that it started quite bland — Just a circle set with a drawing in the center. As the performance went on, things were added to the set — A Bathtub, a bed, a chair, a desk, etc. — But nothing was ever taken away. It was a unique technique, so that at the end of the show you saw this progression as well as what the final original set looked like.

On Wednesday, I took part in a Carlynton Event called TIED to the arts. Basically, it is a pep rally for the arts in our District. The chorus sings, the band plays, and the Musical — oh, the musical — Musicate. I have been on all ends of this event. This time, I was in the chorus and in the musical.

The chorus sang this lovely song about believing and whatnot, but I think the most interesting part from a Choral member standpoint is just how this whole song got put together. The High school learned our part, the Junior High theirs, the soloists theirs and the Elementary— well, theirs. It was only about an hour before our actual performance that we ran through the song all together— once. Amazingly, it was lovely and wonderful and all of those things that you don't hear choral directors say but parents told them to pass it on so they will... 

As for the musical, we performed one of the numbers in our show in our Musical Promo t-shirts as opposed to costumes; and sang unaided by microphones, or you know, a stage or orchestra. Check out the final performance April 19-22nd At Carlynton Jr. Sr. High school. Tell them the 2015Blogger sent you (that would actually be really cool, just to confuse the ticket people :-) ). 

It is very different to be on the other side of a performance. I think we all do something that has another end to it, it's just that we rarely get to be on that other side. If you get a chance, try it sometime.