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"I got more views in one hour than I got in a month." -Mariano
The Rangerverse is a world that I've been writing, building, researching, and concepting, for over 10 years. What started off as a sketch while waiting for a class (above) turned into an expansive concept with over 10 series planned and starring more than 30 leading heroes and heroines.
Ranger is a series of action-packed, multi-cultural, cyberpunk, wild-west, hip-hop, feminist, graphic novels with limited and ongoing titles. The first being a limited series titled Rendezvous. Ranger gets into stuff from breakdancing and motorcycle gunfights to speculative history & political intrigue to civil rights & LGBTQ issues.
It all starts with...
The Alpha Gene
Serving Food, Washing Clothes, and Entertaining Kids
Visitors to central Reykjavik who run out of clean clothes have few options. They can pay by the article of clothing to have their hotel do their laundry, or pay by the kilo at two wash and fold laundry/dry cleaners. Or they can do their own laundry at the multi-functional Laundromat cafe/laundry room/playground.
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Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Giles Greenwood, head coach Bethnal Green Weightlifting Club. Giles is a former British champion, Commonwealth Games gold medallist and British record holder.
When beginners first come to Bethnal Green I advise them to leave their brain at the door. When you first start to learn the Olympic lifts it is best to just absorb what the coach tells you and do exactly what they say. This isn’t because all coaches are infallible but because the single biggest obstacle I see to progress in learning weightlifting technique is “paralysis by analysis”. Most people have read articles by great champions about the Olympic lifts on the internet and come armed with this knowledge to their nearest gym. Anything the coach, who probably isn’t Abadjiev, Rigert or Kono, tells them is filtered through this information and applied using the beginners own interpretation. The inevitable result of this is confusion for the beginner as they try to reconcile what they’ve read with what they’re hearing or wondering how this teaches the “double knee bend” or whatever and making life more complicated than it needs to be. The coach at your gym will have their own tried and tested way to teach the Olympic lifts which may differ from what you’ve read but still be effective. If you are a beginner - relax and follow your coaches instructions without considering the “why’s and wherefore’s” of everything you are being told to do, your progress from beginner to intermediate lifter will be much swifter and smoother.
Once a lifter reaches a level of competence at the Olympic lifts and has a few competitions under their belt they will often start to question the training programme their coach is giving them. Although this isn’t as cut and dried as the decision for a beginner to do exactly what they’re told, as the coach may be wrong and the lifter may know better by now, it is usually the case that the lifter actually thinks there is an easier way to achieve their inevitable greatness. Exercises which are tough and unloved will suddenly seem ineffective while favourites will become the staple diet. It’s very hard to look at your own training in a dispassionate way. Your coach has a good knowledge of your abilities, strengths and weaknesses and wants what you want – for you to become a better lifter. Even lifters who are good at programme writing and coaching others have great difficulty writing effective programmes for themselves. A strange mixture of ego and work ethic often produce training regimes which are either too easy or ridiculously hard, it is then difficult to admit to your own mistakes and change the programme because it is hard to admit you’ve written a programme for yourself that isn’t working. This is a process that a coach will be constantly going through and, being removed from actually following the training programme, is usually in a better position to adjust it as they don’t have as much ego invested in it being “right”. If you are an intermediate or advanced lifter and think you aren’t improving because your programme isn’t right, talk to your coach about it. They should be amenable to changes you suggest if they are sensible. If they think you should stick to what you are doing, ask yourself, and them, why. They want you to achieve and you want to achieve. They might think that your best bet is to stick to the programme to get through a plateau and they might be right!
On our last night in Buffalo I found myself at 2am still packing suitcases, the sale of our house not closed yet, and nowhere to sit because all our furniture was in storage or had been sold. I was THRILLED. You know the old saying, “you can’t see the label of the jar you’re in,” right? Well we had busted open the jar and in 3 short hours we (me, my husband, and our kids aged 8 and 7) were getting on a flight to Costa Rica to live there.
People would say to us when they found out we were moving to Costa Rica, “wow, you must really like it there if you’re going to move there!” The truth? We had never been to Costa Rica. I had met Michael Simons from Tres Amigos REMAX and some other Costa Rica folks via email years before through mutual colleagues in my work coaching business owners internationally, and my father had been to Costa Rica many times, but us? Nope. We were fulfilling a 5 year plan that had suddenly become a 3 year plan just a few short months earlier.
We had owned our home in Buffalo-a good house in a great neighborhood-for 11 years when we decided it was time to sell. The market was decent, and we were tired of the upkeep and expense. Moving to Costa Rica had been a long term goal of ours, but we didn’t think that’s where we were going to move when we put our house on the market-we just thought we were moving to a different suburb that was closer to farmland! But just a few short weeks into getting the house ready for listing the last puzzle piece fell into place. My husband’s company changed a policy that allowed him to go from working at home to working anywhere in the world. Our reaction was instant. We were going to Costa Rica!
We wanted a lifestyle that would allow us to spend more time as a family, be closer to nature, and give our kids the opportunity to experience different cultures while they were still young. The way the world is changing, by the time our kids become adults it’s going to be essential to be able to work with people globally. I made one call to Michael, and within 20 minutes I was connected with amazing people to help me with everything from schools for the kids, to housing, to renting a car, to totally handling the legal process for applying to be residents. It was easier to set up our new life in Costa Rica than it was to get things handled in Buffalo!
In the spring of 2008 I was a junior in college and the main thing going on in my life was playing in a rock band with my friends. One especially exciting weekend, my bandmate Ben and I were driving from Cleveland to Williamstown, MA to play a big show at Williams College. En route however, we had lined up some time to stop by a major recording studio in New York City called Clinton Recording Studios (RIP) to be considered for internships for the summer. We arrived outside the studio but our contact there said he needed more time because Yo-Yo Ma was recording and going over-time. We needed to wait somewhere close by and Ben had a cousin who was working as a line cook at a restaurant called Esca, just a few blocks from the studio. We headed to Esca to hang at the bar.
As per usual when we'd kill time, Ben and I ended up talking music. Since at the time we were each deep in music history classes at school, we were talking about pretty esoteric, OLD music. I don't remember exactly what we were discussing but probably something in-between Gregorian Chants and Einstein on the Beach, and that was enough to get the attention of the gentleman sitting next to us. The stranger jumped in and started enlightening us to a number of aspects about the pieces we're discussing that we hadn't learned about. The three of us proceed to nerd out on everything from the romantic era to the The Talking Heads and it's a lot of fun. When we finally ask who he is, it turns out he's an acclaimed contemporary downtown composer named Mikel Rouse. Cool! Eventually we leave for our interviews at Clinton, head up to MA, and prior to crashing in the hotel I friend Mr. Rouse on MySpace (remember MySpace?). With no expectation that meeting him would provide any relevance to the rest of my life, I go to bed.
Fast forward to the fall of 2008. Now I'm a senior in college. A senior who majored in music in college. I knew I needed to spend most of my time finding a job for after graduation.
The majority of my time on campus during those college years I spent cooped up in a recording studio. So it made sense to me to find a job in the audio/production world. But I had spent the summer of '08 interning for a major Manhattan recording studio (not Clinton) and realized that many of the people that end up working in that environment just weren't happy people. So I thought I'd take a look at post-production instead. I applied to intern/work/whatever at every reputable mastering house in NYC. No one responded.
I had thought I ran out of leads when one bored night I went back on good old MySpace and saw that I was still friends with Mikel Rouse. I decided to look him up and saw that he had his own writing studio in Manhattan. I looked up the address and noticed that on Google Maps there's another business located in the same building called "Vault Mastering". I look up that business and lo and behold, it's another Mastering House I hadn't yet applied to! Amazing. I read the bio of the principal engineer and he just so happens to have the same alma mater as my school, The Cleveland Institute of Music, and interned at the same company while in school as I did, Telarc International! I was furious that my school hadn't already connected me to him, but that's a different rant. I contacted the engineer, and got an interview for my next visit to NY. Long story short, he couldn't afford to hire me, but very kindly introduced me to a very successful mastering engineer who had just purchased a legendary mastering house, Masterdisk. I got an interview at Masterdisk and was accepted! Second semester of my senior year hadn't even started yet and I had a job lined up. Mission accomplished.
My first semester of graduate school was by far the most difficult. Through naive planning on my part, I began my semester with two heavy-reading courses in Political Science -- American Politics and Comparative Politics-- paired with everyone's favorite: Quantitative Analysis. The two readings courses assigned roughly 300 pages of reading each. The quantitative analysis course, also known as the "grad student filter," was scary for everyone. In hindsight, I'm grateful for that first semester and its difficulty; it acted as the semester to which all others were compared.
As I was struggling with those courses, I anxiously searched different variants of "Graduate School Advice," and "How to Survive Graduate School" through Google. Though I found some amazing logistical advice, I did not find anything that spoke to my stress, a period of time for first-year graduate students I like to call, "The Grad School Freakout."
What I wish I had known when I started graduate school:
1. You are not an impostor.
I, like many of you, spend the majority of my week sitting in a cubicle, typing on my computer and going to meetings. Don’t worry… this isn’t going to devolve into an anti-corporate rant or anything. For the most part, I actually like my job. I work with nice people, my boss is smart and doesn’t micro-manage me, and my work is challenging without being too stressful. Granted, I wish I was getting paid to do something that I was absolutely passionate about (don’t we all?), but since I haven’t fully figured out what that even looks like yet, this is as good as anything.
Even so corporate life; with its process and procedure, long stretches of sitting, and work assignments that aren’t always exotic or thrilling, can sometimes feel a little flat and soulless. To combat feeling uninspired, years ago some friends and I started a little tradition we call “Zen Wednesday”. Mid-week, we send each other random emails with whatever thoughts and ideas are currently inspiring us. It could be a quote we read that stuck in our head, a link to a blog on creativity or mindfulness, a thought for guided meditation, or a snippet from an article on beating procrastination…whatever. The source material didn’t really matter; the point was to take a moment in the middle of the work week to bring awareness back into what we were doing. To think, to be aware, to feel happy or grateful, to breathe, to make something simpler, or maybe to just let go of the bad experience we had when that guy cut us off in traffic that morning. The point was to pause for a moment, remember to live in the present and not take things so darn seriously.
I started to realize that a Zen Wednesday email could completely change my mindset and/or my mood. I had a little extra spring in my step when heading to the copy machine (which, by the way, totally freaks out your coworkers, thereby totally increasing the awesomeness). I listened better to the people around me. I got out of my own head and started paying attention to what was actually happening, instead of worrying about what might happen, or agonizing over some incident that happened last week. Zen Wednesday made me a more happy and engaged person. And I liked feeling that way.
In addition, my lovely, glitter-soaked, leopard-print fabulous friend Kristy Edwards introduced me to the concept of “Favorite Things Friday”, a sort of gratitude journal where you end the week reflecting on the all the things and experiences that made you happy. Another great recalibration tool I use to remind myself of all the extraordinary love and joy in my life.
Suddenly, I thought…..why keep these traditions locked up just amongst my little inner circle? Why not throw the magic of Zen Wednesday and Favorite Things Friday out into the Universe? Can’t we all use a little more mindfulness and gratitude in our lives??
It seems as if stigma’s for the millennial generation are piling up daily, but the most despicable one is “laziness”. Supposedly, we’re idle because we spend a lot of our time at the gym and sloths because we tend to live more in our parents’ basement. At least that’s what Jennifer Graham seems to indicate in her article in the BostonGlobe named “A Generation of Idle Trophy Kids”. Let me give you some reasons why we’re far from being the lazy generation.
Back in the day of Generation X’s twenties, people had to go out to gather information; today we do it simply by tapping on our Google app. The other day my professor told the class that we would find something much quicker on Google than his generation would; but if you’d ask Generation X to look something up in the Yellow Pages – that’s right, the “search engine” of the eighties – he would do it much quicker than us. He has a point: it depends on what you are more comfortable with. The means of communicating have changed, but didn’t make us lazier. We might as well be using Groupon to sign up for martial art deals!
Graham states, “Today’s kids simply can’t imagine downsizing to quarters like that. They’re victims of their parents’ success and frustrated that they see no way to replicate it. And why should they, if they’re already livin’ the dream?” Now, let me be clear: we’re not frustrated because we can’t replicate our parents’ success. We’re frustrated because jobs are hard to get since they require experience. But how do employers expect us to have experience if there’s no one willing to train us? After all, Millennials are the smartest. Our generation is the best educated in American history, according to a study released by Pew Research Center of 18- to 29-year-old Millennials.
A Canadian study from 2010 conducted a field study of the millennial generation and found that we place the greatest importance on individualistic aspects of a job. We also have realistic expectations of our first job and salary. Yet we’re looking for quick advancement and development of new skills while at the same time ensuring a meaningful and satisfying life outside of work. I think that’s reasonable because of our knowledge that needs to be challenged – or else we’ll be bored and deeply unhappy.
Every generation had its fair share of political turmoil and uprisings, but our experiences with such are different. In the nineties, the various revolutions in the former communist countries of Eastern Europe were strongly influenced by young people. In’89, China, protests were held by college students on the Tiananmen Square. Today, social media enables Millennials to communicate easily from a distance to spread true and direct news. In recent news, for example, the Ukraine looks more like a war scene than the intended peaceful protest and more than 15 deaths have occurred. Through Twitter, Ukrainians are able to report about day-to-day corruptive events taking place. Last year in Turkey at the Gezi Park protests, student-aged people used social media to their advantage and gained great recognition globally as the Turkish government censored TV and the Prime Minister’s lies came to surface. Due to these tweets and direct news, authorities from other countries had been able to interfere by for example blocking talks of Turkey joining Europe and cutting a supply for tear gas that has been used excessively. Or just take a look at the Arab spring. Enough said.
When I was around 20 years old, I hit rock bottom. I was losing touch with reality, I was in a mutually abusive relationship, and I sought comfort in the arms of men over and over again. My best friend and room mate suggested innocently that I speak to her youth pastor from high school. I was desperate and willing to try anything.
I sat on our stoop in the fading sunlight pressing through the trees, listening to the man on the other end of the line tell me who I was according to my experiences and according to scripture...
God's Unfaithful Bride.
He asked me to open up a bible and read with him through chapter 16 of the book of Ezekiel. He told me that from birth I was wretched, sinful, and unwanted. Then God came, found me, and took care of me as his own daughter. He washed me, made me beautiful, and made me his. But I played the harlot. I was unfaithful. I slept around and sought out other men. And because of my sinful behavior, God let me become worse than a prostitute. He let me become a whore. And in his rage, I am now being punished by God. He will take all of my lovers and gather them around me, expose my nakedness, and let them do to me as they wish. And only after that will his fury subside, he will calm toward me.
Yeah, so, that youth pastor pretty much told me God was going to let my lovers gang rape me.