ds106 Assignment Poll

December 3rd, 2010

As we talked about in class last night here is the assignment poll for ds106. What I am asking you to do is two things: Using the the polls below (a) pick your favorite 5 assignments for the class (assuming there were five), and (b) pick your 5 least favorite assignments.

Additionally, use the comments to propose assignments that you think would work well, and also feel free to elaborate on the assignments that worked or didn’t work as well. Note that I left out a few assignments such as the cyberinfrastructure discussion, setting up your own domain, archiving, and reflection because those will not change given the nature of the course. Thanks for your input last night, it was invaluable!

What were your favorite assignments this semester (choose five---assuming there were five)?

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What were your five least favorite assignments?

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A Proposal-ish

January 10th, 2011

So I finally made it back to school, a place where I can write my blog posts at random intervals of the day. (I really excited about this :D ) However, the return to school means the return of coursework. I am finally writing my senior thesis paper this semester and that means the work starts… well now. As you know I have been doing research to gain a better understanding of the Mafia and the Italian american culture. Needless to say this research will continue throughout this project. However, realistically writing a history essay based on secondary sources will not happen. So hopefully by writing out this blog post I can gain a better understanding of the questions I want answered and the methods I will use to answer them.

I guess the one question that keeps resurfacing over and over again as I do research is why did the US become so obsessed with the idea of the Mafia and Organized Crime? It seems strange that they became so popular since they made money off of what was illegal. (And still do!) However, it also makes sense because many people opposed prohibition to begin with so if they could defy the system, they did. When prohibition ended and the Depression came in full force, the memories off bootlegged alcohol and speakeasies still lingered. A memory of better times perhaps? So Hollywood began making movies about the Mafia in the 30′s and well…. it turned into a pop-culture phenomenon. This is all speculation from reading up on secondary material. I think to really look into the mind set of the time I would have to, not just watch a couple of movies. But branch out into newspapers, magazines, books, and anything else which might provide a personal opinion about the Mafia.

However that is a lot to cover in a semester, I cannot feasibly look through every article in every newspaper ever published. (However, if I had a time turner…..)So I was thinking about looking at 2 national Newspapers at least. Magazines are a little easier however I am not sure how much easier. For magazines I think I will focus on the educationalish/political ones such as Time and National Geographic. (Mostly because I am curious to see what they have written) Books… well are prob the easiest to find. I already stumbled across a few which I can use as a primary source. (Herburt Asbury) However, books are also difficult because in some cases I can use them as a secondary source. Actually the same might even go for magazines….  I think this means I will be taking a couple of trips to the Library of Congress, I mean it is there I might as well use it. =D

However, the 30′s itself is an interesting time because of everything that happened. It is interesting to look at how people coped during difficult times. (kinda like now :D ) I think the US (and probably other cultures) has always harbored a fascination for what is unlawful (Wyatt Earp?) or criminal. However just as the Wild West became America’s symbol for expansion, one has to wonder what the Mafia was the symbol. Maybe I can answer that :D

Like I said this is just a rough sketch of what my proposal will be, I just wanted to get ideas written and to begin actually thinking more about what my paper will be about. To begin to tie up the loose ends basically. :)

Our first adventure around Ireland – Killarney

January 9th, 2011

Leigh and I decided to take a day trip to Killarney, it was about an hour and a half ride.  We got there around noon and found the tourist office.  There are two castles in Killarney, one that was over 3 miles away and one that was about a mile away.  So we decided to just walk to the one that was closer.  It was a bit of a change of pace form Cork City, which has people milling around at all times and it never really gets quiet.  On our walk to the castle, Ross Castle to be specific, we were the only people on the road for the entire 10 minute walk and it was completely quiet.  This castle was on a lake so as we were getting closer to it the wind started to pick up and then there was a hail storm…literally out of nowhere.  Nice little white pieces of hail.  I learned that my blue coat does not have a hood, in spite of the face that I was almost 100 percent sure that it did.  Anyways so we freaked out for a little bit, then just accepted it, it lasted for maybe 5 minutes or so. Then it was over.  My hair was down when this happened so needless to say i looked really good afterwards.  Then we got to the castle and it was right on the water and it was very windy.  We wandered up and around the castle and took some pictures. (The wind was a lot less severe up there)

And this is the actual castle:

There were some trails around the castle but we agreed that they pretty much just looked like  woods so we headed back to the city.  We found a bar/restaurant in town that had yummy yummy sandwiches, we were starving at this point, and then we went to the bus station and caught the 3:30 bus back to cork.  I think it was a successful first adventure to another town in Ireland. We also got to see the suburbs of Ireland, which I had never really seen before.  Here is a little shot of them:

So that about sums up our trip to Killarney.  We just finalized a lot of travel plans with out two closest friends here, we are probably going to Galway next weekend and Edinburgh the weekend after that.  After mapping out our entire 5 months here, it is surprising how many of our weekends are already accounted for.  We pretty much have all of our weekends planned out until May which is really weird and makes it seem like it is going to go by so fast! But in a good way.

Nooks and Crannies

January 8th, 2011

Oh, I’ll go back to the normal room/person/document highlights soon enough.

But in the end, for some reason, the tucked-away-in-the-corner-pieces of the house meant the most.


Small things that kept life consistent.


The things we missed in the rush.



Once everything else was out.


When we had nothing left to do but leave.


I saw the beauty in what was left.


The paint for mending.


The structures that stood the test of time and temper tantrums and sleepovers and morning routines and parties and youth.



They’ve aged, those structures.


So have we.


Moving shines a light on both of those facts.


Big girls do cry.

Back in the Game

January 8th, 2011

Now I know what all the sympathetic faces from well-meaning people were for when I happily proclaimed “I’m moving over Christmas break!”


Boxes. Upon boxes. And then.




There were also life-threatening stunts.


And then there’s the issue of what to do without blinds or curtains.


(okay, well that one wasn’t an issue for long)

Please don’t get me wrong– we’ve had oodles of fun and quite spirited laughter. Enough, even, to make this new house feel like home. If just for the 6 months of our lease agreement. That’s right, boxes and I might meet again very soon.

And I will say, with a nod, “Boxes. We meet again.” Mom, Dad, Luke, Emily, Steph, and I (and possible a more mobile Truett along with a posse of moving company men) will then bust a move on the heaps again.



This is not to say that I look forward to it, per se.


Honestly, it hasn’t been that bad. Especially because I am apparently able to sleep through the morning in the middle of the room that boxes are being stockpiled in. Useful life skill, folks. Also because, hey, boxes upon boxes of crap or not, I cannot lose sight of the privilege that is basic shelter.

But the moving thing is time consuming and brain zapping and that is why I’ve been a failure of a DS106 internaut alum for a solid month now.

Suffice it to say, I now understand the forewarning, pitying eyes.

And I’m back in the game.

Settlin’ in

January 7th, 2011

We had orientation and a chance to try out some classes this week.  The way they set up classes here is a little different than at home.  19,000 students go to Cork, compared to the 4,000 that go to Mary Wash, yet Cork only offers one section of each class.  Very odd.  So if it conflicts with another class, oh well tough luck.  We finally have our schedules worked out, it was a little hard because we decided to automatically rule out any classes that were held on Monday’s or Friday’s.

I’m taking 5 classes, all held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  Another thing that can be quite confusing is that classes that are on 2 separate days, such as Tuesday and Thursday, are also at different times on those days, for example on Tuesday it could be at 1 and on Thursday it could be at 9,  and sometimes in different rooms.  Anyways we finally got it all figured out and my classes are: Irish Folklore, Irish History, Irish Government and Politics, Geography of Ireland before 1960, and Introduction to International Food Policy.  The last one is obviously just a fill in, I was simply looking for a 100 level class that fit into my schedule and sounded easy, so International Food Policy it is.  Not to mention I do love food, so maybe I’ll actually enjoy it.  I’m a little sad no math or computer science classes could fit into my schedule, but my nerdy side will just have to survive a semester without them.

We went out pubbing last night.  It was a big night because something called “little Christmas” was being celebrated.  It’s the last official day of the Christmas holiday here in Ireland and all the women go out to relax and hang out because they have been cooking and cleaning and working really hard for all of the Christmas holiday.  So it’s a day designated for the women to wind down and relax a bit.  We didn’t go any pubs that had a lot of women there, we went to the ones that are mainly populated by students, but those were really crowded also.  I wore black ankle length heels out for the first time, I’d say they are 2 to 3 inches high (so really high for me) and my feet were hurting as soon as we walked out the door.  But luckily we got a taxi to the first pub we went to, it’s called Bailey’s, we stayed there for an hour or so, I was standing still most of the time so I didn’t notice the heels too much.  Bu then we decided to go to another pub, which was a good 5 minute walk and I knew I couldn’t make it the heels.  Of course I had brought my sperrys because it was highly unlikely I would be able to make it through an entire night in heels considering I haven’t worn them since prom.  So I put on my sperrys and the excruciating pains in my feet subsided a bit.  I’m being a bit dramatic, but it was painful.  I was told that after I wear them out for two complete nights I should be used to them at least a little bit, so I am going to persevere and keep on trying to walk in those heels.

We are pretty much done with all of our initial shopping, we just have some little things we would like to get, like an ice tray and a dish towel.  We want to travel somewhere this weekend, probably somewhere else in Ireland via the train. We haven’t decided yet.

One more thing, last night at the pub I was asking this guy about soccer and if he knew of any teams I could join and he was “oh yeah there’s actually an American league here!” And he went on to say that is called the Patriot league (I think) and how it’s competitive and a great league and blah blah blah. And then he says “Oh but it’s only for men.” WHAT?! Way to get my hopes up and then just shoot ‘em down.  And he went on to say that I should just play handball, or frisbee.  Big help he was.

Becoming Italian-American

January 6th, 2011

So I decided to take my research waaaaay back and look more into why the Italians began immigrating to the US in the latter part of the 19th century. I was actually wondering this for awhile and thought it would be useful to look into. For this I had to step out of American history and research a bit of Italian history. I started by looking more into the period where there was a large influx of Italian immigrants into America, between 1890-1920. 1 What I found was that most of the immigrants came from southern Italy because they were escaping an incomplete revolution, more or less. The second Italian Revolution, which took place in 1859 was largely a response to the “defects in Italian Constitutionalism.” 2

The second revolution formed largely in Southern Italy because of the oppression the peasants faced under the Bourbon Regime. The leader of the second revolution was Giuseppe Garibaldi, an Italian military figure. The revolution succeeded, the Bourbons were overthrown, and Garibaldi put a new government in place. However this new government turned out to be even more oppressive because it completely ignored the needs of the peasants. Taxes skyrocketed and their was a loss of industrial protection, which in turn led to the closure of many factories. 3 Tariffs were raised which helped northern Italy but actually hurt the South. In turn the peasants lost faith in this new government and began supporting others. This lead to a period of violence where, “the government sent some 60 battalions of crack combat soldiers to teach a lesson  to the Southerners.” 4 Here an agricultural Depression set in and southern Italy began losing more faith in their own government.

This is only a condensed version of why many of the immigrants who immigrated to the US were from southern Italy. I think that it is interesting to note that the origins of the Mafia are believed to be in Southern Italy. So I think from here I will research more about the origin of organized crime in Italy. Maybe it will help answer why the Mafia became a popular culture phenomenon in the US and not in it’s country of origin, Italy. But here is a quote to end with, which I found interesting.

“If the legitimacy of the new Italian government was now to be assessed in terms of the degree to which the new government (in contrast to the old) secured respect for the basic rights of human dignity and harnessed political power to justice and the common good, it was fundamentally defective.” 5

  1. David A. J. Richards, Italian American: The Racializing of an Ethnic Identity (New York: New York University Press, 1999), 98.
  2. Ibid., 98.
  3. Ibid., 99.
  4. Ibid., 100.
  5. Ibid., 104.

First day exploring Cork!

January 3rd, 2011

We went into the city today, which is not even a 5 minute walk from our apartment, and got a lot of things we really needed. We started with phones, we got a plan that costs 20 euro a month and has unlimited texting and 15 cents a minute for calling.  We had looked for a grocery store yesterday but couldn’t find one so we asked at the phone store and found out that Dunnes Stores, which looks like your average clothing store form the outside, is actually an awesome has everything that you need store.  So we were very relived and got some gorceries, bedding, towels and other odds and ends that we needed.  The walk back was a little rough considering we each had 5 bags but we managed.

We know a girl from Mary Wash that is here and she lives in a place called the Spires which is very close to UCC so we found the Spires and met Kelly, the girl from Mary Wash, and her roommate Sarah.  We all went to UCC together and looked around the campus and then we took them to the city and showed them around a bit.  We got dinner and then went to a pub that is right across the street from our apartment.  Kelly and I got a Guinness, and I liked it a lot more than I was expecting to, and Leigh and Sarah drank a cider beer called Bulmers.  The pub was completely dead considering it was 7 o’clock on a Monday, so we just hung out and talked, and we are planning on going out to the real pubbing scene tomorrow night!

Orientation tomorrow, where we will pick our classes and I will hopefully create a schedule that consists of me going to class twice a week and never having to think about it on my 5 day weekends.  We will see how that plan works out for me.

This is city centre (Cork city) at night. It is all lit up and beautiful and there are always a good amount of people walking around, I love it already.

This is the quad of UCC. Nice and green! We walked around a little today and ran into 2 other groups of American students doing the same thing. Those Americans, so typical.


January 2nd, 2011

Leigh and I got to Cork today around 4pm their time.  We had to wander around the city for a awhile and eventually take a taxi to find our apartment.  Turns out we have a 2 bedroom apartment so we each get our own room.  We met a couple other girls that are living in our building and a few girls took the same bus as us from the Dublin airport.  We are going to do a lot of shopping tomorrow and try to acquaint ourselves with the city and all that jazz. We’re living in the city so we are really close to a lot of shops and restaurants and pubs which will be really nice.

I’m gonna bust out my camera tomorrow and try and post some pictures soon!

Digital Portfolio

December 25th, 2010

Since Digital Storytelling ended two weeks ago, I’ve been building my online portfolio. It’s still a work in progress. I plan to incorporate my resume, along with a few other clips and project snippets, and want to tweak the theme a little using Firebug to help me understand how to manipulate CSS.

Portfolio Megan Eichenberg

I have two text widgets on each page-an about box and internship experience sidebar. I may change these once I figure out how I want to incorporate my resume, but for now this will work. I created a blog post that links to each section of my portfolio with a brief description.

Portfolio Megan Eichenberg

Each page links to my work around the web.

Portfolio Megan Eichenberg

The special projects section includes links to Aisle 2 Bin 36 and Apropos Literary Journal.

I’m still looking into other themes and might change to one with a featured post slider. I also want to incorporate some of the work I completed in Digital Storytelling and a few other classes somehow.

Just some Random Occurrence

December 23rd, 2010

So the other day my mom and I bought a bunch of Tea Cups from an Antique Store to make Christmas presents out of. Since we had bought so many (They were inexpensive!) we were able to pick out which ones we wanted to keep. I personally liked this one a lot, so I kept it.

The Teacup

Now as these stories go, it doesn’t end there. Just yesterday I was going through my Mom’s jewelry when I cam across a black box. It turns out that this black box contains all of my Grandma’s jewelry, which was given to my mom for safekeeping after she passed away. Imagine my shock when I came across this!

The Front:

Front of Brooch

The Back:

Back of Brooch

Needless to say I immediately ran to get the teacup to confirm that they are in fact the same picture. I don’t know much about art, but I did notice some differences. Mostly the color scheme and the fact that the teacup appears to be some kind of water color painting.

Teacup and Brooch

Why am I posting about this? Well besides the fact that this is just really a strange occurrence… I mean I just happened to be obsessed with THAT tea cup and then happen to stumble across THAT brooch a couple days later??? It amuses me…. So I want to know if anyone else recognizes the painting and if they can provide more information. Unfortunately the teacup doesn’t have any sort of markings, all that I found was on the back of the brooch. And well, that really isn’t that much to go on. But I really want to figure out if this was a popular painting used on porcelain, probably from the early to mid 20th century, and who painted it in the first place.