Mason Bird is a college student majoring in cybersecurity. In his spare time, Mason Bird enjoys playing ultimate Frisbee. Catching is obviously a major part of the game, and there are four techniques to master.
The pancake catch: This is the simplest catching technique, with most novices gravitating toward it. The pancake involves catching the Frisbee with both palms facing each other.
The crocodile catch: Often confused with the pancake, the crocodile uses the same technique except that catchers stretch out their arms wider and snap their hands shut on the Frisbee.
The rim catch: This involves grabbing the rim of the Frisbee with both hands. This catch is predominantly used when the Frisbee is flying overhead.
The one-handed catch: This is usually used when the Frisbee approaches in an awkward position. One-handed catches are often used when the Frisbee is far to the side or overhead.
South Padre Island
A lifelong student of ancient history and current events, Mason Bird is a family-oriented undergraduate student. When not working toward a degree in cyber security, Mason Bird enjoys vacationing with his extended family on South Padre Island.
Once inhabited solely by the Karankawa tribe of Native Americans as well as migratory birds and sea turtles, the Texas island town is now home to 2,816 locals, according to the US Census Bureau’s 2016 report. The island was discovered in the 18th century and granted to Nicolas Balli by Spanish King Carlos III in 1759. It was eventually passed down to Balli’s grandson Padre Jose Nicholas Balli, a priest who established the first settlement on the island and taught Christianity to the natives.
Padre Balli didn’t name the island after himself; rather, it was referred to as Isla de Santiago, but locals held great affection for Padre Balli and soon began referring to the island as La Isla Del Padre, which in English translates to Padre Island. Mexico took ownership of the island after the Mexican Revolution of 1820, but it was claimed by the Republic of Texas in 1836 and eventually acquired by the United States following the Mexican-American War.
Dedicated to learning about history from antiquity to the present, Mason Bird spends a lot of time watching the History Channel. In addition, Mason Bird enjoys watching history documentaries. While excellent new history documentaries come out each year, some must-see films from the past include:
1. Liberation: This film tells the story of Hitler’s war through actual battle footage and interviews with Jewish survivors. Individuals gain a better sense of how the war was fought both inside and outside of Germany.
2. American Experience: The Donner Party. Viewers learn the story of pioneers trapped by a winter storm as they made their way westward and the terrible things they did to survive. The film does a good job of explaining the many factors that went into the decisions made that enabled their survival.
3. Secrets of the Titanic: This film garnered a great deal of acclaim for its previously unknown stories about one of the worst maritime disasters in history. The black and white production pulls people into the chilling narrative in spite of its already-known outcome.
4. The Romanovs: Spanning more than 300 years of history, this eight-part documentary runs for nearly seven hours but gives viewers a clear sense of how the Russian dynasty rose to power and what eventually contributed to its fall.
A university student with a broad range of interests, including ancient history and literature, Mason Bird is pursuing a career in cyber security. Mason Bird previously worked at a summer camp, where he was responsible for overseeing recreational activities such as paintball, which happens to be one of his favorite sports.
Paintball was first played in 1981 by a group of friends looking to create an outdoor survivalist game to determine who had the best survival skills. Needing a weapon that could tag an opponent without harm, the players settled on paint spray guns which were used to mark animals for the purpose of breeding. The first game was played in roughly 100 acres of woodland and Bob Jones, a writer for Sports Illustrated who took part in the game, published an article about the experience which sparked national interest.
Originally called the Natural Survival Game, Paintball’s early growth was aided by the Nelson Paint Company, which became the exclusive distributor of both guns and equipment. A 2006 American Sports Data Inc. study concluded that more than 10 million Americans played paintball annually, while other sources put the 2006 number closer to 12 million.
While those stats have fallen in the last decade, sources note that the number of players has stabilized at about 3.5 million annually. There remain several professional leagues for paintball, including the National X-Ball League, which features tournaments throughout the United States.
A university student focused on cybersecurity, Mason Bird has also completed coursework in political science. Outside of academia, Mason Bird maintains a strong interest in ancient and contemporary events that have had a major impact on the ways in which we lead our everyday lives.
Experts predict that by 2050 75 percent of the world’s population will inhabit cities. One question vexing political scientists is how to enable these cities to adapt to their growing population. An outgrowth of this concern is the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), which recently brought 30,000 civic leaders and urban planners to Quito, Ecuador.
The conference focused on issues such as sources of inequalities, analyzing how cities around the world can address social and political pressures and find ways to integrate vulnerable groups into the planning process. In cities in Brazil, housing councils have proved a viable platform for ensuring that residents have access to affordable, equitable housing.
At the root of Habitat III is a process of learning from past failures, many of which stem from a politicized public-services landscape that benefits only a few vested interests. One example is in Mexico, where the autonomy of many citizen water boards was decimated to the point where they were controlled by groups with partisan interests that no longer benefited local residents. Another area of Habitat III focus is on the vibrant informal economy, which is largely unregulated and untaxed, and yet sustains vast numbers of workers who fall below the poverty line.