Monday, January 31, 2011

I Went To A Lock-in

Rule # 3 on my Latin "Rules and Policies" sheet (3 after Being Respectful and Coming to Class Alert and Sober): "Leave your bigotry at the door. Feel free not to retrieve it when you live. There are plenty of mean people out there in the world, but in this class we will contrive to be kind to each other. That includes blacks, whites, browns, yellows, gays, straights, bi's, confuseds, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, animists, atheists, Wiccans, southerners, northerners, easterners, westerners, talls, shorts, fats, skinnies, preps, socials, gothics...basically everybody except Duke fans."

Saturday night, I went to a lock-in at my friend's church (a term which I use since it's one people will recognize, since they call it Meeting). We watched a movie about energy conservation and green power, and then hung out and played Settlers of Catan and did random stuff for the rest of the evening.

We had these things called FAPs (Friendly Adult Presences) who hung out and supervised us and whatnot. Two of them left around midnight and it was just the 6 of us and the youth leader for another hour until someone else showed up so the youth leader could get some sleep.
This other person, according to what I heard in the morning, stayed with us for most of the night while we slept. A woman who I think was his wife came at around 5 to open up the building and cook us (and her, and a few other people) breakfast.
How awesome is that? All of these people sacrificing so much of their time (and sleep) just for a bunch of teenagers spending the night in a little room in the basement.
I felt so loved.

After breakfast, we washed the dishes and then went to the first 15 minutes of Meeting (the non-adults always leave at that point), which entailed us sitting on benches in a room full of other people sitting on benches in total silence.
It was an incredibly powerful experience: all of us, sitting in a room together, yet being totally ourselves, and just ourselves. Not talking to each other or anything. Just...being. I don't know if I've ever been inside such a populated room that is simultaneously so absent of sound.
It was amazing.

I often say that I think religion should be a completely personal experience, and therefore we should all just worship from home. This began as an attempt at an argument for getting out of going to church (which failed), but then I came to realize that I actually believed it but for the fact that a lot of people turn to religion for a sense of community as well as spiritual fulfillment.

This matched up my views and the need for community. The actual spiritual bit was theology and liturgy-free, but there's still lots of social things both just-for-fun and to make the world a better place.

After we went back downstairs to listen to and talk with a representative of their environmental concerns committee (you read that correctly. They have a committee in their church for that). We discussed ways to cut back on energy consumption both in our personal lives and in society as a whole, and I realized: these people meant business. It wasn't just a "yeah, we should save the Earth. Go green and stuff. Yay." They were serious. I was/am awe-struck.

When we first sat down, the man from the ECC told us that he thought of the high school youth group as a group, and was genuinely interested in getting to know each of us/them personally. Every time he asked us a question, I felt that he really did want to know the answer, and had thought about the question beforehand.

Which brings me to the final major thing I was surprised-in-a-good-way about: all of the adults I interacted with over the course of the lock-in acted with phenomenal respect towards us young people. 

How much better could a weekend get than spending it with my best friend and other awesome people discussing things that matter, yet having fun at the same time, in such a caring environment?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Libraries Recommending "Inappropriate" Books

"The ultimate aim of the ego is not to see something, but to be something." - 
Muhammed Iqbal

I was wandering around the nerdfighter forums today and found the above article. It's quite long, though, so I don't expect you to go read it.

I wrote an entire post about that article, and then found something on a different blog that summed up my thoughts very well:

I would like to add to that, however, that in the case of some mature teens, the teens in question should make the decisions for themselves-- even if their parents disagree.

Then again, I'm both biased and generally only exposed to teens who are definitely mature enough to know what they do and do not want to read.

Sometimes it's hard to put forth impartial commentary from such a non-average position, and for that I am sorry. I am who I am, and I'm friends with my friends. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Pro-lifers Re-defining Rape

"The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are." - Joseph Campbell

Take that, Giant Squids of Anger lurking in the comments of YouTube videos everywhere.

Well. That sounds like a problem, doesn't it? 
That should sound like a problem even for pro-life people. This isn't about abortion anymore. It's about what's defined as rape.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bmin/E: A Review

"Let us live for the beauty of our own reality." - Charles Lamb. I don't know whether or not I agree with him.

You may remember that I wrote a review of All Caps' album Lowercase after it came out. Bmin/E is a bit older, but I've been listening to it a lot today and I'm kinda bored, so why not? CD reviews tend to bring me in a lot of views...haha.

All Caps is probably my favorite band, and Bmin/E is my favorite of their albums.

Track 1: "World of Warcraft Ruined My Life"
You may remember from the Lowercase review that I greatly prefer this electronic version to the acoustic one. There's anger! There's passion! There's WoW references that date back to when I used to play it! Tidbit: Kristina began to play WoW just days after they filmed the music video for this song. 

Track 2: "Don't Unplug Me"
"Don't Unplug Me" is probably their most popular song. It details the heart-breaking story of a robotic couple whose male half stops loving his girlfriend after getting the "upgrade to version 2," saying "What is a hug? That does not compute." It is most famous for the super-epic performance at Vidcon 2010. I like the acoustic version's music video better, but in terms of the music, I again prefer the electronic one.

Track 3: "Lumos Flies"
"Lumos Flies" is a parody of "Fireflies" by Owl City about Ron and Hermione at the Yule Ball. I'm most impressed with the lyrics on this one. It's more difficult to work with a song that's not yours, and they did a great job adapting it to Harry Potter while still retaining some of the same phrases as the original. That's the best kind of parody, I think: one that closely mirrors its parent.

Track 4: "You Kissed Me At The Dundies"
I never watched The Office, so this is one of my least favorite tracks of the album just because I don't understand the references. I assume that if you have watched the show, then you'll like it.

Track 5: "Hey Kristina"
This is the kind of song that lonely nerdfighter girls listen to when they wish they had a super-awesome boyfriend. Or when they're just lonely and wouldn't mind if the person to break their loneliness happened to be a super-awesome boyfriend. Our narrator likes "this nerdy girl who does nerdy things, who likes John Green and goes to book signings." If that applies to you, you will love the song. Replace "Kristina" with your own name. Problem solved. ;) There's also references to Twilight, Renaissance Faires, lots of social media sites, FiveAwesomeGirls...

Track 6: "Can't"
"Can't" was originally written by Alan Lastufka and Tom Milsom for their album Taking Leave, so it's a bit different from the average All Caps fare. It's not the song I pick to listen to, but if it comes up in Shuffle mode, I won't skip over it. And I skip over a lot of the stuff on my iPod, so even that is a compliment.

Track 7: "Summer of '09"
Dance. Party. Originally written by Alan Lastufka for Erase This, but given to All Caps because it a) didn't fit the album and b) did fit them. I love it. This is the one I choose to listen to.

Track 8: "Happy"
This is the only song on the album that I do skip over. I'm just not really sure what it's about. When juxtaposed with "Delete You," it makes more sense, but I would have swapped the two in the track listing, in that case. Don't worry, All Caps: I still love you.

Track 9: "Delete You"
This is the angry break-up song of the century. Kristina did an amazing job with her vocals. It's not just the lyrics that are filled with passion and hurt; you can hear it. If you listen very carefully towards the end, you can hear the chorus from "Happy."

Track 10: "Your Song"
See my commentary for "Hey Kristina," without the specific Kristina-related references. The music video for this is really good, and it's a very sweet song.

Track 11: "The NaNoWriMo Song"
I must have listened to this at least 50 times during November of 2009, and it is my inspiration for creating "The Phantom of November." I'm so glad that they portray 30k-40k has the hardest part, because it is, and the Office of Letters and Light calls it "The Place Where Everything Gets Much Easier." Yeah right.

Track 12: "Christmas Wish"
See what I said for tracks 5 and 10. What heterosexual girl doesn't want a boy who will stop playing video games for her? (Actually, I would prefer to play said video games with him...but that's beside the point. It's romantic.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Spring Semester

I'm sure I've mentioned on here before that my sisters and I eat breakfast by the light of glowsticks on the first day of school. Unfortunately, today was the start of the new semester (all new classes for me, and two new ones for both of them), and I couldn't find the package my parents gave me for Christmas. :(

I had a really great and interesting topic to discuss today, but I have absolutely no idea what it was, so you're going to have to either exit out of the window or read about all of my new classes. Sorry. Really. I would have preferred to write about the other thing.

Started the day off with my first-ever semester of Latin. We have a fish pond in the middle of our classroom. I'm serious. We learned vowel and consonant pronunciation. We have to pay 25 cents to use the bathroom, but he takes the money and throws us a party at the end of the year. While other language classes are based around speaking and listening, ours is mostly about reading (so you see why I'm glad I'm taking it- ha).

Then I got to run all the way across campus to band, and I was surprised at how much I'd missed band class, having barely played my clarinet since June. We didn't actually play any music until about 5 minutes before class was over, was fun. And my new mouth-piece makes my embrasure sound much better than it actually is.

Next was Civics and Economics, which I've heard a lot of conflicting opinions about. It seems like a lot of interesting discussions take place, but I've also heard a lot of complaining about all of the dumb guys in certain classes...(sorry, that's sort of an inside joke-- not that I want to keep it  secret-- you guys just wouldn't find it funny). 
The Honors and Academic-level students are all mixed together, so we have different grade break-downs (tests & quizzes count for more with us Honors kids and classwork more with them) and have to do more of these things called Citizenship Credits-- which are basically mini-projects due at certain times throughout the semester. 

Last was AP Chemistry, the review packet for which my teacher forgot to give me before exams. Fortunately, I'd done enough of her review packets for the Honors Chemistry exam that I'm not too behind except for the memorization of solubility rules and ions and such.

I have to watch the State of the Union Address (one of our main Presidential speeches of the year, for those outside of the U.S.) for C&E tonight, so I'll probably type up some thoughts on that either as I'm watching or tomorrow. Or Thursday, since I'll be baking stuff for you lot tomorrow.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

An Abundance of Quotes Part 8

"I never imagined myself being a writer. I always imagined myself actually being smart or something." - Christopher Paolini

"The truth resists simplicity." - one of the vlogbrothers. Hank says it in a recent video, but the context hints that John said it at some point before.

"Each day provides its own gifts." - Marcus Aurelius

"It is the nature of all greatness not to be exact." - Edmund Burke

"Know or listen to those who know." - Baltasar Gracian

“It is very sad to me that some people are so intent on leaving their mark on the world that they don’t care if that mark is a scar” - John Green

"The crux... is that the vast majority of the mass of the universe seems to be missing." - William J. Broad

"You have to dream before your dreams can come true." - Abdul Kalam

"The joy of Alzheimer's: I can always make new friends, and I can hide my own Easter eggs." - my math teacher, who does not have Alzheimer's.

"You look like someone peed in your cornflakes." - Also my math teacher

(Guy in my math class): "Dude, are you racist towards Asians?"
(Another guy in my math class): "If by 'racist' you mean 'sexually attracted to,' then yes."

I'm cleaning out my binder and found some things I made note of, the conversation above being one of them. It's too bad I don't have any novel ideas that need a lot of modern teenage boys. Perhaps The Clockwork Experiment's eventual sequel can use them. 

Did I ever tell you guys that my mom has traced our lineage back far enough to know that my great x25 grandfather's name was Grimbaldus? He lived in the 1500s, and didn't have a last name.
We're also directly descended from John Alden & Priscilla Mullins (they came over on the Mayflower), closely related to Winston Churchill, and distantly related to John Adams, Princess Diana, and Sarah Winchester (of Winchester Mystery House fame).
I just thought that was an interesting bit of information for you to know.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Re-Segregation in Schools

"Wherever you are - be all there." - Jim Elliot

"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." - Francis Bacon, 1625 

Children, I want you all to put on your clean dresses and freshly-pressed suits, because we're going to have a very important visitor arriving here on this blog rather soon. I will be going away for a little bit so that I won't be cluttering up the house while she is here. I want you all to be on your very best behavior. If you do as I ask, I will bake you a special treat.

Who is this visitor, you ask? She is an agent who has expressed interest in The Clockwork Experiment. I may or may not actually stop posting (most likely not-- I could never leave you dear ones for very long, could I? I mean, take a look at the archives on the right). However, the special treat is not a lie, unlike the cake. (Portal reference, anyone?) At least, it's solid truth for those of you in my writing group-- assuming I remember to bake it, that is.

Now, I could write a post in all capital letters about how exciting that is (and believe me, it's easily exciting enough to write one in THE LARGEST FONT SIZE), but I have more interesting things to be discussing, so let us move on to those.

Wow, this is coming out really formal other than the parenthesized parts, isn't it? I'll have to make up for it some other time.

As some of you may or may not know, my county's school system was mocked on the Colbert Report last night.  
I was not offended.
On the contrary, I was thoroughly amused, in a "Oh God, that's so true. Our school board sucks" kind of way.
As a friend of mine posted on Facebook, "When your county is the on the Colbert Report, you feel a mixture of pride and deep, deep shame."

It's heart-breaking to know that the school board is essentially re-segregating our schools with full knowledge of their actions. Worse yet is to see the parents, teachers, students, and even non-parent people who care pleading with them to keep the current policies at the open hearings. 
They claim that they're doing it to make it easier on parents-- so they don't have to drive their kids as far in the mornings-- and so that certain students won't have to sit on the bus for close to an hour twice a day.
However, many students with long transportation times clearly stated that they didn't mind. They understood the importance of socio-economic (and for the most part, therefore racial) diversity, and they were willing to give up a few hours of sleep each week in favor of that.

Let's see... "democracy." Literal definition: ruled by the people.
We elect those we wish to make the decisions for us, because we believe them to represent our values. They're supposed to do what we want, even if it's only so we'll elect them for another term.
I don't see the school board representing our values. I'm sure there are those who agree with them, but where are they? Not at that hearing. If they aren't making themselves heard, why should the school board do what they might want?

Hey...wasn't there that thing back when hippies were around called the Civil Rights Something-or-other? What was that thing about, again? I don't seem to recall.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Home Alone And Bored

“I don’t really care how people read. I care if people read.” - John Green

"A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside." - Denis Waitley

There is something inherently pleasing about writing on a white board. The bold, black strokes of the marker on the (hopefully) totally blank background, barren of all color (or rather, filled with so much color that it appears to be empty, if we want to be technical).
Then the marks can be wiped away immediately, if one so chooses.

Stuff like that seems like it would only be found as the musings of the narrator within one of the higher-quality YA novels. But no. It's something I was thinking about during my Chemistry review session after my Pre-Calc exam (which I feel went rather well), in much the same words as I have related to you here.
I just finished Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, which is why I was thinking about YA narration.
It was a very good book. I had difficulty not laughing aloud at some points while others were trying to graph sine curves and figure out binomial probability. (Yeah, I tend to finish exams early.) The one issue I have with Levithan's books, though, is that they tend to take place in cities, so the characters actually have a plethora of things to be doing, and tend to have a lot more freedom. 
Whereas and write both on paper and online, both fiction and otherwise. Sometimes I go see movies with friends. That's about it.

Actually...there's a wizard rock concert in a few weeks...I'm excited. The Blibbering Humdingers, The Whomping Willows, JFF, and Lauren Fairweather will be preforming. These are all people I see around 3-5 times a year (we're lucky- the Humdingers live about 10 minutes away from me and there's a lot of fans in the area, so tours often come to visit), but I still always look forward to it. I went to go buy some Willows songs from iTunes a few months ago, and I was disappointed in the recordings. "The House of Awesome Theme Song," in particular, does not live up to the live experience.

I hate this keyboard. The spacebar only works about 50% of the time.

Monday, January 17, 2011

An Abundance of Quotes Part 7 & Inception

"Normal is not something to strive for; it is something to run away from." - Joe Roach

"Anyone can become angry. This is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way--that is not easy." - Aristotle

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is a habit." - Aristotle

"If gods exist, where do they live?" - Socrates

"Attacking bad books is not only a waste of time but also bad for the character." - W. H. Auden

I just watched Inception, and it was also amazing. We're going to watch it again sometime this coming week.

I saw it for the first time Saturday night. My best friend called me, said she'd watched it the night before and wanted to see it again, thought I would enjoy it, and her family was all going to be gone for various reasons so thought that night would be a good time to watch it. I immediately said "YES."

Throughout the first half, I kept asking lots of questions and making lots of guesses, partially because I wanted to know, partially because I enjoyed coming up with ridiculous theories, and partially because I knew she'd find it entertaining. 

And the end. The end was awesome, and sparked so much discussion.

Leave your theories in the comments. I want to read them.


Some things we discussed:

  • Is the end intended to be a real life Inception, meaning that it's just there to make us think and wonder?
  • Does it mean that it doesn't matter whether it's real or not, because he's happy?
  • Was it wobbling?
  • Is he still in Limbo?
  • Was the entire movie in Limbo, and the real point was to get him out of it?
  • Did she really die?
  • "They come here to wake up." (the old guy in the basement where the chemist works)
Tell me your thoughts, O Readers!

Sunday, January 16, 2011


"A book is at best a poor contrivance to catch a life in." - Page Smith

I'm not a person who works in an office. I go to school. I work in a desk. I go home. I write on the couch, or on my bed, or while sitting on my floor. But it is likely that I will one day need to work in an office, and it is also likely that the non-teens among you readers either have or do work in one.
Therefore, I am sharing the above link with you.

And while I don't work in an "office," there are things within that video that I can put to use in my own life to make myself more efficient at both homework and writing.
I'm also interested in starting to play with dynamic digital visualization of data. My dad's going to teach me some stuff about Java coding to get me started.

I especially liked the piece of the video about "bosses didn't used to have a problem with people taking a smoke break. A Facebook or Twitter or YouTube break is like that."

A Baptism

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." - Mark Twain

"If everybody could read all the books that have ever been published and still have time left over to lead a normal life devoted to other interests, there would be little need for universities." - Lyman Abbott, 1924

If you enjoyed my post about my journal, the vlog about it that I may or may not have mentioned on here is now up:

I went to my baby cousin's baptism this morning. Their church is very...different from ours. Much more liturgical. I swear, the priest chanted for about half an hour straight. The entire thing took about an hour. Just the baptism.
It was also much more ritualistic, which was interesting, but a lot of it seemed kind of redundant. Like renouncing Satan three times in a row, and then acknowledging that you just renounced him three times in a row.
Instead of a baptismal font like we have, they had a giant cauldron-thing that looked like a massive goblet. My dad, of course, started whispering "Flesh of the servant...willingly offered. Bone of the father....unknowingly given. Blood of the enemy, forcibly taken," which is a reference to the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, if you didn't catch that.
They painted my cousin's forehead, chest, hands, and feet with oil, cut his hair, and then the priest said "Take his clothes off." 

Me:    0_0  WHAT?!

But no, they really did take his clothes off and dunk him (up to his neck) in the goblet thing. 

And they spit on Satan. The priest said "Now turn and spit upon him!" And they turned around and spit on the floor. I couldn't believe it. They actually spit.

The thing I really didn't like, though, is that the real altar is behind a partition, and only men are allowed behind it. My cousin's godmother wasn't allows to go with the godfather and the priest. Just men. 
That's one of the reasons we came home afterwards, instead of staying for the service itself.
One of the other reasons is that we have vacuuming and dishes and other such things to I have to go. :)

Friday, January 14, 2011

TED Complaints

“Hank, at the end of this year I started to think that a lot of life is about doing things that don’t suck with people who don’t suck.” - John Green

"Biography is different from Geography. Geography is about maps, while biography deals with chaps." - Edmund Clerihew Bentley (that's the first quote from my new Quote Book- the first section is all about biography.)

As you know, I've been watching a lot of TED videos recently. I have enjoyed all of them.

It makes me sad when videos such as the two above-- almost always videos with female speakers-- get lots of comments to the tune of "@#$% this $%&#. All of the TED Woman talks suck except for like, one."

I'm assuming that when it first started out, TED was mostly about science, and had a lot of male speakers. Since then, they have expanded. There are talks on literature and spirituality. There are talks about social interaction and understanding each other (like the two I've linked to above). Why is it so bad that the lectures are encompassing MORE content? They aren't badly written, and the content is sound, researched stuff. Yet they are hated all the same, because they belong to different categories.

I mean, so what if she uses terms such as The Warrior and The Mystic? She's compartmentalizing different portions of herself so as to be better-understood. If you have a problem with her New Age-y language, translate it into something else. Warrior and Mystic are archetypes that the human image-oriented mind can understand.

The guy viewers complain that there's TEDWoman, but making TEDMan would be sexist. Fair point, but perhaps they created the TEDWoman conference because some women didn't feel welcome at the regular event due to people like this.

I'm sorry. It just makes me really mad. 

Science isn't the only thing that matters. Even if you're not religious yourself, spirituality matters to others, and others affect you, which means that spirituality ought to matter to you as well. Living in harmony with each other matters, even if it sounds fruity.

Also, I really think that "each other" should be made into one word, but all of my spell checkers flip out when I try to write "eachother."
Those two words in that order are used as their own separate word, and they should be spelled as such. 

Also Also: Hi to all of the readers from the Netherlands and Ukraine! Google Stat has informed me that views from your area are growing. I assume that means you're not spam-bots.

IMPORTANT ALSO: Sometimes I post lyrics I've written on here, but I finally actually got around to making a video of one of my songs (yes, it's a wizard rock song). The video/audio quality isn't terribly good (as my camera sucks at video-- the iSight is debatably better), but here's the link to that:

Thursday, January 13, 2011

An Abundance of Quotes Part 6

I'm in school at the moment, so no quotes from the new book. :(
That's good, though, because it gives me the chance to clean out my feeds in preparation for delving into some of those.

#1 is just a pretty image:

“The way the sun is right now, with the long shadows and that kind of bright, soft light you get when the sun isn’t quite setting? That’s the light that makes everything better, everything prettier, and today, everything just seemed to be in that light.” - John Green

#2 is some satire for you:

"Another possible source of guidance for teenagers is television, but television's message has always been that the need for truth, wisdom and world peace pales by comparison with the need for a toothpaste that offers whiter teeth *and* fresher breath." - Dave Barry
#3 gave me my first laugh of the day (when I read it before 7 am):
"Roses are red, violets are blue, I'm schizophrenic, and so am I." - Oscar Levant

And #4 is motivational/inspirational:

"Every exit is an entry somewhere else." - Tom Stoppard

Exams: 1 down, 3 to go

I won't have another English class until August. :(

I intend to put together a new set of query packets this weekend, and go to the post office after the library on Monday. (Because if I'm going to be driving home, I get to choose where we stop on the way there- mwa haha)
I feel like I haven't touched The Clockwork Experiment in ages. I feel like it's time for a re-read/edit, especially since a few more people have/are currently making their way through it. 
Is it weird that I miss the book I wrote?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fear Part 3: Love Orange

"You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do." - Henry Ford
I disagree. James Webb is famous for having a telescope that is yet to be built named after him.
Granted, James Webb did some stuff to get that honor, but he's only famous to me because of that, so it is likely that the same is true of others.

For an exercise in symbolism, imagery, and figurative language in preparation for our English exam tomorrow, we had to read a short story ("Love Orange") by Olive Senior. I looked for a place for all of you to read it online, but everything I found was either a broken link or directed me back to my textbook. Sorry about that.

Before delving into the actual story, however, I want to talk about "author's purpose." In middle school, they told us that everything is written to either persuade, inform, or entertain. This topic came up briefly in class today while discussing theme. I think they left out the most important (and common) purpose: enjoyment.
Look for more on that sometime in the next month. There's something I'm sitting on at the moment that relates closely.

I think "Love Orange" is a beautiful, haunting piece of writing, and I'm legitimately enjoying analyzing it. (Despite that I'm procrastinating from the assignment by starting to write this post. Ha.)

Over the course of the story, a girl debates whether or not to share her "love orange" with various people (a neighbor's grandmother, another neighbor's son, her own grandmother), because she believes that everyone has only so many segments of love to hand out. Her orange is precious.
She comes close to giving it away several times, but always takes it back at the last second because in her mind's eye, it has transformed into a broken doll.

The storytelling is amazing. Our conditioned minds first see such things as the orange and the doll to be symbols, but they're not. In the mind of a child-- who doesn't have much experience with language and therefore can't completely make the transition from thoughts to pure words-- images are to be taken at face-value. It isn't a literary device. It's a brilliant piece of narration. That's the way kids think (or at least that's the way I used to think, and I've been chasing after that mindset ever since).

"Love Orange" invokes fears that all of us have faced: Do we share that most precious piece of ourselves with others? Where do we draw the line? What if our well-intentioned actions only bring harm? Is it better to love and lost than to never have loved at all?
Even while I was analyzing it, the small, scared child within me woke up, crawled out from under the bed, and looked around. That's what I love about good literature: it reveals what we know to be true of ourselves through tantalizing narrative. 

I found the entire thing to be very powerful. 
Have any of you read it?

Also: the elementary school's librarian (who I've known since I was 4) gave me a couple books today. One of them consists entirely of quotes from writers about writing.
I will never lack something to stick at the top of a post ever again. I have enough right there for over three years of daily blogging. I'm excited.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Milestone

January 6th was an important day.
Not because January 6th is the day on which the magi supposedly arrived in Bethlehem to see Jesus (I saw supposedly because Jesus was born in March, and I can prove it to you).
Not because January 6th is my parents' anniversary.

No, January 6th was an important day this year because it is the first day on which I filled the last page of a journal.

It took me OVER A DECADE to fill it.

The first date marked is around Thanksgiving of 2000 (I was in kindergarten), but there are many pages before that. Here's the first:

After 1st grade, there are big gaps until about 5th grade, in which I draw some monsters and cast the play I wrote for my class. From there on, there's just the occasional entry that I wrote after finding it while looking through my piles of random old stuff.
Then we finally get to 10th grade, where you find all of my English journal entries from the last semester.
I wanted to write something special on the last page, so I ended up mimicking the first.

I'm going to be making a more in-depth video about journals on my YouTube channel, so look there either later today or tomorrow if you want to see it.

In other news, I have recently downloaded the Mac App Store. They have lots of free apps. The one's I've gotten so far:

  • MindNode, which makes gorgeous flow charts. I intend to try using it for plotting, but at the very least it's fun and pretty.
  • SketchBook Express, which is "MS Paint on steroids," according to one of the reviews.
  • Minesweeper
  • YellingRobot, which shouts obscenities at you at regular intervals to make sure you're on task. I haven't actually run it yet, but I'm looking forward to it. (Wait-- I just tried in it, and it only says whatever it tells you to say. Which means it can shout obscenities if I so choose.)
  • ThoughtBack, which is an awesome app that you type random ideas into, and it emails them to you a few weeks later. That way you can actually remember your ideas.
  • Caffeine, which I haven't downloaded, but I thought was funny. While it's running, your computer won't go to sleep or dim its screen.
I only have 2 more days until exams, which is both sad and exciting. 
I've really enjoyed English this year, so that's sad. I'm not sure why, though, since the best part was discussing the books (namely Lord of the Flies and Siddhartha), and I can do all of that thinking and pondering on my own.
I'll miss the in-school computer access I get during Computer Programming. I won't be able to work on stories I have in Google Docs, and next year, I won't be able to do half of my daily NaNoWriMo quota before I get home.
I've found the curriculum of Pre-Calculus very interesting, yet not terribly difficult (unlike Calculus, which looks both interesting and hard).
Then there's Chemistry...I'm enjoying the material, but not the class itself. Not much to miss, though, since I'll have AP Chemistry next semester.
In terms of exams, I'm really only worried about math and science, partially because I have the lowest grades (still As, but lower ones) in those, and because it's either right or wrong. English is more about supporting your opinion in clear and coherent ways, which is something I can do.

Next semester, I'll have Latin 1 first thing, and I hear the teacher for that is pretty cool. He goes by his first name, which is generally a good sign. Also, apparently he gives homework passes if it's your birthday. Too bad my birthday's in October. At least I can cash in on that next year. There's a few kids I know to be in that class who I either know, or a couple of my friends know them so that we've been at least introduced.

Then it's across campus to band, which should be easy and fun once I get my embouchure back in working order. My clarinet is an old wooden one-- the same one my mom played in high school. I'll get to see all of my band friends except for one, who ended up in Concert Band instead of Symphonic (same thing, except we have harder music) due to a mistake in registration (or something else like that. He's definitely good enough to be in Symphonic).

Then it's back across campus for Civics and Economics. One of my friends has my same teacher right now, and he says that the teacher is very witty and sarcastic, so that's good. C & E classes are all honors/non-honors combined, which means the quizzes and tests are easier, and us honors kids just have to do more homework. At least, that's what my friends tell me.

Lastly is AP Chem, which I actually only signed up for because I didn't want to take Computer Apps, which is a course based around Microsoft Office. It may be arrogant of me to say so, but I'm inclined to think that I could pretty much teach that class.
So I signed up for a super-hard one instead. Yes, I'm a nerd.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

An Abundance of Quotes Part 5

I think we only have two John Green quotes on the menu today.

“Do I think everyone has a good book in them? Yes, but I think most people can’t write that good book. Writing is not so much about Having A Great Story; it’s about knowing how to translate that great story into these meaningless scratches on a screen that will come to life in the mind of a reader. That’s a tricky business, and not everyone is suited to it.” - #1

“Let me answer your question with a question, Google. If we spent as much time thinking about quantum physics as we do thinking about whether celebrities are gay, do you think we’d have a unified theory yet? I do!” - #2

Having a unified theory would be fantastic. If you don't know what that means and don't mind learning a bit of string theory, I would recommend Hyperspace by Michio Kaku. It's fun to read, has diagrams for us visual learners, uses lots of metaphors so that we can wrap our heads around the concepts, and explains it well.

"I like marriage. The idea." - Toni Morrison

"The superfluous, a very necessary thing." - Voltaire

"We always like those who admire us; we do not always like those whom we admire." - Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Friday, January 7, 2011

"A Nation of Wimps"

"I'm not 'shy.' I'm 'conversationally selective.' Quote me on that." -- Um...that was me who said that. It was going farther down in the post, but then I thought it was funny, so I moved it here. (Actually, I am shy, but more of that shyness has morphed into conversation-selectiveness in the past year.)

This post is one of my commentaries on an article. This isn't one of the angry(er) ones, but it is rather long.

Thanks to Kenny (again, ha) for the link:

"'s playground, all-rubber-cushioned surface where kids used to skin their knees. And... wait a minute... those aren't little kids playing. Their mommies—and especially their daddies—are in there with them, coplaying or play-by-play coaching. Few take it half-easy on the perimeter benches, as parents used to do, letting the kids figure things out for themselves."

I used to think it was just my getting older that made me think the newer playgrounds were lame, and I only liked the older ones for the nostalgia. No. The newer ones really are lame. Give my an old wooden one any day. There's one at a park sort of near my house, and another at my mom's old elementary school, and another that used to be at the park of their hometown, but that one got replaced by the "safe" plastic. Mhm.

"'(A) 13-year-old "couldn't see the big picture.' That cleverly devised defect (what 13-year-old can construct the big picture?) would allow her to take all her tests untimed, especially the big one at the end of the rainbow, the college-worthy SAT."

*face palm* That was in reference to a supposed "condition" that required the teacher to make special accommodations.

"When he took over as president of Harvard in July 2001, Lawrence Summers publicly ridiculed the value of honors after discovering that 94 percent of the college's seniors were graduating with them." 

Good God. And I thought my middle school was bad, handing out "good behavior tickets" just for wearing school colors or getting an answer right. Sometimes even for coming to class on time. These tickets (if you have enough of them) can be redeemed at the end of the month to allow you to meander around outside for an hour, or attend a mandatory during-school dance. 
There's also an AR (Accelerated Reader) system where students are required (for a grade) to take content-based (Who was stealing the life force from Ginny in the Chamber of Secrets?) tests on books for points in hopes of meeting a point goal. If you make your goal 3/4 quarters, you get to go to the AR celebration, which when I was in 6th grade was a trip to the roller-rink, and more recently was with "inflatables." Come on.
In elementary school, it wasn't required. You could redeem your points at a monthly "store" to get silly erasers or cool pencils or little green army men or whatever. It was simply an incentive to read more. None of that "you should have done this anyway, but YAY BONUS FOR YOU FOR DOING IT." Also, the goal maximum in the middle school was (and is) 40 points. It didn't matter how fast or often or well you read. So my great accomplishment in 8th grade was to make over 1000% of my goal in one quarter.

"It is a pure index of emotional over-investment in a child's success. And it rests on a notion of juvenile frailty—the assumption that children are easily bruised and need explicit uplift."

I'm all for commending kids when they achieve stuff, but we shouldn't make up achievements solely for the sake of commending them. 
It's an argument I often have with my parents:
Them: "Olivia's got her book published on AMAZON. Isn't that AMAZING?"
Me: "It would be...only it wasn't based on the quality of the writing. There are so many typos in there (due to the rush I was in to smash it together), and most of the short stories aren't even that good, and the table of contents is even missing some of the items. Literally anyone could do it. It's self-publishing, and it's free."
Them: "But--But--So? We're allowed to be proud of you."
Me: "I'd rather you be proud of me for things worth being proud of. Otherwise your pride doesn't mean much anymore."  :(

"The organized sports many kids participate in are managed by adults; difficulties that arise are not worked out by kids but adjudicated by adult referees."

Case point: 3rd grade. 3 days out of the week, we were required to do an organized sport, or walk the track. 3rd grade recess became something to be endured, not because I didn't enjoy 4-square, but because I was required to play it during my free time.

Also, and I don't want to reflect badly on my mom because of this because she's an awesome mom and I love her, but here's another example:
My sister and I are yelling at each other over something stupid. She yells at us to stop fighting. We aren't allowed to peacefully (or otherwise) our own conflicts. When we're furious at each other, we're forced to leave the room. We're reduced to ranting about each other to either our other sister or Dad. Where is the social-skills-learning in that? Sure, I understand why she doesn't want to listen to us fight, but...Oh well.

Then there's a page about cellphones and parental contact during college, which I've already spoken of in previous posts. The thing with blogging so much is that it's a pain to fish around for hyperlinks. If you want to see that post, leave a comment and I'll be happy to find it for you, but otherwise I'm not going to bother.

"At age 2, none of (the kids genetically predispositioned to anxiety) wound up fearful if their parents backed off from hovering and allowed the children to find some comfortable level of accommodation to the world on their own. "

I don't know if I'm one of those kids, but I definitely exhibited some of the symptoms mentioned. 
And I have a story that definitely backs the above quote up, which doesn't really need to be told. 

"Children need to be gently encouraged to take risks and learn that nothing terrible happens."

Here's where my dad's paranoia kicks in:
I read that and think: Yes, but sometimes terrible things do happen; like car crashes. God, car crashes. No, no, no, don't want to drive don't want to drive don't want to drive.

Granted, I have been driving places, and nothing terrible has happened, and I'm feeling much more comfortable about it. It's an interesting feeling to be in control of the car, and one I'm still getting used to....but hey, I've had my permit for less than two weeks.

"They need gradual exposure to find that the world is not dangerous."

And here is the point where I temporarily lose open-mindedness about this article. B.S. 
The world is dangerous.

"Being examined all the time makes children extremely self-conscious. As a result they get less communicative; scrutiny teaches them to bury their real feelings deeply. And most of all, self-consciousness removes the safety to be experimental and playful. "If every drawing is going to end up on your parents' refrigerator, you're not free to fool around, to goof up or make mistakes," says Anderegg."

True. Very true.

"...ubiquity of video games that encourage aggression."

Not true. Very not true. I've been playing a game that used to be rated M(ature) for violence (which is now a T[een]) since I was three and watching it be played since I was two, and I am not a violent person.
Maybe some people who like violent video games happen to be more prone to violence. That doesn't mean it's the games' fault.

And...that's it. Off to reading a book. I only have about 7 out from the library right now on three-week loans...