The Great Gatsby and Cognitive Dissonance

Making a movie based on a novel is hard. Everyone can get that. The amount of work that goes into directing a movie and writing a script and designing set pieces and casting parts is enormous. Making a movie based on a Fitzgerald book is neigh on impossible; if you understand why it’s not so unreasonable to assume that a The Great Gatsby movie would most likely fail as a piece of media.

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Spring has arrived

It’s Spring now and that means it is a great time for planting all your fruits and vegetables, or even starting a new garden. And my plans are to build myself a garden box and start a garden in my own backyard. I have planned about planting tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers to start off my garden. I done a little research on making garden boxes and planting lots of different types of vegetables and fruits and I wanted to share with you what I found about planting tomatoes.

To start off, I’ll explain about the different ways to plant the tomatoes. You can grow tomatoes from nursery plants or from seeds. I’ll be talking about nursery plants though. The first thing you need to do with tomato nureyour plant is to find a sunny spot to transplant it to. A good site would be a spot that receives 7 or more hours of sunlight daily. The warmth from the sun gives the tomato its good taste. And before you transfer your tomato plants you should prepare the garden by placing about 3 inches of compost on top. Now that you are ready to transplant your tomatoes you need to follow these instructions. When transplanting you should bury about 1/2 or 3/4 of the plant because the main thing you need to focus on with transplanting plants are growing roots. You should also try to space the tomato plants about 18 inches apart to let them have room to grow. Now that your tomatoes are planted you should water them with about 16 ounces of warm water for the tomatofirst 7 to 10 days after transplanting. After 10 days make sure they are experiencing about 1 to 3 inches of rain each week and if they are not give each plant about 2 gallons of water per week. After about 45 to 90 days you should watch for tomato fruits starting to appear. They look green at first but when they start to ripen they get a bright, deep coloring. While your fruit is still ripening a good tip to protect them from predators, is to carefully place a zip lock bag from the bottom of the fruit up onto the stem. Make sure to leave about 1/4 in. of open bag on each side to allow air flow though. Now when you think your tomato is just ripe enough carefully pull it off the stem (Do not grip it as it will bruise) and enjoy.

I have wanted to build a garden for so long and now my dream is finally going to come true. I know this will be a lot of hard work, but that is what I like about it. I really like working outside and getting my hands in the dirt.

The Giver of Memories

3745_285632463Due to the CRCT (Criterion-Reference Competency Test) we are taking all through this week being extremely simple and containing mostly on-level material the students and I in my class finish with enough time left to go insane… But some students in other classes who have trouble understanding the material and those with “disabilities” who need the test read to them take much more time. With all the extra time we had we were recommended to get a book to read. I forget to do it the day before and when I came into class I quickly ran to the shelf to grab something. At first I reached for a Where’s Waldo book but I thought that would not “waste” enough time to get through the brain-numbing wait. I then took a book titled The Giver. I had heard of the book before and it turns out that I heard it because Alexander had to read it a and do a school project on it in 9th grade. The book was wonderful… It is about a boy named Jonas who is given the job of The Receiver of Memories who is supposed to be given these memories by “The Giver” and to hold onto them in order to… keep order. In this world everything is ordered. It is even later explained that people are having color held from there thoughts as well as basic feelings such as love and hate. At age one, a Newchild is give there name and is assigned to a Family Unit to be raised. Each family consists of two assigned Partners and one boy and one girl children. Everyjeff-bridges-the-giver-has-a-release-date-header-1 year only 50 Newchildren are birthed by the Birthmothers. As the can see most things in this society are made to be “perfect”. At twelve a child is assigned a job. These include Nurturers, care-takers of the Newchildren, to basic Laborers. We the day came for Jonas to be given a job, he is skipped when assigning and at the end it is announce he will be replacing The Old Receiver. These memories which he is supposed to hold onto are transmitted to him via a kind of telekinetic, physical-bonding. He was chosen because he could do this. I thoroughly enjoy this novel and I think most people would. It explores what society could do to “perfect” the world and how this could destroy the natural way of life. It made me appreciate being able to have time with a real close family and having the ability to feel and sympathize. The book ended with a satisfying conclusion although I secretly hope for more… as with any other great read. And there’s a movie on the way… Looking forward to that!

Watashi wa nihongo ga daisuki.

Ever since I was seven or eight years old I have been fascinated with Japan, its cultures, food, and language. At some points I dreamed of being a sushi chef in Japan. I mean one of the first articles I wrote on Traubi four years ago when it was “fresh” was about me wanting to go to Japan. Recently I have became on an adventure into the1856376782_1358943595 Japanese Language, Nihongo ( :( WordPress can’t display Japanese Characters…). The first step was to learn the two phonetic scripts, Hiragana and Katakana. Hiragana is “feminine, curvaceous, and lovable” and is what most words are written in. Katakana has sharper lines and is used to write borrowed/foreign words, scientific words, and onomatopoeia. The final step in Japanese script is one that is a wall for most Japanese learners. Kanji. Kanji are the “complex” symbols which are borrowed and sometimes modified from Chinese script. Kanji literally means Chinese Characters. I personally really like kanji and think it is fun to write yet is probably going to be very difficult to learn and memorize. Another, but very important, step along the way to fluency is grammar (well.. of course). I am taking Japanese I next year as a freshman and I hope to learn a lot and study hard… Hiragana is the main, a probably most essential, script in hiragana-chart-imageJapanese. It contains about 50 characters, excluding compounds. Since Japanese is phonetic there are no constants without vowels (except for n… but whatever). As you can see in the chart (click to expand), it is not all that hard to understand, and since it is technically an alphabet, once you memorize all of the characters you can read pretty much all Japanese… except not really. I have successfully memorized all Hiragana characters pretty well, I’m not THAT good yet but with use comes practicekatakana-chart1 and with practice comes “perfect”. By the way… compounds are just two Hiragana put together to change the meaning. Ex. chi plus ya is equal to cha. Next is Katakana, which is less predominate but still necessary. Katakana has the same amount of characters as Hiragana and is pretty much the same with different characters. I am currently learning Katakana. I think I’ll get it sooner or later. Kanji is, as I have learned, fairly difficult to learn. There are about 2,000 kanji the Japanese Government has said are often used in newspapers and books. It takes students in Japan all the way through high school to learn them starting in first grade. For English-Japanese learners there a couple of options. One is to do as the students were taught, by writing them over and over and repeating kanjithe pronunciations, oh and did I mention there are two or more ways to pronounce each kanji…. Another process is learning the kanji radicals which are generic which make up all kanji. Radicals are to kanji as letters are to words. There are 213 common radicals and most have meanings, some are kanji on there own, and some are just used in collaborations with others to make up kanji. I plan to take a slightly different approach, once I learn Katakana and a little more grammar of course… I am excited every time whenever I sit down to study and find joy in finding little things I understand and can remember, it be kanji, grammar, or vocab. Watashi was Nihongo ga daisuki!

The Parent-Child Rice Bowl

OyakodonAs you know I attend a Japanese Culture Club every Friday. I went the day right before spring break, which was my second time. On that day we did karate which was… chaos. There were very few people who went due to it being right before spring break but those who came were insane (not really but they sure acted like it). But today was different, as is every other Friday. It was food day! Last time we made takoyaki (fried dough with meat inside), yakisoba (fried soba noodles), and yakiudon (fried udon noodles). Today we made kareudon (curry soup with udon) and oyako donburi (fried rice with chicken and eggs). First was the kareudon which wasKare Udon (Curry Udon Soup) made from a curry Orr-sensei had made earlier (leftovers?) and some udon noodles which we quickly boiled a bit. It was fantastic. The noodles were, once again, my favorite part. There just so doughy and good. Next up was oyakodon or oyako donburi which the name I find clever. Oya means parent and ko means child; oyako therefore means parent-child and donburi is rice bowl. I find it hilarious because in this dish there is stir-fried chicken and chicken egg… parent-child; chicken-egg… get it… :D . The oyakodon was excellent. It has aspects of egg drop soup and fried rice but had grilled onions and soy sauce as well. The way the meal was prepared intrigued me. She first had some steamed rice and a bowl of boiling CameraZOOM-20140418170010093seasoned water. Then she fried some chicken and onions. When someone was ready to be served she took a spoonful of the chicken/onion fry and a spoonful of the seasoned water and put it in another pan. Then she poured egg into the mess and just swished the bowl around. I enjoy this club immensely; delicious food, good conversations; a little Japanese learning and a great overall experience. Next week, I was told, we are making maki rolls and I am very excited.

Ender’s Game

Recently I have been reading the book Ender’s Game. I got into it after seeing the movie based on the book. Andrew “Ender” Wiggin is a genius that is always one step ahead of everyone. He is the third child of his family, while a strict two child policy is being enforced. His birth was called for by the government program finding future commanders to fight against the alien race the invaded them called the buggers. He has a sister and a brother.
Both of his siblings were entered in the program, but his sister, Valentine, was kicked out for being too nice while his brother, Peter, was kicked out for being too violent. The I.F “government” hoped that when Ender was born he would the the perfect mix of Valentine and Peter. After 6 years of school on earth, he was selected to go to Battle School. Battle School was a orbiting space station that trained intelligent kids like Ender to become better soldiers.

ender

The big thing about battle school was the game they played there. It was a lot like a game of freeze laser tag in zero-g. If you got hit by the laser that part of your body would freeze. The game was won by getting through the other team’s gate (base). The game is played between two armies. (Ex: Salamander Army vs. Rat Army). On each team there are 40 people. The commander can decide how to split there team into different toons (squads) and how to use formations to make their team win.

Battle Room

Battle Room

Ender quickly catches on with the game and becomes the best player in the whole school. He is even awarded with his own army, Dragon Army. After facing major difficulties like his whole team being a set of new players or having exhausting battles everyday, Ender still manages to win every time. He is quickly rewarded by being promoted to Command school (the highest level you can get to) to test his abilities, so he can become the commander of the whole I.F. fleet.

When Ender gets there he is surprised by his fellow friends from battle school waiting to help him in his training program. They trained everyday in a simulator until they had to face realistic battles of what battling the buggers for real would be like. Mission after mission he wins every time. Until he takes his very final test, the attack versus the bugger planet. He is very outnumbered, but still manages to beat them by using a molecule incinerating weapon on the whole planet. Once he finishes the simulation, he realizes that is was not a simulation in the first place. He was commanding the real fleet versus the real bugger planet. He had wiped out an entire race.

eros

Years after when he is the mayor of a colony on a new planet, he goes exploring for new areas for neighboring colonies. While searching he discovers a scene from one of his games that he played in battle school. The is a skeleton of a giant forming a hill with a playground in the distance. In a closer look he realizes the the skeleton was made form concrete and that the buggers had made this area to communicate with him. After exploring it more from what he remembered in the game, he discovers a egg. It is the egg of a bugger queen. After feeling bad of what he did to the buggers, he makes a vow that he will carry this egg to a suitable home and let it thrive.

And so the first book ends…. I really enjoyed reading this and can’t wait to read the next ones.

My own masterpiece(s)

Last quarter at school, I had art for my second connection, and I collected a few pieces that I had created throughout the quarter. I thought about showing off some of my pieces so here they are.

Word Art

Our first piece that we created was a word art. We chose a word and had the separate the piece into seven parts. In each part, we used a different element and principle of art. I chose the word Earth and created my own masterpiece.

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Noton Square/Watercolor Painting

The second thing we created a noton square with a watercolor painting background. We learned watercolor techniques earlier that quarter and used techniques like resist, wet on wet, salt, wash, and dry bush to create our watercolor background. Once the background was finished, we created a noton square on the paper. A noton square is where you cut out shapes from a square and flip them outwards to create a design. We created our noton squares with single, double, and triple cuts.

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African Tribal Mask

One of the most interesting and involved pieces we made was a clay African tribal mask.The first thing we did to start off the mask was look at pictures of authentic tribal masks to get our brain flowing with ideas of what a real tribal mask looks like. Then we drew up three designs and chose one of them to be our final draft. We then cut out the one we chose as a template to cut the clay into an outline of our mask. After that, we drew very faint lines on the mask of where parts of our mask were going to be cut out or added on. After we finished sculpting the mask, we had to let them dry for a week so there would be no water left in them at all. After the masks were dry, my teacher stuck them in the kiln for them to bake. The next day when the masks were all ready we started to paint. We use a combination of browns to make the mask look like wood. After that, we used colors like red, yellow, and white to make it look authentic.

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Posing Figure

The last sculpture we made in art was a posing figure. To start the whole thing off we learned how to draw posing figures and practiced with other students. The day after, we started to make the skeleton of our figure. We took a large sheet of tin foil to start off. We then sculpted each part differently. First the legs, then the arms, next the body, and finally the head. After creating the skeleton, we covered the whole thing in masking tape. The purpose of the masking tape was to make it so when we put on the gauze plaster it would stick better to the tape then tin foil. Once the gauze plaster was applied and dried, we painted the sculpture. The last step we had to do was create a base for our sculpture. Since I posed my sculpture like a knight stepping on a rock, I painted my base like the grass.

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The Odd Future of Music

Excuse the cheesy title.

The fact that so many books still name the Beatles “the greatest or most significant or most influential” rock band ever only tells you how far rock music still is from becoming a serious art.

Whether you agree with this statement or not, it’s interesting to note how time affects the view of the populace on music. There will always be four levels of music recognition to me, and those levels each have a different view of the past.

The top level is “pop.” This is the music that permeates all social rungs and communities. For example, in this day and age, everyone in America, from the poor in the hood to the extremely rich, have at least heard of Coldplay. What we’ve found is that bands in the pop level don’t live forever, with the exception of a few.

Then there is the “normal.” Bands who have earned a stay in music independent of their age or bands who are popular despite not being spread among all sects belong here. Probably the largest group of them all, considering many bands aren’t popular enough to compete with the big dogs.

Penultimate is the “memetic underground.” Music for people with beards and glasses. This music gains a following based on the fact that it is unknown. It proceeds to become an anomaly after that though, because it gains enough popularity to become “normal.” Memetic underground usually represents a lifestyle that survives on being spread. Music in this category that goes “out of style” falls to the last level.

“Underground” music contains all that has fallen behind or never seen the light in the first place.

 

Here’s my question. What bands will live on in “pop?” Which will fall to “normal?” Will memetic underground bands move up the ladder? And most importantly, will bands from “underground” get the attention they deserve (or don’t)? When I’m forty I’ll write a follow up to this article.

Latin State Convention and NLE

Center bottom. It doesn’t get any bigger, sorry.

Some may say Latin is a dead language. Yeah, it pretty much is. I’m not going to give some speech about how it lives on today. It has changed so much over the thousands of years that actually knowing Latin does not help in itself. However, it is useful as a base for learning other languages, and every new language you learn helps you understand language as a whole a little bit more. I took Latin in high school as an alternative to Spanish, because I wasn’t about that life. No problem. It’s pretty fun to learn and you sound like a genius when you explain the origin of a weird English word. Being in Latin gives me some chances at distinguishing awards. The National Latin Exam is a test that can give scholarships and the Convention is a place to distinguish yourself in the Latin community. (Yeah, that’s a thing.) Although I personally didn’t earn any awards at the Convention I still had a very fun experience with other students who study Latin. However, I did get a perfect paper in the National Latin Exam. I don’t want to blow my own horn, but that’s the best score. And this year’s test was one of the hardest Latin II exams in a few years. That’s two gold awards for me now. One more and I can qualify for a scholarship, so I’m pretty psyched about that.

Runescape or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Grind

These knights are cooperating to take down a dragon.

The massively multiplayer online role-playing game Runescape has been around since the year 2001. It has been running for 13 years as of today and still has an estimated 6 million monthly users. The game is actually very simple. The main premise is that your character has “stats,” or statistics, that determine his or her ability. The more you complete an activity, the more proficient you get at it, allowing new opportunities in that field. For example, a character with level 1 fishing can fish for shrimps with a net. Every time he catches a shrimp, he gets experience. When a set threshold of experience, or “xp,” is reached, the player then “levels up” to a fishing level of 2. At level 5, the character can catch sardines, which are even more valuable. All skills in the game work this way. The strange thing to note is that it is an open world game, which means that there is no goal set for the player to reach. Nothing happens when the player reaches the maximum level of 99. So why do people spend their time playing this game with no purpose?

A chart showing the amount of people who PAY for extra features.

I am actually not so sure myself. I have played the game and have enjoyed it for what it is. Perhaps it is a similar experience to twiddling one’s thumbs. This sounds like a joke but I’m being completely serious. When one twiddles one’s thumbs, he is occupying his time with a comforting, monotonous, and sometimes stimulating task. There may be no goal to mining and turning your ore into armor and tools, but there is a special feeling you get when you go to the mine, get a bag full of ore, and bring it back to the smelter to make ingots. It’s damn cozy. There are many activities to do, including but not limited to: cooking, fishing, herbelore, theiveing, farming, jewlry making, fighting, magicking, fletching, slaying, hunting, and woodcutting.

It seems silly from the outside but there is no doubt that people love this experience.