Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sophomore year

At the sophomore meeting, before the school year even started, I felt completely lost. I had no idea how to get to some of my classes. By the end of the first week, I knew my way around and I couldn't believe how lost I had been. Now I wish the school campus was larger.

Compared to last year, my math and science classes are harder, but my Spanish class is easier. Another main difference is that I am driving now. As soon as my parents let me take the driving test, I can finally get my license, not that I have a car or anything....

The highlight of my year so far has probably been playing tennis and volleyball. This was my second year playing tennis, and I played much better this year. I played volleyball for the first time, and even though I have a lot of room to improve, I really enjoyed myself. My main sport is soccer though, and it is killing me that we haven't started yet! Last year, we were already conditioning by now.

In general, I think I like the High School more than the Junior High. This semester has gone by so quickly, yet it seems like a million things have happened.

Fate is Permanent

It is evident that Shakespeare believed that your fate was set; you couldn't do anything to change your destiny. He illustrated his beliefs through his play, Julius Caesar.

At one point, when the conspirators were doubting if Caesar will even come to the Senate House, Decius assured Cassius that he would able to persuade Caesar to come. Even when Caesar had planned to stay home, his fate took charge and brought him to the Senate House. Despite even the warning from his wife Calphurnia, Caesar, according to his fate, went to his the Senate, to his death.

Also, Brutus had the opportunity to agree to Antony's murder, which might have saved him in the end. Antony would not have been able to give his speech that moved the Romans so greatly.

Qualities of a leader

Leadership plays a huge role in Julius Caesar, a play by William Shakespeare. Each trying to gain power and recognition, the politicians turn their backs on what being a responsible leader truly means.

Mark Antony used his leadership capabilities throughout the play, Neglecting to consent the other politicians, he assumed the authority to offer the crown to Caesar. Also, through his speech at Caesar's funeral he turned the crowd against Brutus, bringing also, whether intentionally or accidentally, the death of Brutus.

Caesar led the defeat of Pompey, and he was so anxious to be crowned king that he didn't listen to Artemidorus's attempt to warn him of the conspirators' plan to kill him.

Caius Cassius had an astounding talent of persuasion. He was perhaps the most influential leader of them all, gathering a group of conspirators including Brutus, one of Caesar's most beloved friends, to murder Caesar.

If the above are examples of poor leaders, then what makes a great leader?

  • COMMUNICATION. A good leader collaborates, listens as much or more than he/she talks, and makes decisions with the consent of others, not single handedly.
  • RESPECT. Good leaders are bestowed authority by other people rather than assume it for themselves;they do not just take charge and dictate what others are allowed to do.
  • HUMILITY. A great leader does not have their position for glory or to benefit themselves. Sometimes a leader is not the person in charge, but a person willing to follow orders instead of give them.
  • INTEGRITY. Leaders need to recognize when they have made a mistake and have the integrity to fix whatever they can.

Brutus may have been the only great leader among them. Even Antony agreed in Act 5, Scene 5 saying "[Brutus] was the noblest Roman of them all." Brutus only took part in the murder for the good of Rome, not for power and personal gain.

Outstanding leaders aren't just world known politicians, army generals, or religious leaders such as the Pope or the Dalai Lama. Librarians, coaches, team captains, camp counselors, teachers, youth pastors, parents, even older siblings, just everyday people are the outstanding leaders
of today.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Reading further into Sean Covey's book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, I have found that my communication skills are not up to par. I become really frustrated when I am trying to talk to someone and they think they already know what I am going to say. They do not listen; they just sit there and pretend to listen. When I finish talking, they respond to what they "heard", which does me no good. Even though I am aggravated by this poor listening, I frequently and unconsciously do the very same thing. I need to be a little bit more open-minded when I am listening to people, so I catch what they are really trying to communicate.

I, like everyone else, crave to be understood. Often times, life would be so much easier if my parents used the "mirror" listening Sean discusses in his book. When I tell them things, I feel like I am talking in a different language, because they just do not understand me. I hate repeating myself, and I usually don't have the patience to try to explain it a different way. My mom also has a problem with probing. The fact that she asks so many questions is not as annoying as the way she asks the questions. She asks looking for a specific answer, and so she does not listen to the answer I give her. When she does listen, she listens selectively and often twists what I say. I think my whole family could benefit from a lesson in communication.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Time Management :/

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, a book by Sean Covey, encourages adolescents to take control of their lives and futures. This book identifies problematic situations and different types of peoples' responses to these situations. Also, at the end of each section, Sean provides "baby steps" to assist teens in dealing with issues or changing their bad habits effectively and responsibly.

One area of my life that needs dramatic improvement is the way I manage, or rather fail to manage, my time. This relates to Habit 3, putting first things first. Sean advises to identify your big rocks, the most important things you want or need to accomplish. For me, identifying my minigoals for the week is easy enough. The hard part is following through by working to complete these goals in the time I have set aside for them. I know that I will eventually get around to doing whatever it is that absolutely has to be done. I allow myself to procrastinate, to do other less important things first, and I force myself to stay up late to complete the big rocks. In the end, it costs me valuable sleeping time. As soon as I can attain the will power to accomplish the important goals first, I will become considerably better at managing my time.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thoughts on Sci-Fi

Before studying about sci-fi in class, hearing the term sci-fi made me picture a waist-high, metal robot with a digitally displayed mouth and eyes, which did not interest me in the least. Now, having escaped that stereotype, I find most science fiction acceptable, however, reading some sci-fi seems like a huge waste of time.

At first, reading the novel The Time Machine by H.G. Wells was unappealing to me. The beginning was hard to follow; I kept having to read the same paragraph to remember what I had just read. As the plot developed, the reading got easier and the story became intriguing. The novel captivated my attention, and I no longer had to work at staying focused. For me, The Time Machine is an example of the better kind of science fiction.

I had opposing thoughts on "The Machine That Won the War" by Issac Assimov and "The Water Trader's Dream" by Robert Priest. I might have appreciated "The Water Trader's Dream" slightly more if it had not been written as a poem, but I found "The Machine That Won the War" to be thoroughly distasteful.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

2008 Presidential Election

I am not saying I would choose McCain if I were to vote next month in the presidential election. I agree with both McCain and Obama on different issues. However, when I started researching, I found that McCain had more viewpoints similar to mine than did Obama.

I support senator McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate. She is an amazing leader who would make an excellent Vice President.

On the other hand, I do not agree with Mc Cain's plan to drill for oil in the Outer Continental Shelf, where thousands of aquatic species live. The moratorium that forbids drilling for oil and gasoline off the coasts was created for a reason. I believe the answer to the issue of dependency on fuel from other countries lies in production of alternative fuels from renewable resources.

I agree that being a leader in green economy is extremely important for our country. We need to lead by example instead of just discussing the issues. I support McCain's plan for creating new power plants. I believe that with all the natural disasters and high cost of living, this source of power, currently providing only twenty percent of our energy, could expand greatly to our benefit.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Jade...set apart by her power

The weather changes like Jade’s mood. Actually, Jade’s mood determines the weather. Abandoned as an infant, Jade grew up in the village of Clemming unclaimed and alone. She was found sixteen years ago along Clemming’s main path swaddled in a soiled, threadbare piece of cloth. Other than what her family provided her with, the villagers gave her only a basic education as required by law. Jade was different from the villagers, making her an outcast. She stood five feet and six inches, a good four inches above the tallest villager. Also, her skin was ghostly pale, greatly contrasting the natives’ once bronze tan. Their complexion had faded, though, with the scarcity of sunlight ever since Jade was found. Crops had suffered from this lack of sun, giving the villagers another reason to dislike her besides her physical differences. And when crops suffered, the livestock starved. When the livestock starved, the people struggled to survive. Jade had blue eyes that changed with the weather and her mood. Normally they were grey like the overcast sky, and when night approached, they darkened to a navy only a shade off black. On the rare good days, her eyes turned a fresh blue matching the sunny sky above. Disliked and avoided by the only community she knew, Jade mostly stayed angry at the world. She knew she had the power to change the weather, but she assumed that her power was, like her mood, out of her control. She was not to blame for any weather disasters. After all, the way the villagers treated her was the deciding factor of her mood and thus the weather.