Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sophomore No Longer...

The origins of the word "sophomore" are Greek, "sophos" meaning wise and "moros" meaning foolish. "Wise fool". I find this label most appropriate for most tenth-graders, including myself.

Despite reading Sean Covey's Seven Habits of a Highly Effective Teen, I found myself slacking off for a majority of the year. Without a doubt, procrastination was my toughest challenge, and I would be lying to myself if I said it was a problem of the past. I wish putting things off until the last minute was a habit I would grow out of, but for some reason, I think a lot more effort will be required to change my poor study habits. I can already tell that, as a junior, self-discipline is vital.

I remember being in second grade and thinking about my older cousins ...Seventh grade?! Wow, you are old! Now seventh grade seems a lifetime ago, when really, it was only about four years ago. (I don't feel that old!)

Now, I only have two years of highschool left. Two years until I graduate. Two years until I step out into the world outside of BHS. Just two. Amazing.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Of Mice and Men...In Review

John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men...

Hmm.What to write?

I cannot figure out why, but this was one of my favorite books we have read in class this year. This particular novel takes place during the Great Depression near Soledad, California. The drastic difference between the way of life for Lennie and George, the two main characters, and how I live intrigues me. I am unfamiliar with the challenges of managing money so that expenses for living space, food, and other necessities fit into a $50 a month budget. I have never had to worry about finding or keeping a job, or looking out for an over-sized, trouble-prone "kid" who means well but always ends up causing harm.

So, without completely understanding all the hardships he faces, I sympathize with George and the monsterous kid Lennie

House On Mango St.

The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros, is a collection of descriptions of a neighborhood and life in general through the eyes of Esperanza, a hispanic girl, as she grows from pre-teen to young adult.

I have somewhat mixed feelings about the writing style used by Cisneros. While the reading is not a challenge, the inferring and connecting required to comprehend some of what Cisneros is portraying is difficult. The racial descrimination against hispanics was evident, but I did not realize, until I was nearing the end of the novel, that Esperanza was getting older. The end did not come together as well as I hoped it would, leaving me slightly unsatisfied. Although I was not fond of this book, the unique writing style was a pleasant change from the norm.

I would only recommend this book for someone who is specifically looking for books about different cultures/social groups...not for just leisure reading.

The Giver

Lois Lowry's The Giver caused me to think about government control. The way the society in the novel is set up makes for a perfect community, or so the members believed.

These are just a few of the "checks" their government had on the community:
  • Job Assignment-though requesting a different assignment was allowed
  • Family-choice of spouse or children were not allowed, though a request for up to two children could be made (only 1 boy, 1 girl per family unit)
  • Responsibilities-bikes were given only when a child became the "appropriate" age
  • Meals-food was delivered at the same predetermined times each day
  • Grandparents-did not really exist, no one really met their parents' parents
  • Curfew-was against the law for people to be outside during certain hours (unless job-related)
  • Clothing/Hair-the way children dressed and wore their hair was mandated according to age
  • Social Conduct-certain behaviors were considered wrong and rude and apologies for these transgressions were standard
  • Climate-while not a social aspect of the community was also controlled by government
Reading The Giver changed my perspective on many aspects of life. Everyone would benefit from reading this thought-provoking novel at least once in their lifetime.

Modeled after Wheelbarrow

So much depends upon

the devoted piano teacher

aged with experience

from the clueless students.

Well...maybe not. I don't know why I wrote about a piano teacher. The last time I took piano lessons was in fourth grade. I barely remember my piano teacher, but I know that she was always thoughtful. I guess this subject was just the first that came to mind.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Jodi Picoult's Nineteen Minutes captivated me with the novel's constantly changing plot. The story is a collage of flashbacks leading up to the nineteen minutes it takes for Peter Houghton, a seventeen-year-old student at Sterling High to kill ten students.

Josie.The main character in this novel is Josie Cormier, former best friend of Peter. As she grows up and realizes that Peter will always be an outcast, Josie ends their friendship. In highschool, Josie is picture perfect; she is the kind of person every girl would kill to be like. She is book-smart also, and she keeps her grades up. To top it all off, her boyfriend Matt Royston is a starter on the varsity hockey team. Throughout the book, Josie has to make choices involving both Matt and Peter, constantly struggling to make the right choices and live with the consequences of her actions.

The Judge. Alex Cormier, Josie's mother, was the judge assigned to the Peter's case. Alex is an excellent judge; no one could carry out her duties better. When it comes to parenting, however, she is clueless. When the two most important parts of her life (her job and her daughter) are intertwined, Alex almost falls apart.

Nineteen Minutes is a fantastic novel for anyone who enjoys a combination of mystery, criminal justice, and a little bit of romance.

*464 pages*

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Favorite Techie Tool

Email is hands-down my favorite techie tool. The ability to send a message to anyone I know in a matter of seconds is a great convenience. I also value the ability to send myself an email with an attached project, so I can work at any computer during or outside of school. Also, I can get assignments from teachers or help from classmates without having to disturb them, because unlike a phone call, an email can be answered at anytime and is often more practical.

Manor-- no Animal Farm

George Orwell's Animal Farm frustrated me. I could not get over the animals' ignorance. They blindly follow the inconsistent laws created by their "Leader, Comrade Napoleon", a selfish, sly, yet incredibly intelligent boar.

The whole novel parallels the Russian Revolution, with characters such as Napoleon and Snowball, another power-hungry boar, representing the corrupt leaders Stalin and Trotsky, respectively. Having no prior knowledge of these leaders' roles in history, reading this book gave me insight on their strong personalities.

My favorite character of all is Benjamin, a cranky old donkey who, for the most part, keeps to himself. He is more intelligent than he leads on, and knows better than to trust anyone other than Clover and Boxer, two horses to which he is infallibly devoted.

Animal Farm constantly involves dramatic irony. Knowing the animals' were constantly being tricked and lied to caused me to dislike reading this book. While I did learn quite a bit about history, I would not recommend this book.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring Break '09

Despite having homework, I managed to enjoy a majority of my break. I spent the first few days with my older sister in her college dorm. Somewhat reluctantly, I attended one of her classes during which I almost fell asleep. (She later confessed that this particular class ranked among the more boring courses) Later we went shopping and stopped for ice cream, which made up for the prior boredom.

The next several days were reserved for lounging and relaxation at home, all alone, with peace and quiet.

When the weekend came, my mom and I drove down to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to pick up my younger sisters from my grandparents' house. We stayed for dinner that night and breakfast the next morning before making the long trip back. No more sleeping in; the next day we were back at school.

Spring break never begins too early and always ends too soon. Especially since, this year, we don't have any more weekdays off from school. Only thirty-one days left, but who is really counting??

Sunday, March 29, 2009


In her novel "Anthem", Ayn Rand creates a Utopian society that is really not a Utopia at all, but instead this world illustrates dystopia. The philosophy taught to the members in Equality 7-2521's society stressed the importance of collectivism and living solely for the benefit of others.

Preference was a major transgression. Having a preference could turn into interest and the desire to make individual choices.

In this society, where individuality is unacceptable, all distinguishing traits were frowned upon, and superiority was forbidden.

Working every day of their lives, these people had no chance for renewal. Mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausted, by the time they reached forty one does not wonder why they are sent to the "Home of the Useless".

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


"You want to bury him although it's forbidden in the city!"

This quote shows Ismene's surprise when her sister, Antigone requests help to perform her brother's burial, a main right of Greek women, a right stolen by their own uncle, the general, Creon.

The characters of this play are distinct, all having their own personal struggles.
  • Antigone- brave, independent young woman struggling to find her place; takes a stand; unafraid of being caught and sentenced to death.
  • Ismene- finds herself in a struggle to simultaneously maintain loyalty to her family and obey the law.
  • Creon- tyrannous ruler who abuses his power to declare unjust laws and proud to admit mistakes.
  • Haemon- son of Creon betrothed to Antigone; promises loyalty to his father yet he eventually takes sides with his soon-to-be wife, trying to reveal to his father the faults of his edict.
I dislike that Antigone is in book format. A story loses important detail when it is told through dialogue. Sophocles' Antigone confused me by leaving much to the reader's interpretations. Unless you are truly interested in Greek culture and dramas, I would not reccommend this play.

"The Call of the Wild"

"Buck refused to move under the rain of heavier blows which now fell upon him. Like his mates, he was barely able to get up, but unlike them, he had made up his mind not to get up.(pg.112)"
Buck would have never experienced the love he had for John Thornton, a "love that was feverish and burning, that was adoration, that was madness"if he had not taken a stand. His refusal to obey his ignorant master saved Buck's life. This act was just one of the examples of the underlying theme of taking a stand.

The Call of the Wild is set during the Klondike gold rush, which caused thousands of men to migrate into the arctic conditions. The novel is presented through Buck's eyes, presented as the experiences of an abducted, southern-born dog who fell back on the ways of his ancestors in order to survive hardships on the trail.

Jack London's The Call of the Wild intrigued me through events described so vividly that they seemed like personal experiences. I encourage you to take a step into this unknown world; journey with Buck over thousands of miles of arctic trail and the accompanying toil.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Taking a Stand

For some individuals, taking a stand may be as easy as tying shoelaces. A shy, soft-spoken seventh-grader, I personally found taking a stand extremely challenging. In English class, I sat in the back left corner of the room with my best friend Tia, at a rectangular table that comfortably seated two. She sat to my right. On Tia’s left, in a desk about five feet away, sat Nick, a typical, self-absorbed jock. During a class discussion one day, Tia asked a simple question to which, apparently, most of the class knew the answer.

“You’re stupid,” Nick laughed. Tia immediately fell silent; I could read her expression. She winced in pain that was not physical, but emotional. She wanted to disappear at that moment to another place, any place where she would not be forced to endure Nick’s thoughtless comments. He realized he was hurting Tia, yet his verbal abuse was relentless.

“Tia, you are so stupid!” he continued. I fought internally with myself, knowing I should speak up to defend Tia but unable to find the courage. Then I wondered how I could sit there and not say anything. I knew I had waited too long. My best friend visibly struggled to contain tears, and I sat right beside her as though I was oblivious to the entire situation. I should not have had to think about it that much; my duty was clear.

“No she’s not,” I argued, “She’s not stupid.” Nick shut up instantly, not because of what I said, but because of the fact that I had spoken up at all. Tia looked at me with eyes that were both grateful and relieved. Even though I hesitated for too long, I was proud of myself for finally supporting my friend. Sure, a lot of bravery and initiative is involved, but taking a stand is definitely worth the cost.

Looking back, I find this situation pretty insignificant, but at the time I thought it was a big deal.