Sunday, December 20, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It's the most wonderful time of the year. Yeah, yeah, it's cheesy but this truly is my favorite time of the year. I'm not really sure what makes winter and Christmas so special. It might be the hot chocolate, maybe the beautiful pure snow on the ground, or knowing your friends and family appreciate and love you even when the presents they give you aren’t the best. It might be the combination of all of these, but recently I’ve realized the most wonderful part about Christmas is the feeling of generosity and love that are shared by friends and family. I spent all day yesterday Christmas shopping, and the challenge of purchasing that perfect gift for my friends and family was utterly exhilarating. I loved thinking about their reactions. I loved that feeling right after I got the perfect present, and I loved their faces when they saw the gifts. I can be a selfish person, aren’t we all? But what I cherish about this time of the year is being able to thank those amazing people in our life who do so much for us, even if it is with a simple present. It’s the best feeling in the world; better than receiving any present. Although opening presents on Christmas day is one of the most exciting things, I’ve realized that those material things won’t matter in a couple of years. For instance, I was absolutely thrilled when I received Uggs last year for Christmas. I had wanted them for so long and finally holding them in my hands was magical. But now, they’re old. Sure, I still love them, but they don’t have that shiny “newness” that I loved about them. There are always going to be new things that we want, and those feelings of happiness and satisfaction won’t last forever. But what I have realized is that the feelings of happiness and satisfaction when you see the faces of your friends after you have given them a personalized and well thought out present, something you hope they will love, is priceless.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!J

Jacksonian Democracy

Jacksonian Democracy refers to the era during which the political philosophies of Andrew Jackson and his supporters were very powerful. Jackson followed in the footsteps of Thomas Jefferson and his Jeffersonian Democracy. Changes in electoral politics broadened participation in government and politics. The Economic Policy
Andrew Jackson was president during the Age of the Common Man. Jackson was the first president to be elected as a commoner. Although he did come from a wealthy background, he had a very simple childhood. Because of this, the American population was able to easily relate to him. He felt that commoners should run the government. He thought that the government should be based on a self-reliant middle class with ideas that emerged from liberal education and free press. Jackson insisted on rotation in office: when a new administration came to power, old administration would have to leave and return to “regular society.” Changes in electoral politics greatly influenced the Jacksonian Democracy. Jackson promoted the strength of the executive branch and the president, without regard for the congress. He also wanted to involve the public in the government. Jackson believed in involving all white men in government and politics, rather than just landowners. He also supported the patronage system that allowed politicians to appoint their supporters into office. He claimed that the patronage system would reduce the powers of the upper class and prevent aristocracy. Jackson used the Spoils System to give government jobs to his friends, and win support for his legislative program. Ultimately, Jackson had created a system to clear out elected officials in government opposing parties and replace them with his supporters as a reward for their help. With Congress controlled by his enemies, Jackson relied heavily on the power of the veto to block their moves.

Jacksonian Democracy was clearly opposed the the American System developed by Henry Clay. Jackson focused his presidency on two parts of the American System: the National Bank and protective tarrifs. Jackson did not support the National Bank because he feared that it favored the wealthy. He wanted to reduce the economic power that the bank held. In October of 1833 Jackson announced that federal funds would no longer be controlled by the National Bank. He ordered Roger Taney, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, to remove all money from the bank. Jackson then evenly distributed that money to thirty-three banks set up across the nation. However, these individual banks eventually led to problems, because they were using their own currency. People would purchase federal land and pay with their own currency, and this money would be completely useless. To solve this problem, Jackson issued the Specie Circular. The Specie Circular stated that land could only be bought with money backed by gold or silver. Due to the Specie Circular, many banks failed, people entered bankrupcy and unemployment, and this led to the Panic of 1837. The tarrif of 1828 resulted in a major political crisis with South Carolina. They nullified the Tarrif of 1828. Although Jackson wanted to reduce national powers, he could not justify what South Carolina had done. They had opposed the constitution by wanting to nullify federal law, and Jackson stated that this could even be considered treason. Jackson requested congress to pass the Force Bill in 1833 which allowed him to use the army and navy to force South Carolina to obey national laws. Jackson then helped South Carolina through compromise by the Tarrif Act that provided for a gradual reduction in tax rates. The compromise worked and Sotuh Carolina took back its nullification of the tarrif.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Forgotten Friends

I’ve learned from experience that the people you care about the most will let you down eventually. How can you expect them not to? No, this is not cynicism, pessimism, or a hatred for life, but the truth. This past week, I have come to terms with the fact that three of the most wonderful friendships I formed at camp have ended bitterly. Surprisingly enough, it’s just the fact that we’ve lost touch. We seem to have nothing in common anymore. With the end of camp, and the transition back to our old lives, we move on. Our old friends replace the new ones, show choir and play practices keep you out until 9 pm, and homework seems to take over your life. Sure, there’s time for that occasional text or two, but when the conversation that once used to be easy, as natural as breathing, becomes awkward and strange, it breaks your heart. Rather than hearing about important life events from these people, you read it on their Facebook wall or hear it from some one else. Just recently, I saw one of these friends’ statuses that referred to their college acceptance. They were to find out tonight whether or not they got accepted into MIT; a life changing acceptance letter could come in the mail, and they didn’t tell me, their “so called” camp friend. However, They still mean the world to me, even though we can’t seem to have a conversation without a dreaded awkward silence. The memories we share at camp are forever etched in my heart, and even though time has brought us apart, they truly have shaped the person I am today. Whether or not they know it, they mean everything to me. So let those friendships disappear, let them not call or text, let them get accepted into an Ivy League school and not inform me. They have been my shoulder to cry on, arms to fall into, and ears to fill with irrelevant talk, and that means the world to me.

Sum 41 says it better than I ever could:)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Last of the Mohicans

The Last of the Mohicans is a historical movie about the British and French troops battle in colonial America, with aid from various Native American war parties. The British troops enlist the help of local colonial militiamen, but they do not want to leave their homes undefended. A romance between a British officer's daughter and an independent man who was reared as a Mohawk makes things more difficult for the British officer, as the adopted Mohawk rebels against the British, despite the tension between both sides. Like most historically based movies, a lot of the scenes were much more overdramatic and grand than what really happened. Although the movie did an excellent job of entertaining and informing about the events during this era, there were several historical inaccuracies.

The first historical inaccuracy was during the withdrawal from Fort Henry. Indians kill all of the Redcoats, Colonel Munro, and the civilians. But in reality the Indians only attacked the back of the column, mainly made up of civilians. The Indians killed approximately 70 to 180 people, and in the movie it seemed like the death toll was much higher. In fact, the majority of the Redcoats were not attacked, and Colonel Munro survived as well.
This film was considered to be a historical romance (like the novel) for entertainment purposes, and this was not the case in reality. However, the costumes and props in this movie were very accurate. The battle scenes are also very historically accurate, and the actors, plots and cinematography are exceptional as they make the events seem even more realistic. A lot of research was done on this actual event before the movie was made, therefore, for the most part the movie does not have very many inaccuracies.

Skin Color

DNA analysis indicates that all humans descended from a single ancestral group of Africans. Despite the fact that all humans came from the same place, there is still a large variety in the types of skin color, and almost no two skin colors are the same. Scientists have recently done research on the genetics of skin color and how it is passed on from generation to generation. They have determined that it is an incomplete codominant trait, and the color of your skin is affected by the amount of melanin in your body. Light-skinned people have smaller amounts of melanin and dark-skinned people have larger amounts of melanin. The gene that controls the amount of melanin has at least three alleles. Relating skin color back to geography, the worldwide pattern of human skin color is the product of natural selection to regulate the effects of the suns UV radiation in different regions on key nutrients crucial to reproductive success.
One environmental factor that affects skin color is the place you live. If the area receives a lot of sunlight, you will have darker skin (in order to absorb the UV rays) but if your region receives very little sunlight you will have lighter skin. Scientists believe that this is why people living near the tropics tend to be darker skinned then people living near the poles. But if we all were descended from the same area, why are our skin colors so different? The reason for this is migration and natural selection. As humans left Africa and traveled to the poles and reproduced, their offspring did not need to produce as much melanin, because there was not very much sunlight for the melanin to absorb. Another important factor of skin color is vitamin D absorption. A person with very dark skin is able to handle UV rays very well, but if their skin is too dark they will not be able to create vitamin d. Likewise, light skinned people do not handle UV rays well but they are able to produce vitamin D easily.

To read a very interesting article about skin color and the genetics and DNA involved click here

I don't want this moment to ever end, where everything's nothing without you


Who starts a blog post with addition; it looks more like 3rd grade math homework. You might think I'm crazy, but you know what these numbers have in common, they produce a sum of 41. Sum 41, an alternative/punk/rock band that never fails to amaze me. Not one of their songs is dull or meaningless. I relate to all of their songs on a level that scares me sometimes. It's like they read my mind, pull out my exact thoughts and put them to a melody. I'm not a huge fan of hardcore heavy punk or anything, and that is why I love Sum 41. They manage to be a punk band with a great reputation without screaming nonsense onto a CD like some punk bands seem to do.
As crazy as it sounds, I actually discovered this band on Gossip Girl, probably the preppiest show you will find; not exactly a Sum 41 kind of show. However, in one of my favorite episodes of the show With Me blasted from my TV and I fell in love with the song. It sounds cheesy, but it was one of those songs that made me feel alive, made me want to learn the guitar chords immediately after, made me remember why I love music so much. The simple acoustic guitar in the beginning playing the most beautiful set of chords I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. The sultry voice of Derryck Webber (lead singer), and the exceptional chorus that is the perfect combination of punk and ballad rock. Maybe it’s all of those combined, but this song has become an obsession. I honestly listen to it at least 3 times a day, and know all the words. I have no idea how to play the guitar, and after obsessing over you tube tutorial videos, I finally learned how to play this song.
I don’t want this moment to ever end, where everything’s nothing without you. Something about those words, the placement of the words, the simplicity of it is truly magical. I want you to know, with everything I won’t let this go, these words are my heart and soul, I’ll hold onto this moment you know, cause I bleed my heart out to show, that I won’t let go. Honesty seeps out of this song. I can’t stop putting quotes from the song in this post, because every word has so much meaning and power. Anyways, all hail to Sum 41, quite possibly the greatest band in the history of music. Oh and do check the song out, it's life changing:)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Rwandan Genocide

Ethnic conflicts, meaning a war or disagreement between two ethnic groups as a result of ethnic nationalism, are occurring in many parts of the world today. It is believed the ethnic conflicts occur because of competition against ethnicities to dominate nationalities, and overlapping of ethnicities and nationalities. One of the largest ethnic conflicts in history was the conflict in Rwanda against the Hutus and Tutsis in the 1990s.
In the 15th century, the Tutsis were considered the powerful and wealthy group and ruled over much of Rwanda even though they were not the majority of the population. Hutus, who made up approximately 80% of the population were mostly farmers and peasants who were discriminated against. Tutsi Kings, known as Mwamis started to centralize their power and authority, and instead of passing down land through lineage groups, they distributed land to certain individuals. Another system that the Mwamis put in action was a patronage system, in which they would only give Hutus land if they did manual labor. Hutus were being completely discriminated against by the Tutsis. People even started to believe that the labels of “Hutu” and “Tutsi” were not ethnic labels, but were really labels of power and status. Tension between these groups were starting to build even more until 1889, when Rwanda and Burundi were annexed by Germany. But after Germany was defeated in World War I, the two colonies were given to Belgium. The Belgians gave racial identification cards to all citizens, but still gave preferential treatment to Tutsis in education, politics, and business. In 1959, the Hutus reached a breaking point and decided to conduct a social revolution led by the nationalist party Parmehutu. This foundation resulted in the deaths of over 20,000 Tutsis, and 200,000 people fleeing to other countries. After the social revolution, Rwanda won its independence from Belgium in 1961.
The Hutu group remained powerful during the 1970s, because most Tutsis were still living in surrounding countries, afraid to return to their homelands. But Tutsis, were also building up their own army in the refugee camps. Many Tutsi refugees living in Uganda had joined the National Resistance Movement during the Ugandan Bush War. Finally on October 1, 1990 Tutsi forces invaded Rwanda trying to bring the Tutsi group back into power. The civil war in Rwanda had started. After three years of a brutal war, on August 4, 1993, the Rwandan Patriotic Front signed the Arusha Accrods that were supposed to end the civil war. The accords took away all power from Juvenal Habyarimana (president), and the power was transdfered to the Transitional Broad Based Government, until new political leaders could be elected. The Hutus, who were outraged at what the Tutsis had just done devised weapon caches and plans to destroy the Tutsis. The Hutus wanted to completely eliminate the Tutsi race, and preparations for genocide had begun. Most Tutsis were killed in their villages or in central towns often by neigbors and other people living in the same village. The militia typically killed them by beating them with machetes and rifles. The victims, desperate to avoid attacks hid in churches and school building, but Hutu Gangs found them there and killed them. Hutus who refused to kill the Tutsis and participate in the genocide were also killed. From July to April, it is estimated that 1,000,071 people were killed. The victory of the RPF rebels and overthrow of the Hutu regime ended the genocide in July 1994, 100 days after it started.
After the genocide, approximately two million Hutus who participated in the genocide and feared Tutsi retaliation fled to Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zaire, and stayed in refugee camps. Many of them died from cholera and dysentery epidemics.
Many people believe that the effort to help solve this conflict and settle problems among the Hutus and Tutsis was not strong enough. In fact, the United States was accused of not playing a role in preventing the genocide. The United States knew what to expect after threats of genocide from the Hutus, but still did not take action. The United States believed that it was an “unpreventable conflict” that was due to “ancient tribal hatreds”. The United States also accused this area of having many cases like this, and that this one was merely the same. Although the government tried to step in and change laws, they did not play an active role in trying to prevent the Hutus from killing millions of Tutsis. Some efforts that were made to try and solve the problem were taking power away from the Hutu president, transfering power to the Transitional Broad Based Government. The government also tried to help Tutsis by providing them places to stay when they fleed the country.
Rwanda, being a multiethnic state has had many problems because of ethnic competition to dominate a nationality. Today, most of the these problems have been solved due to ethnic cleansing. Ethnic cleansing, a process in which a more powerful group forcibly removes a less powerful one in order to create a ethnically homogenous region. The Hutus being the majority of the population, succeded in turning Rwanda into a country with only one ethnicity. ]
The Rwandan Genocide was one of the largest ethnic conflicts in the world that was a result of two ethnicities in a competition for land and power. Over one-million people were killed in a time span of just two months, and even more were killed from refugee camps. This case is an excellent example of what may happen if something simple, like a feud over land can turn into something as huge as a genocide.

To learn more about the Rwandan Genocide, click here


“People seldom improve when they have no other model but themselves to copy after”, says Oliver Goldsmith. Without a role model there are no good influences for people to follow. A role model is someone who puts forth their best effort in everything and treats everyone with respect. Of course many role models already attain these qualities but my role model is someone who has these qualities and so many more amazing traits. My perfect role model would have to be my older brother.

A brother is someone to play sports with, laugh with, talk to and just be happy with. Unfortunately I don’t have a brother. What I do have is an autistic sibling who surprises me everyday. He has autism. A 6-letter word that sends chills through my body when I think of it. This dreadful disability poisoned his life and his friends and family’s life forever but in a way made it better. When I realized I would never have a normal brother I was devastated but then I realized that this disease made him special and it also made him special. He is autistic but you would never believe this at first glance. He’s just a normal kid. He deserves the same amount of love everyone else gets.

If love is what makes the world go round why do some people not get any? My brother gives enormous amounts of love to so many people. Even by flashing a simple grin, or giving a compliment he is pouring the feelings in his heart out. He is so loveable but no one looks past his autism. Love is what my brother only receives from some people but gives to everyone, which is very upsetting. Why is autism so important? If no one knew if he was autism he would be able to do everything. Making friends and being loved is my brother’s biggest dream in life that will probably never come true.

Life is all about doing something amazing. This is a moral my brother lives his life with. He never lets his disability hold him back and he’s always living life to its fullest. It feels remarkable to be able to see the warm glow on my brother’s face when he walks through the door. His happiness spreads through the air, its contagious. My brother never lets anything get him down. One thing I love about him is that he always makes the best of life.

Last, but not least my brother’s struggles teach me plenty about life. They teach me to learn from my mistakes. My brother gets things wrong so many times a day but he always learns from them and teaches him not to make them again. Another superior thing I learn is to take risks. Live life on the wild side is one of my brother’s favorite things to do! Always take chances even if they lead somewhere bad.

In conclusion my brother is an incredible person. He reaches out to everyone and always lives life to its fullest. He never lets anything bring him down and always keeps a smile on his face. He is autistic and I am extremely proud of him. He may not be the smartest or a normal brother but he is a wonderful person who survives with autism everyday. He makes the world a better place for everyone, which is why I love him.

Happy Little Ear of Corn

If I could be any animal in the world, it would definitely not be a snail. They’re slow, slimy, and definitely not the most attractive mollusks, but for the last couple of months, I have been given an inside look at the life of a snail. They were ridiculous purple sweatpants and leotards, and top it all off with a flamboyant purple skirt and don’t forget the glitzy sequined belt. They wear shocking purple wigs with silly antennae headbands, and most importantly they have a huge purple shell that feels like the weight of the world has been placed on their back; no wonder they’re so slow. How do I know this, you might ask? Well two words; Playtime Poppy. Yes, the annual children’s theatre show that Kennedy produces this year was none other than “A Year With Frog and Toad”. This production was complete with snails, squirrels, lizards, turtles, mice, and any other animal you could find in a swamp. The plot was simple and easy to follow. It told the heartwarming tale of Frog and Toad, best friends who seem to do everything together. The play took the audience through the numerous adventures Frog and Toad seemed to share, from baking cookies, to sledding down a huge hill. They end up getting in a fight at the end of the play, but eventually reconcile on Christmas Eve, and realize that their friendship means everything to them. I was so happy to be a part of this show, and even though it was for children, I feel like all of us did a spectacular job.

Children told me they loved it, and some came to see it twice or even three times. Adults told me that it was very professionally done, and the sets, acting, and costumes were exceptional. At first, I was a bit skeptical about doing this play. It did not have an interesting story line or extravagant songs and dances, but I am so glad that I decided to do it. Not only did we put on an amazing show, cheesy as it sounds, I made new friends that I am so happy to have. It’s funny how a theatre production can bring people closer together, but after spending loads of time together doing something you all love, you’re bound to get close together. So on closing night, as we all serenaded into the dressing room singing “In The Jungle” at the top of our lungs, I realized that my memories and friendships I have made through Playtime Poppy are unforgettable.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Other Boleyn Girl

The Other Boleyn Girl is a fascinating movie that displays intrigue, sensuality, and romance. This movie is set during one of the most significant time periods in history. This movie begins with Catherine of Aragon who fails to produce an heir for the throne of England. The Duke of Norfolk and his brother-in-law, Thomas Boleyn scheme to bring Anne to the court of Henry VIII as the king’s mistress and possible mother of the heir, in order to pursue her own political goals. But this plan goes wrong when Henry is injured in a hunting accident and Mary; Anne’s sister takes care of her. Mary accepts a position into the court, knowing what will be expected of her, but eventually she falls in love with Henry. Meanwhile, Anne secretly marries Henry Percy, a nobleman, and her sister finds out. She is worried that Anne has ruined her reputation by marrying noblemen without the king’s permission. Mary tells her uncle and father that Anne got married, and they are angry and ashamed of her and exile her to France.
Mary becomes pregnant, and the Boleyn family is ecstatic. But she almost gets a miscarriage and she is told to stay in bed for the remainder of her pregnancy. Anne is then recalled to England to ensure that Henry does not fall in love with another woman, particularly Jane Seymour. Anne then tries to seduce Henry, showing him that she is smarter and more confident than she was. Henry eventually falls in love with Anne, and promises not to speak to Mary, in the hopes that Anne will become his wife. After Mary gives birth, Anne follows through with her promise, and Mary is very upset. But there is a problem. When Henry tries to break his marriage with Mary, the Pope refuses. Anne encourages Henry to break free from the Roman Catholic Church, and Henry does this, and divorces Mary. But the scandal of Anne’s marriage to Henry Percy still remains and threatens her relationship with Henry, until Mary returns to court and lies for Anne, telling Henry that Anne was never married to Percy. Anne then weds Henry and becomes the queen of England. The sisters eventually make up and Mary stays by Anne at court.
Mary has a healthy daughter, but Henry is still unhappy because Anne has not yet delivered a son who will become the heir to the throne. She is desperate and she tries to convince her brother George to have a child with her. He refuses her request, but his wife Jane overhears them discussing this, and becomes suspicious. Her testimony leads to the arrest, trial and execution of George and Anne. Mary comes to court hoping to save her sister, but Henry will not change his mind. He tells Mary to never come to the court again, because the disgrace of her family will result in danger. Mary agrees and never returns.
At the end of the movie, it is revealed that the king did not need to produce a male heir, because his daughter Elizabeth rules the country well for forty-five years.
This movie was very interesting and I really enjoyed it. I would recommend this movie to people, because it was fascinating to learn about the relations and motives of people from back then. It was also interesting to see how much scandal and gossip was involved in communities like this. For women, marrying and having children was a very big deal, and I did not know that such a role in society could lead to a scandal like that portrayed in The Other Boleyn Girl. Henry is portrayed as a bad person in this movie for divorcing and being untrue to his first wife Mary, and for letting Anne be executed for a crime she did not even commit. The women in this movie are displayed as promiscuous and surrounded by drama and gossip.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


1776 is a film that displays the events of the Revolutionary war through a musical. Prior to July 4, 1776, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin are trying to force Thomas Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence as they try to persuade the American colonies to support independence from Britain. Large portions of the dialogue and musical lyrics from this movie were actually taken from real letters and memories of people during this time. This movie was extremely entertaining and interesting, but one key question is how historically accurate was this film?
One of the main historical inaccuracies was the fact that the Declaration of Independence was not actually signed on July 4th by all of the congressional members. It is agreed, that the signers put their names on the document at different times. Abigail Adams and John Adams did indeed write letters to each other asking for pins and saltpeter. Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence did include the portion that Edward Rutledge drew attention to. It was about the slave trade, not actually about slavery itself. There is a controversy as to whether or not Jefferson intended to free slaves. The New York delegation did abstain from voting for independence. Historically, there were two votes. One was on independence as proposed by Lee and then the vote approving the Declaration of Independence. New York abstained from both, but the New York legislature did approve it after the fact. Caesar Rodney actually was dying in history. It has been proven that he was dying of skin cancer, however he was not actually on his deathbed in 1776 like the movie portrayed.
Congress did not keep detailed records on the debates that took place during this time, so a lot of the dialogues were written based on educated guesses. According to the movie, John Adams was considered and obnoxious and rude man, but there is evidence that Adams was a very well liked and honorable man. The movie did not depict all of the members present at the congress, because there were more than 50, and this would not have been very practical.
The final historical inaccuracy in this movie was the attitude presented towards slavery. In the movie, after the debate over slavery, the southern delegates walk out to protest the Declaration's denunciation of slave trade, and will only support independence when that was removed from the Declaration. The walkout is fictional, and most delegates actually supported the removing of the clause. Thomas Jefferson was depicted as saying that he has resolved to free his slaves, something he did not do, except for a few slaves freed after his death. Franklin said that he was the founder of an abolitionist organization, but the real Benjamin Franklin did not become an abolitionist until after the American Revolution, when he became president of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society.

As Nature Made Him

As Nature Made him was a very well written and fascinating book that told the traumatic tale of David Reimer, the boy who was raised as a girl. Hearing about David Reimer's life, and his real life experiences was very interesting. I have never read about a case like this before, and getting to see how this terrible condition affected David and his family
was traumatic. I never realized the importance that gender plays in ones life, and seeing how crucial it was to David Reimer shocked me. The pain and terror he encountered, due to a seemingly small change was very surprising. The author, John Colapinto provided the right amount of David's story and the right amount of science, to make this book enjoyable, but educational. My favorite parts of the book were the parts that actually told David's story. His relationship with his family, Dr. John Money, and his peers was heartbreaking. These parts were very interesting because these types of cases are very rare, and being able to go up close and see David's emotions and feelings through all of this was great. Another reason I believe I enjoyed this book is because I am very interested in psychology and sociology. Understanding how the brain works, and the controversial topic of Nature VS. Nurture really appeals to me. As Nature Made him really made me think about to what extent the environment we grow up in affects our personalities. In David's case, this was not at all true. He was dressed as a girl, received toys that only girls would play with, and overall told he was a girl growing up. His environment was not the problem, especially with Dr. John Money constantly convincing him that he was indeed a girl. Despite all of this, David still felt like he had two identities. The girl that he was supposed to be, and the boy that he always knew he was. One portion of the book that I did not enjoy was Dr. Money. David's parents being desperate to save their son, resorted to him, and I believe this was the worst possible thing they could have done. Dr. Money made David even more confused about his sexuality, and tormented both him and his brothers. I completely disagree with Dr. Money’s teachings, and principals, and his blunt and rude way of stating things. He should not be a doctor or psychologist, because they are supposed to be helpful and the effect that he had on the Reimer's life was miserable. This book can be applied to the real world. There are ethical dilemmas associated with this topic. From a religious viewpoint, some people believe that God has created people a certain way for a reason and this should not be messed with. But for the people who have to live with two identities everyday, it is very difficult, and can potentially destroy their lives. There are plenty of people dealing with the same thing as David Reimer (although it may not have to deal with genitalia). Sexually confused people now have a hope with gender reconstruction surgery, and scientists are learning and researching more about the psychological effects that this switch may have with them. These new discoveries and research will allow these people to live happier comfortable lives, in which they are confident with their true identities.

The Patriot

“The Patriot” is a historical fiction movie based on the events that took place during the American Revolution. The movie did an excellent job of creating and entertaining yet informative to way to display the American Revolution; however there were a few historical inaccuracies found through out the film. The first historical mistake was the brutality displayed by the British regulars. In the movie, this was overdramatic. For example, in one scene, the British order the execution of a colonial soldier captured in uniform. War crimes like this rarely happened in actuality. The only war crimes that did indeed occur were the hanging of Nathan Hale, Major John Andre, spies, and traitors. Both sides followed the general rules of war and were not extremely violent unless necessary. Another mistake in the movie was the scene in which all of the people in the entire town are locked in a church, which is set on fire. In actuality, this was a nazi war crime, and never occurred during the American Revolution.
In “The Patriot” it appeared as though the battle was Americans VS British, and the only colonist fighting on the British side was viewed as an oddity. However, in reality, approximately 1/3 of the colonists were loyal to the British Crown, 1/3 were against the British, and 1/3 were neutral. This is why the Revolutionary war is sometimes referred to as a civil war, with communities and families split as patriots or loyalists. Another mistake in the movie was the use of the American flag. The American flag was not even invented at that time, and was therefore used to make the war scenes more dramatic. Also, the declaration made by George Washington that the slaves who fought for the continental congress would be freed was fictional.
Most of the characters in this movie were also fictional, with the exception of General Cornwallis. The Patriot showed four of the five battles that actually occurred in the real war. Everything depicted in the battles was mainly factual except for a few minor details. For example, in the Battle of Camden, the movie shows the Continental Army losing against the British due to their traditional methods of fighting. However, this army was made up of 2/3 militia, so it was not the continental army that fled, but rather the militia. The weaponry displayed in this movie was also mainly factual. However, the cannons used in this movie used metal projectiles, and those were not yet invented.
The final misconception seen in this movie was that the militia alone prevented the British from heading North. But after the battle of Camden, the army retreated to North Carolina. There was no one left behind from the continental army to stop the British.
Overall, this movie was accurate in the time frame, and events that happened in the actual Revolutionary War. However, like most movies, certain things needed to be overdramatic in order to keep the audience interested.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What It Means to Be American

Today in AP US History, I was just thinking about how privileged we all are to be Americans. We like in a country that has exceptional opportunities for everyone. A country where we are guaranteed saftey, freedom, and natural rights. We truly are fortunate to live in such a country, because many others do not have these same liberties. America is a country that has progressed so much in the past. America, our country, is considered one of the strongest nations in the world. American citizens are very lucky because they have many rights and privileges that other people do not. Some of our rights include freedom of speech, privilege to an education, right to vote, and trial by jury. We sometimes forget these rights we have and take them for granted. I believe that as an American citizen we all have duties, rights and privileges that we need to remember everyday.
Some of the privileges we have as citizens are stated in the Bill Of Rights. The Bill of Rights is a document with amendments that we must follow. Some things stated in this document are, freedom of religion, right to bear arms, and freedom of the press. We do not realize it but we use these rights every day of our lives. We have the freedom of speech to criticize people and give our honest opinions. We have freedom of the press to write and publish whatever we want. When we are in a state of war we have the right to use weapons to protect our families from danger. These privileges should be very valuable to American citizens because people in other countries don’t have these same rights. They do not have freedom to say what they want and do what they want.
Although it is not very easy for these immigrants to become citizens, they try very hard to learn all they can about America so that they can be a part of our country. If you are over the age of eighteen you have to send in an “n-400” application. Officials will either approve or deny your request to become a citizen. Citizenship not only applies to immigrants but also to my own life. I use my rights everyday. I use the freedom of speech to voice my opinions and I use the freedom of the press to write my opinions. Being a citizen is a huge part of my life because I follow the laws, and duties of being a citizen everyday. Citizenship is so important to everyone in America. It gives us many rewarding privileges and rights. We take citizenship for granted but without it we would have no freedom. We should be proud to be citizens of such a magnificent country.

Lance Armstrong

Freshman year, I read one of the most influential books ever. It was about the oustanding cyclist, Lance Armstrong, who overcomes the obstacles and issues he faces with testicular cancer, and ends up winning the Tour De France.

Lance Armstrong, one of the greatest cyclists alive, winner of the Tour De France, cancer survivor, husband, father, son, and human. His story of triumph and courage begins on September 18, 1971 when he was born to mother, Linda Mooneyham in Plano, Texas. Lance was extremely athletic and competitive starting at a very early age. He began running and swimming when he was a mere 10 years old, and took up competitive cycling at 13. Lance, was one of the youngest people competing at the triathlons, but by the time he was 16 he became a professional triathlete. Soon after this Armstrong, decided to focus on cycling because it was what he enjoyed the most, and was what he excelled at. During his senior year of high school he was invited to train with the U.S Olympic Development Team. The following summer, he qualified for the 1990 junior world team and placed 11th in the World Championship Road Race, with the best time of any American since 1976. That same year, he became the U.S. national amateur champion and beat out many professional cyclists to win two major races, the First Union Grand Prix and the Thrift Drug Classic. He went on to win many more races, and become a strong rider. Lance Armstrong's career as a cyclist had finally kicked off, but the unthinkable was about to happen. In October of 1996, Lance was diagnosed with testicular cancer. The tumors were spreading rapidly and he needed to begin chemotherapy immediately, but Lance fought the disease with the same strength and stamina he had on the bike. Although his chances of survival were slim, he was optimistic and maintained hope. Lance went through many painful and exhausting rounds of chemotherapy, and even brain surgery, but in the end he came out victorious. In February 1997, he was declared cancer free. Many people expected Armstrong to just hop back on his bike, and to be completely fine. But Lance did not ride for another year. He was terrified that his cancer would return, and just couldn't seem to find the same love and passion he had for the sport before cancer. His sponsors were starting to loose hope, and people feared he would never ride again, until his coach and long-time friend Chris Carmichael insisted that he traveled to Boone, North Carolina, for an intensive training camp. Lance agreed, and as he was biking through the beautiful Appalachian Mountains, something inside of him clicked. He realized that he was wasting his life, by just sitting around at home, and he also realized how much he loved biking. He had always thought of biking as a career and very serious business, but after this trip, he truly understood that he belonged on that bike. When Lance returned to Plano, TX, he announced that he wanted to bike again. He trained very hard, and slowly he started to win races, and become a better rider. His life started to come back together, and he even got married to Kristin Richard and had three children. He had an extremely successful life and family, and had achieved so much after he recovered from cancer. Today he has won the Tour De France 7-consecutive times, beat multiple records, and has even created a cancer foundation, that helps families to pay for treatment, and that provides money for research. Armstrong's story definitely shows you, that if you try your hardest and never give up, you will come out on top, not matter what the circumstances may be.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Did You Just Waste Your Breath Asking Me How I Feel Today?

Did you just waste your breath, asking me how I feel today? I feel like I can’t seem to do anything right, I feel completely alone in a crowded room, I feel constantly rejected. This sounds like a suicide note. I know, I know everyone has those days where nothing seems to go right, and they wish they could just end it all, and today was one of those dreaded days. I woke up completely exhausted feeling like I only got 20 minutes of sleep. I drove to school zero hour and someone honked at me for stopping at stop sign. I mean really, what are you supposed to do at a stop sign? Go? Then I arrived at school after spending ninety minutes trying to look good this morning and hopefully impressing people and guess what? Epic fail. Absolutely no one noticed. And really, what was I expecting? It’s school, no one cares. Then the Advanced Pre Calc test I thought I was ready for chewed me up and spit me out; AP Chemistry as well. I’m not asking for pity or sympathy, but I’m trying to make a point here. As cynical as it might be, why do we try so hard? This doesn’t apply to males, but honestly, ask any girl you know and she’ll give you an insane hour of the morning at which she wakes up and proceeds to look attractive. And as much as I hate it I am one of these people. Self esteem and confidence, two things I would die to have. I am truly jealous of those people who seem to get away with looking any way and still having tons of friends at their side all the time. And the sad fact that I’ve come to realize over the last 8 years in the public education system is that no one likes you for who you are. They like you for the clothes you wear, and what you look like. Being a friendly happy person means nothing anymore. If you aren’t pretty and don’t conform to the social trends, you will be an outcast. If you disagree with me, look at the many cliques in our school. There are those select few people who seem to dress or do make-up a different way and they constantly get judged for it. In fact, I am one of those people who judges. Who knows, they might be one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, but how will you know if you can’t look past their clothes and make up. Which brings me back to the question, why do people care so much? As much as I hate to say this, sometimes I feel like the friends I have would not like me if I showed them who I truly was. The person they know has conformed to high school trends and norms, not me. For example, if I do dress or act a certain way that breaks this trend, they will look at me weirdly, or seem like they are embarrassed to be seen with me. And to say that hurts would be an understatement. I have friends that I can laugh and joke with , but in all honesty, I have one or two friends who truly accept and love me for who I am. So I would like to apologize for this long rant, in which I sound utterly suicidal, and trust me I’m not. I could never let things get that bad. I guess the point of this angry outburst was to just be able to express the emotions and things that have been running through my mind all day. I know that I’m not the only one who feels like appearance is the only thing people care about, otherwise why would everyone try so hard? But is it really worth it? Are the friends who only like you because you are pretty going to be there for you when you get cancer and all your hair falls off? Are they going to like you when you get a huge zit on your face? Are they going to like you when you wear something outrageous? No, absolutely not. Unfortunately for me, I have not found many people who aren’t like that, but I hope to some day. Find those friends, who cherish you because of the person you are and the things you do, those are the friends that are worth everything.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Vampire Diaries

The story commences in a small town with an outwardly normal girl, Elena. She is popular, pretty, and has the perfect life, when her whole world comes crashing down. Both of her parents die in a miserable car accident, leaving her life in complete chaos. She is utterly distraught about the death, and even two months later she still cannot get over it. She copes with the pain by faithfully writing in a diary, in which she pours out her true thoughts and feelings. She says that she puts on the “act” of being fine, when really, she is still dying inside. On her first day of school, she encounters the mysterious, yet stunning Stefan Salvatore. He has all the characteristics of Edward Cullen of course. The alluring voice that hypnotizes, the bright mystifying eyes, and the faultless pale skin, as white as the light of a full moon. Elena, like the rest of the school, is entranced by Stefan and forms a relationship with him. Eventually the start to date, and everything seems to be going smoothly, until Stefan’s evil brother Damon returns. Damon, a “human killing” vampire wreaks havoc in the town, as he kills multiple people. The rest of the town believes that the killings and injuries are result of animal attacks, but Stefan knows better. He tries to deal with Damon but cannot, because Damon is much stronger than him from drinking human blood. As the story progresses, a captivating plot develops, as the lives of Stefan, Elena, and Damon entangle and lead to passion, death, secrets, and Elena’s realization that Stefan is indeed a vampire.

I encourage everyone to check this show out! It’s practically impossible to live up to the Twilight Mania, but The Vampire Diaries does a rather good job. It’s on Thursday nights at seven on the CW (channel twenty)!

Magical Music

As cliched and seemingly unoriginal as this is, I have gotten the idea from several of my fellow bloggers to post a couple of music videos with my input on the songs. So bear with me, while you read another one of "those" blog posts!

Glee does it again! Now it’s not one of the best shows portraying the wonderful world that is show choir, but the music from this show is fantastic! I think it’s outstanding how the Glee Cast takes popular songs such as “Somebody To Love” and turn it into something completely original. They put a unique twist on each song they make covers for and its nice to hear something different from the original. That’s one of the great things about a unique cover, you don’t compare it to the original and you think of it as something that is one of a kind. The guitar solos and catchy lyrics and melody make you want to get up your feet, jump into the television and dance along with the Glee Cast.

I was channel surfing on an ordinary school night and ran into a commercial on Teen Nick that played this song in the background. Being the show choir fanatic I am, I immediately thought, “this would be a great song for a show choir to perform.” It has a lot of harmonies and parts to it that make the song more complex and interesting to listen to. Mika really is a great group, from Happy Ending, to this song. They always produce memorable upbeat music with a variety of different voices and harmonies, blending together to form some of the most appealing music I’ve ever heard.

Michael Buble is phenomenal, an utter musical genius. Every time he opens his mouth it is magical. Every note is flawless and the passion and love he has for music is completely apparent when you hear him. He is a fairly new musician who has risen to fame with hits from “Everything” to “Cuando”, but Feeling Good is one of his best songs in my opinion. A friend told me about this and referred to this song as her “mood lifting” song. After a terrible day, she would blare this song and immediately feel better. Listen to it, and you’ll understand why. The lyrics are uplifting comparing happiness to “shining stars”, “blossom on the tree”. It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me, and I’m feeling good. It’s never too late to forget about the bad things and start with a clean slate. The bass in this song is alluring, and definitely another one of the reasons I love it so much. After purchasing this song on iTunes, I also found out that our school’s varsity show choir performed it as well, so I would highly recommend checking that out as well.

White Album

The Beatles are undoubtedly one of the most famous and influential bands of the 1960s. They changed the world of music, by writing and recording their own music, which was unheard of at the time. Their music was revolutionary and often held political and cultural meanings. Whether their compositions were political parodies, tributes, or influential pieces on change, they were always creative and captured the hearts of millions. One of their most prominent albums was “The Beatles” album, more commonly known as the “White Album”, as it has no text other than the band’s name on its plain white sleeve. Overall, I believe this album was very powerful because it displayed political parodies, national changes and Indian culture in the form of thought provoking and catchy songs.

The White Album was released on November 22, 1968. The fact that the album cover was a plain white sleeve served a symbolic purpose. The band was struggling through difficult times, in which each artist pursued his own vision. In fact, the album was a double album, because all the members insisted on having their favorite songs included on the album. Although the White Album was a fantastic album, every member of the Beatles would agree that it was not the most pleasant album to make. I believe that this album could have been better, had the Beatles recorded it under better circumstances.

The White Album begins with “Back in the U.S.S.R”. This is a very catchy song, which is a tribute to Chuck Berry’s “Back in the U.S.A.” The song opens and closes with the sound of a jet aircraft landing, referring to the dreadful flight back to the U.S.S.R from Miami Beach. “Back In The U.S.S.R” was a parody of the Beach Boys song, in which Paul McCartney enjoyed singing about places in the Ukraine as though they were part of California. I like this song and the Beach Boys parody that they created. It proves that the Beatles had a huge fan base, even in the U.S.S.R, and they were trying to please them as well.

The second song on The White Album is “Dear Prudence.” This song is about Mia Farrow’s sister, Prudence whom the Beatles met when they visited India and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Prudence, who was focused on transcendental meditation stayed in her room for the majority of their stay. John Lennon was worried that she was depressed and wrote this song for her, hoping she would “come out to play”. This song is really interesting and shows the Beatles interest in Indian culture and transcendental meditation. The melody is very tranquil and the lyrics are interesting when related to Indian culture and transcendental meditation.
“The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” is about Richard A. Cooke III, who was also present during the Beatle’s stay in India. The lyrics “Hey Bungalow Bill, what did you kill”, refer to the time when Richard went hunting for tigers on an elephant. One of the tigers obstructed his path, and he quickly shot it. At first, he was proud of what he had done, but later on he realized what he did was wrong, and decided not to hunt again after that incidence. John Lennon wrote this song mocking the irony of Richard A. Cooke, because he would kill animals, and come back to commune with God. Although the lyrics are very clever, I did not enjoy this song, because of the repetitive melody. I felt like this song was very different from the other Beatles songs, because it did not have a very good melody.
“Happiness is A Warm Gun” is one of my favorite songs on this album. Like most of the Beatle’s songs, it is very good, but this one is different, because there are so many different moods to it. The song begins with drums, bass, and a distorted guitar and presents a melancholy type of mood. The song transitions into “I Need a Fix” which is a very low and intense portion of the song, and the song continues and climaxes into the chorus. Throughout all of this, the lyrics are creative and fascinating, keeping your attention the whole song. The title of the song is such an insane thing to say, because a warm gun infers that the gun was recently shot. Lennon was captured by this title when he saw it on the cover of a gun magazine. There have been many interpretations of this song. Some believe it was related to Lennon’s heroin addiction during the recording of the White Album. The “gun” would be a loaded syringe that Lennon possibly used to inject the drug. Evidence of this includes the lyrics “I need a fix cause I’m going down, back to the bits that I left uptown.”

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is the seventh track on the album and was written by George Harrison. George Harrison drew inspiration for this song from the idea of relativism. He took this concept to his home one day, and decided to write a song from the first words that he found in a book; these words happened to be “gently weeps”. This is another one of my favorite songs from the White Album, because the guitar solo and background music is really great. The lyrics in this song are very powerful. “Love there that’s sleeping,” refers to unexpressed love in the world, and “they bought and sold you”, which is a comment about people (possibly even The Beatles) being used. The song creates a melancholy mood, talking about how the world is lacking love and peace. Although most people may think this song is too sad, I feel like it is accurate. There were so many conflicts occurring during this time, and George Harrison was able to make people realize how bad the world has become with one remarkable song.

The White Album was created and produced during some of the most difficult times for the Beatles. They were going through some very difficult times and under these circumstances they produced an excellent album that is still famous today. It raised awareness for political and cultural events, in the form of interesting and excellent songs. It truly was one of the best albums produced by the Beatles, and to this day is still very popular and well known. Although The Beatles are not at their peak anymore, the White Album will continue to remain close to the hearts of millions.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cause When You're Fifteen

“Cause when you're fifteen and somebody tells you they love you, you're gonna believe them”. How is it that such a young inexperienced singer has the ability to reach into my heart and express the exact emotions that I (and millions of others) are feeling. That's truly a gift. Anyone can sing, but there are very few singers that can make you feel music not only with your ears, but your heart. For those of you who recognized the first line of this post, the singer I’m referring to is none other than Taylor Swift. No, she might not be a Carrie Underwood or Leann Rimes, but there is something absolutely pure and beautiful about her music; it’s completely honest. She sings from experience, and although she might not have the best voice, that is truly what matters. Whether it’s heartbreak, revenge, sorrow, or happiness, she is capable of moving people with her tantalizing voice and stunning lyrics.
Some of my favorite Taylor songs include, You Belong with Me, Fifteen, Forever and Always, Our Song, Teardrops on My Guitar, Should’ve Said No, A Place in this World, Tim McGraw, and plenty of others. Every single on of these songs has made me smile, laugh, cry, or scream at least once. Every single one of these songs I have been able to relate to. Every single one of these songs I want to share with my friends and tell the world about. Most people question my obsession with Taylor Swift. She’s a new fairly inexperienced country singer, who does not have the best vocals. But there is something essential about her music that makes up for all of those flaws. She is able to move people, young and old, with her sincere lyrics. One of the things I love about her is that she does not hide who she is. In fact, she embraces it. She sings about the mistakes and trust issues she has encountered with men. She sings about the many mistakes she’s made and how she has learned from them, and in my eyes this makes her seem more human. Celebrities and musicians nowadays seem so perfect, but Taylor Swift completely defies this stereotype, which makes me love her even more.
Sorry for all of you who don’t like Taylor Swift and stuck with me through this Blog post, but just give her a chance. Like I said, she might not be the best singer technically, but let yourself feel her music. Think about the people who are going through the same things she sings about, even yourself, and you will realize that Taylor Swift truly is an extraordinary singer, who has touched the hearts of millions.
please check this out, you won't regret it!:)

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Nancy Mairs is the author of the brief, yet ingenious essay entitled “Disability.” The key reason I liked this essay so much is the emotion and honesty she displayed behind a person with a disability. She put her audience in the shoes of someone with Multiple Sclerosis and opened your eyes to the life of a disabled person. One of the main messages she was conveying through out the essay was that disabled people are completely normal. They do the same things as everyone else, think the same way, and act the same way; with one essential discrepancy; human beings strive to conform to society and do everything they can to do so, while handicapped people cannot even attempt to conform to society. The controversial argument she presents in this essay is why advertising companies do not feature handicapped people in their commercials. We read this essay in our AP Language and Composition class and came up with a couple of feasible answers for this question.

1.)A handicapped person would not want to be displayed in a commercial. They already stand out in a crowd and draw attention to themselves, so why would they put themselves in a commercial? All they want to do is be like everyone else, and by putting themselves in a commercial and having a lot of attention drawn to them, this is no achieved.

2.)Advertising companies fear that if their products are advertised as being used by handicapped people, people without disabilities will not purchase them in fear that they will become handicapped as well.

3.)Lastly, advertising companies are expected to appeal to the majority of society, and the majority of society is not handicapped. They use people without handicaps in their advertisements because the majority of society do not have disabilities.

All of these are very probable explanations, but it still does not justify that companies are morally correct by not using handicapped people in their advertisements. Like Mairs said, they are just like everyone else, and deserve to be treated the same way. It is ridiculous to think that if a handicapped model is using the advertised product, that you will get the handicap as well. I have an autistic brother, and most people define him by his disability. And although it is a big part of his life, it is not who he is. Advertising Companies need to understand that a disability does not define a person or the way you look does not define a person, but rather the things that person does with their life.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the most prestigious awards that a person could have the honor of receiving. It has been given to some of the most exceptional leaders society has known; including, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Teddy Roosevelt, and Jimmy Carter. But a new name was recently added to this list. Yes, none other than our current president Barack Obama. Don’t get me wrong the man’s a genius. The way he can persuade and move a whole crowd with a few thousand words is absolutely inspiring, and obviously one of the reasons he was elected in the first place. His strong work ethic and educational background paid off as he graduated from one of the most prominent universities; Harvard. So it is no surprise that he would win such an award. He has made impressive promises, ranging from better healthcare, to an improved economy, to a more “green” nation. He has strengthened international diplomacy and cooperation among other countries. However, he is only a new president, and with this Nobel Peace Prize, comes quite a bit of responsibility. Obama must continue to successfully lead our country and follow through on his promises to live up to the status of Nobel Peace Prize Winner. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is the controversy. On one hand I truly believe this is a good thing. The award is an incentive for Obama to live up to the other winners and accomplish extraordinary things. Hopefully receiving this award will remind him that he is a very powerful and well-rounded man, who can do outstanding things for our country. But on the other hand, this award does put a lot of pressure on Obama to continue to do well. People are now expecting him to achieve things on the level of Roosevelt, Carter, and Mother Teresa, and if he is not able to, society will feel as though he was not worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize. Overall, it comes down to whether or not Obama can handle the pressure. Will he live up to the title and do great things, or crack under the pressure?

So what I am trying to say is, I do not feel like the Nobel Peace Prize should have been given to Obama at such an early stage in his presidency. He is just beginning to strategize and come up with ways to make America a better nation and although he deserved to be awarded it for all his prior undertakings, it could potentially inflict a negative impact upon his presidency, and ultimately our society.

A Little Birdy Told Me "Tweet Tweet"

You know those striking headlines you read every day on the yahoo homepage? Yep, the ones that range from “Britney’s Bald to “King of Pop Dead”. Those are the headlines that grab your attention and just beg for you to click on them and read more. Well a few seconds ago I encountered this. I was on the Yahoo homepage and read the following headline “Miley Says Goodbye To Twitter in Rap Video.” Pretty self-explanatory, but it made me ruminate upon the meaning of Twitter and the role it plays in society nowadays.
Twitter is a social networking site, in which users can update their statuses through their phones, computers, or blackberries. “Tweeters” are allotted 140 words for each status, to tell the world what they are doing at any given moment. This might seem like a relatively simple idea, but the phenomenon and popularity that has come with this website has exploded. With approximately twenty five million users, it’s safe to say that Twitter ranks at the top along with Facebook, Xanga, and Myspace. I’ll admit I have succumbed to the twitter mania, simply wanting to check it out. It was interesting at first to read what other people are doing (especially celebrities who always seem to be doing something extravagant), but after a while, it seems to be pointless. Is a 140-word status really going to keep people occupied? I honestly believe Twitter is equivalent to Facebook with only status updates. And when I stop and think about it, Facebook would not be as addicting if it was just statuses. If you asked Miley Cyrus, I’m sure she’d agree. Which brings me back to that headline. What in the world is Miley Cyrus doing rapping? Well check out the video for yourself and you’ll see.

She’s absolutely right. I’m not a huge fan of attention seekers, and although it appears this is what Cyrus is doing, she is doing it for a legitimate reason. She admits in this rap that she was a twitter addict, but she realizes that it really does not have any immense benefits. One of my favorite lines in the rap was "I stopped living for moments and started living for people." It was shocking how accurate this statement was. Although I had never really thought of Twitter in this way it is absolutely correct. If you are constantly updating your tweets for other people, you aren't living for or cherishing the moment you are in. In fact, it has caused quite a few problems from her, ranging from gossiping and insults from fans. She outright says that she is sick of Twitter and the drama it has created in her life, and that she has no time for it. I truly applaud her for sticking up for herself and justifying the removal of her twitter (especially at such a young age). There were quite a few rumors arising that said a friend had forced her to do it. I believed that her intentions in doing the rap were to prove to people that she thinks for herself and she deactivated her Twitter for personal reasons, not because of anyone else. There might have been a better way to display this, rather than a rap video by one of the most anti-rappers ever, but bravo Miley Cyrus, way to beat the tweet.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


This summer at the University of Iowa, I got the opportunity to work in a Psychology Lab. Initially, I thought of psychology as humans emotions and feelings, so imagine my surprise when I discovered I would be working with pigeons the rest of the summer. Although I was worried at first, the experiment proved to be interesting and brought up some thought provoking questions. An explanation of the experiment follows:

Our world is occupied with a variety of different objects, and what helps us organize these objects is categorization. In this experiment, we will see if pigeons are able to recognize identical and nonidentical members as belonging to the same category. Categorization allows us to understand the similarities and differences between different groups of objects. If we learn the category “chair,” for example, we can behave appropriately when we encounter a new chair, even if we have never seen it before. We are able to recognize members of the same category because they share some similarities. Recent studies show that categorization is not limited to humans; it may also be present in non-human species. Pigeons will be presented with three categories (dogs, fish, and flowers) with six different pictures in each category. The birds will have to perform a matching-to-sample (MTS) task in which they are first presented with one of the pictures (the sample) and then with three possible choices. Their task is to choose the one that “matches” the sample. Half of the times the correct choice will be identical to the sample (identity trials), and half of the times the correct choice will be a nonidentical member from the same category (category trials). There are four birds and each bird will complete ninety trials each day (forty-five category trials and forty-five identity trials). We will analyze pigeons’ accuracy on both identity and category trials, to see what type of task is easier for them. We expect that the identity trials will be easier because the sample and choice share all of the same features, while in category trials they only share some features. The results show a gradual accuracy improvement in all four birds over the span of two weeks. However, there is no apparent difference between the identity and category trials, which disproves our hypothesis. Therefore, this experiment shows that pigeons are capable of completing category trials as well as they do identity trials.

Yes, some complex stuff. I was a little overwhelmed at first, but eventually I understood the objective of the experiment. And the results were a bit surprising. We were expecting a better score for the identity trials, because obviously, they should be easier. However, there was not. In fact, this experiment is still being conducted at the University of Iowa, and there is no drastic difference between the category and identity trials. This makes psychologists wonder if this is just luck, or if pigeons really are capable of learning both categorical and identity trials. The next step would be to test this out on humans to learn more about matching to sample.

500 Days of Summer

This is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know upfront, this is not a love story; the first thing you hear as you enter the theatre to see this outstanding movie. Comically enough, this movie is in the genre of a romantic comedy. 500 Days of Summer was one of the best movies I have ever seen for the following reasons; it is indeed, not a love story, it has some of the best acting ever, and the ending is unlike any other movie. 500 Days of Summer was quirky and interesting and kept me laughing, smiling, and crying, up till the end.
The story begins with Tom discussing his recent problems with his girlfriend Summer. I already knew this movie would be different, because most romantic comedies don’t start straight away with relationship problems. Tom narrates the entire movie, describing the events that occurred each day over a period of 500 days, but he does not do this in chronological order. For example, he started the movie at day 400, and hopped around from 225 to 361, finally ending at 500. Now, most people would be driven insane by this, however, I found this to be refreshing and a new take on movies. It made the movie seem more realistic, because when most people recollect on events, they do not do so in chronological order. They remember the significant events that stuck out in their head.

It really isn’t a love story. Tom meets Summer at the greeting card company where he works and is immediately smitten by her. Summer (Zooey Deeshanel) is beautiful, fiery, and spontaneous and is Tom’s dream girl. Tom tries to sweep her off her feet immediately, however it takes some time for Zooey to return those feelings. Eventually, they fall in love with each other, and like most love stories things are perfect. One of my favorite scenes from the movie was when they went to Aikea and giddily ran around the store, pretending they actually lived in the different furniture scenarios set up. The movie was side splittingly hilarious at times, but also very real and depressing. I won’t give away the ending, but it truly is unlike anything I have ever seen.
Overall, this was one of my favorite blockbusters of the summer. It was quirky and interesting and unlike any movie I have ever seen. There was not a dull moment, and outstanding acting was displayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, I would definitely recommend it.


in⋅di⋅vid⋅u⋅a [in-duh-vij-oo-uh l]
1. a single human being, as distinguished from a group.
2. a person: a strange individual.
3. a distinct, indivisible entity; a single thing, being, instance, or item.
4. a group considered as a unit.
5. Biology. a. a single organism capable of independent existence.
b. a member of a compound organism or colony.

I’ve been thinking about this word excessively the past couple of weeks. High school is a time for people to discover themselves, to join a multitude of extracurricular activities, and to meet extraordinary people that will change your life. Halfway through my high school career, I feel as though I still haven’t found myself, or the person I hope to become. Most people in high school “stick to the status quo”, but if you’re too busy doing just this, how are you supposed to discover yourself? You might call me hypocritical because I am one of those people who cares immensely what others think, and this influences my actions and personality at school constantly. But there is one person that I truly admire who is able to be herself no matter what the circumstances may be. Due to the world of blogging, I must refrain from stating her name, so we’ll just call her, Pasheba.

Pasheba defines the word individual to perfection. No, not the dictionary word per se, but the meaning that I’ve come up with. My definition of individual is someone who is not afraid to show the world who they are. She is loud, crazy, passionate, and at times obnoxious, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. She doesn’t change herself or her opinions for anyone, and if some people don’t like her for that, so be it. She always puts a a smile on my face and cheers me up when I’m down. She knows who she is, and she’s not afraid to be that person at all times, and that’s something I am utterly envious of. She might not know this, but she truly is a role model for me. She makes her fair shair of mistakes, as does everyone, but she never loses sight of the person she is and this is not something you find in any ordinary person. I am proud to say that she is my best friend, and although I’ll admit I’m embarrassed to be seen with this loud, and at times, absolutely insane person, I love her so much, and look up to her. I hope that in time, I can become a true “individual” like my best friend Pasheba.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

When You Think Tim McGraw...

"We all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go, we take a little of each other everywhere", said the legendary Tim McGraw. A quote I would honestly be a little skeptical about at first. I’ve moved around quite a bit and had my share of great friends, but I’ve lost touch with almost every one of them. How are you to keep someone in your heart and thoughts when you haven’t seen them in eons? Before this summer, I wouldn’t have had an answer for that question. But after participating in the Secondary Student Training Program at the University of Iowa, I finally have the answer.

First off, a little background information on the SSTP program. It’s a six weeklong science internship program. We live on the University of Iowa campus for six weeks and immerse ourselves into college life. We attend lab on the weekdays, and have evening activities every night. Then on the weekends, we go on “field trips”. Of course, I had a lot of anxiety about this camp initially. I was terrified of living with complete strangers for six weeks, and also terrified of spending six weeks in a college lab with intelligent professors and students. But after merely the first day, I fell in love with the people. There was a tornado going on in Iowa City on our first day, and so we all piled into the basement and spent the next two hours laughing and bonding over everything and anything. It sounds sappy to say it was love at first sight, but to tell you the truth, it really was. I never thought I could meet a group of such intelligent and out going people. I thought the camp would be full of nerdy perfect ACT scorers, and it was. But there is so much more to these people. They’re captain of the swim team, on speech team, in choir. They have lives outside of school and some of the quirkiest personalities I have ever known.

Family. Most people associate this word with brothers and sisters, parents, and aunts. But I have found a new and refreshing definition of this word, camp friends. In those short six weeks I found a soul mate in each and every one of them. I have been blessed with one family, but this summer I have been blessed with another. No, not your ordinary family of four or five. But a family of 20 people. With their quirks and annoyances. With their different personalities and opinions. I have grown to love these people and really care for them. It's amusing how in six weeks you can become so emotionally attached to each and every person. There were no cliques in this group. Everyone shared a special bond with one another and even when we had our tiffs and disagreements we would always work around them. It is so difficult to describe my love for them with mere words. And even today (two months after the camp) each and every one of them holds a very special place in my heart. Which brings me back to that quote. Even though they all live in different states and they are thousands of miles away, they are always with me. The things they’ve taught me and the friendships I’ve made with them are eternal and will remain in my heart.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What Do You Want To Do With Your Life?

I have been asked this question nearly a million times and it’s really frustrating me. Everybody has to have some sort of answer to this question at one point or the other. And the fabulous answer that I have compiled after incessantly thinking about this: I have absolutely NO idea. Why should I? I'm merely a junior in high school, yet I still receive college letters everyday, as a constant reminder of the stress and anxiety that lay in the very near future. ACTS, SATS, and PSATS chew people up and spit them out. I refuse to be one of those people. Yes, we all know them. That one student who doesn’t seem to have a life outside of school and academics. That one student who also seems to always receive the best grades. That one student you’re jealous of when they are the only person in the class with an A. But if you really reflect on this, why should you be jealous? This student is surely dealing with loads of pressure and stress, definitely not the way I would want to live my life. Don't get me wrong, I'm far from a slacker. Doing well and getting good grades is extremely rewarding but occasionally, I feel like I do this for my parents and not for me. The reality that I'm leaving for college in 1.5 years still hasn't hit me yet, and when it does, I’m worried I will be one of those people with twenty majors. And this infamous question of "what do you want to do with your life" still haunts me everyday. I want to sing, I want to dance, I want to help people, and I want to be on Broadway. I want to be an architect, an astronaut and a psychiatrist. But most importantly, I want to be happy waking up every morning and going to work. Knowing that I’m doing something I love and that’s all that really matters in the end. Money is not an issue. I just want to be happy with myself and what I do. And if that means I’ll end up homeless. So be it. So all I’m trying to say in this long venting post is that I’m sick of all the pressure from my parents and from everyone to do well. I know I can do whatever I set my mind to, and when they keep forcing me to study and stuff it feels like they don't believe in me. They're also trying to force me into this medical career path, and I’m not saying there’s no chance I will do this, but I’m not sure yet. I can't see myself going to school that long. But like I said, I don't really care what career I end up in (yes, even if this displeases my parents) as long as I’m the happy and good person that I strive to be.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


It’s outrageous how people can be so ignorant, so imprudent, and blinded by something that is supposed to be a guide. You all know what I’m speaking of, that infamous word that has caused epic wars through out history, and that people still argue about today. Yep, I’m talking about religion. This thought process all started with my usual after school routine consisting of a snack and the fabulous Tyra Banks Show. To my surprise, Tyra begins the show speaking about exorcism. The only knowledge I posses of exorcism is the ridiculous stuff you see in movies. So obviously I was skeptical. The legitimate definition of an exorcism is a Christian ceremony created to eradicate “evil” spirits from someone.

On the Tyra Banks show was a charismatic young man about sixteen, named Jeffery. When asked a simple question, “are you attracted to woman”, he hesitantly said, “um yeah.” Now most men I know would answer confidently and loudly, but Jeffery looked timid and terrified, which indicates that he is indeed a homosexual. However, if you accused Jeffery of liking men, he would completely deny it. He claims that God has saved him. Two pastors at his local church performed an exorcism on him, and Jeffery declares that the “unclean homosexual spirits” had been removed. There are two things that deeply disturb me about this incident. First off, how can someone stop being gay? I have absolutely no issues with homosexual men. In fact, one of my best friends is gay, which brings me back to my point, how can you change the way you feel? Most people think that gay men choose to be gay. But this is not the case. They cannot resist the attraction they feel for men. They may try to hide it, but eventually the truth comes out. So this exorcism, in my opinion was completely unnecessary. In no way, am I intending to offend Christianity, but I do not believe you can blame homosexuality on an evil spirit. God obviously had a reason for creating homosexual men, and I don’t think that Satan has anything to do with this.
The next thing that profusely irritated me was the utter ignorance displayed by the pastors who performed the exorcism. They bluntly said, that all homosexuals will go to Hell. They have sinned by maintaining a relationship with another man. This whole argument all comes back to one thing, God and religion. If these pastors really believe that a gay man who has committed no serious offense will go to Hell along with a murderer, their morals are seriously appalling. If you tell a gay man that he will go to hell just because of his sexual preference, what is stopping him from stealing, cheating, and killing? What will stop him from killing himself? These pastors falsely state that they are open and welcoming to all people, when it is clear they are not. How can you tell someone they are going to hell, and still be a mentor or friend of theirs? I understand that homosexuality is a sin in Christianity. But isn’t compassion and love something Christians strive for. You should not cease to love someone just because of his or her sexuality. What truly makes a person are the things they chose to do with their life and the way they treat other people. This defines a person and if religion begins to interfere with simple humane principles, what has become of this world?

Friday, September 18, 2009


If you asked me to give you my top three TV shows, I would hastily say Scrubs, So You Think You Can Dance, and last but definitely not least Gossip Girl. Most people will confess their love for Gossip Girl and its scandalous happenings. But no, not me. I will admit that I have an obsession. It’s gotten far beyond the point of just being a fan of the show. I’ve seen every single episode (more than once), and will probably quote something out of Gossip Girl once a day. People frequently asked me what it is I like so much about the show. And with the new season starting, I figured I would discuss my addiction to Gossip Girl.

Who doesn’t love a TV show where they can escape from the pressures and difficulties of every day life? Gossip Girl does exactly that. It’s a show about extremely wealthy Upper East Side students who attend Constance Billard (a private school). Obviously, most people don’t live a life like this, so it’s fascinating to be able to get an inside look at the lives of billionaires. At first glance, it seems like these characters live perfect lives. They have unlimited spending money, and get whatever their heart desires. But a wise man once said “money doesn’t buy everything.” And it’s clear on this show, because the problems they deal with, from relationships to family, have destroyed their lives. Overall, it’s a really fascinating show that allows you to escape into the world of filthy rich Manhattan teenagers. It’s always full of scandal and excitement, and you never know what these characters will be doing next.

The first episode aired on Monday, September 14th, and to say it was good would be an understatement. The characters move from high school to college this season, and a lot of viewers were afraid that the show would lose its appeal because of this. But let me tell you, it definitely has not. If anything it has gotten better. It gives us a more mature version of the characters, who are thrilled about going to college. But it still provides the scandal and gossip that we all love and look forward to from the infamous “Gossip Girl”.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

School: The Golden Rule

Navigating the familiar crowded hallways this ordinary Thursday, I’ve realized something that truly shocked me. What is it you might ask? Well, we’ve been in this place called school for exactly ten years. From the care free childish days of kindergarten to the scary hallways of middle school, to the even more frightening foyer of Kennedy High School. It’s unbelievable to me, that I’ve probably spent most of my life at school. In fact, on an ordinary weekday I probably spend more time at school than I do at home. With show choir practices, study sessions, and clubs, I hardly ever get home before five. This is a random thought, but obviously school is an essential part of our lives. Whether it’s the education, social skills, or clubs and extracurricular activities, school has become like a second home for me.

So imagine my surprise when I hear Barack Obama delivering his speech during third hour Spanish. Although I support Obama and believe that his way with words is tremendous and he is an outstanding leader, I thought this speech was aimed more at the unmotivated students, those who come to school, and barely even try. And I’ll admit, I have those days where I am one of those students, but for the most part I put in a lot of effort at school to receive good grades. Obama’s speech was obviously excellent articulated, but I feel like the overall gist of the speech was “Don’t drop out of school”. Although this is an excellent piece of advice I feel like it was not helpful for students like me, who could never even imagine dropping out of school. Whether it’s our parents, teachers, or even ourselves who are preventing us from doing so, we know that it just won’t happen. I deem that Obama’s speech could have potentially improved had he given advice or spoken about the students who are excelling at school and who are unlikely to drop out. In fact, I thought he was repetitive and said certain things that most of us already know. For example Obama stated “no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you'll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You're going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can't drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You've got to work for it and train for it and learn for it”. Now I don’t know about you, but this has been drilled into my mind by my parents, relatives, and teachers for years. I did not need the president of the United States telling me this also. However, I thought the purpose of the speech had a great intention; the message was not received very well. And I do not think he succeeded in persuading kids who are planning on dropping out of high school.

Swift VS West Showdown

Award Shows; two words that signify glamorous celebrities, extravagant performances, and eccentric hosts. An award show like no other aired Sunday night called the Video Music Awards on MTV. Now you might ask why this is so different from other award shows. And the answer is simple. You never know what’s going to happen next. The performances are out of this world, the nominees have infinite talent, and the host produces smooth transitions between each performance and award, keeping the viewers on their toes. This year the host of the MTV awards, Russell Brand was completely riotous. With his wise cracking British accent and simple witty jokes, he kept the night animated. He was the perfect host, poking fun at everyone including himself, and creating smooth transitions between different awards and performances. Performers included Taylor Swift, Green Day, Jay-Z and Beyoncé.

My favorite performance was Taylor Swift. Now, on the Grammy’s and any other music award show, the performers perform on a stage, but Taylor Swift took things to a whole new level, by performing in a New York Subway station. She sang her hit song “You Belong With Me” which of course, everyone hears constantly on the radio. She began the show in a trench coat, with this mysterious sense to the beginning of the song. During the first verse she sings acoustically with just a guitar and her voice. After the first verse, she rips off the Trench Coat revealing a stunning scarlet dress. The band kicks in and she hops on the subway filled with excited New Yorkers. She interacts with her audience on the subway, by dancing and singing with them, and manages to maintain her flawless singing voice. After the first chorus, the people on the subway and Taylor Swift exit the subway station and flood the streets of New York in front of the VMA venue. Taylor Swift ascends a Taxi and finishes the song dancing on the top of it while reaching out to her fans. Overall, it was a completely breathtaking performance. She was able to connect to her audience on a completely different level than if she performed on a stage.
One of the reasons I was so impressed with her was what happened prior to the performance. She won an award, and most musicians would be delighted to win that infamous moon man, but twenty minutes after Taylor won this award, you could find her crying back stage. But to understand why we’ll need to rewind to the moment when she won her award, Kanye West snatched the microphone from her and said, “Yo Taylor Imma let you finish but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time”, implying that Beyoncé should have been the one holding the award. Taylor Swift looked completely flabbergasted along with the millions of viewers and fans watching. Honestly, I thought it was a joke. At any minute, Kanye West would say, “just kidding.” But this wasn’t the case. An awkward silence hung in the air after this moment, and the cameras rolled over to Beyoncé’s shocked face. Audience members started to stand up and boo, and eventually Taylor left and the show continued. Controversy arose immediately after, and if you went online you would see angry comments all over Twitter, Facebook, and Blogger. I thought this was completely inappropriate of Kanye West. People are entitled to their opinions, and it was fine that he thought Beyoncé should have won, but he did not need to ruin Taylor’s moment. She’s only nineteen and it was the first VMA award she had ever won, and Kanye West completely destroyed this for her. I’m a huge fan of Taylor Swift and I truly believe she earned this award. However, I know people who are not fans of her who still thought Kanye West’s actions were inappropriate. I’m not saying that Taylor Swift should or shouldn’t have won the award, but what Kanye West did was wrong and completely unnecessary. I wonder how he would feel if someone did that to him after he won an award. After the VMA’s, he appeared on Saturday Night Live and admitted that what he did was wrong and that he wanted to apologize to Taylor. He called her the next day, and apologized through the phone. Taylor Swift accepted his apology. I thought this was very mature of her. She was obviously upset with Kanye, but she found it in herself to forgive him and be the bigger person. More evidence that she’s not only an unbelievable performer, but also an unbelievable person.