Saturday, November 9, 2013

Ender's Game: A Movie Review from a Die-Hard Fan of the Book

Warning: If you want to see the movie, don't read this post.

As the title of this blog post has established, I absolutely LOVE the book Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.  I read it in 6th grade and it has been one of my favorite books ever since.
The movie came out last week, and since my friend Jacob had just finished reading the book (after I had been telling him to read it for about four or five years), we decided to go see it. Let me just say that the movie made me really angry.
I understand that movies have to take some liberties in comparison with the book. Obviously, you have to cut some stuff out, and I don't think it's a horrible thing to add a couple of meaningful and necessary scenes. The thing that irritated me most about this movie is the fact that it lost the whole tone and feel of the book.
There was no character development at all. You don't feel Ender's personality. You don't understand his internal conflict about becoming another version of his brother, Peter (Peter only showed up in one scene and that wasn't enough to establish his ferocity and ruthlessness), and thus it's harder to understand what is actually going through his head. When he starts to play the Giant's Drink game, the game takes so much mental capacity and is so psychological that it's hard to establish that in a movie setting. Also, you don't feel Ender's isolation in the movie at all. It seems as if he is a brilliant Launchee that people don't like just because he's Graff's favorite. That's not the case. The script doesn't take time to establish the sheer size of the battle school in order to point out that Ender is isolated. You don't feel Ender's personality at all, which was such a shame. As for the other characters, they didn't get enough time in the movie to establish their personalities. They seemed to happy. Why were they smiling? I'm pretty sure that if I was going through battle school, I wouldn't be smiling. I would be stressed 24/7.
Another major problem that I had with the movie was that it wasn't tactical. There were only two battle room scenes, which really upset me. I think the battle room set was really well done. It looked amazing and it was such a shame that only two battles took place. There was no buildup. There was no drama surrounding the success of the Dragon army. There was no discussion of strategy. These are all MAJOR parts in the book that should have been in the movie. Instead, the battle scenes were too short and made it seem like success was simple. I didn't like that.
Let's talk Mazer Rackham. WHAT WAS WITH HIM  BEING A SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD. It is not okay. Ender is the original Speaker for the Dead. He wrote The Hive Queen and the Hegemon and then started going about the other planets and speaking for other people. Why was Mazer Rackham established as a Speaker for the Dead? That's just not necessary and it didn't even have to do with anything in the plot of the movie.
Also, Ender and Petra. This was a thing that I suspected would happen. Let's not forget that in the book, the characters start at battle school when they are about five and Ender goes to command school when he is 10. They're too young to like each other!!! From the moment Petra came into the movie I was extremely upset. It was just so unnecessary. There was no point to it. It was an unnecessary romantic subplot that shouldn't have happened.
Something that I wish had been in the book was Locke and Demosthenes. I think this part of the book was extremely interesting. When I read it in 6th grade, I think I was a little young to really understand how political it was, but it was so fascinating when I reread it because it shows how smart Valentine and Peter really are. I really think that Ender's siblings needed to play a larger part in the movie not only to bring out Ender's fear of Peter, but to open discussion about the state of the Earth at that time.
Also something that really annoyed me was the fact that everyone called the buggers the "formics," which after looking it up, is apparently the more technical term for buggers. But in the book they called it buggers and everyone in the Enderverse calls them buggers so WHY NOT call them buggers? It's little changes like that that don't add anything to the movie that really bother me.
One thing that I did like were the special effects. I think that the graphics for the Giant's Drink were really well done and the battle room was pretty good as well.
So, I think you've gotten the vibe that I didn't like this movie. I knew that I was going to be disappointed in it and I gave it a chance. But it failed. I'm really disappointed too because I love the book. I love Ender's Shadow and Speaker for the Dead. But the movie lost the whole tone of the books, and I think (at least if I were the author of a book that was being turned into a movie), the tone is something that should be the first thing to be preserved.
I hope I don't sound to angry in this post. I personally don't think you should see this movie. Unless you want to be in a bad mood, then you should immediately rush to the movie theater and watch it.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dalek Pumpkin

My family and I decided to conform to societal conventions and carve pumpkins last night. Now I'm really not very experienced in this art. I think it's mostly because the opportunity to carve a pumpkin when it is socially acceptable comes only once a year.
Last Friday, Hank Green posted a video on YouTube and at the end, he showed some pictures of awesome nerd pumpkins. One of the pictures was of a pumpkin carved in the shape of a Dalek (Daleks are some of the bad guys in Doctor Who, and I won't spoil why they're bad or what they do because you should watch the show) and I saw that picture and decided that my pumpkin this year was going to be a Dalek. So that's exactly what I did. I think I bent the saw that I used because my pumpkin was so thick.
But this is what it turned out to look like:

I'm particularly proud of it. I didn't really have anything that would emit a light out of its head so I had to use The Doctor's sonic screwdriver, and I don't know what hardcore Doctor Who fans will think of that but who cares?
My dad's pumpkin is also very cool. I think he debated over what to carve for at least half an hour. At one point, he wanted to carve the Firefly logo and the white tree, the elvish that's on the One Ring, and Mike Wazowski. He also seriously considered carving the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. logo, but that show isn't very good so he decided against it. In the end, he decided on the Avengers icon, and it turned out really cool. Needless to say, we're a nerd family.

I don't know if the neighbors will understand, but those who do are truly awesome. Also, anyone who comes to our house in either Doctor Who or Avengers/superhero attire will get extra candy. Just no Reese's, because those are my favorite. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Time Machine

I'm going to tell you a story.
Yesterday, I was at the museum, as it seems that I usually am on Saturdays. Though this Saturday was different because the docent headquarters had changed places. It had changed from a bright room covered with stickers on the third floor of the museum, to a room that I could only really describe as a dungeon. The room, it turns out, is in the basement, with pipes running along the ceiling. Also, it turns out that whoever painted the entire basement was an avid fan of the color grey. Grey walls, grey floor, grey handrails, everything is grey and has no personality whatsoever.
So it was lunchtime, and I was eating lunch with some of my friends. One boy was running around with a broomstick that he had found, pretending that it was a combination of a Firebolt, a Nimbus 2000, Cleansweep, and a Comet 360. Apparently this broomstick could choose which type of broomstick it wanted to be, so you could transform it from a Firebolt to a Cleansweep whenever you wanted to (though I personally don't know why anyone would want to use a Cleansweep when you could have a Firebolt). Some other kids were looking around the room to see what cool things that there were (nothing), and we were all commenting on how we should have the people from Extreme Home Makeover come and do an Extreme Office Makeover episode to spruce up the office, when someone noticed a can sitting on top of the wall. This room's wall didn't reach the ceiling, so there was about a foot long gap between the pipes covering the ceiling and the wall, and on top of that wall, sat a tin can.
Nick got on a chair and brought it down for all of us to see, and we discovered, to our great delight, that the can had the words "time machine" and "open in 2013" written on it in sharpie.
Well, naturally, we were all very curious. I think we all were remembering the time machines that we buried in our backyard or in my case the time machines that I wanted to make to bury in my backyard. Since the year is currently 2013, we felt we had a right to open this time machine and find out what was inside.
We didn't have a can opener, nor any means to get one, so the boy with the broomstick offered it up and stabbed the can lid with the stick portion of the broom. Well that turned out not to be a very good idea. We all let out a little gasp of surprise as quite a lot of a goopy, yellowish substance sprayed the floor and the table.
It was apple pie filling.
Who would put apple pie filling in a can and label it "time machine?"Whoever did that was a genius. We were all a bit disappointed, but laughed, as it was kind of funny, and proceeded to clean the place up. At least we weren't sprayed with lots of dead spiders or something.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Otherwise Known as Paradise

I was talking with my dad today at dinner and he asked me what authors I would read no matter what.
I couldn't really think of one off the top of my head, because that's not how my brain works, but he mentioned John Green. I will read whatever John Green writes until the day that I die.

I was at Barnes and Noble the other day, when I saw this table. I think this table sums of paradise pretty well.

So then I went on Goodreads, where I catalogue all of the books that I've read, to help me jog my memory.  I definitely would read Lois Lowry no matter what. I think I've done that, actually. There are times when I go to the library and go to the "L" section to see if there are any of her books that I haven't read. And if I haven't read them, I will borrow them. The same used to be for Margaret Peterson Haddix, who wrote one of my favorite books, Double Identity. After I read that book, I went through a Margaret Peterson Haddix phase where I wouldn't read anything else. There's also Kristen Cashore, who wrote Fire and Graceling, which I read more recently. She's only written three books so far, but when she comes out with a new one, especially if it takes place in the same world, I will read it.

The Triumphant Return!

I guessed you have noticed by now that I haven't been on the internet for quite some time. I have an excellent reason, which is that I had to study for an AP European History test.
So, basically, for the past couple of weeks, my life has been nonexistent, and I have been locking myself in my room, forcefully telling myself that I need to know everything there is to know about the War of Spanish Succession and everything else that ever happened in Europe. It is unfortunate, because all of the things that I do know, like the Black Death and the Great Schism and the Hundred Years War weren't in the Princeton review book, and I don't even think you have to know them for the test.
By far some of my favorite moments of European History include the Time of Troubles and the Defenestration of Prague. Also, there's the gunpowder plot and its stupidity. Apparently all of the gunpowder in the gunpowder plot would have blown up about four blocks when lit, instead of just Parliament.
Anyway, I went through about six weeks of stress, and still kind of feel like an underachiever because I know some people who took three APs, which will be me next year. At least there's a giant curve on the calc test.
So, I'm back! I haven't picked up a book in forever, but I just started reading A Drawing of the Dark by Tim Powers, and I need to finish all the other books that I started in March and haven't picked up since.
And maybe, with the summer months approaching,  I'll start posting more than 4 times a month....

Thursday, April 25, 2013

If I Had 17 Million Dollars

I was in math class today learning about geometric series. We were working on a problem about winning the lottery, and I think we were supposed to get 17 million dollars a year for 20 years, and we had to figure out the future value of that money. But the problem aside, what would I do if I won 17 million dollars?
I asked my friend Jacob, who was sitting next to me, what he would do, and he said that he would buy a bunch of telescopes and then donate the rest of his money to NASA. He likes space.
So I thought about it for a bit, and I decided that I would travel. I would go to all the places that I want to visit, like Scotland and Wales and Turkey and Greece and Ethiopia and Antarctica and Peru and basically the whole entire world. I'd also probably go to Harry Potter World, or, better yet, just go to the actual Hogwarts and learn magic.
Then, when I come back, I'd go to Scotland and buy a castle and live in the highlands. I just think that Scotland is a beautiful place with all those mountains. So that's where I would live.
In my castle, I'd build my own library (if it didn't already have one) where I would keep all of my books and whenever I'd feel like it, I'd just go and read.
I did go through a couple of minutes in class when I wanted to build myself an underwater castle, but I thought that that might be a little extreme. And anyway, if I had an underwater castle, it would be hard for people to come visit me because they would probably need a SCUBA license to get down there.
So by the time that I've traveled the world, bought myself a castle in the highlands, and built myself my own personal library, I don't think I'd have that much money left. But then, I'd just get 17 million dollars (or 16.04 million dollars in present value assuming 6% interest rate) the next year, so it'd be all good.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Why Russia Started WWI

A couple of weeks ago, my history teacher announced that we were going to have a debate in class, and the topic we were debating was "which country started WWI?" Now, obviously, there's not one single country that did start a world war, but we were supposed to find one country and blame it for everything. We could discuss anything from the 1880's to August 4th, 1914.
My group got stuck trying to defend Germany.
So, as you might imagine, Germany has a lot of dirt on it (which I might discuss another time). So we decided to blame Russia.
But before we got to the research, we started to form alliances with other countries, and by the end of the week or so, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Serbia, Britain, and France were all in an alliance against Russia. At this point, I basically predicted that France and Britain would bail on us and join Russia, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
So we started to do research. We researched Germany through books like Germany's Aims in the First World War by Fritz Fischer and The Guns of August and The Proud Tower by Barbara Tuchman. Then, I went to my local library and checked out practically every single book about WWI and the events leading up to the war so that nobody else from the other groups could get them.
We were paranoid, a little (sort of like Germany in the late 19th century!) that everyone was going to backstab us, so we had to research everyone.
And now, here is why Russia started the war.
Russia had a lot of motive. It wanted to start a war so that it could acquire the straights. The straights were important to Russia because it was one of the only ways to get out into the ocean that didn't freeze for half of the year.
Also, there's the question of Russia's military. Now we all know that Russia is a gigantic land mass full of tons of people, but it's military in 1914 consisted of 1,284,000 men (according to Fritz Fischer) sitting on the Austro-Hungarian boarder. That seems pretty threatening to me.
Then, there's mobilization. During this time, mobilization of an army meant war. Nobody mobilized if they didn't want war. Russia was the first country to mobilize it's army. It was even warned by the British and French foreign ambassadors Buchanan and Cambon that if the Tsar mobilized, that would push the Germans to declare war. And yet, Russia still did it, and look what happened. Germany invaded Belgium.
Russia started encouraging the Serbian plotters in 1912 and in 1914, the Tsar promised the Serbians arms and ammunition. Since there was a cultural tie between Russia and Serbia, Apis believed that when the assassination of the Archduke would cause war, that Russia would support Serbia.
Then, there's the secret diplomacy with France. People get suspicious with a secret diplomacy, and that's never good.
Of corse there's more than this, and we elaborated more on this stuff. But the debate went well. Russia got kicked out first, and then Serbia, and then France was trying to get us out of the debate, but we stalled them and then the debate ended, so we didn't get kicked out. What I thought was particularly amusing was when someone on the Russian team said something like "mobilization doesn't mean war," and Serbia, Austria-Hungary and Germany all said at the same time "YES IT DOES!!" Eventually, the debate ended up just being a shouting match between the countries. But at least Germany didn't get kicked out.

On a completely different note, by Laughing at Dragons got picked as one of the best personal blogs of 2013 by TYWKIDBI, which is very exciting. YAY!

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Shipping, it seems, is a very important part of internet culture. So here, I'm going to share some of my favorite ships.

Lizzy Bennet and Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice
Neville and Luna from Harry Potter
Tobias and Tris from Divergent
Eowyn and Faramir from Lord of the Rings
Katniss and Peeta from The Hunger Games

11th Doctor and River Song from Doctor Who
Sherlock and Watson from Sherlock (yes, yes, Moffat, please please make it happen, and while we're talking about making things happen, can season 3 please come out BEFORE 2014??)
Patrick Jane and Theresa Lisbon from The Mentalist
Daisy and Alfred from Downton Abbey

Thursday, April 11, 2013


I was practicing piano today, when something very strange happened. I got a phone call.
Now, you might not think that that isn't very strange, but that's not the strange part. Though, nobody ever calls me (except my mother), so it was a little out of the ordinary.
No, the weird thing is what happened when I picked up the phone. I said, "hello?" like any normal, sane individual would do (because I'm a normal, sane individual), and the reply was "Charlotte? Charlotte? CHARLOTTE?? CHARLOTTE!!!"
I'm not Charlotte, lady.
So I replied with, "I'm sorry, I think you have the wrong number," and the reply was, "NO, YOU'RE LYING TO ME!"
So then I just hung up. The person then proceeded to call me back, but I didn't answer.
The thing is, I really wanted to answer with some snarky comment, but since I'm bad with coming up with those on the spot (I always think of them when I'm in the shower), I didn't. Though I kind of did want to call this person back and yell some random name back at them, but I didn't want to get into anything sticky.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Easter Egg Hunt

I went to the Museum yesterday. I hadn't been in a long time because of tournaments and whatnot. So when I walked into the doors yesterday I was totally shocked that there were LOTS of people there. I walked up the stars and heard things like, "I think the eggs are this way," which I thought was weird, until I found out that the Carnegie Museum has an annual Easter egg hunt.
Apparently, these little kids get these clues, and near the thing that they're supposed to find, there are a bunch of eggs and they get to have one.
It was a little while later and I was setting up the Jurassic cart with a fellow teen named Cathy, when all these kids and parents start coming up to us and asking us where the eggs were. I didn't have any eggs with me, but then they started asking us if we had a souropod egg and asking us where the baby apatasourous was, and I thought it was really strange until I found out that that was what the kids were supposed to find.
Then, a couple of minutes later, Linda, the teen who's in charge of us starts bringing this HUGE basket of plastic easter eggs over with a stamp pad. Apparently WE were supposed to be handing out the eggs after we explain the souropod egg and the kids find the baby apatasourous. Inside our eggs, there were those cheap fake tattoos.
Let me just say that it was crazy. In an hour and a half, we got over 300 visitors. I explained what the souropod egg was about a million times, and after a while, my tongue got all messed up and I couldn't speak. I think I let a kid hold the egg and said, "here, you can have it"when I really meant, "here, you can hold it." I think I also started pointing at the egg and saying "this is a dinosaur" a couple of times, which got people confused. But I had never said the same thing over and over again that many times before, and I have to say, it takes endurance.
The egg hunt finished at around one, so we packed up and headed to lunch. There were A LOT of eggs left over, so we got to get some of the goodies that were inside the eggs. Brandon, who's in college and comes in every Saturday to help out, started tattooing himself with those cheap little fake tattoos. On one arm, he put a dinosaur, and on the other, he said we could pick the tattoo for him, so we all picked a butterfly. He put the butterfly on, and then after admiring it for a couple of seconds, goes, "the thing is, I have a date tonight." After laughing for a bit, the us girls of the program insisted that guys with fake butterfly tattoos on their upper forearms are much cooler than those that don't have them.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Book #4: Bitterblue

It's been a while since I wrote a book review entry. I wrote one about King Lear, but I didn't review the book that I finished beforehand: Bitterblue by Kristen Cashore.
This book takes place in the same world that Graceling took place in. It's a magical fantasy land where there are these special people who are called Gracelings. Gracelings are like X-Men; they have supernatural abilities.
Bitterblue was quite longer than Graceling and Fire. I enjoyed getting to know the world better and getting to see the characters again. There was really great imagery, for I could imagine the world really well, and I think that Cashore put a lot of effort into thinking about it, which is really good. I still think that Po, one of the main characters in both Graceling and Bitterblue, is amazing.
However, the problem that I had with Bitterblue is that it had the same theme as Fire had. A daughter trying to find out who she is after the death of her terrible father. Maybe I would have thought it better if I hadn't read Fire, but Fire is the best out of all three books.
The reason that the book was too long, I think, is because of the many plots. There's a lot going on in this book, from Bitterblue's relationship with her friends, from the politics of the world, and figuring out how terrible Bitterblue's father, Leck, really was. Of course, there's a lot more, but I don't think it was really that necessary.
The one thing that really disappointed me was Fire's appearance in the book. I really like Fire's character, but her role in Bitterblue could have been so much bigger, and it wasn't. She appeared in the last couple of pages, only to leave again, with little interaction. And the little interaction there was was mostly politics.
One thing that I really liked was the fact that the characters were discovering Fire's world as well. Fire and Bitterblue take place in the same world, but neither of the worlds know that the other one exists, so it was cool to see how Bitterblue found Fire's world.
4 starts out of 5

Thursday, March 7, 2013


After school today, I got into a driver's ed car to have driving lesson with driver's ed Fred. I had never driven before.
I got my permit last Friday. I was going to write a post about how terrible the DMV is, but since everybody knows what an awful place it is, I didn't think I needed to. After I got my permit, I called the driver's ed school that I had taken driver's ed from and asked if I could have some lessons to learn how to drive. Cindy, the other driver's ed teacher, said that I should start out with driver's ed Fred and not with my parents so  I wouldn't learn any bad habits.
I told driver's ed Fred that I hadn't driven before, so he took me up to Highland Park. Highland Park has a one way road that just goes around in a circle around the park. It was actually a really nice place to start out.
I started out going what Fred called "grandma speed," which was about five miles an hour in a twenty five mile an our zone. Thankfully, there weren't that many cars around, so I wasn't causing traffic or anything. The thing is, "grandma speed" actually looks like you're going really fast if you're just looking forward, and then you look to the side and realize you could probably walk faster than you're going right now.
After a few laps around the park, I was starting to get the hang of it, and I was going at around twenty miles an hour. We stopped and talked about the steering wheel and the hand-over-hand technique, and we continued on. Another two laps later, driver's ed Fred asked if I wanted to go out into traffic.
This was a terrifying aspect to me. I was driving pretty well in a two lane, one way street, with minimal traffic, and a few dog walkers. But going out into traffic..... That means there's more people, way more cars, and those drivers who think it's a good idea to tailgate a driver's ed vehicle. But I figured that I would have to go out there sometime, and there was no better time than with an instructor, so, I said yes.
Normal traffic seems like a very crowded place. There are cars everywhere. I don't think the regular drivers who have been driving a while realize how many cars there are. There were those times when I would get that feeling. I would ask myself if I was really driving an actual vehicle or if I was really just sitting at home playing Mario Kart. Though, I have to say, I'm a pro at Mario Kart. When I look back on this in the future, I'll laugh at myself because by then, hopefully, driving will be a piece of cake.
But, I think I'm missing the point I'm trying to make. I DROVE HOME!!!! I drove 5.5 miles (I looked it up on Google maps) without crashing or killing anyone!!! Within an hour and a half, I was driving!!! Actually driving!!! And I went up to 35 miles an hour.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Book #5: King Lear

I know I didn't do a book review for my fourth book. Maybe I'll write about it later. But right now, I'm talking about King Lear.
King Lear is apparently regarded as Shakespeare's greatest tragedy. I don't know what to think about this. It was certainly good, but I don't think it was great, and I'll tell you why.
I liked the premise of the play. A senile King wants to divide his kingdom among his three daughters, and decides who he's going to give his land. He does this by asking his daughters to show him their lover for him by flattering him and one of the daughters refuses, because, you know, that's not what love is. He ends up banishing her and banishing his dearest friend Kent for standing up for her. Over time he starts to realize who really loves and he also looses his mind at the same time.
So I don't have problems with the characters and how they change, though I did think it was gross when Regan and her Cornwall were clawing out Gloucester's eyes. It's the ending that needs work.
Everybody dies.
Now I realize that this is a Shakespeare tragedy, so everyone has to die. But I didn't like the way that they died, and I didn't like the reasons that were given for their deaths. In the fifth act, when everyone's dying, someone comes in to tell Lear that Regan died, and then moments later, Goneril commits suicide, and it's just very fast and I don't like it. Lear dies from a heart attack, which, is probably the most understandable of all of the deaths, because he's old. But then Gloucester dies for the same reason, which is lame. The suicides are just strange because Goneril didn't need to commit suicide. Sure, she just had poisoned her sister, but she also did some very mean things to Lear, so I don't exactly think that she died because she realized she was in the wrong and was too grief-stricken or something. But she just dies. Edgar kills Edmund and that's fine, because Edmund deserved it, but then there's this weird moment when Edmund tries to save Lear and Cordelia. This, like Goneril's suicide, doesn't make any sense, because it's not like he repented or anything. He, like Goneril, is too evil.
And then, after everyone's dead, Albany (Goneril's husband) asks Kent if he would like to rule the kingdom with him, but he declines and says that he's going to commit suicide too so he can be with his master. So the only people left are Albany and Edgar. Two out of 15 people in the story survived. Seems like over kill. Shakespeare really does like to kill people. And I guess I don't mind it as long as he gives a good reason, and in this play, he didn't.

Friday, March 1, 2013

I Knew That Before It Was Popular

I'm not exactly a hipster. But I do know a lot of hipsters. So here I'm going to explain why I think hipsters always say "I knew that before it was popular."
I think it's a sense of possession. We humans like to own things, and I think that if you own something that nobody else owns, it's very special. It's especially obvious when you're young. That doll that your mother made for you was even more special than the one bought from the store. That awesome treehouse that you have in the back yard is the coolest thing ever.
But hipsters own something that is available to the public. They listen to music that everyone can access on iTunes or whatnot, but everyone doesn't, because they don't know about it. So this makes the music special. It's their own very special music.
Then the music becomes popular. This is the most terrible thing that can happen from the perspective of a hipster. Now that the music is popular, it's not as valuable anymore, because people know about it. And then it gets played on the radio (not even the best songs on the album, just a select few, which personally bugs me) and it's lost its magic. Then the hipsters stop listening to it because it's lost its value, and then they have to go find music that nobody knows about and then the cycle starts all over again. And whenever you hear that song from that band that nobody knew about six months ago on the radio, you shake your head because you knew it before it was popular and now surely their music is going to be really bad from now on because fame is going to go to their heads. It's tragic, really.
Oh, and then there are those people who call themselves "fans" of the band even though they only know the one song that's being played on the radio.
Because I am sort of a hipster, I am going to say a few things:
I knew Imagine Dragons before they were popular.
AND FOR GOODNESS SAKES I KNEW OF MONSTERS AND MEN BEFORE THEY WERE POPULAR. I STARTED LISTENING TO THEM LAST MARCH OR APRIL. But I still listen to them even though they're well known now because their music is really good.  Though I still believe that Little Talks is not their best song.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Flipping the Coin

I talked about going to a tournament last weekend in Columbus, Ohio. Well, here's a little story about something that happened there.
It was after one of our games. My team was refereeing the game, and I had to be the down ref. The down ref is the person who stands on one end of the court, looking up at the ref (who is trained and has a license and has hopefully done this many times before) and copying whatever he calls while watching the net and the line under the net to see if anyone crosses it.
So I was the down ref, ready with my whistle and everything. I think I made some of my teammates go deaf because my whistle was really loud. The first two games went really smoothly, other than the fact that one team won one set and the other team won the other, which means that there's a third game to 15 points.
I didn't know this, but apparently for the coin toss for the first serve (because one team serves first for one game, and the other team serves the first ball for the other game) of the third game is overseen by the down ref.
So the captains for the two teams come over, and I have the coin that the ref told me to use. It had a bison on it. Then I had to flip it. Let's just say that my coin tossing experience has been limited. The first time I tried, I totally failed. The coin didn't spin at all, and I was not successful in catching the coin. So it landed on the floor. That's not embarrassing at all. So I had to try again. This time, I got the coin to spin just a little, but then I failed to catch it again, and it started rolling around on the court and I had to go get it. Great.
I got back and the captains were chuckling, and two of my teammates who were sitting at the table behind me were laughing. So I took the coin and flipped it again. I caught it, which was really exciting, but I didn't catch it in one hand so I couldn't do the cool thing where you catch the coin in one hand and slap it on the back of the other hand. But it was good enough.

My mom came back from a trip to Office Depot this afternoon. She said that some guy was trying to pay the cashier with fifty cent coins, and the cashier didn't know where to put them in the cash register, so she bought four of them from him.
She brought them home and my dad saw them and started to teach me how to flip it, because, you know, it obviously wasn't a skill that I possessed. I've been practicing though, and now I can make the "ping" sound that you hear as your nail hits the coin. It goes straight up and spins, and I can catch it in one hand and slap it on the back of the other.
I'm totally prepared for this next coin toss.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Tournament, Finals, and Classes

So it's been a while.
Between last Tuesday and today, I have traveled to and back from Columbus, Ohio, taken, like, three tests, written an essay, and taken a final.
Let me elaborate.
This past weekend, I went to a tournament in Columbus, Ohio, where our team lost in the semi-finals of the silver bracket. It was a two day tournament, which means that there are waves. This means that the little kids (12-15 year olds) play from 8 to 11, we play at 11 and end at 2, and then the little kids come back at 2 and play until 5 and we come back and finish up at around 7pm. This is what is supposed to happen. It doesn't necessarily mean it'll happen that way, which it didn't. On Saturday night, we were the last team to leave the gym at 10pm. We had to be at the gym the next morning at 7:30. That kind of sucked, but other than that, the tournament was a lot of fun. There was a lot of laughing, especially because my team is a team full of pranksters.
Our trimester ended today, which, of course, means that teachers have to give us really big assignments. I wrote an essay about King Lear, even though we haven't finished the book yet, and took a quiz today about polynomials (not like we haven't done that a million times before), and of course, I took a chem final. The second trimester is nice because there are no organized finals. We don't have to sit in a classroom for two hours and take a final like we do at the end of the first and third trimesters. But, of course, Dr. Horton had to give us a final which is worth 20% of our trimester grade, and we had 50 minutes to take it. 20% of your grade in 50 minutes! That's crazy. We also have homework that's due on Monday. And, to make it a little worse, Mr. Marx, the other chem teacher who doesn't give second trimester finals, wasn't here today so he cancelled class. Grrrrr.
I also have to start thinking about what classes I'm going to take next year. It's hard to choose because you can only take 3 AP classes. But I think I'm pretty set on AP Language and Composition (English), AP Calculus, and AP Spanish, with normal U.S. history and normal physics. I want to take AP U.S. history, but I can't, which is sad, because I really like AP European History this year. Oh, I get to take physics with freshmen next year because at CAPA, you had to take bio in freshman year, and at WT, you have to take bio in junior year, and physics in freshman year. It's weird to think that I'm going to be a junior next year. Then I have to start looking at colleges and then I'll be a senior and then I'll be applying to colleges and then (hopefully!) I'll get accepted, and then I'll be in COLLEGE!!! AND I'LL BE DRIVING! High school really does go by fast.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Giving Up Stuff

Happy Mardi Gras!!
I'm going to give up something this year for Lent, as I usually do. I've figured that if I write about it, it'll be easier to keep, because it's down in writing and people other than myself know about it. Last year for Lent, I gave up chocolate because I was eating way too much of it. I did the same thing the year before, but I sort of failed both those years because someone told me that Nutella was made out of hazelnuts (which is it) and thus didn't qualify as chocolate. It turns out that Nutella does have chocolate in it, so I gave up chocolate and continued chocolate.
So this year, I'm going to give up candy and Nutella. I think that having that stuff is really a luxury and we really don't need it. Certainly our body doesn't need it. It's nice, and it makes me happy to eat candy sometimes, but there are other ways to make myself happy, and I'll have to figure out what those are. Maybe one of them will be staring at Benedict Cumberbatch's beautiful face. I'm also going to be going to a Wednesday night Bible study with my dad. The reason for Lent is really to give up something that is really valuable for God, and, with the time that you have, you spend it with Him, and that's what I plan to do.
It's certainly going to be a struggle. I'll probably realize how much junk food there is out there in the world. I'll also probably find loopholes (example: Nutella),  which is really just part of human nature. Whenever we're placed in a difficult situation, we try to get out of it or find a way to manipulate the problem to get what we want. I don't want to do that this year! I WILL NOT EAT NUTELLA!!!
It's interesting, because I wrote about my new years' resolutions (of which I already broke one, I know), and now I'm writing about Lent. I wonder a lot about what I'm going to learn in these next 40 days.

Monday, February 11, 2013

In Which I Discuss the Pope's Resignation

The big story in the news today is that Pope Benedict XVI is resigning at the end of this month. Since this is an event that hasn't happened since Pope Gregory XII resigned in 1415, I thought that I would give my thoughts on the matter.
I think that it's good of Benedict to resign. I really just think that being Pope is a big job with a lot of responsibility for a 70-something year old man. His doctor had told him that he couldn't travel that much anymore, and his health is deteriorating. I personally think it was good of him to realize the reality of his situation and decide to resign.
All of the Popes, except of corse for Gregory XII, died in office. We studied a lot about Popes in history especially at the beginning of the year, and the Papacy always affects history. Popes kind of had big egos, and a lot of people bribed and did non-Pope-like things in order to become Pope and went against the teachings of the Bible during their time in office (with the selling of indulgences). Giovanni de Medici, otherwise known as Pope Leo X, because he was a Medici in Italy during the Medieval period, became a Cardinal at age 15, with the help of bribery. When he was elected Pope (also through bribery, I might point out), he held a party at which he painted a toddler with gold leaf and made him dance all night. Now, if you've seen Goldfinger, you know that when you paint someone with gold leaf, you will suffocate their pores and they will die. Guess what happened to the toddler? Yup, he died, which is incredibly sad. I might say here that Pope Leo X was the one who excommunicated Martin Luther (twice). In history, especially during the Medieval times, Popes wanted to hold on to their power. The Great Schism happened because these guys were way too egotistical to realize that they were being stubborn, and it took an intelligent Pope to realize that all of this political turmoil could stop if he just resigned. That pope was Pope Gregory XII. Good for him. I'm glad that Benedict isn't holding on to the position just because it holds a lot of power.
The big issue is what he's going to do next. I don't think the position of Pope comes with a retirement plan or anything. We were talking about this in history today, and basically what the College of Cardinals is going to be looking at to decide what is going to happen to Benedict is a really really old document from the fifteenth century. Things that were relevant in 1415 when Gregory XII resigned probably aren't going to be relevant today, because things happen, and the world changes. That's just part of life. But it's interesting, because for the next couple of weeks, we're going to be living a lot of what was going on back then, because the only thing that these Cardinals have to compare this situation to was written a long time ago.
There's a lot of hope now that a Cardinal from Latin America, Asia, or Africa will become the next Pope. That this Pope is going to be more liberal than that last ones, and that this new Pope will be "young," considering that basically all of the Cardinals are over 50 years old.
It's going to be interesting. I wasn't paying attention the last time this happened, because I was eight years old. It'll be exciting when we see that white smoke coming out of St. Peter's Basilica.

Friday, February 8, 2013


Today was the annual Winchester Thurston blood drive. I wasn't able to give blood (which made me angry) because you have to be 16 in order to donate, and I am young by a week.
It was kind of a big deal at school today, because they cleared out this big room where the whole high school can fit into (called the Willis Room) and put all of the supplies and stuff in there. They left the doors open, which I can imagine would be nice for the people giving blood, because it's kind of nerve-racking, but the people who were afraid of blood and needles were freaking out because they could look in and see everything.
I personally don't see why you shouldn't give blood. Of corse, there are instances when you can't because you're underweight or underage, but other than that, I think it's something we all should do. The thought that the blood you give will go to something worthwhile is a nice thought, and the only thing you're really losing is a small amount of your time. The blood drive people wouldn't let the people who donated blood go to class for one period after they donated blood. That's not a particularly bad thing either.
There were some rumors about people who either passed out or were close to passing out. Dr. Andy told us that he passed out the first time he gave blood, and I guess it's normal to be lightheaded afterwards. The school nurse was passing out WT blood drive t-shirts to anyone who attempted to give blood, which I thought was nice of her.
I definitely would like to donate blood next year. My friend Summer donated blood and she said that she asked them what blood type she was. Apparently they send you an e-mail with that kind of info on it, so next year, I get to find out what my blood type is. This has been an ongoing debate/joke in our family for a while now. In Japan, there's this cultural thing that you can find out your personality based on your blood type. This isn't exactly scientific, but it's fun. My mother is blood type A, which is known for being very OCD, good team players, and oversensitive. My dad is blood type O, which apparently results in curious people that are extremely stubborn. I'm pretty much all of these things. Whenever I do something that my mother always nags me about, like cleaning the inside of a sink after I wash the dishes, I joke that I could be blood type A. My mother is absolutely convinced that I'm O. We'll find out next year.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


So I've been sick for the last four days. It's been pretty awful. I had to miss my volleyball team's first tournament on Sunday because of it. Though, I am proud of them because they got second place in the whole tournament (I would like to think that if I was there, we'd have won first).
Being the productive me that I am, I have spent my time wisely by finishing watching season 4 of Doctor Who and moving on to Matt Smith as The Doctor in season 5. While I am extremely sad that David Tennant has gone, Matt Smith is pretty good. He has good hair, and I like his outfit, and he has extremely long fingers, so I think it'll all work out. Also, River Song appears a lot in these upcoming episodes and such, so that'll be fun. I finished reading Bitterblue yesterday, and had to stop myself from starting any other book because the sequel to one of my favorite books, Legend came out today and I got it on my nook and started to read it. It's called Prodigy, and so far, it's amazing!! I've also spent a lot of time on Pottermore trying to make the polyjuice potion so I can get into the slytherin common room. But, like Neville, I'm terrible at making potions, so it's basically a lost cause. I don't know what I'm going to do, because I just want to read the extra content on the world of Harry Potter from J.K. Rowling, but I can't proceed because I can't get into the common room.  To make it worse, the internet is EXTREMELY slow, so I have to choose wisely when I decide that I want to watch something on Netflix. Then it just buffers forever and then the pixels get all weird and it's extra annoying.
It's funny, the notion of becoming sick is far more attractive than actually becoming sick. On any normal school day, I would be happy to stay home and read and crochet and watch Doctor Who, but when you have a fever and your head is about to explode, it isn't as fun as you would like. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side. I think I'm done complaining now.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Book #3: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

I have to say, I enjoyed this book more than I really expected to. I first learned about The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (by E. Lockhart) when John Green recommended it in his Nerdfighter book recommendations video a couple of months ago.
I can totally understand why John Green would recommend this book. Like Looking for Alaska, it takes place in a boarding school and involves a lot of pranks. Frankie is a high school sophomore who basically is tired of people not expecting anything from her. She goes off to boarding school in the fall and meets a guy who is part of an all-male secret organization at school that basically pulls pranks and throws parties. Frankie, as the year passes, infiltrates this group, called the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds and she starts to be the one who tells the group what pranks to pull and what to do, all without them knowing it. It's a very fun book, especially the pranking part because it was all clever and witty.
I've already posted about the thing that I found fascinating in the book: the panopticon, which is something I still can't really stop thinking about, because, you know, it's intriguing. There were other things that I enjoyed about the book too. I liked Frankie's logic and the way she thought things out so that people wouldn't catch on to the fact that she was in charge of the Loyal Order. I liked the setting of the book. Not only the whole boarding school element of it, but also the fact that there were catacombs and stuff, which was awesome.
My only real problem with the book was that it took forever for the interesting things to begin. I was about halfway through the book when Frankie started to take over the Loyal Order and tell them what to do. This, disappointingly, didn't leave as much time for pranking as I would have liked, and it all ended rather quickly. I just would have liked it to go on longer. It could have been more fun that way, and then the book could have ended at the end of the school year. I just think that the change in  relationships between the people in the Loyal Order and Frankie after they figure out that Frankie is the one telling them what to do could have been really interesting. Instead, it just didn't happen. Ah well, you can always hope for a sequel.
4 starts out of 5.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Panopticon

I'm currently reading The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (unfortunately not the same as Gilderoy Lockhart), in which it often talks about the panopticon.
A panopticon is an institution (usually a prison), created by the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham during the late eighteenth century. It's a prison in which the guards can watch the criminals without the criminals knowing that they are being watched. Thus, the criminals are supposed to act better because they assume that they are always being watched. At this time, the panopticon was ideal because is required less guards because you don't have to watch all the time, but you know that the criminals are going to be on good behavior (as good as criminal behavior can get).
I think this is really fascinating. It plays tricks on the mind. I don't think I would be able to survive in any type of panopticon, because I would be paranoid all the time. But we also do live in a world where this kind of tactic-acting better because we think someone might be watching-is very prominent.
If you know your teacher might give you a pop-quiz on the reading, you read the assignment. She doesn't have to give you a quiz all the time, but this way, she can make sure you're reading. However, this would have worked better in a world without Sparknotes. I could make my bed in the morning because my dad may be looking in to see if I did so, and because I know that eventually my bed-making skills will be judged by a person who attended the Air Force Academy, I make my bed.
This is also interesting because it brings to life the idea that people act better when they're being watched. This is just plain fact. You're on better behavior when there's a guest in the house. You dress nicer for a job interview. It also goes back to the fact that people just care about what other people think about themselves.
I also just found out that the Allegheny County Jail (the jail in Pittsburgh) is a panopticon. It's one of only three or four in the U.S. That's awesome.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Book #2: Graceling

I just finished reading Graceling by Kristin Cashore a couple of minutes ago. This book is the first book in the Graceling series. I finished reading its companion book, Fire, a couple of days ago.
Graceling is set in a different part of this fantasy world than Fire. In this world, children who have two eyes of different colors are Graced with a particular ability, sort of like the X-Men. Some have the ability to predict the weather, swim really well, or even have the ability to cook amazingly good food. The main character in the book, Katsa, is Graced with the ability to kill people, which is a Grace that I wouldn't care for. However, it does set up conflict between the Grace and Katsa's unwillingness to be simply a killer.
This is what I really liked about this book. There's the theme of the power that one has and how it can control you. There was a character in this book, Leck, who was part of a subplot in Fire, who has the ability to basically say something and have the whole world believe it to be true. Even if Leck just created a rumor, it could travel all throughout the kingdom, and everyone would believe it. I don't really know what good you could really do with some amazing power or ability like that. What makes it worse is that Leck is the king of Monsea, and uses his Grace to make everybody think that he's this kind and gentle person when really, he's not. To have that kind of influence over just a scary thought. He could rule the world with just the words that come out of his mouth. An ability like that could take over you. My favorite line in the book is when Katsa and Po (another main character in the book) are talking and Po says, "It's hard to tell where he ended and his Grace began"(468).
But honestly, what would you do if you could do something like that? It's very complicated. What would you do if you could kill someone with great ease? Would you do it? It's a very conflicting matter between the gifts you have and your own personality and desires. I guess things like that, even though they're not realistic in our world have to be thought about.
Anyway, I did enjoy this book a lot. There were some sections when Katsa and Po were traveling that were a bit slow. The writing itself was excellent, because you could just feel the emotion in every word. The dialogue also was realistic, along with the character's train of thought. But really, the best part about the book was its main theme. 4.5 stars.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Block Schedule

Tomorrow is the highly anticipated unveiling of the new school schedule for next year. From what I've heard from basically all of the teachers and the students (who's parents were informed of the new schedule last week), we have a block schedule. This is a kind of schedule where you have, for example, four 75 minute class periods a day that meet every other day.
Here's the thing. I had a block schedule last year, and it was AWFUL. Like, absolutely terrible, and I'm about to tell you why.
First of all, students in my class couldn't pay attention for half an hour if they wanted to. So people didn't have the attention span for it.
Secondly, and this is totally true, I feel like some of the teachers I had last year thought that since we have a block schedule and so much time, we didn't have to use all of that to learn. So, literally, we would get twenty minute lectures about things that were totally unrelated to the class.  We'd also get like, thirty minutes to do about ten Spanish questions, so I would finish it in five minutes and read for the rest of the half-hour. It was a waste of my time.
Thirdly, (and here's the thing that bothered me a LOT) say you do a section a day in math with a normal schedule that meets every day. Last year,  we would spend a 75 minute class period on one section every other day, which means we only got through half of the book. I think we actually did four chapters in math last year. WE SPENT THREE WEEKS ON THE QUADRATIC FORMULA!!! It's honestly not that hard, you just plug the numbers in. And we learned that in SEVENTH grade!!! Don't insult our intelligence.
Fourthly, the thing that I like about the schedule we have now, is that, even though it's impossible to follow, there's a lot of variety, and I think that the class lengths are just right, even for the boring classes.
But here's the other side of the argument:
You could do a lot of labs and stuff in science.
There's this one class called Urban Research and Design and they have to do a bunch of really long projects, so it would help them out.
Longer periods mean you can get more stuff done.
You can go on more field trips (the only "field trips" I went on last year was going outside to the river for gym. That's it)
There's probably a lot more, but I can't think of any right now.

So last year, my experience with block scheduling was really bad. I ended up getting so hungry in Spanish, that I brought a nature valley bar to class and ate it while the teacher wasn't looking. Also, you just get bored, and class seems like it'll go on forever.
This is also what they do in college, but I don't think I would mind it as much there as I would here. And who knows, maybe it'll be magical and I'll fall in love with it. You never know.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Very Rich King

There was once a very rich king living in a very rich kingdom. The king wasn't a particularly good king. He was often too concerned with the collection of objects that he would never use. There were rooms in his castle dedicated to the collection rare instruments, such as the calliope, it's whistles burnished so much, that no one would want to touch an instrument so shiny and beautiful. 
The king commissioned many people to make or find him things that were beautiful. When he first sat on his throne as a young man, he hired an antiquarian to search and collect books that were so rare and old, that their pages would crumple as soon as he laid his hand on them. His lapidary would cut him the most precious gems to place on his crown. He hired a klezmer to play him what he thought to be the most mellifluous music in the land, and his singers, with their elocution, sang him his favorite songs. His dexterous artists painted his portraits, making him look like his skin was smoother than the water on a still lake. 
The king's trope in his life, searching and craving for material beauty, drove him insane. He did not care of for the people in his kingdom. Even though sickness was rampant though out his kingdom, his people suffering from ocular trauma, he did not care. Crime became common. People would get into fights to defend themselves, breaking their mandible, their teeth, or even their neck. Even though the years in the past had been a particularly fecund time, there was famine throughout the kingdom. Vorteces of air came through the kingdom and ruined the crops. There were riots and protests throughout the land, as people cried out for change and a newer, better king. His impetuous nature, his lack of interest in ruling, did not put him in a better light. He became jaded with ruling, bored of his life that he had once thought highly of. He started to take walks in his gardens, planting brambles and even building himself a grotto so that he could go somewhere away from his life. 
And so, as time went on, as people became more restless, a plan emerged to usurp the king's throne. 
One day, a young, handsome man entered the court of the king. He claimed to have the ability of fixing all of the king's problems. The king spent hours talking to this young man about all of his problems. The young man listened and became the king's closest confidant. Until, one day, the young man approached him, armed with weapons. He rousted him out of his throne, and when the king asked what he was doing, he replied, "I am here to kill you. Get up so that I can execute you the way the people want me to." 
The king called out for help, but none came. He slowly approached the young man, quailing in his sight. "You charlatan," he spit into the man's face, "you fraud."
"Yes," the man replied, "but this is what the people want, you dead, and a more sagacious, sagacious man on the throne, who has a more holistic approach to ruling the kingdom than you do." With that, the young man took his sword and brought it down on the king's head. The king let out a yawp, then was silent evermore. 

You might think this story is weird, because it is, but I'll tell you why. I have a vocab test tomorrow and I have to use all the words in a story, so this is what I do to prepare for that. The words are totally random and don't really have any relation to one another, so this is what I came up with. There are 25 vocab words, and I used all of them. You might want to see if you can find all of them. It'll probably be obvious because they're words that I don't use often. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Florian is flowering!!!

You get two posts today! And guess what? Florian is flowering!!! OMG!!! It's flower is actually really really cute. Here's a picture:
I really like the fact that he's purple and I like the gold stuff in the middle, along with the little white flower coming out of the purple thing. I do wonder if the purple thing will expand and make a flower, but I don't know. I will keep you updated. I'm also curious to see what color Montague will be, because I've seen pictures online of ones that are red.
Since air plants flower only once in their life cycle, I guess this is a little bittersweet for me. Florian won't die....I think. I think after this, he reproduces and I can just have more Florians! Except, of course, I'll name them different things. Maybe I'll name them Obediah and Orville or maybe Melvin. We'll get there when we get there though.


Since I just made a post a couple days ago about how much I like to doodle and how doodling makes you remember things more, I thought I'd show you one of my doodles. I did this during AP European History yesterday. I normally don't doodle in AP Euro because I'm writing and taking notes the whole time, but we read an article about "A Frenchman Dreams of Russia," and how rich French people are going to Russia because taxes are lower in Russia. We talked about Europe's workdays and stuff like that, so I doodled, and here's what I came up with. Since I'm transferring from mathematical doodles, which I still do, but not as much of lately, this is the first major thing that I've drawn. I hope that there will be more of these in the future!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


There is a belief, that teenagers don't get enough sleep. And I must say that that is TOTALLY TRUE. Now I don't know all the reasons that cause a person to go to sleep at one in the morning. I would think that a lot of the time is spent wasting time, but then again, I have friends who do a ridiculous amount of stuff after school and when they get home, they have to do their homework.  I really don't know. I just know that I when I ask why people are really really tired, they say "I was up until two in the morning." And then I think, doing what?
I was extremely tired this morning because yesterday I had volleyball practice that went until 9:30pm. I then had to come home and take a shower, so I got to bed at around 10:30, so I only got eight hours of sleep. When I told this to my friends who asked my why I looked tired, they looked at me like I was crazy. I suppose that I was crazy to them. They then proceeded to say that they were lucky if they got to bed at 10:30 on a normal night, which personally, I think is crazy.
Now this is also coming from a person who isn't finely tuned toward the normal functions of a teenage person. I don't have a facebook or a twitter or an instagram or that thing where you put pictures of artsy stuff that's like an instagram but isn't. So I don't know what motivates people to do something at two in the morning that will make them want to climb back in bed and drink lots and lots of caffeine when they wake up in the morning. I don't think it's worth it, because in my mind, sleep=success.
Isn't that true? Don't people tell you to sleep like crazy before the SATs and before finals? And what happens if you stay up until two in the morning studying for those tests? You do really badly.
This is actually another pet peeve of mine. If you are studying something at three in the morning, you're not going to do well the next day, so why would you do it? If you don't know what the Gunpowder Plot was at three in the morning, you're not going to know it six hours later when it's on the test.
I was thinking about this today because when I walked into school, everybody looked like they were a zombie. Next year, it's going to be really bad because it's junior year of high school, the year where you have to take all the AP classes you can take and get straight A's because if you don't, you're not going to get into the college of your choice. At least, that's what everyone says about it. So junior year is really hard. I just don't know what I will do when I'm required to stay up past 10:30. Maybe I'll look like a zombie too.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


When I was in sixth grade, my art teacher told me that the people who doodle during class actually retain much more information than the people who get bored and daydream. So I took this piece of information and put it to good use, and I've perfected some doodles that I learned over the years. 
It started out by watching ViHart on YouTube. She works at KhanAcademy and makes videos about mathy stuff. Recently, I learned a lot about the Fibonacci sequence in nature from her videos. She also creates videos about doodling in math class. She shows some awesome doodles that she does and tells you how to do them. They look pretty awesome. 
Over the break, my parents gave me a book that taught me how to draw really cute doodles. So I've been practicing in my math class. When Mr. Hallas, my teacher, was talking about e and compounding interest, I doodled until he was done talking. He then told us to work on our homework, and was going around the classroom when he saw my doodles. He looked at them and said he was impressed. I told him that people who doodle retain more information, and he nodded. He then said that he loved people who doodle. 
That was the first time I had heard that from anybody (excluding my art teacher, of corse). 
So I was curious. I went on the internet and looked up some articles about doodling, and it turns out that my art teacher was right. Apparently, when the mind gets bored, it actually creates a bunch of stuff to think about. Like, for example; I hope it'll snow today, then we could have a snow day tomorrow, and then I could just sleep in, and then I could knit and crochet-but what should I knit and crochet? You can pretty much go anywhere with that. So daydreaming will actually require a bunch of brain power and energy. However, if you doodle, you are still using your brain and keeping it awake, but not using it so much that you go off and daydream. Since you're not using all that energy you could be using, then you retain the information that was given to you during that boring meeting or class. 
I'm not kidding. I read this stuff on TIME and The Guardian. So next time you're in a boring class-just doodle! You'll remember a lot more than if you start thinking about that snow day that we need to have. I was just glad that a teacher knows that and doesn't mind.  

Monday, January 7, 2013

Book #1: Fire

As I wrote in an earlier post about my New Year's Resolutions, I have decided that I will read thirty books this year.
The first book of the year, which I finished on Saturday, was Fire by Kristen Cashore. This book was recommended to me by a relative of mine, Morgan, and I must say, I really enjoyed it. It is commonly written on websites and such that it is the second book in the Graceling series by Cashore, but really, it's a companion novel to the first book, Graceling. It's a prequel, really, because there are some characters (mainly Leck) that are in Graceling, which I am reading right now.
Fire is about a girl named Fire who is a monster. However, in this world, monsters are beautiful creatures, though deadly. Fire has telepathic powers, though they are sometimes limited if the person she's trying to talk to has had training to keep monsters out of their minds. She's one of the last human monsters in the Dells, the daughter of a terrible monster named Cansrel, who was the advisor to King Nax. Cansrel was a very unforgiving person and would use his ability of telepathy to influence people to do things that he wanted them to do. He thus had a pretty bad reputation and Fire has to live under the shadow of his reputation, even though he died when she was little. She had lived in the woods with her friend Archer and his father, Brocker for her life, but she came out of "hiding" to help the king, King Nash, to find out secrets from spies from other kingdoms that he captured. While the kingdom is on the brink of war, there is also another problem going on-these mysterious murders that are caused by a man with a white arrow, who's mind is controlled by another person, so Fire also has to find out who that is as well.
Overall, I thought this book was very good. The writing was excellent, the characters all had a purpose, and the pacing was good as well. I also really liked the fact that the prologue tied in really well to the whole story. You don't really know the purpose of the prologue until you get to the end, and I love it when authors do that. I liked all the characters except Archer because even though he's Fire's best friend, he sure doesn't act like it, and he doesn't know how to control himself, and that aggravated me. I must say again that I really really liked the writing. It was written more elegantly than, say, a realistic fiction book about high school. It was written like how I imagine people in a kingdom would speak.
I also really liked the themes in the book-trying to judge people based on their personality, having lots and lots of power and all that you can do with that power, but knowing how to exercise it. That's actually a theme that I really like in general, because I think it's so important. Just because we have power doesn't mean we have to use it, and we also have to decide what exactly to use it for.
Fire was an easy read, and I would probably recommend it for ages 14+. Four and a half stars out of five. I've decided to give five stars out of five sparingly-they have to be really really special to get five stars.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

12 Fictional Characters I Want to Meet

Since I like fiction, whether it's in a book or in a movie or in a TV show, I thought that I would make a list of people I think it would be interesting to meet (in no particular order)

  1. Gandalf- no explanation necessary. He's awesome. He could probably teach me about the whole coming-back-to-life-after-dying thing, though I don't think Gandalf the White is as cool as Gandalf the Grey. Gandalf the Grey is so much more flamboyant and fun while as Gandalf the White basically has one purpose in his life, and focuses pretty much all of his attention on that. 
  2.  Luna Lovegood(and all the other wizards in the world! Except Voldemort...) because she's so absentminded, but totally cool at the same time. I especially like her insistence in the existence of so many weird creatures. I do wish that in the books, she would have gotten together with Neville. It would have been such a cute pair. They did so in the movies, but J.K. Rowling says that there is nothing between Neville and Luna in the books. 
  3. DEATH -now don't think that I'm a morbid person. This is an actual character in an actual series, the Discworld books. In that series, DEATH is awesome and funny, and totally clueless. He's a bit sarcastic as well, and I love the fact that in the book Mort, he wanted to take a holiday, so he got someone else to take his place until he got back. Death on holiday... it would be interesting to see him trying to suntan on the beach...
  4.  Peeta -yes, I am team Peeta. There's no denying it.
  5. Wolverine -specifically the Wolverine in the X-men movies. He's better looking in those anyway. I don't particularly like his outfit in the comics. Blue and Yellow don't look good on him. Also, in the movies, he's has so much more depth than in the comics. And Hugh Jackman...come on now...
  6. Sherlock and Watson from Sherlock. If I died an unfortunate death, I'd want them to solve my murder. Sherlock would think that it was a murder so easy to solve, he wouldn't leave his house for it. Then, Watson would stream the crime scene from his computer to Sherlock's using videochat. Then, Sherlock would decide there was something more to the murder and decide he wanted to solve it. However, I don't particularly want to wait until after my death to meet the two, so maybe it'll work out if I was hired by the police department. Or maybe, I end up renting a room in the same apartment building as the two of them. Though, the gunshots and the thought that there might be a dead person's head in their fridge might be a little too much to handle.
  7. Elrond-he has an awesome forehead and is amazing
  8. The Doctor -specifically the tenth doctor from Doctor Who. As I have written about before, I think I would make a particularly good companion for The Doctor. Maybe he would lend me his sonic screwdriver sometime and I could open a door with it. 
  9. Shawn and Gus (from Psych) -don't be an incorrigible Eskimo pie with a caramel ribbon. You know you want to meet them too. 
  10. Bernie from I am the Messenger-because he's an adorable old man who loves when people come to his virtually abandoned theater.
  11. Mike and Sully from Monster's Inc. I would especially enjoy having Mike come out of my closet and entertain me during the night. Speaking of Monster's Inc., I CANNOT wait for Monster's University to come out this summer. 
  12. All the characters from Downton Abbey, especially the Dowager Countess and Matthew Crawley, though he dies in season 3. My other favorite character, Sybil, dies as well in season 3, which is sad. However, since I like pretty much all of the characters except Mrs. Crawley (because she's annoying, especially in season 2 when she tried to take charge of the hospital), I'm sure I'll find another favorite character to obsess about. A conversation with the Dowager Countess would be so interesting, especially because she's so sarcastic. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

I Like Beginnings

Happy New Years everyone! 
I like beginnings. There's a freshness to them. Also, they are the furthest point away from the end, and I like that, because I'm not a big fan of ends. The most positive thing about an end is that there is a beginning that will shortly arrive. Beginnings also mean second chances, the ability to try new things, and the list goes on and on. 
This year seems like a fun year. In two months, I will legally be allowed to operate a two-ton metal box commonly known as a car. That might be a positive for me, but I don't know if it will be a positive point in the lives of those that will sit in the passenger seat of my vehicle. Our family is going on a cruise in the Bahamas in June. This trip will consist of 25 SCUBA dives, including one night dive and at least one shark dive. That promises to be fun. Psych will start to air in February, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug will come out, as well as Catching Fire and Ender's Game. There will be a bunch of traveling in the Spring for my volleyball tournaments. There will even be a three day tourney in Indianapolis. 
There are also a bunch of things that I want to do myself. I decided that I'm going to dress up for the Renaissance Festival, so I have to get my costume ready. I've got a shirt right now, and that's it. Though my dad says if I go as a beggar, I can just get a brown sack and bunch holes through it. That idea didn't seem too appealing to me. I'm not going to go as a member of royalty or anything, but I have to crochet myself a shawl-like thing 'cause a lot of people that I saw this past year had them. I also would like to get a 5 on the AP European History exam. There's going to be a lot of studying that I'll have to do, but I'm willing to do it-and  plus, I really want that 5. 
So here I come to my New Year's resolutions. I feel like some of them might be a little odd, but if I make them public, I have to do them, or else feel shame, so it's a good thing. 
1. I would like to be able to do the splits 
2. Read more than 30 books
3. Make at least 20 blog posts a month 

I'll probably end up thinking of some more, but these are the three that I have for now. Hopefully, I'll be able to make them all.