Friday, October 31, 2014

The Cube

My challenge was capturing this cube. I had to solve this cube within 30 minutes, and if I did not complete it within the given time period, I would have failed this mission.

Let me start from the beginning. A month ago, I was given the mission to complete this relic in order to have some fun. I thought it was cool. And without knowing, I shuffled it up. The ticking bomb started. One problem though. I didn't know it was ticking. 

Originally I thought, It's going to be alright. I have lot of time to figure it out.

I picked it up once in a while and looked at it. I could get through one part of it, but I could never figure out the entire puzzle. So I put it down and came back to it later. This was on repeat for days and days.

I also first thought that there was no importance in this mission. I had more important things to do such as slay my grades with material stronger than any sword or build my blueprint for my fortress within 20 seconds. But defusing a bomb that I had no idea was a bomb? That was the least of my priorities.

Days and days this occurred. I saw it, I attempted to solve it, failed solving it, threw it across the room and picked it up the next day. And everyday, I was getting more curious on how it worked and how to solve it

I then saw an article about it talked about how it was sucking in the minds of many kids, teenagers, and adults.

"Oh no!" I was shocked. This bomb, this cube, this object, was  becoming a world wide toy and it was brainwashing the students all together.

"Hey Harish, can I check out that cube?" I promptly heard my sister say.

I was shocked but it was too late. The bomb had exploded and many more would come again if I didn't stop this one.

With more panic within me, I grasped the cube with my sweaty hands. I turned each of the panels and layers on it and matched up the colors.

My hands felt frozen.

My teeth were chattering.

And all of this led to the moment I am in right now.

Right freaking now.

Each turn was more important than the last, and if I made a mistake, I would have to start this all over again.

My sister asked me 15 minutes later, "Can you help me with this puzzle?"

I responded in a panic that may have turned into a shout, "NO! THE WORLD RELIES ON ME SOLVING THIS CUBE SO DON'T DISTURB ME!" My sister went back to her workspace trying to find the missing piece of the 300 piece puzzle. 

After a countless number of twisting and turning, I saw the end of the cube near.

I also heard the mission leader in my ear say, "H you have one minute left."

Adrenaline rushed into me and my hands started moving faster, and faster, and faster. The colors on the cube started to become a blur and I could only hope that I knew what I was doing. Then, my hands started slowing down to see what was happening. 

My finger moved as the final turn in my Rubik's cube completed the simple colors on each side.

"Yes!" I thought when another thought dawned upon me.

"Can you help me now?" my sister said with her 300 puzzle pieces scattered over the floor.

"Agent H, your mission, do you choose to accept it?"

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Artifacts-The StoryTeller Project

Allergic reaction
Personal narrative
Jacob Cohen
Mr. Koch
Allergic Reaction

After a grueling football practice on a warm August evening, I began to relax in the passenger seat of my dad’s white Audi.  The smell from my rancid football gear was beginning to take over the car.  My stomach began to grumble as the hot breeze hit my face.
“You hungry?” my dad asked.
“Yes, I am so hungry that I could eat a horse, “ I replied.  
“Good because we are going to La Cucinia for dinner.”
As we entered the restaurant my stomach growled with hunger as I smelled the fresh Italian food and listened to the pizza crackle in the brick-oven. We took our seats at the pizza bar staring at the menu and looking at all my options. I decided to get the meat calzone while my dad ordered the filet mignon. As a precaution,  we reminded the waiter that I am severely allergic to shellfish. No cross contamination whatsoever. 
“Ok, yes, of course,” confirmed the waiter. 
When we finished ordering, my dad and I had a long discussion about sports while watching some college football. In addition, my good friend Tyler texted me if I could pick him up to go to our friend Grace’s house. 
I replied, “Sure bud, once I'm done eating.” Immediately after our conversation ended our food came. 
Mouth watering, sizzling, cooked golden brown, scent of fresh tomato and basil, I took my first gulping bite into my calzone. Sauce and cheese dripped down my face. Relieved after a long day of school and football I finally had a nice warm meal inside me. During the beginning of my meal my dad realized that his steak was undercooked so he asked our server to take it back. As a favor they brought out some mozzarella sticks that tied his stomach over as the steak was cooking. After all he didn't even want any so with the crispy mozzarella sticks sitting there and waiting to be eaten, I quickly questioned the server if they are safe to eat. 
“Oh yeah, without a doubt.” 
Instantaneously I took a miniature bite into the golden mozzarella stick, delish! We finally finished off our meals, and soon after we payed the check and headed out to get Tyler.
On our way there, I started to feel a little throb in my throat. I tried to ignore it while unknowingly that was the start of a long night. We finally got Tyler and started driving towards Grace’s house. About 10 minutes later, still in the car, I began to feel even worse. My hands started to sweat. In the back of my mind I asked myself, “am I having an allergic reaction?” 
 Quickly I told my dad to pull over. Screeech, as my dad slamed on the brakes. 
Immediately after, he asked, “why? Whats up, are you okay?”
Stuttering, “I, I, I think I'm having an allergic reaction.” 
“What! No, how? Everything was safe,” insisted my dad. 
“Ehh, I'm scared, I think this is for real!?” 
“You got your Eipipen?” 
“Yes, yes of course, but I'm scared, I don't want to do it!” 
“Stop being a gigantic whiner and just stick the damn thing in!” 
At that point anxiety was taking me over. Consequently, I sprinted out of the car on to the shoulder of Evergreen Mill running my anxiety out, with my dad and Tyler yelling at me to get back in the car. Weirdly enough, I started asking for things like gum and mints to make my throat feel better. While Tyler was laughing hysterically, he got a text from Grace saying that her mom is a pharmacist. For some weird reason I would have rather had her sticking the Eipipen in me instead of myself or my dad, so as soon as I heard that I told my dad and Tyler to roll out of there and head to Grace’s. Making fast tight turns we finally got there. After my dad slammed on the brakes I sprinted out of the car to Grace’s front porch where her mom was waiting curiously and ready to help me. At this point in time it became insanely hard to breath. Tyler walked inside to some more of our friends wondering on how I was, at the same time my dad and I stayed outside with Grace’s mom. 
She was asking questions to help calm me down, “are you okay? Is this your first allergic reaction?”

About two minutes later it became almost impossible to breath as she stuck the Epipen in me. It felt like a new life was put into me. Immediately after I was full of energy and I could breath again. Lastly, I thanked Grace’s mom for every thing. Minutes later my dad and I decided that it would be a good idea to get a check up at Loudon hospital. When we arrived we quickly met up with a nurse that took us back in the ER for a post allergic reaction exam. As she told us what had happened to me we found out that we were very lucky for thinking of coming there because I had to take a steroid to prevent my throat from closing again. Once we got that taken care of we drove back to our house to get some well needed sleep.  

The Story Isn't Complete Without The Storyteller

Monday, October 27, 2014

Oh Yum, Pumpkin Pie

Ethan McFerren
Mr. Koch
English 9H
October 27, 2014
Oh Yum, Pumpkin Pie
            Have you ever had pumpkin pie, on Thanksgiving, or just a special occasion,
Do you remember cutting a really, really huge piece with the silver cutter, with the chatter of people in the background, and you are oblivious to them,
Do you remember getting a spotless white plate, porcelain or plastic, and putting the pie on it with giddy excitement, and collecting the silver spoon,
Do you remember spraying and spurting whip cream, that wonderful whip cream, on to the back of your pie for five long seconds near the crispy crust,
Do you recall the first bite, where you take a third of the pie into your spoon, and attempt to chew, but swallow so quickly because you can only chew a few times, and the memories of walking to Michael’s on a wintery day come flooding back,
And do you recall the second bite, where the flavor of pumpkin invades your tongue, that gentle pumpkin flavor spreading inside your mouth reminding you of autumn,

And do you remember the last bite, the very last bite, where you scoop the rest of the pie and savor the moment, the cool whip cream, the piping crusty crust, and the last chunk of pie, and chew twenty times, and then swallow very, very slowly, inch by inch, until the last has gone down your throat, and you stare in mourning at the pumpkin stained plate and spoon? I do. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Story and the Storyteller - Holly Nguyen

Holly Nguyen's "Story and the Storyteller" Project

My "Story and The Storyteller" Project :)

Alma - Animated Film #1

Literary terms found in this film:
Foreshadowing:  The ending with the next victim.
Protagonist:  Alma
Antagonist:  The doll shop
Symbolism:  The dolls are the victims; the doll shop is a monster eating up the children.

Mr. Hublot - Animated Film #2

Literary terms found in this film:
Situational Irony:  When he reassembles the dog and buys a larger home in the end.
Topic:  Dedication/Sacrifice

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Story of a Slave

Ethan McFerren
Mr. Koch
English 9H
October 6, 2014
The Story of a Slave
            “No, nooooo,” I scream in anger, sadness, shock, confusion! Though I shouldn’t be confused. I know what’s happening. The white people are leading me away from my family. My mother cries and my brother looks away, not wanting to show his emotion. My father died when I was young, so he isn’t here. I watch in despair as I am lead further and further away from my home, my life in Africa, and to someplace I do not know.
            The white man shoves me in with a bunch of other black slaves. Mehimbo, a girl who I knew since I was born, is also on the ship. The white man yells an order, and we start to move. No warning. No goodbyes. My family is stripped away from me like that. Our wooden ship skirts smoothly into the Atlantic Ocean. I watch it churn like soup with teary eyes. Will I ever be able to see my family again? No. That’s for certain. I will be alone with just me and my master. Or masters. I probably go to a rich family, since I think I’ll sell for good money. I dismiss the idea from my head. Maybe I can run away.
            The first day is awful. They give us bread and water for dinner. The beds in the ship are overcrowded and too small. I have nightmares of leaving my family forever. The rest of the week goes on the same way. Look at the water, occasionally talk to Mehimbo, although both of us prefer to be left alone, and of course bread and water. People vomit their meals out on deck. I pretend to vomit my food so I can get some fresh air, but they soon find out and I get whipped. People that don’t make it through the voyage are simply tossed at sea. One boy even fell overboard. I grow thinner and thinner, even though I was always skinny. Everybody is cold, or sick, or hungry, or thirsty. We are all miserable. The voyage takes us three weeks straight. I don’t know if I should be scared, or excited, or nervous. After all, I am halfway across the globe with nobody I know except for Mehimbo. One by one, we are lead out into the cool, misty morning. I breathe in fresh gulps of air like water. Then we are half led, half pushed to a wooden block in the middle of a town. The buildings look nothing alike to the small huts at home. The place is surrounded with white men and women. I feel like I don’t belong.

            Someone starts the auction. One by one, slaves are carried away with their new owners. The sounds are filled with men shouting out. Ten! Fifteen! I bid twenty-five! Thirty! On and on. Around midafternoon, Mehimbo and I are selected by our masters, a kind-looking man with a beard, and a fierce, angry, and annoyed woman who has icy cold eyes filled with hatred. I’m frightened, but at the same time, I am very grateful that Mehimbo and I were both selected by the same owners, maybe because we were standing next to each other. We are slowly led down the wooden auction block. Our masters pay money in gold to the slave trader and lead us away. Forty gold pieces. That is it. That is what Mehimbo and I are worth. Forty gold pieces.   Will I have kind owners? Not by the look of the lady. Will I be treated fairly? Doubtful. As I am led down a dirt path, I mourn. My new life is about to begin. 

Purdue OWL: Basic Business Letter Format

Purdue OWL: Basic Business Letters: "Sample Letters

Summary: This resource covers the parts of the basic business letter and provides three sample business letters.

Contributors:Elizabeth Angeli and Allen Brizee

Last Edited: 2010-08-08 03:53:30"

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Presentation Best Practice Reminders

While I know that my chicken scratch is tough to read, here are a few reminders to consider after the first day of presentations!  

1.  Understand the impact of your position in the room.  If you need to, alter the room to make it work for you.

2.  Eye Contact - try not to focus too much of your EC on the teacher, on your notes, or on the screen.  Better notes, not more, but better = better EC.  Also limiting the words on the slides, if you choose PPT as your method of sharing, will reduce the impulse to read to your audience.

3.  Watch your time - 10 minutes goes fast when you are sharing audio, video, reading to the class, or using other multimodal artifacts. Remember, the research you did was yours, give the audience your highlight reel!

4.  Come ready with a leadoff line - the first greeting you will give your audience.  Also bring a closer - the last line that will signal the audience to clap.

5.  Lastly, while sharing your first level understanding of the material:  plot, character, setting etc.  The best presenters so far have moved quickly beyond that to the analysis of the big questions.

Monday, October 20, 2014

6th Block Presentation Schedule

Justice Letter

Justice Store
22000 Dulles Retail Plaza
Sterling, VA 20166

Dear Justice:

A few years ago, I finally found a jumpsuit at your store that matched my style. This jumpsuit is short and has laces at the top. The style was very attractive. I was so happy that I couldn’t wait to wear it, but I saved it for a day at the beach. A day before I went to the beach, I decided to try on the jumpsuit before I packed it into my suitcase. Then, just as I gently pulled the lacing over my shoulders, one of the shoulder laces snapped!

I was devastated because I was really looking forward to wearing that jumpsuit on the beach. I hadn’t even pulled hard on the laces; I was very careful. When I looked at the wrecked lace, I realized that the problem arose due to the fault of your stitching. The laces were stitched on too loose and carelessly; by the time I put on my dress, they completely came apart! I am very disappointed in the quality of your stitching! The dress that I paid full price for didn’t even last a few seconds. It separated and now I cannot even wear it anymore before finding a way to stitch it back myself.

I do have to commend your store for its fabulous model, though. The fashionable model and the colors of the jumpsuit went together and looked adorable. I just wish I had a chance to wear these adorable clothes and show them to others before they rip apart because of the stitching issues. The quality of the clothing I received from your store is terrible; it doesn’t have any relation to the price of the jumpsuit.

I wanted to let you know that you should improve the quality of your clothing so that they can last long. I would propose taking the time to focus more of your budget on creating the clothing instead of designing it, because I feel that the designs of your clothing are already getting an abundant amount of attention. In fact, that is the best part of your clothing!

If you advertise your improved stitching quality, I am sure that many others will be interested in buying your clothes. I have a few friends who have also had similar issues about your clothing, and I believe that taking this suggestion into consideration would be really beneficial to both your store and your customers. My friends all agree that the quality of the stitching in your clothing is the only thing that keeps them from buying more clothing from your store, anymore. After all, Justice has the best designs, but just needs to have better quality to become even more successful. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and taking my improvements into consideration!


Sreya Palnati

Story and the Storyteller Presentations

Thanks for going first, T!

5th Block Presentation Schedule - Be Ready!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Every New Beginning Comes From Some Other Beginning's End.

Personal Narrative                                                                   
Every New Beginning Comes From Some Other Beginning’s End.

I was born in the capital city of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo. It’s the biggest city in the country, with a population just over 2 million. The Dominican Republic is a tropical country, where the sun is always up and shining till the night (except in the rainy season). I used to be a typical Dominican girl with a busy schedule, full of social activities and very involved in my school activities. I used to be my teacher’s assistant; I helped grading exams, organizing classes, etc. I was also my class President, so I had a lot of responsibilities on my shoulders. I had to plan all the social activities and also the fund raisers. Being the Class President is not as fun as you might imagine, as I had to play many roles, needing to be democratic and participatory, but also authoritarian or bossy- but always fair.

I loved my life; I had the greatest feeling, when you know that you have all that you need: love, family and friends that become like family. I used to love going to school, every day would bring a new lesson or adventure. Sometimes it seemed hard, especially when we had to have our monthly meeting to schedule our activities as a classroom, but at the end of the day, it turned into happiness. When I got back home my grandmother was always there waiting for me to set the table. We used to have lunch together while we watched a show called “Caso Cerrado” (Case Closed) which was a part of the day we couldn’t miss. Every day always ended up with homework. Finally, though, the most expected day of the week: Friday would arrive, which were always fun and exciting. My friends and I used to do a variety of things, going to an ice cream parlor or we could end up partying till “sunrise” which was really till midnight.

I am pretty sure that I will never forget these moments that have become  memories that will last forever. I especially miss my girlfriends and hope that even though they are far we can still keep the connection between us.  

My life new life begins with a new culture, new challenges, and new goals. This is what life is based on, changes.  We all have experienced an unwanted change, in my case it was for my own benefit. It all started when I moved to Virginia; at first, I wasn’t excited, I barely talked about it, as long days were passing by, the sadder I would be. In the meantime, I was enjoying my last months with all my friends, partying, hanging out and eating brunches. The day “finally” arrived; packing, letters, tears and sadness surrounded my room.  When I first arrived, it felt like I was on summer vacation, just like another usual summer, going out and having fun. As the days passed by and the “Back to School” date got closer, I didn’t realize it was really going to happen until I bought my school supplies.

In my opinion, everything happens for a reason. Sure, everybody says that, but do they believe it? I do. Everything has a purpose, which I still need to find - it will be a journey, not always amusing one, but uplifting nonetheless. Finally, as my grandmother says, “At the end of the journey everything will take its place.” Caso Cerrado.

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Rude Awakening

A Rude Awakening

As a child, everyone grows up with this fantasized view of the world where everyone and everything is nice and perfect. Parents love their children, bad people go to jail, and anyone who misbehaves gets in trouble. Many children wake up from this sugar-coated dream at a young age, including me. When I found out that my family wasn't as perfect as I thought, it altered my view of the world completely.

It was a pretty average day for a five year old, with my dad driving me from my mom's house back to his house. We were driving down that winding road that has all of those lush green trees that can take your breath away with one look. With the windows cracked open, you could smell autumn making its way throught the air, with the warm colors close behind. I was struggling to regain control of my hair as gusts of wind blew it into a mess; silence filled the car. Our conversation about school that day had just ended when, in that silence, I recalled a televison show episode I had watched earlier, That's So Raven. In the episode I wathced, Raven goes through a situation where she thinks her parents might get a divorce. I had no idea what the word divorce could possibly mean at the time, so I continued to watch the show. By curiously watching the show, I eventually guessed that divorce was when the mom and dad seperated. Something abou that term was bothering me since I left my mom's house, but I just couldn't put my finger on it. I then started to connect the dots and notice the similarities to my life. A million thoughts raced through my head all at once. Could my parents be divorced? Am I adopted? If they're divorced, why do I have four parents? Are my parents kidnappers? I couldn't imagine my mom and dad ever being happy together. I then realized that it must be true because I knew I looked too much like them to have been kidnapped or adopted. I then asked the dreaded question, "Are you and Mommy divorced?"

My dad showed no surprise towards the question and calmly answered, "Yes", explaining the details about how and why they had seperated. He also confirmed that I was indeed not adopted or kidnapped at any point in life. Initially, I wasn't as shocked as expected because everything fit like a puzzle. It explained why I traveled between houses, why I had more than two parents, and why my parents didn't get along. This moment gave me the rude awakening that no one and no family is as perfect as it's thought to be. I also learned that just because a family isn't picture perfect, doesn't mean they aren't a family.

The Secret

The Secret

There’s only thirty more seconds left. Why does time have to go so fast? A movement in the corner of my eye catches my attention. It's Tommy shooting a basket with a balled up piece of paper. "Hey, Kate! You see that? Only one try!"

I don't want to give him the satisfaction of my reaction, so I just roll my eyes and continue my staring contest with the clock. Three... Two... One... The annoyingly loud bell screeches into everyone's ears. Whooping and hollering is taking place in the already crowded hallways. I slowly pack up my school books, papers, and pencil, delaying the inevitable without being too obvious. I quickly glance around the room to find the teacher looking at me. Oh, no. I attempt getting out of the classroom before he tries to talk to me, but fail.

"How are you doing, Kate? You seemed a little sad today." I want to say terrible, awful, depressing, but as usual, I say the socially acceptable thing.

"I'm fine, Mr. Moore! Just a little tired! Have good day!" My fake happiness is expertly plastered all over my face.

"Okay. You too," he replies with delight in his voice. I sprint out the door, hugging my textbooks, with my head down. The crowd is moving like a school of fish towards the front entrance. I hate Fridays. People get way too happy about the weekend and the stupid Friday-night football games. The games are just another excuse to exaggerate the social class difference between the upper-class, jocks and cheerleaders, and the lower-class, me.

After what seems like one minute, I find myself getting off the bus. I start taking slug-like steps in the direction of my house. Even when walking the slowest speed humanly possible, I still reach my house in only eight minutes. Not long enough. I wish time could stand still, even if only for a little while. I silently insert the key into the door lock and turn it to the right. The front door noisily creaks open, making my heartbeat skyrocket. I walk through the doorway and head towards the stairs. As I'm creeping quietly through the house, I catch a glimpse of my mom who has passed out on the couch again. I routinely walk over and check her pulse. It's still beating away, so I pick up the bottles of alcohol littering the room. I carefully place the bottles in a trash bag, to be thrown out later. Even her faint breath can be heard in the silence of the house. It's kind of funny how such a damaged home can be unbelievably loud at one point and silent the next.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Joyous Day

A Joyous Day

Chirp, chirp. Bright and early in the morning the birds started to sing. Their beautiful song filling the air like a fluffy cloud in the light blue sky. It was eight o'clock on a Saturday and Lisette was getting ready to attend her cousin Courtney's sweet sixteen. She got up, washed her face and shrugged into her aqua green dress. The dress fit Lisette perfectly around her waist. It was a birthday gift from her aunt and she had been asked to wear it during the party. Even though the party didn't start until seven o'clock at night, she couldn't wait to try it on just once.

Lisette ran down the steps to the kitchen. Her parents and older brother had already eaten their breakfast at the table and were cleaning up. 

"Good morning everyone." Lisette announced happily. 

"Good morning Lisette," Her mom and dad replied in unison. Her brother Clark just nodded his head as a hello. As they got up, Lisette sat down. Clark exited the kitchen to his room, her mom was getting started on the dishes, and her dad was reading the newspaper. She had a huge grin on her face. She couldn't wait to go to Courtney's party. She's never been to one as a matter of fact. Her friends all just turned fifteen and she was still waiting for her turn in July. 

"So are you excited to go to Courtney's party?" her mother asked. 

"Definitely," she replied. "You  know the aqua green dress Aunt Becky got me for my birthday?"

Her mother nodded. 

"Well, I really want to wear it for the first time at her party," Lisette said. "You know, since it's the first time I'll be going to one."

"Of course you can sweetie," her mom said. "I'm just worried you'll spill something on it and stain it. 

"Don't worry, I won't." Lisette promised. She helped her mom with the dishes, and then put them away. She ran up to her room and started reading and drawing, counting the hours till the party. She even fell asleep for two hours!

"Lisette!" her mom called out. "It's time to go!"

"Coming!" Lisette replied while going down the steps with caution. She really didn't want anything to happen to her new dress. She had others she liked, but this one had to be her favorite.

It was seven o'clock and the sun was setting. Its colors were fading away slowly, as if it was the last time you would ever see it. Lisette and her family walked outside greeted with a cool breeze hitting their faces. The lights from their house raided with moths, causing their shadows to dance in the dark.

An hour late they arrived. There was light shining through all the large windows in the house. Lisette knew the party had already started. She took a deep breath. They all walked toward the front door and were greeted by a middle aged woman with her hair in a bun. 

"Hello Jane, Andrew, Clark, Lisette," aunt Becky said looking at all of us. "Come in it's cold outside. Come in."

Lisette walked inside and started looking around at all the decorations hung up on the walls. "Whoa," she said in awe. She stood near her parents and in an instant they disappeared, but she didn't care. She knew her aunt's house inside and out. 

"Lisette!" Courtney yelled. Lisette turned around and looked at Courtney across the room with a smile a mile wide. She walked towards Courtney with a swing in her step. This is going to be fun, she thought. 


you hurt my shoulders,
and my back,
also my arms,
 what would I do without you.

you carry all my books,
binders, and lunchboxes,
sometimes even my shoes,
what would I do without you.

you make me late to school,
trying to cram things into you,
you tear and rip,
 what would I do without you.

you can make my life miserable,
but also gleeful,
what would I do,
without you.

you hurt my shoulders,
and my back,
also my arms,
 what would I do without you.

Keshav Bhakta 

Hope in the Dark

Hope in the Dark

This nightmare that we live in,
What a terror it is.
Not knowing what's fake and what's real,
But knowing we will survive this.

Darkness is everywhere,
Surrounding us like a cloud covered sky.
Coming out of nowhere, 
With a blink of an eye.

The darkness is pulling us in,
With memories that are scattered.
Never good enough,
And all our hearts are torn and tattered.

But say what you will,
This life is supreme. 
Keep walking towards your goal,
And someday you'll wake up from this dream.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tick Tock

Tick Tock

Tick tock, went the clock,
Twelve people alive,
One the source of it all,
But only eleven shall die.

Tick tock, went the clock,
One dying each hour,
When the clock strikes one,
The man with the black hair tied back shall die,
A man of providing.

Tick tock, went the clock,
One dying each hour,
When the clock strikes two,
The man with the white scarf shall die,
A man most feared.

Tick tock, went the clock,
One dying each hour,
When the clock strikes three,
The man with the rose shall die,
A man wanting to be loved.

Tick tock, went the clock,
One dying each hour,
When the clock strikes four,
The man with red eyes shall die,
A man who was once lost.

Tick tock, went the clock,
One dying each hour,
When the clock strikes five,
The man with the black cross shall die,
A man who was a commander.

Tick tock, went the clock,
One dying each hour,
When the clock strikes six,
The man with the wise mind shall die,
A man who was an elder.

Tick tock, went the clock,
One dying each hour,
When the clock strikes seven,
The man with the sorcery shall die,
A man who was the father of all.

Tick tock, went the clock,
One dying each hour,
When the clock strikes eight,
The man who wears glasses shall die,
A man who was a hero.

Tick tock, went the clock,
One dying each hour,
When the clock strikes nine,
The man with the polar bear shall die,
A man who wasn't noticed.

Tick tock, went the clock,
One dying each hour,
When the clock strikes ten,
The man who was generous shall die,
A man who was poor.

Tick tock, went the clock,
One dying each hour,
When the clock strikes eleven,
The man who was always angry shall die,
A man who was a brother.

Tick tock, went the clock,
All eleven are dead,
But when the clock stroke twelve,
The twelfth with the curl was weeping,
And wished the eleven didn't protect him,
A man who wanted to protect.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Cycles of the Seasons

 The Cycles of the Seasons

Winter’s snow brings cold
Raging blizzards, storms of hailing ice
And yet beautiful.

Spring is a rebirth
From the barren and icy grounds
Of the long gone winter.

Summer introduces us
To the feelings of freedom
And joys of old friends.

Autumn is subtle
Changing slowly, unnoticed
Until winter storms forth.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Lifeproof Business Letter

September 25, 2014

Brian Thomas
209 S Meldrum
Fort Collins, CO 80521 USA

 Dear Mr. Brian Thomas:

I am writing this letter to notify you that customer service has yet to address the problem I am having with my I phone 4s Life Proof case.

I am dissatisfied with the product I bought from your company. Within the first week of using my brand new case my phone was damaged due to being brought in the water one time. I had all the parts on the case and didn’t bring the case in water deeper than three feet and according to the Life Proof guarantees the phone will be protected.

I understand that the Life Proof liability does not cover any devices damaged while using the Life Proof case. Since my problem still remains unsolved, I am requesting that you fully refund me for the I phone 4s Life Proof case.

Please contact me within 5-7 business days to confirm that you will honor my request. If not I will file a complaint once more to customer service for further investigation.

Thank you for your assistance in resolving my problem. Please contact me at if you have any questions.


Erin Flaherty

Star-Crossed Lovers in a Senseless Society

Star-Crossed Lovers in a Senseless Society

“Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”

This quote comes from Rainbow Rowell’s book Eleanor and Park, a romance novel revolving around a sarcastic, red-haired girl and an introverted half-Korean boy. At the beginning, the chemistry between these two misfits is very sweet, and I enjoyed every breath of it. However, the book goes downhill when the lovers become serious with their relationship, especially since the story takes place over a year. Many flaws in this book have confirmed that this novel wasn’t my favorite, but it was definitely unlike anything I’ve ever read before.

The biggest and most disconcerting obstacle in Eleanor and Park was its constant use of profanity. Upon reading the first five pages, I found about twelve nasty words scribbled hastily in dialogue before flipping to the next chapter. Though the setting takes place primarily in a high school in the 1980’s, I feel like the author is making an unfortunate excuse to press her anger into each of the pages, screaming the f-word repetitively through her characters’ thoughts. She may think that it seems more realistic this way, but personally I think it makes the characters less enjoyable to be around. Therefore the vulgar language was completely superfluous, and I think that this book would have been more satisfying if it weren’t for the author being as tempered as a toddler, flicking the f-word all over the place.

Another flaw that made me uncomfortable was the author’s tendency to be racist towards Asians. Park is part of one of the only Asian families in his neighborhood, making him a minor target for being different from the rest. I agree that racism is still a problem in today’s world, and I understand that Rowell wants to address this problem to her audience. But rather than resolving the situation herself, she simply mocks the Asian accent and expresses feelings that should have stuck to her rough draft. Her constant reminder of Park’s mom pronouncing Eleanor’s name as “El-la-no” frustrates me, as if she didn’t need to remind me twenty times to get the gist of how differently Park’s mom spoke from the rest. Also, at the start and end of the book, Eleanor regards Park as a “stupid Asian kid”. Whether Rowell means this and her other open thoughts playfully or seriously, it doesn’t improve the plot any further from its original state.

Thirdly, the book had a few plot holes that I was really unsatisfied with. What happened to Eleanor’s family after Eleanor ran away? Richie is the only one who seems to live in the house after the incident, and there are no signs of Eleanor’s siblings or her mom after the fight. I was anxious to know where they had gone, or if they had met Eleanor in the future, but unfortunately I was never given the answer to what will forever be a vague ending. Also, if Richie wrote vulgar insults in Eleanor’s books, how did he get to her locker in the first place? Eleanor told Park that the insults appeared after her Gym class, and it seems very unlikely that Richie would suddenly barge into the school and somehow locate the girls’ locker room deliberately. How did Richie get in and cram Eleanor’s new clothes in the toilet? Since he is Eleanor’s stepdad, it makes completely no sense and desperately needs a logical revision.

The main idea of romance captivated me early into the story, but as the plot progressed, there seemed to be something off about it that made me change my mind. The timing was unreasonably hastened, and even though Park is awkward, wouldn’t he have chosen a more appropriate time to confess his love for Eleanor? At the time their relationship was only starting to bloom, and I believe that Park went a little overboard. The author may attempt to sound realistic in this aspect of the story as well, but I think that it would have been more reasonable if Park was a little more careful about what he said, since this is after all his “first love”.

In addition, there were many imbalances in the story. Sloppy, disproportioned transitions between Park and Eleanor were made frequently throughout the story, and it was hard to keep up since some viewpoints lasted 3 pages and others lasted a few sentences. The author tries too hard to sound simple, because it makes readers juggle a deep pile of thoughts and fluctuating perspectives. Although Eleanor and Park had a steady relationship throughout the book, it saddened me to see that Eleanor never truly admitted that she loved Park, because Park had told her multiple times that he loved her to soothe her insecurities.

Lastly, the parents of both families failed to be good role models in the story. All of the fathers in the story either use vulgar language, drink, or provide too much freedom excessively. The mothers are calmer and wiser, but there are no major spotlights for them in the book other than restricting the lovers from doing what they want. An example of unreasonable parenting is Park’s dad. He allows Park to drive Eleanor to Minnesota in the middle of the night, but he restricts Park from wearing eyeliner? Park’s dad probably wanted to prevent Park from wearing eyeliner to avoid attention at school, but if Park’s dad provides that much freedom for Park and his girlfriend, then he should definitely be more easygoing about something as simple as eyeliner.

In spite of all of the book’s imperfections, only a few portions have truly contented me. The plot, despite its adult-like tone, was engrossing, and I had finished this book over two days’ time. Some peaks in the story included the semi-creative flirting between Eleanor and Park, but clichés such as “I can’t live without you,” and “I can’t breathe without you,” were little things that made me cringe. However, the fact that they avoided the “it’s not good-bye” cliché was unexpectedly impressive. The most stunning part overall was that this book captured real-life situations that people are still facing today, like family pressure and bullying, overlapping the romance just before it became too boring and mushy to handle.

Lakes Can Be Amazing

Lakes Can Be Amazing

After weeks of preparation and logistics, as well as hours of travel, my father and I, along with 7 other members in our Boy Scout troop, arrived at the Charles L. Sommers canoe base in Ely, Minnesota for a 7-day canoe trip in the boundary waters between Canada and the United states. This base is part of the Northern Tier High Adventure Program. We had watched the movies, and seen the wallpapers, but now it was time to experience nature for real. Charles L. Sommers was in the middle of nowhere; there was nothing but crisp pine trees and lakes for miles around. After we checked in, the staff members handed us our gear, gave us a short orientation, and showed us our cabins for the night. We would leave early in the morning.
My dad said the packs we were taking were heavy, but I never thought how heavy. Each crew of 9 people get around 6 large packs to carry all the personal gear, food, supplies, and cooking utensils needed for the trip. Everything was carried with you, including the canoes. This worried me a lot, especially since the 90-pound burden almost made me fall over immediately. By the time we launched our canoes into the lake, our whole crews’ backs were already aching. We would be experiencing that feeling a lot throughout our trip.
Paddling on a crystal clear lake is probably one of the most peaceful things to do on the Earth. The water stretches for miles, and the only sound you can hear is your paddle dipping in, then out. Bald eagles skim the surface of the lake, hunting for the large fish swimming in the shallows. However, the land approaches as the water ends, and the weak of heart go back to the canoe base. Our crew had other ideas…
There is an opening in the evergreen forest, with a narrow, rough trail lying inside it. If we wanted to get the miles on this trip, it all started at this portage. Taking up our packs, and lifting the canoes over our heads, we trekked past the point of no return and struggled to the next lake. I came to dread these “portages”, carrying all our heavy gear and canoes on land, but it was necessary to get to the places we wanted to go to. Step by step, I carried my pack down halfway through the trail before I stumbled, slipped on a rock and fell backwards. Dazed, yet determined, I used all my strength to get back on my feet and continue onwards. The only driving motivation in a portage is the water you can see at the other side.
Since these lakes are hard to reach, and isolated, the fishing there was probably the best you can get this side of the Western Hemisphere. We caught 20-30 inch Pike, Bass, and Lake Trout as easily as those fishing toy games. On the second day, my friend Seth had a 31-inch Northern Pike on the line as soon as he had reeled in another fish! I was surprised, because the lakes are so vast and deep you would think the fish would be spread out far and few in between. There were no complaints, though, as fried fish was the best remedy for an aching body.
The third day was one of the longest and hardest days of the trip, especially for my dad. While doing a rough, steep portage, my dad, who was carrying the canoe, stumbles and shouts in pain. He had torn one of his upper groin muscles! This didn’t injure him to the point of calling off the trip, but he had to take ibuprofen every day after. It would take a good month after the incident for him to fully recover.
On reaching our fourth day of the trip, we paddled to Lake MacIntyre, the halfway point in our canoe route. By then, our crew had travelled over 40 miles and portaged around 13 times. To make it back to the canoe base in time, we took a route around one of the large lakes and started heading home. The weather was perfect for five days straight, until a huge storm hit us early in the morning. As soon as the first drop fell, I woke up my tent mates and rushed to put the rainfly over our shelter. Lightning flashed over the lake at around 100 times a minute. It was like someone was shining a strobe light over the whole world! Not to mention the pouring rain and screaming wind. None of us slept well that night.
Finally, we found our way back to the lake where we started and I reflected on everything I accomplished throughout the trip. Our crew travelled over 75 miles by canoe, caught countless fish, and bonded well together in only 7 days. We woke up every one of those days and paddled, rain or shine, and really experienced what it’s like to be with nature. Not only that, I got to test my limits and see my potential. After this trip, I went home and knew how hard work and effort really do pay off.

Featured Post

End Of Year Reflection