Monday, March 23, 2015

Honors Reflection Essay

Ethan McFerren
Mr. Koch
English 9H
March 17, 2015
2014 Writing Checkpoint
            I have improved on structure, grammar, and diction in my pieces of writing this year. The six pieces of writing that I have improved on include a Reader Response called the Thrilling Book Review: Hatchet, a Creative Fiction on the beginning story of a captured African teenager entitled The Story of a Slave, Original Poetry where I describe the memories of pumpkin pie, also known as Oh Yum, Pumpkin Pie, a Personal Narrative named the Slide of Doom where I recall my experience with a horrendous water slide, a Business Letter entitled Nerf Business Letter in which I describe an issue with a Nerf Gun, and a Big Question Essay stating the advantages and disadvantages of robots called Should Robots be Allowed in Our World? I still have weaknesses and flaws that I need to address, including the use of more semicolons and a stronger, more mature vocabulary. In structure, I have improved with analysis, in grammar I have gotten better in quotation marks, and finally I have increased my skills in diction, especially in the use of strong verbs.
            The crucial part of writing I have gotten better at is structure. Specifically, I improved on analysis. I did not know that analysis was an important part of writing until a couple of years ago, but now I know how to consistently find the purpose of a piece of writing. For example in my Big Question Essay titled Should Robots be Allowed in Our World?, “According to these articles, I think robots are good for society to use only in the workplace.” Analysis is important in writing because it shows that you are trying to dig deeper and farther to really examine something further than other people would. I can improve my analyzing skills by constantly questioning and finding a purpose in every paper I read and write.
The second strength I have gained in writing is command of grammar, especially with quotation marks. In the past, I rarely used quotation marks when I was writing and had no idea how to properly use them. This sentence shows evidence of my improvement: A robotic voice soon announced, “Five, four, three, two, one.” I used this quotation in my Personal Narrative The Slide of Doom writing. Quotation marks are crucial, especially in stories. The reader needs to be able to follow the story easily and know who is saying what. I need to improve in this skill by making sure that I am using quotation marks correctly in personal accounts and book reviews.
            My final strength I achieved in writing this year is strong verbs. This can be tricky to find a perfect verb to describe somebody’s reaction or a memory, like mine, pumpkin pie. One instance of this strength as shown in my Free Verse Poem “Oh Yum, Pumpkin Pie” is: “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 …” Using strong verbs is one of the most important, if not the most important, aspect of writing. A reader needs to have a mental painting or image in their head to visualize what is going on so they can connect with the story from their own experiences. Using stronger verbs can be achieved by reading; which is something I need to keep up with. Of course, I have weaknesses in my writing that I need to fix to become a better reader, writer, and thinker. Some examples of my weakness include thesis statements, semicolons, and a mature vocabulary. I can fix these issues by using them more in my writing repeatedly and to read consistently.

            I improved in analyzing, quotation marks, and strong verbs throughout the school year. Overall, I am satisfied with my growth and development as a reader, writer, and thinker. I am also eager to expand my horizons even further than before with the help of my teachers, classmates, and practice. With these aids in writing, I know I can produce high quality papers and become a better writer. I will to continue using my skills, improve on weaknesses, and gain new strengths in writing that I have yet to master.

Emergency Delivery

Tyrone Johnson has a couple of years left until he retires from his job in Boise where he has worked for over 15 years. Tyrone is a cardiac surgeon. Tyrone has loved this job as it has involved him saving lives.

Tyrone is 5’11”, has lots of dark black hair with a few greying pieces at the side of his head. He wears small dark round glasses and has a moustache that is almost completely black. Tyrone is a large man. Tyrone is a very kind man who is always so calm and patient with everyone.

To work, Tyrone wears a red tie, with a sharp white shirt, some shiny loafers and a classy grey suit. He has a very precious gold ring that his wife Laquisha gave him as a wedding gift 30 years ago and a small gold watch that a client gave him. Tyrone has twin boys called Demonstrell and Dontavious who are 9 years old who are both in preschool.

Every day Tyrone travels into Boise but today was going to be a very different day, he was flying to Boulder on a business trip to a meeting with all the top doctors in the world. His alarm did not go off and he overslept. He missed his train to the airport and had to get a later flight. As he settled into his seat on the plane, the air hostess offered him black coffee. He read the news and then closed his eyes. This afternoon there was going to be an important meeting and he didn’t want to be tired.

In his sleep he could hear voices screaming at the back of the plane and then an announcement asking if there was a doctor on board. He waited five minutes until another announcement came and by this time he could tell it was a ladies voice that was screaming. He got up from his seat and looked for the air hostess to let her know that he is a doctor and can he help. As he got closer and closer he knew that she was pregnant and was about to have a baby. Tyrone had never felt himself panic before. He was now not going to operate on a heart but instead was going to help deliver a baby. Tyrone took a deep breath and decided to calm down. He was normally so calm but this time so many people were watching him and he did not know if he could do this. Taqueen was moved to the front of the plane to have the baby. Normally, Tyrone saved lives but now high above the Atlantic Ocean he was bringing a new life into the world. After the baby had been delivered Tyrone sat there holding the baby in his arms. Taqueen decided to call the baby after him – Lil Tyrone.

Tyrone arrived in Boulder exhausted but was proud of what he had just done. He left his luggage at the hotel and went to the meeting where he could tell the other doctors this crazy story.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Elephants in the Sky

Imagine 6.5 billion female elephants in the sky every year. Now imagine that every person in the US was responsible for 5 of those elephants up there while people in third world countries each put up 5 baby elephants.  This may be a farfetched thought, but now imagine each of those elephants being made out of carbon dioxide. This is how much CO2 is in the sky. Let me reiterate: every year, twenty six billion tons of CO2 is put into the atmosphere each year. And Americans put an average of twenty tons of this noxious smog there, while each person in a third world country puts about one ton. This is a severe problem, as we have climate change occurring so much to the point that the Dead Sea may be completely evaporated by 2050 (Deal Could 'refill' Drying Dead Sea.)  The world still needs energy, however, and third world countries need it even more than anyone else in the world in order to have a good future. So how do we solve this dilemma?
Recently, hydraulic fracking has been on the news for giving us a great amount of oil and it is great that there is more energy available, but this is causing people not to worry about energy problems. On the down side, oil can last for only so long and shale oil may only last until 2020. Even further, oil itself may only last until 2040, giving us less than 26 years to put our act together and find a solution. (Dimick, Natural Geographic) Along with this, communities surrounding oil fracking areas have reports of poisoned drinking water, polluted air, mysterious animal deaths, industrial disasters and explosions. (Fracking Across the United States)
Looking at this prospect, we have to find a solution to lower the amount of carbon dioxide put into the air as close as we can get to 0. This can be found through simple multiplication; the formula is the amount of people times the amount of services used, times the energy each service takes, times the amount of CO2 released through the service. (Gates, TED)
In the formula, we first have the amount of people on the planet. We know that we cannot somehow rid the Earth of people, so this number will either stay the same or go higher. Next, we have the amount of services that each person receives. These services may be having enough drinking water, being able to have light at night, or even being able to cook food. We could remove these services, but it would be harmful toward society, especially to poorer countries where having simple pleasures such as food or light are difficult.
Thirdly, the amount of energy services are taking is generally going down, which is a good thing. We have cleaner cars, televisions that use less power, and more cleaner forms of electricity coming out, such as solar or wind power. At the same time, we have services that are using too much energy such as making fertilizer or burning coal.  Therefore, this may lower the overall number, but it is going to make a small difference.
Finally, we come to the last variable in this problem: the amount of carbon dioxide released by the service . Inside any multiplication equation, in order to have a result of zero, it is required to have a zero in the equation. What’s great is that it is possible to bring the amount of carbon dioxide required down to zero! However, in order to accomplish this, we need to have energy breakthroughs, and we need it fast. There are many possibilities, but the ones that seem to have the most promise are nuclear energy and renewable energy. However, if there happens to be more successful sources of clean energy, then the better it will be. But once again, at this time, these sources seem to be the most promising.
In the field of Nuclear Energy, many major innovations are being made as a company called Transatomic Power, founded by 2 graduates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have possibly found a more efficient method of energy creation. Nuclear energy creates a lot of toxic waste. What Transatomic Power has done is find a way to convert this once thought useless sludge to an abundance of energy. In fact, Cofounder of PayPal, Peter Thiel has invested more than a billion dollars to Transatomic Power. (Kim, Business Insider) This is the kind of action that we need in order to move forward in society.
In the field of renewable energy, there is an abundance of potential for success. However, compared to oil, these renewable energies only give a fraction of power. Research needs to be done in order to increase efficiency of this type of power. For example, wind power generates less than 5% of the energy that oil provides us. There is much work that can be done in this field, but if it works then, it will be very beneficial toward the future of energy.
In the end, we need to reduce the amount of CO2 in the air. Along with that, we need innovations that can take us there. We may find more ways to obtain oil, but there must be a better method that can be found in order to not only help this country, but the whole world. And we have to do it fast. We cannot have anymore elephants in the air. Not even one.

"Bakken Shale Oil." The New Oil Landscape. Web. 4 Feb. 2015.
"Deal Could 'refill' Drying Dead Sea." BBC News. Web. 4 Feb. 2015.
Dimick, Dennis. "How Long Can the U.S. Oil Boom Last?" National Geographic. National
Geographic Society, 19 Dec. 2014. Web. 4 Feb. 2015.
“Fracking Across the United States." Earthjustice. 12 Apr. 2011. Web. 27 Feb. 2015.
Gates, Bill. "Innovating to Zero!" Bill Gates:. TED Talks. Web. 4 Feb. 2015.
Kim, Eugene. "Billionaire Investor Peter Thiel Now Wants To Disrupt The Nuclear Energy
Industry." Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 5 Aug. 2014. Web. 4 Feb. 2015.
SeaWorld. "Elephants." SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment. SeaWorld Parks and
Entertainments. Web. 4 Feb. 2015.

"When Will Oil Run Out?" When Will Oil Run Out? Web. 4 Feb. 2015.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Lone Survivor: A Tribute, and Analysis

Lone Survivor: A Tribute, and Analysis

Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 is a non-fiction book written by novelist Patrick Robinson and former SEAL Marcus Luttrell, the only survivor of a mission in Afghanistan in 2005. Seal Team 10 was tasked with three other SEAL members to kill a high-profile Taliban commander . His story eventually became the basis of his book, which has now turned into a movie.

The book starts with Luttrell describing his childhood in Texas training to become a Navy SEAL, with Billy Shelton, a neighbor and former Green Beret. After joining the U.S. Navy, and finishing BUD/S training to become a SEAL, Luttrell heads to Afghanistan, undergoing several operations around the country before heading to the Hindu Kush mountains of the Kunar province for Operation Red Wings. He and his team, consisting of Lieutenant Michael “Mikey” Murphy, Gunner’s Mate Second Class Danny Dietz, and Sonar Technician Second Class Matthew “Axe” Axelson, were tasked to gather reconnaissance on a village and capture or kill a head Taliban member, who was said to be affiliated with Osama Bin Laden and the 9/11 attack.

On a night during their mission, while hiding out, the team was discovered by three sheepherders, including a boy. The team debated killing the shepherds silently and hiding the bodies, which was the most millitary sound way to not compromise their mission. However, after considering the rules of engagement, they decided to let them go (the shepherds were unarmed and not posing a threat currently). However, the shepherds notified their presence to the Taliban, and about an hour later, SEAL Team 10 was surrounded by dozens of armed warriors under heavy fire. Three of the four men were killed, leaving Luttrell the only one to survive the firefight, but not after one of his attempts to contact the SEAL combat operation centers succeeded. A quick-reaction rescue team consisting of 16 special forces soldiers were sent to extract SDV-1; however, their Chinook helicopter was shot down by the Taliban with a RPG-7 rocket propelled grenade to the chopper’s rear rotor assembly, leaving no survivors. Luttrell was left unconscious and sustained a number of fractures and other serious wounds. After he regained consciousness, he was rescued by local Pashtun villagers, who treated his wounds and ultimately saved his life.

One of the main motifs shown in this book is Luttrell’s frustration at the rules of engagement (RoE) which, indirectly, resulted in the death of 19 American lives. These rules state that no force should be used against unarmed civilians, if they are not presently posing a threat to your safety. When SDV-1 was discovered by the sheepherders, Team Leader Mike Murphy decided to hold a vote in which SDV-1 decided to let them go, since the team may have been considered violating the RoE and possibly being sentenced to life in prison for their actions. If the team did kill the shepherds, then at the very least they would have been ridiculed and criticized by the media, even in the circumstances they had. When describing the situation and his vote, he states, “I had turned into a f-----g liberal, a half-a----d, no-logic nitwit, all heart, no brain, and the judgement of a jackrabbit… At least, that’s how I look back on those moments now. Probably not then, but for nearly every waking hour of my life since.”

Marcus Luttrell’s story also shows that war is not glorious but evil, no matter which way you put it, and people will die on both sides of the conflict. He also makes a point that when you try to make war “clean,” and “civilized,” you won’t win. Terrorists will stop at nothing to achieve their cause, we can see that everywhere from the acts of ISIL to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Were it so easy to make that decision, for SDV-1 to be sure with the fact that the most militarily sound option was also the “right” option, this book would have been very different. Luttrell believes that if there was no fear of what may happen to them back home in the United States, SEAL Team 10 would have made it out alive, mission accomplished. However, nothing can change the fact that his team is gone, and so, deeply rooted in this book is his deep sorrow for his friends and his guilt as the sole survivor. Going on a long journey across America, Luttrell visited every family whose son, and in some cases, father, died to honor him and tell them of his last moments. The book closes with a word from Luttrell, saying, “I will never give up on the memory of those nineteen men who lost their lives on the mountain that day, because they never gave up on me.”

Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10, is a stirring tribute to Axe, Mikey, Danny, and the rest of the fallen soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, and I would recommend this book to anyone who has relatives in the military services, or is aspiring to join the military. It’s very well-written, yet easy to read, and is very powerful. The only problem some people have with the book is regarding the actual numbers of Taliban forces (it’s disputed whether there were actually 120 to 200 Taliban, or if that was an exaggeration. Nevertheless, Lone Survivor is an amazing and riveting book. Hospital Corpsman Marcus Luttrell went back into the tour of duty in Afghanistan after he recovered from his wounds until he was medically discharged from the Navy in 2007. Mohammed Ismail, the target of Operation Red Wings, was killed during a firefight in 2008.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Sarah Hough
Mr. Koch
English 9h
March 12, 2015


From the beginning we have been trained.
Taught to think a certain way.
To take,
To abuse,
Until nothing is left.
We take and take and take,
But rarely give.
We are thieves.
Stealing from our home,
Until nothing is left.
There is no purpose.

Need and want,
Have become,
One and the same.
We constantly need,

But once the novelty is gone,
Nothing can replace it,
But more,
More and more.
We are drowning,
In an ocean of uncontrollable want.
We choose to ignore.
To simply look away.
To give into our addiction.
The addiction of more,
Until one day there may not be more.

Hunger Games stop animation Heroes/Villain project - Sarah H.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Slide of Doom

Ethan McFerren
Mr. Koch
English 9H
March 11, 2015
The Slide of Doom
            It all started one fine summer day.  My cousin Nicholas invited my brother and me to spend the weekend at his house. “Tomorrow we are going to go to Six Flags to hang out and enjoy the rides,” my aunt announced while we were clowning around. I was super excited because I had never been to Six Flags and was interested to see what types of rides they had. The next day, my aunt drove my brother, my cousin, and I to the amusement park. We tried out all sorts of rides and loved them all. Then, my cousin said that he wanted to go to the water park. We all agreed and tried out some fun water slides. Soon, my brother said he wanted to try out a series of water slides where people get in a tube and get dropped down to the slide. Before I knew it, I was climbing up the long, wooden, winding stairs to the slide.
            We climbed higher and higher; the stairs seemed to go up as high as heaven itself. I am afraid of heights, so soon I bent down and started to clutch the partly blue carpeted stairs. “This wasn’t such a great idea after all,” I thought.
“Ethan, are you ok?” asked my brother eventually.
“Yes, I’m fine,” I assured him.
“Are you sure, you can go down with Nicky if you can’t handle it,” replied my brother.
I just shook my head. Fight your fears, fight your fears. A man in a black swim suit started to shoot me uneasy glances as I started to moan quietly. Eventually, I reached the top of the tower of stairs. I gripped the railings with my white, shaking knuckles. Soon, my brother and I chose a tube individually. I hesitated for a few seconds. How bad can it be? I stepped inside the tube. I glanced at the woman, a lifeguard, with her tan cap, controlling the ride, waiting to push the button. She just smirked, as if she knew what I was about to go through. Suddenly, the glass door curled shut. It was just me with my arms folded across my chest, waiting. A robotic voice soon announced, “Five, four, three, two, one.” At the last second, I peered at my brother, who had a wild grin plastered across his face. I whimpered, barely audible, like a lost and abandoned puppy. Then, the drop.
            The drop, or maybe I should call it an utter fall, was so abrupt, so quick, so painful. The floor was literally removed away from my bare feet, and I plunged into the water slide at something that felt like 1,000 mph. I crashed down with a thud and a grunt. Immediately, I felt uncomfortable and knew something was wrong. I struggled to lift my head, trying to escape this nightmare. Only it was real, very real. As soon as I attempted to lift up my head, it was relentlessly and brutally smashed into the metal slide. Bam, bam, bam, bam, BAM! My head started to throb in pain and agony, so I started to cry out: “Jesus, Jesuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuus!” My head pounded uncontrollably. Over and over. There seemed no end to this freak slide. I started to think in my head, “I’m dead.” My family will mourn.  What is left of my dilapidated head and body will be lifted out of the slide. They will close down the park permanently and tear down this foolish ride. Whipping from side to side, I could do nothing. I was helpless, at the mercy of this monster. And then, it finished. I lifted up my abused body out of the slide. Another park lifeguard stood near. “How was it, did you like it?” she questioned.
“Yee-aah” I answered. I stumbled and tripped my way over to my family.
“How was it?” asked my aunt.
“Terrible!” I replied.
She started to crack up and laugh uncontrollably. “My head hurts so much, it kept on getting slammed down,” I said. “Well, you’re supposed to keep your head down and your arms crossed the whole time. That was most likely your problem,” my brother stated. “Oh” was the only thing I could answer. I trudged my way around the park the rest of the time. When I got into my aunt’s car and drove home, I knew. I would remember the Slide of Despair forever.

Our Infinite Time
By Rubbiya Azhar
My enemy oh what a catastrophe It’s a shame
How we still find possibilities and endless eternities
Still can we change? No indeed, we still find methods to end the mistakes
 That we have forsaken from before the human race, is it not a case?
Will we ever wonder or find answers and end in vain?
Yes indeed because we are all curious minds looking for time.
Time, a term so vague with such distinctive allegory
A term, no, an excuse used to find hidden meanings
Throughout space and throughout time
There is always a hidden mystery from the human race a question and
Not an answer but more questions.
We live in hatred and defeat and can’t stop
Looking and tempting to keep track of that dreadful sound of “tick tock”. That time
The memory that faded and that living who hated
We all created this vague entertaining time.
Time is our enemy, some days your too late and
Before you know it is what it is,
Our mistakes.
We shake realizing it’s too late to change
That’s when you’re unsure from the difference and
The same.
We can go back and take back from before, yes
Believe me, we’ll get there
To share our memory of memories.
Keep track and don’t hold back its
The choice we make that moves forth with yet of coarse
Time, yes time.

Aang by V. Sorto

Featured Post

End Of Year Reflection