Archive for April, 2010

Of Brilliance and Mediocrity

(April 29th, 2010)

Dear amazing teacher-filled Planet Earth,

Imagine: coming into English one day expecting a rather dull discussion on the usage of a semi-colon and realizing that by the end of the class period, all the students have their cell phones out marveling at the outline of a dead body under a rug. Well, that’s exactly how the scenario played out today! My English teacher pondered over what to make out of a slightly used pair of sweatpants left over from another class period. Before you know it there is a group of high-schoolers helping her stuff the pant-legs with construction paper and creating a crime scene in the middle of the classroom floor. These quirky mannerisms are what make this year so captivating.  Everyone’s had that teacher who has created some wild, unforgettable moment to shatter that absurd boring aspect of education. There is an amazing, unique person that always adds light to the confines of the dull cement block walls or the painstakingly over-original shade of slumber brown reflecting off of the bulletin boards. I’m talking about the person who really captures a vivid environment for their students by hanging random paper mache molds of ham, a giant sculpture of a green egg from the book by Dr. Seuss, a festival of lights from the dry-erase board or a small stuffed pair of toddler jeans disguised as a flower planter and referred to as “the half girl”. I’m talking about the teacher who will make every occasion count by bringing in an enormous glowing elephant lawn decoration during the week before winter break and set it up with a group while one classmate reads from the instructions, the one who puts up a Youtube video of a blazing fireplace on the overhead projector and dims the lights when the temperature in the room is cold. This is the teacher who adds random images of dopey-looking horses or adorable squirrels on intermittent slide shows to loosen the scene or cut out a shape of a duck from paper after she asks you to blurt out any animal from the top of your head. I hope I’m not gloating by saying that my English teacher is among some of the most wacky of all the figureheads at my school. I don’t want to spread the idea that nothing work-related gets accomplished. Instead, my teacher just makes it an enjoyable experience. Before assigning a five-paragraph essay, my teacher once acted out a skit based on the television show, CSI. She blows away the previous definition that school is a place solely of study and learning and makes every day memorable.

By the way, Connor recently had his entry accepted on GraphJam, a downright hilarious website full of charts, diagrams, and of course, graphs. I recommend that you check it out, he would really appreciate more viewers! Anyway, click here to see it.


A Much Anticipated Post

(April 27th, 2010)

Dearest Planet Earth, our exotic and beloved home,

I had a ball celebrating this year’s Earth Day with the annual feature-length film by Disneynature. I have found that it is a tradition to go with my friends each year to see nothing more than landscapes and animals on planet Earth. I treated myself to the film, Oceans, which came out on Thursday and was rather impressed. My friend interested in Zoology pointed out the names of sea creatures mentioned and kept me fed with random facts throughout the film. Even though the film did not have a distinguishable plot, line of characters, or special effects, all I can say is that the visuals truly capture your eye  and keep you attentive to this documentary. Every once in a while we would feast our eyes on the impressive feat of a whale or dolphin shooting out of the depths of the water or gasp at the ocean-floor-dwellers devouring their innocent prey. We would laugh at the penguins sliding on the ice into the antarctic waters or stare in awe as the baby sea turtles slowly dug their way to the surface of the sandy beach.  There was some brilliant footage of certain parts of the ocean that I never knew existed. It is such a vast area, and there are probably parts in the dark depths that man has never travelled. I wouldn’t say that I am that interested so much as to watch the entire volume of Planet Earth CDs by Discovery, but I just feel that every Earth Day we should treat ourselves to a little piece of the grand world that surrounds us and understand the power of protecting the environment and promoting life of all living creatures. Just like almost every nature documentary, Oceans talked about how pollution of the waters  has disrupted the lives of innumerable sea-creatures. It was rather sad to see a transition from crystal clear blue ocean to rusty, dirty pools of trash. At one point it showed a whole shopping cart on underwater on bed of sand. I mean, really, of all things? It would be rather nice if humans could just get along with this other parallel dimension. For a small segment at the end of the film, it showed a scuba diver approaching an innocuous shark swimming freely through the water. The diver followed the movements of its tail in a peaceful way as to not frighten it and kept up for it for some time. Such a bond between man and shark clearly shows how people can come closer to animals and stop abusing them.

Ever since the end of winter break, the focus of junior year has been on achievement in the upcoming test: the ACT. So far I’ve gone to classes for the five sections, just so that I can work for a higher score. We’ve taken a practice five-paragraph essay twice in English class. This test is just looked upon so seriously: it decides the level of college that you get into and decides the direction of your life. The intimidation starts with the fact that juniors have to sit in a room for five hours with one twenty-minute break in the middle. Electronic devices are denied entrance; not even a book or a snack out in the open.  The test alone is not even built to finish on a humane level. Having to look down at a bubbling sheet for hours, the neck gradually starts to suffer from such pain. The rather mind-numbing part, the essay question, is right at the end: the last thing that one wants to think about at that point of the test. The reading section is what I am mainly worried about. It is preposterous that the test only supplies thirty minutes to complete four readings and answer questions on each, in no particular order of difficulty or appearance in the reading. My weakness of reading fights against me in this test. Luckily my strength in mathematics helps me a bit. The math section is not only simple, but actually enjoyable. I finished the practice test with plenty of time to spare since I viewed each question as a puzzle or brain-teaser. Well, this test is tomorrow and I hope to say that I feel ready for it. Sleep and a healthy breakfast is what every adult has to tell you to do the night before, so I will definitely strive for that. I just hope my brain can deal with the intellectual burden that the ACT forces upon everyone.


I discovered something rather new this weekend: the intense flavor and texture of a homemade pizza. A couple of months ago a new pizza delivery service, HomeMade Pizza Co,  was erected in our neighborhood. Without a doubt, they have a unique style of preparing dishes. The company pools all the dough and toppings together and allows customers to cook pizzas from home in the oven or on the grill to truly press the title of “freshly baked”. This literal interpretation becomes profoundly visible when this bakery-fresh delicacy arrives at the dinner table. Beforehand, the customer is given a variety of options on the structure of their pizza: from breading to cheeses, sauces, and toppings to spices. It is now perfectly acceptable to call this a finely crafted piece of art, suited to the consumer’s taste. I absolutely loved the first time I tried my own. I decided on a sausage pizza with basil and oregano spices; I could already smell the sticky dough brim when I tore the plastic wrap off. Overall, this pizza has a natural taste, unlike the greasy fast-food pizzas from places like Dominoes or Pizza Hut. The bread is just like heaven: it is nice and fluffy inside, feels and tastes fresh on the outside. I would definitely recommend this restaurant to any pizza lover, since the restaurant gives you the freedom to experiment with different flavors. Their website is located here.


The Road

(April 5th, 2010) Dear Planet Earth,

With
miles of
asphalt
beneath
the shoes
on your feet,
there is such
an intense
feeling of
skimming
the vast surface of
the crust of the Earth.
This feeling, this tingling
sensation that drives
through the body makes
one empowered with a
burst of energy. The driver
becomes the captain of the
seas,domineering over the
road. Objects whirl past the
window in a matter of seconds
as the rubber tires endure another
feisty mile along the sizzling pavement,
 fried from the direct sunlight. The
landscape is similar to the picturesque 
scenery in those all-terrain vehicle
commercials. Road trips profoundly bring
out the quite meaningless but extraordinary
elements of your surroundings: the endless
fields of crops growing in the countryside, the
ancient wooden farmhouses breathing with
mysteries of a forgotten past, silos shining like
stars under the strong  heat of the blazing sun, fence
posts holding hands and cheering from along the sides
of the road for the metal machines that zip across from one
end to the other. Who can forget the rusty trucks with flaps
waving in the strong current of the wind or lugging some top
heavy machinery for miles. The experts, professionals,
geniuses of the road pulling
 on for more action on the elongated
network of highways and expressways. Who could forget the
awkward squeeze of passengers in the backseat, dreamily staring
out the window, pleading for an intricate sideshow on the wild
prarie grass, attempting to start that short piece of literature
wedged between the leather of the seat and the leg of the adjacent
person, all while zooming through the vortex of space at ninety miles
per hour. Trudging past the buffet of mixed messages circling the front
window of the vehicle: the advertisements for fizzing drink products or a
spectacular attraction at
 an upcoming exit. There’s just so much more
of a world out there on the open plains that any city-dweller, rushing
from malls to offices, apartment buildings to daycare centers, grocery stores
to cinemas, tends to avoid. Not once in life is there an opportunity of seeing a
clear, immaculate perception of that ominous horizon line hidden behind the
summits of buildings and tree branches. Not once in life have the clouds been painted
so delicately across the sky, leaving minute bursts of heavenly blue hue in certain  
areas. The road is out there. it may be a crooked, jagged, path, but it will never be forgotten.