Archive for the ‘info’ Category

College

Dear Planet Earth,

Imagine a world (a world part of your amazing vast world, planet Earth!) where the gift of privacy has been smuggled away from your in one fell swoop, where conversations with friends consist of talk about how the friend of somebody’s friend got so wasted last night and was spewing all over the bathroom and partying for hours on end, where if you don’t get to sleep before 11pm on a weekend, you’ve got to wait until at least 4am in order to drift off peacefully to the land of sheep jumping fences, where your entire life is centered around balance of academic life, social life, and of course, sleep, and where every task needed to be accomplished is done by you, for you. Yes, this is life, hitting you on the side of the head, grabbing a megaphone and yelling into your ear: wake up! There can only be one title applied to such a place: college. And most importantly, world, I’ve entered through its gates this 18th of August 2011 in order to be lead to a hopefully successful career path in the field of civil and environmental engineering.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve adjusted pretty well over the past three months to this completely new lifestyle. I’ve gotten involved a pretty great deal with a wide variety of clubs and organizations. I’m on the Outreach Committee for Structural Engineers Association, in which I am helping to coordinate events. I’m part of Concrete Canoe, helping out with preparing mixes of concrete and aggregates in order to prepare a mixture that will have a density less than one and still have the structural integrity to be molded into a boat that will win in competition. I’m part of iInvent, which is an inventing club that works with ideas and tries to actually work its way towards patenting a product. I’m part of Horticulture Club,  where I am given the opportunity to hear talks from experts on gardening and visit orchards and botanical gardens. Lastly, I’m part of Club Insecta, which is an entomology club that goes on trips to look at nature and collect specimens.

I’ve been keeping pretty busy over this time. I’ve been trying to avoid doing any form of drugs or alcohol and keeping away from late night partying. My roommate and I have nothing at all in common, given my many attempts to try and express who I am, nor do we engage in small talk, which makes conversations within the dorm room rather awkward and short.I suppose I can’t have it how I want all the time, but I’m glad that we both respect each others’ space and treat each other fairly well. I’ve gotten to know a lot of my classmates from high school a lot better over the past couple of months, forming stronger bonds. I’m still been more of an independent person, only relying on the slim chance of “bumping into someone I know” to actually hang out and have fun together, it seems like texting or Facebook messaging doesn’t truly work in a setting like this. If I truly need someone to talk to, I would really just end up knocking on a person’s door. I’ve been doing quite of bit of reading in my own time. I finished the massively long 1000 page novel of The Instructions by Adam Levin and have started getting into Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch recently. My campus is located in a micro-urban town, which is basically a huge number of people centered in a small region in the middle of nowhere. Despite the small part of urban, there really isn’t that much to do here. I’ve mainly just been taking trips by bus to the mall area and have spent my time away from the densely packed campus by sticking to calm, peaceful, open atmosphere bookstores to settle down and read or browse. Speaking of buses, the transit system at my campus is absolutely incredible. I don’t ever have to wait more than three minutes at a bus stop during the week in order to get somewhere I want to go. I’ve integrated the transit lines into my memory and have adapted very well to my environment.

College is just another element of life for me. It’s yet another wild beast that I need to tame in order to get on and keep riding.

 I know this post was rather dry, world, I really just have to catch up and gain a sense of comfort with writing on WordPress again before I delve into some deeper subjects.

Michael

Top 10 Favorite Artists of 2010

Over the year of 2010, my interest in music has increased tenfold. I had first received an iPod at the beginning of the year, knowing close to nothing about where my music interest laid. Pop? Rock? Alternative? I had no idea how to even classify the music that I found appealing to my eardrums. It took gradual experimentation to figure out the music that was right for me. Here are my top 10 favorite artists:

10. 30 Seconds To Mars.
Favorite Song: Kings and Queens
Favorite Album: This Is War

Source of Discovery: Trailer for the movie, Legend of the Guardians.
One word: epic. Ever since hearing a censored fragment of the song Kings and Queens in a movie trailer, I knew that this band had something unique about their voice. This song, along the rest of their most recent album This Is War, reminded me of the action, suspense, and drama associated with movies. I love how all of the songs tie back to the main theme of the album. Although the screaming voice of the lead singer Jared Leto takes a while to get used to, the mood of the music and voice is so genuine that just about every song paints a picture in your mind as you listen.


9. Motion City Soundtrack
Favorite Song: Pulp Fiction
Favorite Album: My Dinosaur Life
Source of Discovery: Saw most recent album on the homepage of iTunes
Growing up, I had heard music from this band, but it wasn’t until my discovery of the iPod that I started to pay attention to the sound and message of their music. The sound of their most recent album, My Dinosaur Life, struck me as particularly captivating; not only that but the cover art is incredible! I had noticed that the vocalist of the group, Justin Pierre, had more of a matured voice and catchier melody in this most recent album, which lead me towards investigation. Although their songs are mainly explicit and the lyrics are somewhat odd, the emotions associated with each song packs a powerful punch to the listener. This upbeat music is great to listen to when caught in a bad mood.


8. Jonsi/ Sigur Ros
Favorite Song: Grow Till Tall
Favorite Album: Go
Source of Discovery: Trailer for the Disney movie, Earth
What drew me in to this music was the impressive instrumental noise and talented voice of the vocalist Jonsi Birgisson. After hearing nature-inspired sounds in the trailer for Earth, I was drawn into the beauty and peace of this incredible harmony of instruments and voice. Jonsi is Icelandic, and so part of the lyrics of his songs are in his native language. This particular music seems to stand out from every genre I’ve come to be familiar with, which is what drew me towards continuing to listen to it. Their music may take a while to grow accustomed to, but it definitely is worth checking out.


7. Matt & Kim
Favorite Song: Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare
Favorite Album: Grand

Source of Discovery: Earlier episode of the television series, Community
The duo Matt and Kim attracted me because their music reminds me of diversion and independence. Their rather stunning choice of instrumental backup may make their music sound raw and unappealing, but it definitely adds to their message of a carefree and nonjudgmental commotion. After hearing Matt & Kim play their most popular song Daylight at Lollapalooza in August, my belief was confirmed that these two artists and performers are wild and loose in not just their music, but their behavior, which makes them seem authentic by holding true to the sound of their music. Their new album comes out on November 2nd, so I’m definitely excited to hear their new material.


6. Owl City/ Sky Sailing
Favorite Song: A Little Opera Goes A Long Way
Favorite Album: An Airplane Carried Me To Bed

Source of Discovery: Word of mouth from sister
Owl City was the first -and only- artist under the genre of electronic music that appealed to me. I’ve found that this music eases the labor of doing homework and helps me brainstorm because the overall sound of each song leads at a miraculous opening of the mind.  The calm, passive voice of singer Adam Young adds a key element to why I enjoy this music. My favorite is his non-electronic album, An Airplane Carried Me to Bed, which is the most relaxing blend of instrument and voice I have ever heard. The cover artwork is absolutely stunning, creative, and beautiful. The music video for the song Brielle takes listeners on a peaceful, magical ride through Adam Young’s imagination.


5. Jukebox the Ghost
Favorite Song: The Stars
Favorite Album: Everything Under the Sun

Source of Discovery: Live at Lollapalooza 2010
This relatively unknown band definitely deserves some recognition. Jukebox the Ghost may not have the most powerful of lyrics, but the sound of their music is cheerful, catchy and playful. Every song on their most recent album, Everything Under the Sun, has a unique sound that is a result of the band members’ experimentation with different melodies. One of my friends has noted that their use of the piano is absolutely groundbreaking and shows the far extent of their talent. My encounter with this band live during Lollapalooza sparked something within me. Even without the use of voice enhancers and autotune, this band still creates amazing music unlike a large majority of popular artists.


4. Bruno Mars
Favorite Song: Count On Me
Favorite Album: It’s Better If You Don’t Understand EP

Source of Discovery: Heard on the radio with B.o.B. in Nothing on You
Although he is best known for the popular song, Just The Way You Are, there is another side to the music of this maestro. What I admire about Bruno Mars is that he uses his natural voice and his Hawaiian background in his music. He definitely has a wide range of sounds, from a slower Caribbean reggae to a swinging, fast-paced pop. I love how he approaches and executes genuine mainstream music from a unique angle and adds his own lifestyle to several of his songs, such as with The Lazy Song. Bruno Mars’ voice has reached long distances in only several months with the slow and steady gain of his popularity.


3. The Rocket Summer
Favorite Song: Brat Pack
Favorite Album: Do You Feel

Source of Discovery: Saw most recent album on the homepage of iTunes
After discovering this prized treasure of sounds in the cluttered mess of music on iTunes, I felt like I had hit a jackpot. Bryce Avary, the singer for The Rocket Summer adds a sort of jazz to his music with the smooth fluctuation of his high-range of pitch and usage of his smooth voice. The melody of each of these perfectly rendered songs overflows with soul and flair and made me beg for more. It was interesting hearing how the sounds of his albums changed over the years as he matured. Bryce Avary definitely deserves the success for his creation of such great music.


2. Arcade Fire
Favorite Song: Wake Up
Favorite Album: Neon Bible

Source of Discovery: Trailer for the movie, Where the Wild Things Are
The band has pretty dense and meaningful lyrics for many of their songs and the voice of Win Butler, the lead singer, suits it perfectly. I love how their albums are set to a variety of different themes and their respective songs reflect it. My personal favorite is the dark, depressing backdrop of the album Neon Bible because the emotions profoundly radiate from the overall sound; the realism of their music sends jitters through my body when I listen to it. I can definitely empathize with their most recent album, The Suburbs, since because of my location I can relate to several of the circumstances mentioned in the lyrics of certain songs.


1. The Shins/ Broken Bells
Favorite Song: Australia
Favorite Album: Wincing the Night Away
Source of Discovery: It was featured on the iTunes page for Arcade Fire’s Funeral
If there is any one artist who has one of the most exclusive styles of music, it is without a doubt The Shins. Their music sounds like a mash-up of Caribbean sounds, pirate shanties, and catchy beats. Whenever I turn on my iPod to listen, I’m lost in a sea of imagery. My all-time favorite album is Wincing the Night Away because of not only the awe-inspiring artwork, but because each song makes me feels as though I have transcended the distractions of my surroundings. The lyrics are surreal, just like the music. James Mercer’s voice blends well with this unique genre of music. He more recently began a project known as Broken Bells, which adds more of an electronic aspect to the music. All in all, I’ve been more than satisfied with Mercer’s music, and I can’t wait for the release of the next Shins album, which drops in 2011.

1 Pill A Day Keeps The Nausea Away

September 3rd, 2010
Dear multi-tasking Planet Earth,

Just the other night I had to write my thoughts on the subject of what I believe is the difference between being alive and living. I had instantly drawn my attention to the familiar answer that being alive is simply living at your fullest capacity. After thinking about that for a split second, how can we completely absorb our surroundings and take in the best that the world has to offer? I face this painstaking decision every day. Just little things. Do I go to art club or math team after school on a Thursday? Do I stay after to tutor in math in the TLC or go to the University of Illinois college representative meeting? Do I work more on my colored pencil drawing of a red panda I started over a year ago or read the rest of Rumo and His Miraculous Adventures? By pushing too many activities and plans in front of me, just about nothing gets completed. Sadly, the stress of deciding turns me away from all of those things (and many more in the past) and it is very tempting sometimes to recede back into that immobile state of being at home. I usually look to my laptop as an escape from the plethora of decisions, yet they still haunt me. Do I watch that Youtube video that I was recommended or search for interesting, new music on iTunes? With billions of possible websites to visit, it is close to impossible to experience everything you plan to read or watch online. You become caught up in other peoples’ works and less with your own, which is kind of why internet writing is difficult for me. The truth of the matter is: you guide your life. On that sailboat to your ancient kingdom of gold, you are the captain. Side-tracking happens along the way, but you still eventually head toward that goal by persevering through the rough waves. If not, you are stuck nauseous in the turbulence of the sea. I guess I am trying to say that to fully absorb the wonders of the world, you need to take life one step at a time, which makes sense, right? If you watch television and eat ice cream at the same time, you don’t pay attention that much on whatever program is currently airing, nor do you enjoy the sweet, creamy flavors of the ice cream that you are eating. Life just passes by and your senses continue to ignore it.


Birds


(May 28th, 2010)
Dear shut-in planet Earth,

God, how much does it take for us to be loved?
For us to be saved?
We all are birds stuck inside our cage, covered up with praise.
And behind our saints we hide our face.
Oh, the numbers come. Yeah, they’re dialing in.
We can’t help but to compare ourselves again.
~Birds by Deas Vail~

I couldn’t take it anymore: McMurphy and Nurse Ratched fighting off against each other for months on end on the tiniest rules of the mental institution. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is jammed with tension between the “birds”: the mental patients; and the “cage”: the doctors and nurses on the ward. McMurphy, a gambler and rebel, purposely works his way into this cruel world cut off from the outside world, imagining his time to be a breeze, and he immediately realizes that it isn’t the relaxing atmosphere he has hoped for. Instead, the powerful nurse in charge, Ms. Ratched,  seeks control and inflicts pain on the patients with a range of mental troubles. Sadly, her methods have caused a cruel opposite effect: they’ve made just-about-normal patients doomed to be in the hospital for life by giving them permanent disabilities. Unfortunately, the outside world doesn’t seem to notice, since Ratched sucks up to the press and builds a delightful image to show how much progress the institution has made.  McMurphy is very perseverant in his quest to dismantle the structured system that Ratched has created. He continues on with his dastardly stunts even after receiving repetitive electric shock treatments to his brain. He becomes a figure similar to Jesus, gaining followers and later receiving beating after beating on the cross-shaped table wearing his own “crown of thorns”.  The  slow downfall of the caste system around him truly captivates the reader and brings about strong hatred towards Ratched. McMurphy succeeds in appealing to the rest of the patients around him. Going against the strict policies, the patients go on fishing trips outside of the grounds and secretly have parties with prostitutes during the night and get drunk on a mixture of alcohol and cough syrup.  McMurphy becomes closer to Bromden, a silent, inactive patient who  eventually comes out of his shell after he shows him that there is more to the world than the dull confines of the institution. This book profoundly questions the definition of insanity, showing that these people are just the same as everyone else and possibly just have been given up at a young age for various reasons. The  surprise ending makes the reader thankful for having so much freedom and opportunity in the world.

Michael

Reading

(March 23rd, 2010) Dear Planet Earth,

Wild, exotic, adventurous, and vastly descriptive. I’ve caught myself in a pretty captivating adventure book called The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear. It had stood out to me greatly at Borders and I wanted to give an adventure story a shot, since this genre is completely unfamiliar with me. The book reminded me of all of the picture books I’ve read when I was little — expanded to appeal to the adult audience. The story follows a blue bear that is trying to find a place to fit in with society. The book starts out with Blue bear on a boat in the middle of the ocean and continues with a variety of random events and adventures. Any person can connect Blue bear’s development to the development of their own childhood, because just like a human, Blue bear eventually is taught how to speak by talking waves in the ocean, learns early life lessons from a mysterious island that lures him in with desire, and is shown the world on the back of a flying dinosaur. He has formed a couple strong bonds of friendship with many of the characters he has encountered, while in the meantime has been strongly betrayed. Blue bear consistently is cast away from the communities that he grows to be apart of, and so it is a little saddening. At the same time, I find it to be probably one of the most descriptive novels I have ever encountered, since it spends such a large number of pages just to describe the physical characteristics of the ever changing landscape or the many species of creative characters that the author, Walter Moers, has formed. Blue bear’s journey is throughout the land known as Zamonia, which was supposedly a continent formed millions of years ago and had been in the middle of the Atlantic. I would recommend this read to anyone with lots of time on their hands and open to a captivating journey of adventure.


Those Little Things

(January 15th, 2010)

Dear Planet Earth,

January has to be the most depressing month of the year: there is no doubt about it. Aside from New Years being on the first, there are plenty of other downsides associated with this month. Stemming off of New Years is the idea that we all have resolutions to prove in 2010 such as trying harder at work/school or losing a certain number of pounds. It’s frustrating having to carry out such demanding resolutions. Of course, I may just be making a big deal about it but I think it is the very minor things about life that tick us off the most. I know I have to deal with them right now while I am writing this. In the corner of the room I can hear the faintest ringing noise while I am typing this, yet it seems to be so loud when I put my attention on it. Little things like that make us irritated. Thus, resolutions are pain-bearers.

Aside from our goals: the weather outside is just so frightful. Even though we can avoid it by staying indoors as much as possible, it is the absence of natural light that makes everything seem so depressing. I’ve been affected by it greatly, since I have to live in a house with very few light fixtures to make the room bright and cheery. Like I mentioned before, just a little alteration in the atmosphere can make the grandest difference in our attitude and emotions.

Probably one of the largest factors adding to our pain and misery is the cold and weather outdoors. Of course, people do travel, so this is very difficult to avoid. I know I dread having to get in the car in the morning after just waking up because the garage is so disturbingly chilly that my skin cries out in pain when I try to make any movement. Luckily I can deal with the pain a lot better when I am fully awake, but the feeling of cold still has a terrible effect on the way I feel. In the winter my hands start to get dry from the lack of moisture in the air. At any point in my day the skin on my knuckles just cracks and bleeds. It is heartbreaking it have it continuously happen each and every day. I have to spend extra time just to make sure I put on enough creme in the morning or at night to deal with the pain.

January is a month full of other causes of stress and depression. It is currently the week before finals at my school, and so I’ve had to work extra hours every night just to finish projects and papers, and study for tests. So far I’ve had some form of testing every single day this week and I am sick of all of this misery, especially right after returning from Winter Break: completely relaxed. Maybe this extra-long break is the reason why I am doing so much poorly. It has lowered my toleration for schoolwork so that I was unprepared coming back from break. Adults are most likely going through similar struggles with their work as well. I know in January all of the bills from the holiday celebrations come in and have to be paid. I guess it is just misery for everyone!

Breakfast Delight!


Happy Thanksgiving to all! I’ve been dieing to write about a recipe that I’ve made in the past several times that I have completely made and perfected. As you might not know, I adore cooking, and it is something that I continue to do in my free time. I help out at the cooking club at my school and we play with tons of recipes. In short, I just want to put a little more of myself into this website, since I have been working on it for over two years. The recipe I want to share with you today is one that I’ve created myself based on my love for the very first meal of the day, Breakfast, of course! Whenever I eat out at pancake houses or other joints serving breakfast foods, I am usually torn apart on what to order, because of the number of options available. It wasn’t until recently that I’ve discovered the legendary “Breakfast Sandwich” which combines several continental breakfast based foods into one delicious, not-quite-so-nutritious sandwich. This mighty burger is packed with various flavors that I have come to know and love. After enjoying myself a couple of times, I came up with the idea of creating my own recipe to make at home, with all of the flavors I adore. After several attempts, I finally perfected a delicious sandwich, which I am dieing to share with the world. Above is a picture of my culinary masterpiece. Isn’t it just beautiful? I decided to make them in the style of a slider, or a mini-burger. Two should be enough to quench any size of hunger in the morning. I’ve come up with a list of steps to follow in order to make your own in the kitchen!

First of all, there are a couple of ingredient that need to be acquired before setting off to cook:
2 plain mini bagels (whole wheat bagels could work as well.)
2 sausage patties (feel free to substitute it with bacon.)
2 slices of American Cheese
1 medium-sized potato (Idaho potatoes work the best for this.)
2 large eggs
2 tbsp. of vegetable oil (olive oil works too)
1/4 tsp. of salt
1/4 tsp. of pepper

1/4 tsp. of minced onion (onion powder works as well.)

Along with that there are a couple of other things that should be on hand:
Medium-sized frying pan
Small frying pan
Cheese grater
Cutting board
Apple peeler
Spatula
Paper towels (in the case of any spillage)

1. Form the sausage patties to be about 1/4 inch in thickness and place in the medium-sized frying pan. Turn heat on to the lowest setting and let the meat cook until it turns brown on both sides. This will take quite a while to cook, so set it aside.
2. Meanwhile, peel of skin of the potato and grate it over a cutting board. Use a paper towel or a strainer to get rid of all of the liquid from the potato. Add in minced onions.
3. Heat up 2 tbsp. of vegetable oil in the small pan on Med-High- High setting and add in the potato and onion. Flatten out using a spatula into the pan until a thin pancake shape is formed. Sprinkle in the salt and pepper on one side. Flip once the opposite side is of a golden color. Once cooked fully, remove from pan.
4. Crack eggs into the same pan (it should already be greasy from the vegetable oil still) and scramble on Med heat (frying them would work too).
5. Set bagels with open ends up on a plate (toasting them would be beneficial to do beforehand). Assemble in any order, as long as the cheese is not on the bottom, since it will seep through the hole in the bagel.
6. Enjoy your precious creation!

This really is a simple recipe that doesn’t require the purchase of that many extra ingredients, but it sure is a tasty addition to any morning. Enjoy! 🙂

Animals

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”
-Mahatma Gandhi


There’s something about the ape house at the zoo that really brings a feeling of love and warmth. I visited Lincoln Park Zoo this past spring for the first time in years. The primates were all confined behind enormous glass screens, some with more space to jump and play around that others. It seems like every time I go, there’s always this one ape just sitting up against the glass, just looking at all the people walk by, some talking pictures or pointing at something… it really doesn’t matter. And then some child, maybe of about five or six comes up and sits right next to it, on the other side of the glass. The child’s eyes look straight into the pupils of this beast on the opposing side. I get this feeling, as if maybe they are connected, through some secret, intimate bond without them even realizing it. We have such a strong connection to the lives of these primates, because they can perform the same way as us physically. What really is it that draws us to these animals? Is it because of appearance? Is it because we can connect to them in a way? The answer may be as simple as thinking the animal is cute or it might be as complex as because of the fact that it is one of the fastest land mammals on the planet or one of the most ferocious and terrifying creatures in the ocean.

Animals really are an exotic and foreign part of our lives. When really sitting down and thinking about it, almost all physical contact is made with another human being. It honestly gets boring after a while seeing the same faces show up. Seeing that one man crossing the street or watching that same teacher continuously talk every day. Humans are everywhere; at the bus stop, at the park a couple of blocks from the house, at the movie theater, at the mall. They are most definitely everywhere… but are they? What about in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest? What about in the vast plains and savannas of Africa? Maybe the animals aren’t confined; maybe we are. We are confined to the monotonous population of male and female humans: homo-sapiens. Just a wonderful world of skin; not fur, not feathers, and nowhere even near to scales. Just a spectacular world of walking, talking, sleeping human beings. We say we have fur by growing out our hair, trying to get close to our “animal side”. We adopt plenty of pets, just to help add to the diversity among us, but we still are confined to the same people around us, no matter what we do.

We are never closest to ourself until we are actually out in the world. No, not in the packed, populated city of New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, but out into the world of nature, where diversity rules. We realize what makes us special, what special abilities we have and how unique we really are. Being confined to a classroom with students of the exact same age and ability really can bum a person down. You have a feeling of hopelessness and despair; competition within the class skyrockets. It can get stressful being around other people all the time. Other animals can give us a sense of relaxation; we build zoos so that we can get in touch with other animals. We watch those penguins waddle around, lions roar, sea otters swim, and snakes slither. The abilities and appearance of those animals bring appeal to us. In a way, we worship these animals. We draw them, paint them, we feature them in the media in the form of talking cartoon figures, we symbolize them as a mascot for a company. We continue to because it works, it gets things done. That Geico gecko just brought in thousands of customers. Disney just wowed their audience with the animals in The Lion King,Lady and the Tramp, Bambi, Dumbo, and other notable movies. There’s no doubt that animals in the media have appealed to us.

It’s unclear whether or not these animals are worthy of our adulation when it comes to death. In an emotional sense, the death of someone’s dog by a car is more upsetting than the death of a person by a car. We think of the poor, innocent life that the animal had; it was completely ruined one day because of our human actions: our reckless driving. We think of how the animal could have lived such a blissful life if there were no human interaction that took place that day it died. We put the blame on ourselves for the animal’s death. The demise of a human just isn’t as emotional unless there is a personal connection between you and that person. Why is man less important than animal? Why do we ignore the human’s death, but remain in tears for days because of the unintentional death of that dog? The man had a truly planned out future of success ahead of him while that dog had a simple, pointless life, living off of a family. It really seems completely ridiculous that we give our hopes out to the animal over our own species… or is it?

These animals truly are gentle creatures at heart and we are heartbroken when the ability and appearance of this lovely creature is put to waste because of Karl Benz, inventor of the automobile, or Henry Ford or those car manufacturers in China and Japan, or the oil producers in the Middle East, or the makers of the that beer bottle the driver was drinking before going out for a spin, or even the entire United States population for demanding the production of the car: all human interaction. We can blame ourselves for the occurrence of this death. Animals have nothing dragging them down, they are born free and wild and their deaths can be our fault sometimes. We try to treat them well and give them space, but at the same time we are destroying their homes in the rainforest, capturing them and sending them off to zoos and reserves, killing them for food and for their hide. We continue to because we are a heartless species. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”. We’ve definitely got a lot of work to do.

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Eco-Friendly?

The reason labor-saving devices are made is so that we can all be lazy in a cheap, quick, and easy manner. You would’ve thought inventors would stop at an automatic paper towel dispenser for restrooms. It’s quick and easy to use, and any restroom-goer can enjoy that the machine is fully dependable. Probably the largest crack in the development in labor-saving devices is the fact that we are all going eco-friendly. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with caring for the environment, but when it gets in the way of our laziness: that’s where the fight ought to begin. Automatic blow dryers are popping up in restrooms around the nation, replacing the waste that results from paper towel loss with electrical power.
Imagine being late for a meeting and stopping to use the restroom. You realize that when it is time to dry your hands, all that there is to use is a blow dryer. You stand in front of the little nozzle of hot air for your hands to finally become dry. You become impatient, as it has felt like hours since you first pressed the button and your hands are still sopping wet. Finally, you just give up and decide to wipe the rest on your pants. You exit, ticked-off, ready to enter the meeting in a train-wreck.
I am absolutely sick of using these so-called “labor saving devices”. Instead of spending two minutes in front of these automatic hand dryers, I can just use two seconds to just wipe it on a sleeve and have the air dry it. I am absolutely sick of standing next to this cheap device on the wall of the bathroom, in which I have way to much time on my hand, forcing myself to read the propaganda slapped on every single hand dryer, “Saves trees, eliminates paper towel waste, and maintain cleaner facilities…” gosh, I feel like I’m in a Clorox commercial in which everything coming from that motherly figure voice actually sounds right! “Oh yes, but what about the fact that air dryers spread germs more effectively than automatic paper towels? About how the total number of bacteria was found to increase on average on the finger pads by 194 percent and on the palms by 254 percent? Or how about even the fact that humans are naturally impatient?” Seriously, people. Eco-friendly does not always mean people-friendly.
Oh, and then they continue to enhance this already failed air-drying solution. Now they come out with this dryer that looks like the opening of the human mouth; and people are expected to stick their hands into it! This so called, “Jet Air-blade” is supposed to save more time and energy when drying your hands. Seriously, who would even dare to continue to stick their hand into this machine? It’s like sticking your mouth on the nozzle of a drinking fountain. Who knows what kind of person had touched that before! Even though paper towels may not be the eco-friendly choice, they are still the way to go and hold the popularity of the people.

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Profanityville

A Collaborate Post
By Clonez and Connor

Because adults do not want children to be raised to start swearing at a young age,
the content in cartoons is replaced with symbols rather than “bad words”,
It is not only safer for kids, it is also a lot more fun to watch!

No matter what type of environment you grow up in, a person will always be under the influence of a swear word. It is a seemingly impossible thing to avoid in this day and age with hundreds of swears muttered every second on the planet. Remember when you were in kindergarten and the teachers always told you to be polite? They would always to tell you that you should never call anyone in the classroom “weird” or “stupid”. This little lesson, they hoped, would help you grow up profanity free and become a polite adult. As you can see, this never worked out for you. In fact, it probably hasn’t worked out for any of the other five year old’s in your class. There is always some outside influence that will get you on the track to saying these “bad words”. You might hear an older sibling say it. Of course, children are curious to find and explore new things, and so you walk (or crawl) up to Bob your big brother and ask, “what does that mean?” I remember doing that when I was little. Seeing my parents reactions when I said my first swear was a pretty gruesome sight. Their eyes grew large, their mouth’s dropped down in fright, and of course, they did become very angry with me.

The first time I (Connor) said a swear in the presence of my family wasn’t all that glamorous either, if I do say so. Two summers ago, I moved into the house I am currently residing in. We moved to North Carolina before our house was actually ready to live in. Because of that, my family was staying in a hotel; my sister and I had to share a room, while my parents were in the other room. So that means that my sister and I had to share a bathroom… and toilet… and worst of all shower! So late one night (which is when I shower, helps get me ready for bed) I was showering, and my sister was pounding at the door because she wanted to brush her teeth. As if she couldn’t wait ten minutes. Anyway, I started to become fed up with her and so I exited the shower, wrapped a towel around me, opened the door, and said NO and slammed the door. Of course I was agitated, so I called her a b*tch as I was closing the door. I had a wonderful shower after that. But when I got out and dressed, my parents wanted to see me. They. Were. Mad. My sister ratted me out.

At a younger age, we sometimes try and hide our swears by replacing it with words that sound like the equivalent. One of the most popular swears that people say, “Jesus!”, is usually spoken when someone is angry about something. It may not be one of the worst in the set of vocabulary, but it is covered up many times by “Jeez!” There are plenty of others ones that people can make up. Me and Connor always say “fork” instead of “f*ck.” How do they start? They really just develop by the individual; most of the replacements aren’t from outside sources. We both just wanted a funny replacement that can satisfy our need to swear. It really has caught on, and we still continue to say it daily.

On the other hand, I’ve never enjoyed hearing any kind of swearing myself. I’ve always used the excuse that my religion was the reason I never said a bad word. People usually made fun of that. They would come up to be and say something like, “Why can’t you swear?” and religion would be my answer to them. In fact in Judaism,  it says that followers of the belief should try and understand that words can hurt and heal at the same time, and that  people should try and be morally good people by only using words to heal. To me swearing, in a way, is like cheating in the English language. Instead of getting the message you want people to hear, you replace it with a swear word, hoping that would solve you problem of finding the right words to say. There is a much greater message heard in a person who uses the correct descriptive language. People will not only understand what you are trying to convey, they will also have more respect for you, and see that you are a polite, educated human being. See the difference in this scenario:

Your best friend Harold drops your very elaborate diorama of the Mount Rushmore on the floor of the school. It shatters into little pieces as it hits the tiles. You are very upset with him, because you just spent five days working on it non-stop.

Profanity Peter says, “You motherf*cking son of a b*tch! f*ck you *sshole!”

Polite Peter says, “My anger in you is like the burning flames of an intense forest fire; out of control and sweeping over the surface of the Earth, building up strength with it’s deep hatred.”

Not only does Polite Pete convey his message towards clumsy Harold, he isn’t given any punishment from the teachers for swearing in front of a student. Of course, many people can not come up with very detailed sentences, but that is the magic of using descriptive language, it gets better the more you practice with it. Any person could just start out just like this:

Polite Peter says, “I’m very mad at you!”

It is very important to get into the habit of not using swear words in everyday sentences. There are two major different sets of vocabulary that people use in their everyday lives. They have the vocabulary they use to talk to friend. This language you are free to swear in without getting in trouble. Unfortunately, this language usually diminishes away as you get older, because people expect more from you. You really wouldn’t see an old lady in a retirement home say anything like this:

Joe Buddy says, “yo, sup man. Hows it goin? Jeez I feel like sh*t today.”

and then they have the vocabulary they use to talk to people of higher authority such as a teacher, a coworker, a boss, or a parent. The point is, that this language literally becomes your only language when you get older. If you were to use any kind of profanity in everyday speech to one of these people, there are consequences involved. Getting in the habit of swearing is like getting in the habit of abusing drugs. It later gets you into a lower position in life because elder figures do not take you seriously with such a foul language. For example, there is a medical condition known as Tourette’s. If you start to swear too much, soon enough your swearing is going to become uncontrollable. When this happens, it becomes a tic, which makes it so that you can not stop swearing. Controlling your speech is a good thing. It might not turn out to be completely perfect like:

John Doe says, “Hello Sir, it is good to see you again on such a lovely day.”

But fixing up your verbal language is key to being very successful. So like I said, swearing is like cheating in the English language. Just like cheating, swearing is never a way to learn any lessons about life. Of course, there should be a line drawn to indicate what kind of swearing is tolerable. Sometimes, swearing is a way to get out your anger. It is like one of those stress balls that you squeeze when you are upset about something. If you are going to swear, let it be in private, like in a bedroom. It will help release anger in a safe way that will not harm others. Of course, there are other safer ways to let it out, but if swearing works for you, let it be your cure for anger. This kind of swearing is known as Cathartic Swearing. It can also occur when something really painful happens to you, like stubbing your toe on a corner, I know that happens to me all the time and I just break out into swearing. It could be like spilling some really hot coffee onto yourself. You really can not control your speech in such a time of pain. It just happens, so let it be released. So scream it out to the heavens, “Aww, f*ck!, D*mn this coffee!”

Probably the worst kind of swearing out there is abusive swearing. Abusing swearing is the most hurtful and the most severe. It can cause depression, withdrawal, anxiety, fearfulness and low self esteem and it affects every age group. Abusive swearing should not be tolerated at all. If you are caught using abusive swearing to anyone, not matter the type of group, there are severe consequences involved. You could be grounded at home, suspended at school, and fired at work, and possibly jailed if it continues to harm others. This type of swearing is definitely one that a person should not fool around with.

Personally, my (Connor’s) least favorite and least hawt type of profanity is called Idiomatic Swearing. This type is voluntary, and so easy, both to say, and not to say. First off, Idiomatic Swearing is when you just say a bad word for no reason. Or, you may be just choosing words to interest you or others around you. You could also be showing off that dirty mouth of yours to your friends. I hate when people use this type of profanity because it is just so stupid and uncomfortable for me to listen to. For example, on my bus there are sixth, seventh, and eighth graders . All the little sixth graders think they’re so cool saying f*ck in every sentence. It makes me so uncomfortable to listen to them, because the wild thing is they say f*ck twice in every sentence, and I probably say it only once a week. I wish I could just wash their mouths out with soap like my parents always threatened to do. Oh well. They’re the ones looking like losers, not me. But still.

Another type of swearing is called Emphatic Swearing, and it’s the one I (Connor) actually use the most. (I know, I know, I’m a bad human being.) Emphatic Swearing is when you use profanity to stress an idea or word(s). For example, you would use Emphatic Swearing if you were trying to convey just how big someone’s waist line was. It would be something like “Wow, did you see how f***ing fat that guy was? I didn’t even see his d**n small thing pressed against his pants.” Sometimes, it just slips out of my mouth. Sometimes, it’s the only way I can express my feelings. I suppose I should start controlling my language like Clonez mentioned earlier.

Whether “your” type of swearing is idiomatic, abusive, cathartic, or emphatic, you should try keeping use to the minimum, because many people don’t like bad words, and would rather hear clear, descriptive language instead. Not only does descriptive language make you sound polite and educated, but it helps you in the long run more so than cheating by cursing. Sometimes, you can’t help but swear, and as you know, everything in moderation. That’s the key. And if there’s one thing you… close the browser with today, it’s that symbols instead of letters pwn.

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Tribute To Potatoes

My idea of heaven is a great big baked potato and someone to share it with.” ~Oprah Winfrey

The classic game, Hot Potato involves players gathering in a circle and tossing a small object to each other while music plays. When the music stops, the player with the “Hot Potato” steps out. In the real world today, who would even dare to give up one of those darling little foods? The potato is just one of the most delicious, nutritious, and most widely eaten foods on the planet. So next time that “Hot Potato” lands in the palm of your hands, don’t pass it around to the next person. If it is too hot to hold, just put it down on the table, pull out your fork and eat it right up!

Mr Potato Head: the sacred shrine that represents the entire incredible, edible race of potatoes. All potatoes must bow down to the all mighty leader, the Head. Okay, maybe not, but the point is that Mr. Potato head symbolized one of the most tasty, delectable foods that has made such a positive impact on our planet. Remember when you were little, watching the Toy Story movies? They had just come out, and they were a hit at the box office. It was one of my favorite movies when I was about five. In fact, I loved all of those classic Disney movies from the nineties. But this movie had one peculiar character; he might have not stood out so much, but just the idea of him made me giggle.  A plastic potato with removable facial features is more fun than a barrel of monkeys! Ever since I was little, I have always loved playing with food, and what could be better than making a funky fresh potato with sunglasses, a cap, and shoes. It turns out that I was all wrong to think that the legendary Mr. Potato head started with the release of Toy Story. It had actually become a hit way back in 1952 when Hasbro released it to the public so that children all around the world could enjoy playing with food! A fantastic idea. Not only fun for the children, but also great for fastidious parents that like their dinner table clear of food, but also like their kids to enjoy playing with comida.

potatoes

Meet the dream team: the crops that are like heroes to developing nations, because they are the most important crops on the planet. Humans consume these more than any other. They are the potato, the rice, the yam, and the corn. There are more that apply, but these are the most well-known of the crops. Anyway, just push aside the other three, because our main focus is on that funny guy with the beanie on the left: the potato. If you did not know, last year was the international year of the potato according to the Food and Agricultural Organization! Oh yeah, go taters! So that gave declaration of the rights to potatoes and all the other starchy edible tubulars because they totally dominate over all other crops. If you did not know, the potato is the number one non-grain food commodity, with 325 million tons grown in 2007. The potato is getting most of its global support from the developing nations. They chow down on almost half of all of the potatoes that are grown. Because the population is growing by a large number of people every year, the world needs some reliance on a source of food, and the potato is there to take that role, and become the super hero of the food industry. I remember learning in Hebrew school (I am Jewish) that in Hebrew, potato translates as tapuach adama, which literally means apple of the ground. I found this interesting, because it is as if saying that potato has all of the sweetness of an apple. Although it is not literally “sweet” it represents everything good because it is just such a help to all of humanity.

There are so many different ways to prepare the potato, and there are also thousands of different species of the potato to enjoy, and so there are endless possibilities to enjoy this amazing food. In the United States alone, only 33% of the potatoes are eaten fresh. 61% is processed into frozen products such as those Ore-Ida french fries or potato wedges, dried out and turned into potato chips, and turned into starch – all processes that remove the majority of the nutrients in the potato. the other 6% is used for replanting the seeds to grow more. In the United States, it really is a shame that a fewer number of people are eating the potatoes fresh. The consumption has declined from 22kg per person in 1999 to 16kg in 2006. Probably one of the most famous states for growing potatoes is Idaho. What is so important about Idaho when it comes to finding a perfect potato? Well, the potatoes grown in Idaho have a high solids content, so there’s more potato and less water. They also get that light and fluffy texture when you put them in your mouth. The soil in Idaho is very dense with nutrients, which makes those spuddies so darn tasty.

Potatoes are great when they are mashed, baked and fried, but did you know that they also can be used as batteries to power up a clock or a small LED light? Last year, I had to do an experiment to show that the potato could be used to power a small light. It turns out that it takes only about ten potatoes to make that light bulb start to spark with light. Me and my partner for the project had set up a system. We turned off the lights and connected to final wire.  To our amazement, there was a small flicker of light coming from the bulb. Unfortunately, we couldn’t present it to the class because we had to set it up from scratch at school. So after a week of research and collecting of supplies we had to start over and do origami instead. Anyway, I still remember how awesome it was to figure out that potatoes could really have the energy to light it up. It shows the amazing, perplexing power of the legendary Idaho potato. There are a lot of complex answers that neither me or my partner could decipher on why this works. The simple answer is that the potato contains a lot of phosphorous, which transmits the energy to the light bulb making it glow.  I may be 100% off on that answer, but that is the reason that I have come to know and love after that research attempt.

The potato is eaten all around the globe. It truly is a global food because almost every culture on the planet utilizes this stupendous crop. In case you were wondering where the great potato comes from, let’s pull out our history books and turn to page– no you don’t have to do that. The short version of that story is that the potato was eaten in the Andes for over 8 thousand years, and after the Spanish got a hold of it, they realized how awesome the potato was, and so they spread it far and wide across the rest of the globe. Thanks, guys! I don’t know what I would do without that potato on my plate!

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The Real Deal On Advertising VII

Coca-Cola

Just take it.
Grab an icy, cold glass of Coke.

You know you want to just reach out and drink it.

That moment where the bottle touches your mouth.

It is like a rapid wave of refreshment surging to your lips.

It’s like an arctic breeze coming in on a hot summer day.

It is like a swift, simple, calm wind that clears all your stress away.

That moment you drink it down; it is as if time has completely come to a stop.

Time walks up to you and says, “Take your time, you have all the time to drink this refreshment.”

They call Coca-Cola a refreshment for a good reason too, because it literally leaves you refreshed from a long day.


In Chinese, Coca-Cola means “to make the mouth happy”(1). About 94% of the people in the world have heard of Coca-Cola , that’s almost every person on the planet (2)! Coca-Cola is the shining star of all advertising. It is, and will be, the most well known trademark on the planet, it surpasses all other brand names. It is also the most recognized word on the planet, tagging behind is the word “Okay” in the number two spot (1). Coca-Cola has grown so much since that day in 1886 (1). They have attracted a ton of people over the years to consume their products. In its first year, servings of ‘Coca-Cola’ amounted to less than 10 a day(1). Today one billion servings are consumed every day (1)! That means every second over 10,400 Coca-Cola products are consumed (1). Over the years they have added a ton of other products onto their line. For example, Sprite, Fanta, Diet Coke  along with over 500 other brands (1). There is a wide variety for any kind of taste buds to enjoy.

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If all the Coca-Cola… ever produced were in 6 1/2 oz. bottles and placed end to end they would wrap around the earth more than 11,863 times.

If all the Coca-Cola sold in 1994 were in 8-ounce bottles laid end-to-end, those bottles would reach to the moon and back 76 times.

If all the Coca-Cola vending machines in the U.S. were stacked one on top of each other, the pile would be over 450 miles high.

If all the Coca-Cola ever produced were to erupt from “Old Faithful” at its normal rate of 14,000 gallons per hour, the geyser would flow continually for 1,577 years.

If all the Coca-Cola products sold in 1994 were flowing over Niagara Falls at its normal rate of 1.5 billion gallons per second, the falls would flow for three hours.

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Like stated in the last post in the advertising series, my family is a huge follower of the brand name, Coca-Cola. I have grown up in a household that is centered on the soda. Growing up, my father would collect old posters, banners, and signs advertising for Coca-Cola. I would see it all over the walls in my house, and it was simply unavoidable. All of the wall space in our basement is occupied by my father’s Coca-Cola memorabilia.  When it comes to writing about Coca-Cola, I know how to represent it.

In 2008, I was required to take a class in High School during freshman year that was all speeches. It was probably the hardest class I have ever taken in my life, yet I learned a lot about giving speeches. I first felt shaky and I stumbled on my words in my first speech, which was supposed to be about myself. By the time I was at the final speech, I went up there and I was so confident. The point I am getting at is that the last speech could be any topic. The teacher was very lenient on what people could decide to do a speech on, and what better topic than to discuss Coca-Cola in front of the class? I learned so many facts about how important Coca-Cola plays in our lives. It really is a drink that plays a huge role in the commercial world.

First of all, almost all of the Coca-Cola commercials feature the drink in a glass bottle. It took me a while to notice this, because I am so used to thinking that I can just walk in to a normal supermarket, grab a glass bottle of Coke, and leave. It takes a while to realize that this is not a normal thing to be seeing. There are a couple of reasons why they still choose to show the glass bottle. First of all, it is a tradition for the company, and traditions are very important because too many changes draws the consumers away. Second of all, think about it: a glass bottle. Humans are drawn to objects that are shiny, and glass is the most shiny thing that they could use to hold the drink in. Third, it really shows that the drink is cold, because it magnetizes the drops of condensation on the bottle.

Let’s move on to the Penguins. Penguins, penguins, and more penguins! Well, let’s widen the category to all of Coca-Cola’s winter advertising. Coca-Cola uses a ton of different characters in their winter advertising. They  have their version of Santa Claus, they have the penguins (my personal favorite), and of course, they have the polar bears. All these characters are enjoying the refreshing taste of Coca-Cola in a glass bottle. First, I want to examine this “Santa Claus” figure that has been used repetitively every year. Rumors have it that the modern day image of Santa Claus was invented by Coca-Cola. Well, this was proven false, but that does not mean Coca-Cola didn’t play a single role in its making. In fact, Coca-Cola played a huge part in forming our view of Santa Claus. When the Santa was released to the public in 1931, artist Haddon Sundblom brought all of the characteristics from past versions of Santa, like his cheerful, chubby face and his long white beard. If you have not noticed, Santa Claus is wearing a red and white coat, which of course are the main colors of  Coca-Cola’s logo: red and white.

That video is probably one of my favorite videos in all of Coca-Cola history. The polar bears and the penguins, both on opposite sides of the globe, come together to celebrate with an ice cold bottle of Coca-Cola.  This symbolizes different families coming together from far away for a celebration together. It really is quite comical and peaceful at the same time. The penguins came a little while after the image of Santa Claus. It was introduced in 1962 and has been a popular mascot for Coca-Cola. It may not surprise you to see that they’ve paired Coke with a penguin as the idea of serving Coke ice-cold is one they have strongly promoted over the years. The third, and probably the most popular symbol of all the winter advertisements is the Polar Bear. It is hard to believe that the Polar Bear was only introduced fifteen years ago in 1993. Anyway, it was pretty cute how the artist came up for the idea of using the Polar Bear. The creator, Ken Stewart, got the inspiration for the animal from his Labrador Retriever which had resembled a polar bear as a puppy (3). And soon these arctic creatures became a huge hit for the industry.

Companies have been using the image of polar bears to sell everything from soda to insurance for years. Maybe it’s time for corporate America to consider protecting a species that has been such a profitable sales tool. They say things go better with Coca Cola. For the sake of the penguins and the polar bears, let’s hope so (4).

Cute animals just draw us in for some reason. Although we know that an actual Polar bear can not pick up a glass of Coca-Cola, we still fall for them and go buy the product. Well, another reason we fall for them is that these animals are symbols of showing that the product is “ice-cold,” as we like to drink soda that way. Also, their habitat is like a giant refrigerator, keeping the Coca-Cola cold. On the other side, because the Polar Bear is on the Endangered Species list; caused by the polar ice caps melting, Coca-Cola might have to find a new arctic animal to replace the Polar Bear, because it could be on its way to extinction.

Back in 1927, Coca-Cola’s tagline was “Around The Corner From Everywhere”. Well, once again its name emblazoned into  Time Square over the crossroads of the world. Coca-Cola truly is around the corner from everywhere. Congratulations and let there be light!

This quote by the mayor of New York city, Michael Bloomberg, is stated right before the launch of the new Coca-Cola sign in Times Square. Coca-Cola has been a strong partner with all of New York and they have been advertising there for over 80 years. The sign in New York is one of the largest advertisements signs with some of the latest technology available. It really is a work of art, with flashing colors and a curvy shape to it. The sign is seen in a ton of movies that take place in New York, for example, I remember seeing the sign in the movie, Enchanted, when the dragon at the end had climbed up the sign. I really can not wait to see it during my trip to New York. It really has become a monument for visitors to see, though it may not be as important as the Statue of Liberty or Ground Zero, but it is a monument in advertising history.

Coca- Cola has had many slogans since its creation on May 8th, 1886. One of its most recent slogans created in 2006, The Coke Side Of Life, really sums up the soda brand’s performance on our planet. There really is a Coke side of life, because Coca-Cola is constantly changing the commercial world with all its products.

(1) “Interesting Facts About ‘Coca Cola’.” Coca-Cola: About Coke. 2006. Coca Cola Company. 20 Mar 2009 <http://www.coca-cola.com.au/footer/about_facts.htm&gt;.

(2) Olson, J.. “History Of Coca-Cola.” Jackie’s Coca-Cola Page. 1997. 20 Mar 2009 <http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/4269/history.html&gt;.

(3) Bobby. “Coca-Cola’s Greatest Hits.” Essays and Articles. 2009. 7X. 20 Mar 2009 <http://www.7xpub.com/&gt;.

(4)David, Laurie. “Things Go Better With Coke.” The Huffington Post. 02 Dec 2005. The Huffington Post. 20 Mar 2009 <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laurie-david/things-go-better-with-cok_b_11560.html&gt;.

(5) Mooney, Phil. “Happy Penguin Day!.” Coca-Cola Conversations. 25 Aug 2008. Coca-Cola Company. 20 Mar 2009 <http://www.coca-colaconversations.com/&gt;.