Archive for the ‘intro’ Category

Insects On Crack

Ever since I’ve been little, I’ve never really paid attention to insects. In my house I would encounter the occasional daddy-long legs spider or see a cockroach creeping across the floor and get the urge to kill it. I’d think, “No, you nasty spider! This is my domain!” and pick up a Kleenex and dispose of that trespasser. I never actually had the ambition to join a club based on something that I don’t really have an interest in. At the beginning of the college year, I was given the task for my Engineering 100 course to join a club or organization and report what you plan to do with such a club in the future. I didn’t really think of it much at first, but then I realized that all throughout high school, I never really ever -not a single time- branched out and stuck with something that was out of my comfort zone and gotten to know other people with strong ambitions in another field. This thought ignited my interest in exploring other options during Quad Day (where all of the clubs join in for an event at the beginning of the year and try to recruit students) and find that one club that would give me a view over that wall. When I saw Club Insecta, I may not have immediately known that that was going to be my outreach group, but after reviewing my other options, I knew it was the one I wanted to “tag along with” and discover what exactly the world is like through the eyes of an Entomologist.

During the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, I went on a trip with the club to Kennekuk Illinois in western Illinois, and later Turkey Run State Park in Indiana, initially to observe. Knowing me, I was easily interested in how easily these students (mainly seniors and graduate students) know how to collect and identify insects in the natural environment and get to see up close insects that I’ve never heard of. I am absolutely surprised by their amazing ability to spot such small caterpillars, spiders, or millipedes in a field of grass with short a short time-span of observation. I had a lot of fun getting to know these students and learning about entomology. Several members still haven’t gotten over the fact that I am the only engineering major in the club, and lighten up conversations by asking questions about what civil is all about and why I chose it. Despite being the minority of the club, I still enjoy coming in to the meetings of the club. During one, we had a graduate student specializing in the psychology of bees give a talk about his research with these insects.  I never knew that certain varieties of bees only do their dance on a horizontal plane, while others only do theirs on a vertical plane, or that the scientific name of the bumblebee literally translates as nectar carrier, yet as a big misconception, bumblebees actually carry pollen, which is converted into glucose within the hive. Although I didn’t get as “hands-on” in the field as a lot of the other students, I still had fun learning from experts in the field about the tricks-of-the-trade, and of course, taking incredible insect photos. I got to know this one student in the club named Tyler, who is also in Horticulture Club with me, show me how to get an Orb Weaver spider to stay still if you want to get a photo of it. I think it was absolutely hilarious how the web from the spider continued to be spun around Tyler’s hand as he tired out the spider. On the side is my absolutely incredible photo that I took – with a camera phone- of this Orb Weaver, a natural insect of the prarie environment.

Knowing many of my friends, this sort of practice of spending time with insects or learning is rather creepy or bizarre, and the club understands that. We have recently been trying to branch out and get people to be interested in insects. The club sort of lightens the subject by hosting events such as the Insect Fear Film Festival or Insect Day, in which a booth is set up in the middle of the Quad and the club explains the “Wow Box” which is basically a box full of curated insects with pins through them and labels added to help bring in the crowd. I’m not exactly sure if my own outlook on insects has changed due to the club. I definitely think a lot more about them now, investing time in videos such as “spiders on crack” or reading the posts on the Club Insecta blog, clubinsecta.wordpress.com. I’m not exactly sure how I should treat the situation when there is an insect crawling on the floor now. Maybe I’ll play it cool and let it out the window or something, as I would respond in a perfect world. No… not on the twelfth floor of a residence hall building. For now I’m resorting to Kleenex-ing them.

Michael

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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.

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

A Marvelous Adventure of Hide and Seek

(March 24th, 2010) Dear Planet Earth,

It was deafeningly bloodcurdling having to put myself through Richard’s conversations with the white men in Black Boy. Having to pick out his sentences word-for-word, I was anxious of the possible consequences that would come into effect if Richard had slipped on a single syllable during his conversation with Mr. Pease. I was enraged with fury in my mind with the shattering of such a bright, innocuous day when Richard had inadvertently forgot to complete Mr. Pease’s surname in a sentence and had dismally retreated from his employment. Such tension between the blacks and whites will draw in any reader to the treacherous conflict in this novel. Richard’s struggle to control his speech leads to a feeling of a profound sympathy for his pitiful predicaments.

Richard’s curiosity for going against the strong current in life is something that any free-thinker can relate to. His grandmother consistently bogs him down with religion, which is portrayed as a metal cage, sucking him into the crowd of Christian believers and drawing him away from his desires. She yells about how he is going to burn up in hell after he reads Bluebeard and His Seven Wives, alleged to be “work of the Devil”. Richard has a strong grasp on what he believes is right. By sneaking slowly into the dimmer side of society, he starts reading about new ideas, such as the ones formed by H. L. Mencken: a man who colored everything he saw, heard, and did. A vivid transformation takes place: he finally feels the throbbing heartbeat of life and aspires to be more rebellious. Richard in Black Boy will surely appeal to the majority of youth, since this book wraps around the obscure phase of discovering who you are inside.

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.


Childhood III – Height

footYou hold on to your mother’s hand while crossing the street in the city. You hold on for your life; it’s like clinging on to a vine that will keep you suspended from the dangers below.  It is the only thing that separates you from safety and the dangers of the outside world: the cars on the road and the hundreds of strangers around you. It really isn’t that easy being such an age. Because you are so short, it forces you to look up to everyone and everything. It is even more frightening from below. The city is like a rainforest. The emergent layer (the older adults) walk through life knowing that they have nothing to worry about; the sun is shining on them, it is nice to feel tall and in power. They are headed of to their high paying jobs at large businesses. The canopy layer (the younger adults) aren’t that high up in society, but they have an idea of where they are heading to. The understory layer (the teenagers) are looking for a direction to head in, they still have enough freedom to wander the forest alone. And finally, there is the forest floor (the children) the darkest, scariest layer where young ones are forced into the lowest rung of society and have to look up to everyone else from the floor. It really is a no-brainer why children love to crawl on the floor in public places. They know they are at the bottom of the ladder, so why not have fun while you can before heading into all the dangers of climbing up? Most people don’t realize it, but the floor is a big part of what makes a child a child. The floor is where they play with blocks, dolls, and other toys, while grown men would huddle around a table to play a card game. The floor is where they learn; like first learning how to walk in early childhood, while people of older age sit in hard, cold desks. The floor is where they have story time, while adults sit in chairs to read. Why would someone at such an age want to use a chair? I remember at school assemblies, they always had the preschoolers sit on the floor while the older kids sat on the bleachers. Remember when you had to sit pretzel-style on the floor? I remember being so excited to sit like that with the other kids. Now that I am older, I am no longer flexible enough to do that again. In music class all the kids would sit pretzel-style and the teacher would just sit in a chair on the outside and instruct everyone. The teacher was always higher than the student. Even now when we have to sit in a chair, the teacher just stands up to instruct. Anyway, when you are young you have your own position in society. Of course you may not like it, or even realize it at the time on account of how much fun it was to sit on the nice, comfy carpet, but it sticks with you, and changes as you get older and more mature.

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Edited By Mark Savin

Hey! I’m Guymed

Hello, I’m a new writer/editor for skydays147.com My penguin name is Guymed. I first started Club Penguin when I saw my sister playing it on the miniclip website, but at that time I thought it was a bit dumb. I then joined Club Penguin about 4 days later. I named my penguin Guymed because… I don’t know. My first item was an eyepatch. I did join Club Penguin before I got Guymed, but the e-mail for confirmation never came. That penguin’s name was Dillonhz. I first started blogging about Club Penguin somewhere in March 08. My first blog was dhz3475.wordpress.com. But, then I deleted it and started guymed.wordpress.com. I have the domains guymed.org, guymed.com, and penguincheats.info. You can contact me at guymed@skydays147.com, That’s me! I forgot to say that the year I joined CP was 2007.

Cya,

~Guymed-