Swimming is (not) fun.

Swimming, a competitive sport that no one really likes but is forced to due either by a parent or to get into college.

Many non swimmers think that swimming is fun. Sure. Playing in a public pool with a bunch of friends is fun, but that is not swimming. Swimming  is flailing your arms really to try to get to the side as fast as you can, to put it in layman terms. Its much more complicated than that.

Swimming is not just a sport, it is a lifestyle. To improve greatly and achieve any type of noticeably status such as national levels and so on, it takes dedication, 6-7 days a week for 3-4 hours, and sometimes practices twice a day.  It starts to take a great toll on the body and if you are still in school, it becomes apparent if you can’t keep on top of things. For me, I only go to practice about 3 to 4 times a week, depending on what mood I am in, and I can barely keep up in school while getting about 7 hours of sleep(I’m in high school). When you are on a competitive team it seems like athletics comes before academics. Coaches for some reason expect you to make time for practice no matter how early or late it may be. Some days I would have practice at 5:30 in the morning and other times practice would end at 10 pm. Who made up these practice times they are just ridiculous? And when you skip practice to finish some homework or catch up on your sleep, they get all up in your business. It is like the world is ending. On the weekend it is even worse. Some teams like mine practice on Sunday which is just plain stupid, so when friends make plan to go to Disneyland you can never go because you have swim practice, and when they ask about next week you find that there is swim practice next week. There is swim practice every day so there you basically can do nothing fun with your life unless you skip practice. Practices are the worse part about swimming.

Practices are one thing, but the thing that can really get annoying are swim meets. The time when you can show off how much you improved over the past month. Most big meets require you to be there at 7:30 in the morning till 7′ o clock at night. The reason being is that in the morning you swim prelims, races that you swim to get a seed time, and then finals, where the race really counts. Prelims usually start at 9 am and then end at 12-1 pm and then there is a short intermission till about 4 where people can go eat lunch and try to cram in and rest then can get in, and then there are finals which start a 5 pm which you have to race again in the same event and are expected to improve to have a hope at scoring points for the team. At the end of the day, for me at least, it is just a big waste of time.

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©2013 Leo Reynolds [cc by 2.0]

Swimming can basically be summed up as a sport hated by people who participate it and a big waste of time that very few became great at ( Aka Micheal Phelps).

 

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Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, considered as the biggest game launch based on The Lord of the Rings universe. Shadow of Mordor is an open world adventure game that provided great combat and unique features.

Now I just got this game recently so I’m pretty late on the bandwagon. Also I have never watched any of The Lord of the Rings movies so I know nothing of the lore and what not. So I apologize in advance in case I butcher any Lord of the Rings lore.

©2014 Warner Bros [cc by 2.0]

Let’s start with a small summary of the game:

So the game starts off with the main character Talion. Who is a Ranger Captain, fancy title. It would seem everything is going great for Talion with his high-paying position and a beautiful family, until the orcs attacked. Talion and his family was soon captured and played the roles in the new block-buster hit, Sacrificial Ritual! Playing the antagonists were nameless hooded men. With the ritual over, Talion found out that he couldn’t be killed as a wraith/ghost thing has been bounded to him. After that ordeal, Talion went off killing orcs and animals.

The story was considered the weakest point by most critics and I guess I can agree. The story is fine but nothing special.

Now my favorite part, the game play:

The combat is fun as heck! The combat is extremely responsive and satisfying. Though early on, the combat was a bit tedious as you had to keep button mashing when you’re overrun or when you fight at all. Thankfully you get more abilities as you progress through the game, giving you more options in combat.

The world is very lively with plenty of activities Talion could do. It could be hunting, collecting herbs, defeating orc war chiefs, etc. Though the re spawn rate is a bit excessive on some areas.

The Nemesis System is a unique feature that Shadow of Mordor provided. A system that consisted of randomly generated orcs that has unique names, abilities, and even personality. You really feel like an assassin when hunting down the orc captains and war chiefs.

All in all, great game!

8.5/10

Derek

 

A Game About Cats

Recently, there has been a game that has been rising among the ranks in the app store of both IOS and Android devices. It’s called Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector. It is a simple game with a very basic concept.

You must attract cats to your yard. In order to do that, you must use two different items. The two items are toys and food. Food is used to attract the cats, but toys are needed to entertain them. There are different ranks of quality to the food. As the quality of the food increases, the amount of cats that will visit your yard will increase, but as the ranks increase, the price increases as well. The toys range from a simple ball to a hammock to a kotatsu. You can also expand your yard and change its style as well. Cats will only visit your yard if the app is off. There is no end to the game, you just collect cats.

Like most free to play games, there are two different currencies within this game. The two different currencies are regular dried sardines and golden dried sardines. Both of the currencies can be obtained from the cats when they leave the yard because the cats leave a present every time they leave. The only currency that can be purchased for real money are the golden dried sardines. There is an exchange rate between the gold and regular sardines so in a way you can by regular dried sardines.

This game is interesting because it was able to get very popular even though it’s such a simple concept. Or maybe it’s gotten so popular because it is simple?  This has been seen with many other games on the app stores. Flappy Bird and Crossy Road are other examples of games with a simple concept and yet they have gotten millions of downloads.

The question is why are they so popular with their simple ideas? I think that the idea of a simple game is more likely to appeal to a wider audience. No complicated actions to perform, just look at the cats playing around. The same goes with Flappy Bird and Crossy Road. Press the screen to keep the bird flying and don’t hit anything and the other is just press the screen and don’t get hit.

I am currently having a lot of fun with this. I recommend this to those who just want to have a relaxing game or like cats.

A Not So Good Day, that Could Have Gone Better

It’s not everyday you consider a children’s book to be a beautifully crafted piece of literature. The book I am about to tell you about is one of my favorite books from when I was a child. I can not een remember the amounts of time I read this book. I think the main reason why I liked this novel so much was because i could identify with the main character of the story. This book is Alexander and the Terrible, horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst.

This novel is about a child named Alexander. Alexander is a kid who has one terrible day. Throughout the day he is plagued by various events that make his life seem like a living hell at the time but, are not actually all that bad. After many attempts to blame all that has happened to him on bad luck or just having a bad day and not to mention his many threats to move to Australia, “That magical land where nothing bad ever happens”, Alexander lays down onto his bed for the night, proclaiming that, “It has been a terrible… very bad day. My mom says some days are like that. Even in Australia.”

This children’s book may just seem that. A children’s book, but I can attest that it is way more than a child’s bedtime story. This book addresses some of the issues that we must face as we grow up. One main issue is our own incompetence and inability to take responsibility for our actions. Alexander is seen many times throughout the novel to be doing things that lead towards him having a bad day. Some of these are when he complains about how his teacher liked his friend’s picture of the sailboat better than Alexander’s picture of the invisible castle. If he really wanted his teacher’s recognition, he should actually just do some work. This is not the only time Alexander is caught being lazy and then blaming it on just having a bad day. Another event was when Alexander tripped on his skateboard in his room that he left out the previous night, or how he woke up with gum in his hair. Most if not all of the events that happened to Alexander could have been prevented if he were to just prepare ahead of time or do something.

I too was very much like Alexander as a child. I was never in the wrong and always believed that anything that happened to me was not my fault, but just divine intervention. I never attempted to change the way I lived my life, or the way I did things. I would just blame others, or blame it on having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. But when I began to notice that I kept making the same mistakes over and over again. I decided that Something would have to change, so I went out and corrected my mistakes. When I stopped blaming all these events on bad luck, I began to ask myself a question. What could I have done better, that would have prevented that event from going badly?

Lets be quite honest here, sometimes in life there are things that no matter what you do they will go wrong, just in spite of you. But most of the time that is not the case. There are problems that are going to pop up that you will just blame on bad luck or having a bad day. Do not keep making the same mistakes every day just because you are too stubborn to learn and do not want to admit your are wrong. So, for once in your life can you just admit to your own incompetence and try to learn something from it. Maybe we deserve the life we live.

The Effects of a Scapegoat

Why does a community need a scapegoat? The question is simple and blatant. The community is derived from culture and customs brought from older generations. Those within the core of society are not able to accept ideas that contradict the style of life within the society. Simply even considering those ideas would lead to a lack of faith and distrust among individuals within the society. In order to preserve cultural heritage, a scapegoat must be produced in order to answer differing ideas. The scapegoat includes all of the minority, the different and the unliked.

When considering the value of a scapegoat to a community, we must consider how a scapegoat is developed from the actions of the community. We’ve all seen this sort of scenario within history. The probably the most memorable event that relates towards scapegoating would be the rise in discrimination against jews during the rise of the Nazis (Amil). The whole idea of anti-Semitism has been prevalent in Europe for many centuries but in this era of modern history was it devastating. The Jewish population of Germany was blamed for its failure and loss in the first World War. The jews were even blamed for the Great Depression and the rage of the proletariat fueled discrimination of the jews. Germany needed someone to blame in order to unite the german people (Amil). Was it morally and ethically correct for the Nazis to scapegoat the Jews in order to gather political power? In the eyes of history, no, however, it was necessary for them to do so in order to achieve power. Is scapegoating a good thing?

The novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne offers further insight on the scapegoat’s necessary role in a community. The setting of the story was taken around the time of the First Great Awakening, which was an attempt to reinstitute religion into the American population. In the story, the protagonist, Hester Prynne, becomes a symbol for sin and reminder of sin to those within the Puritan town of Salem. At this specific point of history, people are becoming less interested in the values of Puritanism and are feeling less connected with God. The sin of Hester Prynne scares the individuals within the community of Salem and reminds them of the punishment regarding sinning. Furthermore, throughout the course of the book, Hester Prynne is shunned from the Puritan society and lives in isolation from the town. She even becomes a legend labeled as simply a symbolism for sin to most people. It’s only until she proves her worth to her community is when they begin to accept her back into it. It seemed as though that Hester burdened herself with the sin of the whole community. However, the church officials are essentially able to reinstitute the fear of being accused of sin into the mind of the citizens and create peace through terror. The authority was able to utilize the blame of someone in order to achieve civil peace. This leads to the question, Is scapegoating a bad thing?

Society seems to be reliant over the need of a scapegoat to have answers for the problems that are troubling it. Scapegoating undoubtedly has the potential to lead to peace through a negative method. It can save a community or it can destroy it. In an episode of the American television series “The Twilight Zone”, The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street, it presents the destructive behavior and consequence of scapegoating. A series of paranormal activities leads to the conclusion that aliens are among the group of neighbors. From being desperate, the once-friendly-neighbors begin to accuse the very people that they were once close with as aliens. The neighbors of Maple Street continually burn bridges with one another in an attempt to run away from being scapegoated. The episode presents the case of how scapegoating can negatively impact a community.

Why does a community need a scapegoat? A scapegoat is ultimately derived from the intention to create peace through the use of a negative method. The intention is meant to be good. By blaming someone else, the select group is able to calm themselves and blame the singular individual. However many may believe that blaming an individual will lead to no accomplishments. Is scapegoating someone with authoritative power really the correct step in attempting to recognize the problems in modern American society? When we look at the context of America’s current state, what good will be accomplished by just blaming Barack Obama for his inability to answer the global issues and internal economic situation? The problem isn’t necessarily Obama, but it is our corrupt congress (Study: Congress). Blaming alone won’t solve anything.

Does a community need a scapegoat? To scapegoat an individual or group is the easiest way to answer something. However, simply just blaming something will not get anywhere. Just saying a line of a word will not accumulate any change or impact. There has to be action. Words can only go so far to change the course of history but unless there are feeling and emotion into force of action, nothing will happen.

-Zach

TV/Movie Snacks

Have you ever found yourself alone in your home? No parents or friends interrupting you whilst you do your…business? Yes, I’m referring to MOVIE NIGHTS! Or Television Nights…that too. Of course, with every great movie night comes the case of the munchies and the only cure are snacks. But not just any snacks, MOVIE SNACKS, which are the same thing as regular snacks but still!

©2012 George D. Allen [CC By 2.0]

Now of course there are a variety of snacks ranging from the likes of popcorn, candy, nachos, etc.

Lets start with the more common of snacks for our beloved movies and shows.

Popcorn: A classic in the realm of the cinema! The snack came into popularity around the early 1900’s as they were pretty inexpensive and plentiful. As the time passes, popcorn vendors has been established in the cinemas as the owners thought they could make more money, which they did. Popcorn also tastes pretty good especially with butter!

Candy: Of course there are always people who would like a bit of sweetness with their movies and/or shows. That’s where candies come in! First M and M’s, the chocolaty, oval-shaped candies that are coated with bright colors that makes you think that you’re eating a fruity candy but once you eat it, you get disappointed that it wasn’t fruity, but you don’t really care because chocolate is good. Now people who prefer something a little fruity, we got some gummy bears that usually gets stuck in your teeth.

Nachos: Ah Nachos, a dish loved by many. A Tex-Mex dish that consisted of tortilla chips and melted cheese, sometimes coupled with beans, chili and jalapeno peppers. Now I haven’t had much experience with this food in the cinema, but they weren’t too bad. Though my fingers would usually get cheesy and sticky, it didn’t stop this simple but delicious dish from winning the hearts of people of all ages. Also the crunches are obnoxiously noisy and if someone is annoying you at the theaters, you could just chew as nosily as possible. Best part is that they cant do anything about it because you can just say “What? I’m just eating.”

Derek

 

 

 

Skyrim VS. Fallout 4

Skyrim Vs. Fallout 4? Now that is a hard one. Both of them are made by Bethesda, and both are RPG (Role playing games). They allow for non-linear game play which is what makes Bethesda and their games so great.

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2013cricetinae [public domain]

Skyrim is set in a medieval where dragons roam free and folklore is heavily told about a prophesized Dragonborn (you). The Dragonborn is the main character that is said to be able to destroy dragons and absorb their life force to prevent them from resurrecting and continue to wreak havoc in the world. In Skyrim the possibilities are endless as it is a free world and you can basically do anything you want with the additions of mods. The mods in skyrim is what makes the game so great. If you don’t know what mods are, they’re basically modifications that you can make to the game to give yourself a more immersive gameplay such as higher quality graphics, more realistic lighting, better NPC(Non-player character) interactions, and a whole bunch more that have yet to be made.With mods, the fun never ends. If you finish the main storyline, you can add new content that modders have made such as side quests, or a completely new storyline. The fun never ends in Skyrim. You will find yourself hours into the game without even realizing it when you pick up the game.

 

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©2012Superfart211 (cc by 3.0)

Fallout 4 is very similar to Skyrim in that it is a free world, the only exception is that instead of swords and magic, you are armed with guns and power armor. Fallout 4 is set in a post-apocalyptic setting after an all out nuclear war. Almost everything in the game is out to kill you. I died over 20 times just an hour into the game. To make your life a little easier modifications are back for the game. Since this is a new game (November 10, 2015), there are not as many mods as Skyrim, and for this I find Skyrim much more fun. Along with the mods, I find that Skyrim’s storyline is much more entertaining and diverse. Now I haven’t finished Fallout 4, only about half way through, but I would play Skyrim anyday over Fallout 4. Now don’t get me wrong, Fallout is a good game, it’s probably just the lack of mods that bore me the most.

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©2015Connor RH [CC0 1.0]
Skyrim and Fallout 4 are both highly entertaining games and I would recommend both to anyone. But as of right now, if you haven’t picked up any of these titles and want to get a RPG game, I would suggest Skyrim, due to its timeless fun and never ending add-ons.

The Community and the Individual Exploration

The community of a society, such as the ones of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, New Orleans, Chicago, etc., is made up of a variety individuals. The community itself plays a significant role in the lives of the individuals. The individuals are affected by the shops within the community, the land that makes up the community, and even those that make up the community. In this group of people that make up the community, there are also those that try to make a difference in the community they live in. These people would do things such as help out in homeless shelters, pick up trash at the beach, do car washes to have the funds donated to some sort of organization that helps others, etc. The idea that one person can make a difference within his or her respective community sounds highly improbable, but there have been many stories told in the news of these people that have made a difference. Both the community and the individuals that make it up can affect each other in various. Many works of literature include this idea of mutual change between the individual and the community.

In the beginning of the book, The Scarlet Letter, the main character, Hester Prynne, faces humiliation due to her actions. She is found out to be guilty of adultery and is sentenced to wear a scarlet letter “A” on her chest for the rest of her life and she is to stand on a scaffold so everyone in the community can see her. She is then ridiculed and bad rumors are spread about her. This starts affecting her as she becomes secluded in her home with little contact with others. The community has influenced Hester in a negative way. The children making fun of her and the women that make rude comments about her have made an impact on her life. Further into the book, seven years have passed between the day Hester stood on the scaffold and now. Hester has grown older and wiser over the years. She does not resent the community that has humiliated her in the past. In fact, she goes out of her way to help the same community. She begins to do volunteer work at the church. She helps both the sick and the elderly. People now began making comments about how Hester is a saint or an angel. She is praised by that same community that she suffered from. Hester is now affecting the community by helping those in need and by doing so, she changes the opinions of others around her. Many books toss around this idea, but papers in other areas have done so as well.

In Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, he talks about how he himself was affected by events that happened  in another place. In his letter, King states, “I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” In these sentences, explains that he is affected by what is happening in Birmingham while he is in Atlanta. The community of another area can affect individuals as well, even if they are not in it. In Richard Rodriguez’s “Aria: A Memoir of a Bilingual Childhood”, he talked about how his life was affected by his parents’ Spanish, and his parents’ social status in America. These attributes in his life slowed his social growth which made him feel left out or not a part of the community he lived in. In it, he states that, “Memory teaches me what I know of these matters; the boy reminds the adult. I was a bilingual child, a certain kind-socially disadvantaged_the son of working-class parents, both Mexican immigrants.” He understands that the community that is made up of his family affected him to the point where he cannot interact with other communities. Just like the works of authors, recent news have also done well to express the idea of the community and the individual affecting each other.

In Somersworth, New Hampshire, there were groups of boy scouts and girl scouts that helped collect over 2,500 pounds of food for the Community Food Pantry. The Community Food Pantry donates food to families that can’t afford to buy much. The boys and girls that make up the community of the boy and girl scouts are affecting the community that is the Community Food Pantry which affects communities of families. These individuals are making a difference in the society that is Somersworth. Samaritan’s Purse is an evangelical Christian humanitarian organization that provides care and aid to those who need it. This organization has an event called Operation Christmas Child. In this event, the people of this organization and those who want to help fill up shoe boxes full of toys and ship them to families all over the world that can’t afford to pay for Christmas presents. This group has provided toys to over 150 million children all over the world. This community helps out other communities all around the world.

These works of literature have the idea of the community and the individual affecting each other intertwined in them. From the book, the Scarlet Letter, to Martin Luther King Jr.’s letter, they have this idea implanted within them. Both the community and the individual can affect each other in various ways. Communities can even affect other communities. It all depends on what the people the live in them do.