The Change Throughout Society

Society continues to experience change over every decade. This remains true for both state and national levels.California has experienced massive change stemming from the events of the Great Depression and later the Dust Bowl. Personally, we as a state were not hit as hard as those in the middle of the country, at least physically. Socially we evolved. California adopted the attitudes of the migrant farmers who suffered in the chaos of the Dust Bowl. Their immigrant ideals shaped our society of both 1985, when Gregory outlined social changes and today where we still see norms that formed from the Oklahoma migrants of the Dust Bowl. Their values changed us for the better.

The Dust Bowl was an extreme natural disaster back in the 1930’s. It eradicated farmland in the middle of America, namely in Oklahoma. This caused many to leave their family farms and move out west to California, whose fields were not seared by the blistering sand. These migrants brought more than just a desire to farm and survive, they also brought with them a stricter, yet more carefree social system. The “Okies” preached for the importance of family values. Along with familial bonds, they expressed a deep passion for the Christian church. California at that time was in the midst of a mass radical reformation, but the arrival of the conservative Okies calmed tensions.

This relative calm period lasted for another 40 years. Gregory writes of this restful time and notes how beneficial it was for the state of California. The economy flourished, and not only the natives reaped the winnings. Few migrants were still embroiled in the agricultural field. Others found more lucrative ventures, such as those who struck oil or large natural gas deposits. The migrants were able to rise above the depression set forth by the loss of home and field. The Okies then could invest their new wealth back into the state. Even today this shows, as California has one of the highest cost of livings in the United States. Prices are higher here than elsewhere in the nation and its due in part to the massive resource quantities found by the Okies. Sadly not all of the values the Okies brought with them have transferred to the modern era. Today’s society has grown increasingly bitter and outspoken. No longer is it simply about having a simple life with family and the lord. Today it is all about race, violence, and corruption. I wish we could return to the values imparted on us by the Okies. Our society was once influenced by them, and as time passes that influence dwindles, though I wish it would continue to stay. That way we could all live on in the peaceful views set by them. -Zach

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Essay Antics

As AP tests and the end of the year close in, preparations for those tests begin to escalate. As part of that, feedback and constructive criticism can be devastating, but the most useful asset a student has to overcome the AP exam.

Today in English class, we wrote essays in response to a reading we did to analyze the style of writing the author took to make the writing more effective. After I had written my essay, I had realized that I made a poor mistake in my choice of analysis in my thesis and my ideas were poorly organized. I had only realized this after I had written, and wondered on how I could fix this problem. The next day, we did peer reviews, and I got immediate feedback on what I needed to do, including better organization and that I was slightly off from the prompt, and some analytical choices. This was what I needed to succeed, and I was extremely grateful of the criticism because I wanted to improve and score higher on the AP Composition exam. While the criticism is useful, I feel that I need more practice to iron out all the mistakes I would have made on the actual test.

Some people take criticism very sharply and translate it as an attack on their character, but what they need to realize that it is not to hurt them, but rather, to help them. Those who give criticism are not out to hurt you (unless they actually are), but rather to help you improve and succeed, as is the job of teachers.

Another time in my APUSH history class, we had presentations to do, and from what I heard, the previous periods had gotten chewed out. My group was giving the presentation, and after I said some of my lines, I could visibly see my teacher cringe a little. At the end of the presentation, he gave us plenty of criticism and asked us questions, hinting us towards the correct answer that we were so slightly off from. In situations like that, most would have been upset with the teacher’s tone, but I had to stand there and take the feedback. After thinking about this for a little bit afterwards and the following day, I realized that my teacher was not out to get us, but to guide us on the right idea. While others gave their presentations and stood in the front for criticism, I perked up at his words like, “You presented that idea very well.” “You didn’t quite hit the mark, but got very close.” “You are on the right track, but keep going.” These key phrases made me realize that he was not being critical to be critical, but to help all of us prepare for the key things we will need to write on for the AP exam for US history.

I have come to realize that some teachers are sometimes rude and grumpy, but while these may be their qualities, they often aren’t doing it on purpose. They want to help us, to guide us on the right path, to see us succeed in class and in life. I’ll now have to be more keen towards my teachers and the things they say, because while it may seem rude, there is always a deeper meaning and feeling to words.

The Journey Continues…

If you are returning back to read my blog post again you may remember the review I did a while back about the book The Alchemyst. If you have not already, I suggest checking out my previous review so you can better understand this current one. Well I am here today to bring you yet another great book from the great series of novels The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. The name of this amazing novel is The Magician by Michael Scott. The sorceress is the second book in a six book series called, The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. This book picks up right where the last book left at an exhilarating rate. Josh and Sophie Newman are now in Paris, and now must face Niccoló Machiavelli, and his accomplice Dr. John Dee. In this short amount of time Sophie must start to understand the element she has recently gained control off. The element of wind. It may not seem all that strong but in the hands of the right user, it can be the most powerful of all the elements. As the race for the codex commences throughout all of Paris Josh Newman is captured by the evil but, cunning master Dr. John Dee. Dee convinces Josh to follow him with the hope of finding an elder to awaken Josh’s powers. I will the leave the rest of this amazing novel for you to read. I would rate this book a solid 7 out of ten. I do not think this book is as good as the previous novel in the series because it seems as though Michael Scott was trying to cram so much into as little pages as possible. The main reason why I think this novel was not as great as any of the others in the series is because the plot is not as well put together as some of the others. In some parts of the book you are just sitting there waiting for nothing to happen. All in all this is still a good book and I highly recommend reading it. -Zach

The Adventure of a Lifetime

As a kid you could never get me to read a book even if you forced me to. I was like this until the age of ten. I had to read a book for my fourth grade class. It could be any book we wanted at all. I decided to pick up the book A Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb. This was the first time I ever experienced the love of books and the world of imagination it brings you to. The story starts off with a ship named “Vivacia” and we learn that it is a liveship. A liveship is a boat that is made out of wizardwood but, the special thing about these ships are when three owners, from separate generations of the same family, die upon the deck of the ship, the ships will come alive. They retain all memories and experiences of those who lived and died aboard them. The Vestrits area  family who gained wealth through trading and developing monopolies on goods. This family owns the liveship “Vivacia” and we learn that so far two of the three required deaths have already been fulfilled. When Kefferia’s father dies and makes the necessary third death to quicken the Vivacia into a liveship with all the memories of the previous captains. As he is dying he turns over the ownership of the ship to Kefferia and her new husband Kyle. Kyle being the power hungry character he is banishes Keffaria from her beloved liveship. I will leave the rest of the book for you to read. I would rate this book an easy 9/10. Robin Hobb has such a creative mind and it is incredible to read about all the fantasy worlds and different places she makes using her imagination. She comes up with these crazy ideas that you would never even think of. I cannot even begin to comprehend how one person can have all these great ideas. -Zach

An Unexpected Journey

Today the book I will be reviewing is a book that tells us the story of one of the world’s greatest myths of all time. This book is The Alchemyst by Michael Scott. The alchemist is the first book in a six book series called, The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. Magic is one of the biggest subjects of intrigue in the world of fantasy fiction. I can say with utmost conviction that the magic in The Alchemyst does not disappoint in any way. This novel starts off with a man named Nicholas Flamel. We learn that this man is nearly seven-hundred years old because he is in possession of the most powerful book that has ever existed. The book of Abraham the Mage. This book not only holds the secret to eternal life, but many other secrets best left untold. In the hands of certain people it even contains the power to destroy the world. Dr. John Dee plans to steal the book and do just that. We now learn of the two main protagonists Josh and Sophie Newman. Josh and Sophie are about to partake in one of the most elaborate and unexpected journey we have ever seen. These siblings are said to be the fated siblings of prophecy. The siblings of silver and gold. The prophecies say that the siblings have the power to both save and destroy the world. This book has so many great aspects integrated into the extraordinary plot. But personally I believe the finest attribute is all the characters that the book features are based upon real-life historical characters such as Shakespeare. The descriptions and though that the author puts into these characters still seems to amaze me. There is not a single aspect he seems to leave out. He features characters from all different aspects of culture, from Egyptian gods all the way to the legend of the great sword Excalibur.  Michael Scott uses the knowledge of common myths and stories to make up a novel like no other. I recommend this book to anyone looking to read a well written and intriguing fantasy novel. On this final thought, I will now leave you. -Zach

An Unfortunate Journey

Recently I made the decision to re-read a series I have always loved ever since I was a little kid. The book is the first in a thirteen book long series. The series is known as A series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. This series is focused more towards the younger audiences and may seem childish at times but, if you begin to start looking closer into the books you will find them not as childish as you once thought.  The first book in this wonderful series is The Bad Beginning. It starts out with three siblings that are just about to hear the most devastating news. They learn that their parents died in a fire that destroyed all that they owned. This is the beginning of their journey of unfortunate events. A banker takes custody of them until he can find a relative to give them to. A mysterious man posing as their uncle comes to pick them up from the Banker. This fake uncle of theirs goes by the name of Count Olaf. The only reason why Olaf wants to take in these sad orphaned children is because he is after their family’s vast inheritance. Once the children move in with Olaf he begins to treat them terribly, making them cook, clean the house. The house Olaf is currently living in is completely trashed. He seeks to accomplish his evil plan by marrying himself to one of the orphans. I will stop right here and leave the rest for you to read on your own. Lemony Snicket has one of the most unique writing styles I have ever read. Not only is his writing style incredibly unique, he also finds way to incorporate foreshadowing and unsolvable mysteries into his writing. The book itself is not the best out of the series but, it is necessary if you want to read one of the greatest series to ever have been written. Not to mention Netflix is coming out with a t.v series based of these books, so make sure you go out and read this series. -Zach

A magical Adventure

Today I want to bring to you one of the greatest experiences known to modern day literature. You may ask yourself, “What might that be?” It is one of the greatest books written, read by both children and adults, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K Rowling. Originally I was very lenient on reading this book since it was labeled as a child’s book, but I can firmly say that this is not the case. Personally I would rate this book a solid 8/10. It all begins with an Englishman Mr. Dursley. This particular Englishman begins to notice a few strange things happening on his way to work that day. The book shifts to later that night where a wizard named Dumbledore explains that a particular child’s parents where killed by an evil wizard. When he returns to his house later that night, Mr. Dursley finds a small child in a basket, with a note explaining the events that led up to him needing to take care of the child. Ten years pass by and we learn of the horrors this adopted child goes through. This child we learn is named Harry Potter. Harry lives a terrible and sad life, but little does he know, that is all going to change— that very night.  Because he was no ordinary boy. Harry was a wizard. Mr. Dursley starts to panic after seeing both the magical things Harry has unknowingly been doing and the invitations from the magical school Hogwarts.  In his state of panic Mr. Dursley leads Harry and the rest of his family off to a secluded island away from their house. As they are sleeping they hear a loud bang on the door. The door opens slowly. They see a dark bulky giant walk into the room, which promptly walks up and hands Harry his invitation to Hogwarts. I will now leave you with a sense of mystery so that you are intrigued enough to go out and buy this book. This is not the only book in the series. It is actually the first in a seven book series. So without further ado goodbye. – Zach

Why you should read the Lord of the Rings

Recently I have decided to read a classic that has stood in the halls of literature since the beginning of time. I am talking of course about the novel The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien. Stories of ancient lands and mythical creatures have always captivated me. This story is no different. This novel is true to the hype that has been attached to it. After reading this masterpiece I can guarantee that this novel is a solid 9/10. This story begins in the age of the rings of power. Nineteen of the rings were reserved for the races and one was forged for the dark lord Sauron. Not only was this ring was the evilest of them all, but it was also the most powerful of them all. The time now flashes to a present age where a certain hobbit named Bilbo Baggins is remembering his adventure filled past. He has decided to move on and give the ring, which has found its way into his possession, to his adopted child Frodo Baggins. Through the help of a friendly wizard named Gandalf the Grey, Frodo is able to learn the dangers of a treasure too powerful for mortal species. Frodo decides to embark on a life changing trip to destroy the ring in the fiery depths of Mount Doom, once and for all. But he is destined to find trials and tribulations along his way. Luckily for him he is joined by his trusty friend Samwise Gamgee. Later on Frodo is joined by the rest of the Fellowship in the beautiful elvish town of Rivendale, which includes the stout dwarf Gimli, heir to the throne Aragorn, arrow-ridden Boromir, and the handsome but, fearsome elf Legolas. Now Frodo is not alone on his quest to destroy the ring by himself, but with a great group of friends. I shall not say the rest because I want you to enjoy as I did. This is the first in the adventure of Frodo Baggins and the Fellowship of the rings. I hope that my blog will be able to keep on bringing great novels… ones that you will enjoy for time to come.

The Final Empire

Everyone is always telling me how reading is a great thing and how it improves my vocabulary and makes me wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I love books but, everyone just has the wrong ideas about them. The true reason why we read is not to get smarter or improve our vocabulary. The true reason why we read is because we truly enjoy it. We read because we love to go on adventures we couldn’t think possible without the use of books. One of my favorite authors, George R.R. Martin, says, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”

Today I want to bring you one of the most unique fantasy novels to ever have been written. This novel is Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. This is the first novel in a series of books. What makes this book so special is the world the story is taking place in. the world is so unique and different compared to the places we are used to. This world is plagued by “mists”. No one knows what they are and have started to regard them with a sort of awe or fear. The most interesting part about this world is the people. The people have a small chance of being an allomancer. An allomancer is able to “burn” certain types of metals and gain physical or mental properties based on the metals they burned. An allomancer is only ever able to burn one metal and they do not get to choose which one, they are just born with it. Sometimes a really unique allomancer comes along who is able to burn more than one metal. They are able to burn all the metals and are called misborn. Mistborn are very rare and are regarded with a sense of utmost fear because all the people of the land know what they can do. The way these people burn their metals are unique. They have to ingest the metal by swallowing it and from their they are able to “burn” their metal for their powers. I cannot even begin to explain how great this book is. I can barely touch the surface of it all. I highly suggest reading this amazing book. I would give it a solid 9/10.

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.