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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An Inescapable Truth

This is an event that happens to everyone. This event happens to at least one person every second. It occurs no matter what race or gender you might be, morals you hold, beliefs you might have, or life you live. It will eventually happen to everyone. It is inevitable that this would happen.

For death is an inescapable truth.

Death may come in a variety of forms: choked, drowned, crushed, shot, beaten, burned, frozen, stabbed, electrocuted, overdosed, and many more. Death is prevalent  all throughout society. Death can be seen in news articles, television, games, or even your own front yard. The concept of death is learned by many through media or possibly a personal experience. I don’t particularly like that children learn about the concept of death so early in their lives.

Nothing is an exception to death. Everything that lives must die sooner or later. It’s like the saying, “What goes up must come down.” Nothing that lives can avoid death.

Well, I wouldn’t say that there are no exceptions to death. The Turritopsis dohrnii, otherwise known as the Immortal Jellyfish, is quite possibly the only living thing that is an exception to death. When it experiences physical harm, gets sick, or is old, it reverts itself into a stage before it was a jellyfish. This ability gives it an indefinite lifespan. Though they can die from predators and from diseases, this animal is the closest thing we have seen to real immortality.

On the topic of immortality, there have been many stories of people that have tried to obtain immortality over the last hundreds of years. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, made around 18th century BCE, King Gilgamesh goes off on a quest to find immortality but ultimately does not find it. Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, searched for a way to live forever and died because of it by ingesting mercury pill, thinking that it would extend his life. Ponce de León tried to find immortality in the form of the Fountain of Youth in Florida in 1513 and like the other tales, he failed to do so.

Immortality does sound tempting. The ability to not die in any circumstance. I think a lot of people would love to be immortal. I myself would like to be immortal, but I can’t ignore the one problem that comes along with immortality.

Immortals would live pretty lonely lives. As the years pass by, the people around you get older while you stay the same. You must watch as your loved ones pass away and you are left alone. Sure, you could always make new friends, but you know that they will die and you would have to continue along without them.

I for one do not like being lonely. I hate the feeling of losing someone. I just can’t handle it. A solution for me would be to have everyone that I think is important to me be immortal as well. That would solve that problem.

Immortality does sound tempting and I would honestly take it if I had the chance as long as the people I care about get it too. I just don’t want everyone in the world to take up this chance as well.

If everyone in the world were immortal, then weapons would no longer be needed. World peace would actually be achievable to a degree. But even though weapons would no longer be needed, they would still be produced. People would still lust for money and power. Resources would be consumed much quicker than ever before. The world would become overpopulated and most likely war would break out for land and resources. The world would most likely fall into chaos.

Death is something that nobody can avoid. I do wish that I can avoid it. Many people do. Some of those people are attempting to extend human life through various means. But for now, we must deal with the fact that we will all die some day. So the best thing to do is to live life without any regrets so death doesn’t matter to us anymore.

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

A Path of Fire

Lately I have been told of this great fantasy book with magic, dragons, and the beautiful elves. It is the book Eragon by Christopher Paolini. This story begins as most do, with an unimpressive protagonist. The protagonist in this case is a farm boy named Eragon. As Eragon is hunting in the woods nearby his family’s farm he finds a strange blue stone, which he has never seen anything like it before. As the story progresses we learn that this rock is not actually a rock, but an egg of the most fearsome creatures known to man. Dragons. When the dragon finally hatches it makes a sort of bond with Eragon by touching his hand. Eragon trains and nurtures this dragon of his, until it is strong enough to get by on its own. Later we learn that mysterious people want to do harm to Eragon because he has this dragon. These men do just that. These mysterious people kill his uncle and burn down his entire farm because Eragon fled to protect his dragon. I must stop myself here because I fear that I may reveal too much of this novel to you. Books of dragons and magic have always been an interesting topic to read about, because they are usually unique and different. This is not the case here. Paolini follows the same footsteps in his story as many other fantasy authors do. It just seems too repetitive. Most of the book is following the basic fantasy plot, where you have a hero who goes on a long perilous quest for revenge. I would rate this book a measly 6/10. The only reason why I rated it this highly is, while it may be so much alike other fantasy novels, it still has a good plot and is packed with intense action packed moments. While this book may not be for me, I would still recommend it to anyone looking for a good fantasy novel. On this final note, I will be leaving you.-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.

Improving as a writer

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©2007 Colleen Lane [CC BY 2.0]

Over the past semester I have been focused and guided to improve my writing in my Ap English Class. I feel that with the constructive criticism that I received from both my peers and my teacher that I writing skills have greatly increased.

In my class we focused on three main essays, a descriptive, narrative, and definition essay. But the one I focused on most was my narrative.

At the start of my essay I focused too much on the description of places that it turned into a descriptive essay rather than a narrative. I also was not doing a good job of showing the whole story in my eyes. I was telling rather than showing as my teacher likes to say.

As I got more practice, my essay seemed to flow smoother until it was almost perfectly polished. I say almost because I wrote my final draft, but it has yet to be read by my teacher.

Writing a final version of my narrative helped me see most of my  strengths and weakness. One highlighted strength that I saw throughout all my essays was my attention to detail.

     As I wrote my descriptive essay it seemed as if the words just came to me effortlessly and according to my peers, it seemed as if it was my strongest essay out of all three of them. Incorporating metaphors somewhat fluidly into my essay seems to be one of my strengths. I’m not a very good writer at all. Most of my strength came from what I intended to focus on. Descriptive essays calls for lots of metaphors so I think that since I was focusing on how to write better descriptive essays, my skills of  incorporating metaphors became better as well.

On the downside of my strengths there is my weakness which is probably my structure and fluidity of my essays.

I believe that I still need to work on being more fluid with my sentence and paragraph flow. Most of the time I am not able to put everything I want to say on the paper and it comes off as choppy. My writing in general is improving slightly, but I still have a long way to go into become a good writer.

Overall this semester has greatly helped me and lead me on the path of becoming a more accomplished writer.