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A Year of Progress

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Photo ©2007 by Reza [CC-by-2.0]
Well, the school year is about to come to a close. I am definitely going to miss coming to Room 306 on a regular basis. I already had three other AP classes this year and having a fourth would have been very difficult. I was also really worried how much different an AP English class would differ from a regular Honors class.

To my surprise, AP English did not turn out as I expected. My teacher, Mr. Ziebarth, voluntarily decided to give us less homework every day. The difference in workloads compared to other AP English teachers is striking. I know some peers who have to work at least two hours a day on homework for their English teachers while for me, I usually only take up one hour a day. This really helped me a lot for my other classes because I could focus more time on finishing their larger assignments.

Ironically, despite being called English Language and Composition, compared to last year’s English Honors class, we did fewer writing assignments. I remember that most of the time the kinds of writing that we did in English Honors last year was literary analyses of books we read. I know for certain that we did not have diversity in the types of essays we wrote. AP English this year offered more of that variety and helped advance my knowledge in the kinds of writing that are very fundamental.

The essay that I feel changed me the most was the very first one we did, which was a personal narrative. Being the first essay, I felt very confident about it. I had done a ton of narratives in the past and received high A’s on them, so I decided to write one in the exact same way as I always have about my graduation from elementary school. My initial results for my first draft were not as I expected. One thing we have done consistently with every essay is having our fellow peers in the class look over our work and peer edit. They would “bless” the good parts of our essays and “press” to us the faults and problems. One thing that was very well-noticed by my peers was how vague certain details I wrote were and how I was constantly repeating words with weak word choice. Even after revising my first draft, my results were not as good as I had hoped, which made me realize how I have to change the way I perform my writing and make it more like an AP.

Writing turned out to be not as easy as I hoped and I learned through all the critique I experienced in many later essays. One was an argument essay where we had to pick a side as to whether we should make our school days start later in the day. I picked the side that was the minority in terms of choice and I found myself struggling. It was probably one of the hardest essays I could write because there was barely any research that could truly support my side and arguments. Regardless, I would take the advice from my fellow peers and receive a grade that I felt happy about. The last essay we did was a descriptive essay where we had to describe a member of our families through one personality trait. I chose my dad and tried writing as good of an essay as possible. Despite various edits suggested by my peers, it still had many problems. According to my teacher, despite it being a descriptive essay, there were a lot of places where I am lacking details and specifics that could actually improve my essay.

After writing all the different types of essays that we have been assigned this year, I have begun to understand how words could structure the connections between individuals. Holden Caulfield of J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye is a very sarcastic young man and has an internal desire to not grow up. His choice of attitude negatively affects his relationships with just about everyone around him. Whenever he attempts to strike conversations with others, he tends to get so passionate in his thoughts that he would randomly switch topics and make his speech jumbled and messy. This leads to people being unable to comprehend his chain of thoughts, and most of the characters do not have the tolerance to sit there and listen to his rambling. In these kinds of cases for Holden, words generally break apart the relationship he has with others.

The only person that can really tolerate Holden is his little sister Phoebe. While Holden claims that Phoebe should not be able to comprehend what he rambles on about, she is able to tolerate it and listen passionately. In this one and only case, Holden’s words are what truly connects himself with his sister. Phoebe regularly experiences Holden’s habits with language and his overall tendency of mixing his jumbled ideas, and she accepts him for who he is unlike any other character who regularly conflicts with him.

Spring Allergies

2394563737_e9165721c9_z.jpgIf there is one thing I hate about spring, it’s the yearly allergies I get. Every year, it starts off with a really runny nose that persists over the course of 3-5 days. Afterwards, my throat gets scratchy and then it turns into a painful soreness. I even get the occasional coughing fits. With how frequently these symptoms occur every spring, I am not even surprised that I have them. I don’t tend to get sick easily because I have a mostly strong immune system, but it isn’t strong enough to protect me from my allergies. Though the allergies are a downside, I get to take my favorite cough drops that really helps a lot in these scenarios. Another good thing I am glad is that I didn’t lose my voice like one spring a few years ago. That was the worst allergy season I ever had in my life.

Wasting Food

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I watched a video last week from the LA Times and focusing about the expiration dates that are on food products, more specifically, milk. The video also provides a small survey on normal supermarket shoppers to see if they understood what the expiration date was. Turns out that not many of them actually know. Another topic that is brought up in the video is that the expiration date that is written on the product is not actually standardized. The date that is given is not actually when the product becomes bad to consume. Even so, the market distributors are forced to take those “expired” products off the shelves and dispose of them due to state laws. This means dumping dozens of milk jugs into dumpsters or into the drain. It pains me to watch gallons of milk being wasted just because a random date on the container says it is when it is best. Obviously milk does go bad, but it does not on the day the container says. I drank milk a little past the expiration date before, but it wasn’t as bad as it seemed. It almost tasted perfectly normal. Going a few more days afterwards, it did taste more off than usual, but it was still fine. A solution must be made to this issue with expiration dates so that other people in the world that need food can have these often-times perfectly good food isn’t put to waste.

Should We Let Them Go?

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I recently rewatched one of my old favorite superhero films from Japan that I first watched when I was a child.

The premise of the film was that a father lost his wife and child due to a chronic, incurable disease. His wife’s spirit was able to pass on to the next life, but his son’s was trapped between the world of the living and dead as a lingering spirit. The father was given the opportunity by the villain organization of the film to revive his son and return him to the world of the living and possibly even his wife, but the cost was to sacrifice thousands of lives in order to do so. The heroes managed to stop the plot, but throughout the film the son made it clear that he was ok with staying dead, but his father refused to listen. This fact gave me some ideological questions.

It made me wonder to myself, if we had the power to bring back someone we know to life, would we take it? Do we have the right to forcibly take them away from the land in the sky and bring them back to this world? Would the dead be willing to accept their fate and reject their revival? Questions like these arose after I watched the film and even I don’t have my own answer to them.

California and its Farmers

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Photo by: LA Times.

An article I read by Natalie Kristoeff and Geoffrey Mohan of the LA Times made me realize that the job issues in America isn’t so great as it seems. Even though wages are rising in California, not many Americans want the jobs. California has a situation with its farms and owners that the Trump administration has not supported. Though it is true that wages are increasing and jobs are in high demand in the farming industry, the farmer owners are not benefiting. They just cannot find workers for their farms in order to gain success.

Before the Trump administration, many workplaces have had a slower rate of hiring workers due to the tightening of the country’s borders. Now with the promise of Trump to deport illegal immigrants and build a wall across the southern border, California is facing the threat of losing more workers than they can hire. While some people may agree that deporting illegal immigrants and the wall could benefit the country, there are many people that rely on these immigrants in order to maintain their business. The rise of wages in California along with the demand for jobs does not help the fact that not many people want to possess these jobs. Yes, while it may be true that some of our nation’s jobs are taken by illegal immigrants, we must remember that some of these businesses need these workers to fulfill a job that many others would be unwilling to perform. Though I would rather not reveal my position as to whether or not I support laws and policies regarding illegal immigration, I still feel sorry for the employers and businesses that could potentially decline due to the lack of workers that want them.

A Day with Friends

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Yesterday, a couple of my Spanish classmates went on a field trip to the Museum of Latin American Art to admire and learn about the art of a famous artist named Frank Romero. We had the opportunity to take a tour and admire the various works that he worked on. We explored the various art styles that he tried out over the years and the overall history that occurred when he created his works. Me and most of my classmates would agree that his paintings were quite eccentric while also quite amazing. The funny thing was that that was just about what Romero wanted people to feel when they view his paintings.

After our short time in the museum we went to Olvera Street to shop, have fun, and experience Mexican culture. We all split into small groups to enjoy the sights and try out various foods. My friends and I went into a restaurant and tried new foods like tostadas, a pizza-like food with a toasted tortilla and multiple toppings; tamales, a steamed-cooked burrito of sorts; and carnitas, which is like a kind of meat dish. After stuffing ourselves up, we went out into the street to go shopping. I bought myself a couple of toys and two of my friends got giant sombreros. The one thing just about all of us in my group bought were confetti eggs, which are basically eggshells filled with confetti that we could break on top of our friends’ heads. We had the most fun playing with them, trying to find ways to outsmart each other and catch each other off-guard while we pull these fun pranks on each other. While the bus ride home was long and painful due to the amount of traffic on the highway, yesterday was one of the best days I ever had in my life because it was one of the few times in my life that I was able to go out with my friends on a weekend to have fun.

Zines

17431737_1847437392193249_210010777_o.jpgLast week, I had the opportunity in class to listen to a friend of my English teacher talk about zines. Zines are booklets that aren’t as big as books and also more unique compared to magazines. Through zines, we are able to express ideas and thoughts without limitations. Using drawings, printed pictures, or even snippings from a newspaper or magazine, we can create a book without any limitations and designed by our own imaginations. I like the idea of making booklets that we can put just about anything inside (with a specific topic of course). The way we design the zine along with the content inside of it, in my opinion, is what makes zines enjoyable to read and memorable.

A Morning of Work

Yesterday, I had an opportunity to volunteer for an event with one of my school’s clubs. We went over to a school and helped out in a small farm of a local elementary school. When we were there about three other schools’ clubs were there with us to get the job done. This made our workforce about as big as 30 people. Some people were given the job to shovel up piles of soil and compost into buckets while others take the buckets to areas of the crops garden that needed it. Others helped out by laying out food for some of the farm animals to eat. We had so many volunteers that some people were unable to work. For me, I initially took the job of shoveling up the soil into the buckets, but the way the soil was treated was in a way that made it very hard to break apart, making me very tired midway through the job. I persisted until I asked someone that was willing to take over for me. I would switch over in helping to feed the farm animals.

Initially, I thought we were just going to work in a small community garden by planting crops or harvesting them. This led me to be very surprised when I saw the variety of farm animals that were there. This was the first time I ever was up close to live chickens, sheep, and even the most special creature of the farm, a giant tortoise. While the work was obviously hard, it was an overall fun experience to work on a farm, even if it was small, and to be up close to these animals.

What is it with my house and birds?

17175948_1840856252851363_384919451_o.pngMy mom opened up the front door this morning to open up some fresh air into our home. The problem was that it opened the path for a hummingbird to enter our house. It flew all the way upstairs and into my mom’s bedroom. Her room has a very high ceiling, which is almost impossible to reach because we did not have a tall ladder. The hummingbird then proceeded to 17148684_1840856232851365_1524038627_ofly around and linger at the ceiling for nearly 3 hours. During that time, we had no idea what to do to get it down except to close all of the doors and open up the window, hoping it would fly out. We even left out some food in case it was hungry while it was in there. After waiting for 2 hours, I decided to check back in the room to see if it left. Sure enough, it did.

17175896_1840777442859244_1215135565_oHalf an hour later, I decided to go out in the backyard and I noticed something unusual lying in the grass and decided to check it out. It was the hummingbird that was in my mom’s room, and it wasn’t breathing. By the size of it, I would have to say that it was a baby. I guess it tired itself out by flying so much in my mom’s room and was starving by the time it left the room. It probably passed out either in the air or on the ground and died sometime later. I am disappointed that there was nothing my parents and I could have done in order to evacuate the hummingbird from the room sooner so that it could probably find some more food. Birds have such bad experiences near my house every year, and I hope that their luck improves.

Celebrity Activism

C2noE5WXcAAGiei.jpgWhile most people like me are unable to make ourselves heard to thousands of people, the celebrities are able to do so due to their prominence and fame through their works. A prime example of this kind of celebrity was Shia Lebouf. Back when Donald Trump was inaugurated, Lebouf and some other artists set up an exhibit in front of the Museum of Moving Image in Queens, New York. The exhibit consisted of five simple words: “He Will Not Divide Us.” Not only is it a sign of Lebouf’s opposition to Trump’s presidency, but it is also believed to have the intent of resisting the immense conflict of groups in today’s society regarding Trump supporters and opposers. This exhibit caused hysteria from street brawls to even bomb threats. Though the exhibit was eventually removed for the general safety of the public, it is still amazing to me how far a celebrity can go to try and express their views and send out a message despite the amount of harm it may have on their popularity and reputation.

Photo by: Shia Lebouf