Thursday, March 31, 2016

Goals Met? (03/31/16)

In my very first post, I set some goals for myself. It's been a long month, and I want to report how I've done on these. (Link here!)

I'm still really sorry because of how much I write (and how much you have to read).

Goal #1: Don't write too much. I always seem to start off too ambitiously and end up paying for it later on when I can't keep up. If I can keep word counts around or below 300 most days, that would be great.
Yeah, that goal didn't last very long. I haven't checked word counts on every post, but most of them are around 500 words, maybe more. It isn't much of a bad thing for me because I did keep up throughout the month, although smaller word counts may be easier for you readers to digest.
Goal #2: Be creative. Start off entries differently as often as possible. I find that the hardest part about writing is finding how to start, so the more creatively I start these, the more creativity both you and I may harness later in writing. 
I would say that I pretty much met that goal. My personal favorites were the one where I left a bunch of space empty on Writing Prompts  and the cliffhanger between Books- the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Part 1 and Part 2. I have to admit, the math problem in Long Car Trips was fun to write as well.
Goal #3: Make it through every single day of March with a post per day. In past years, I did not use internet to post things and I occasionally made up days that I previously missed. I shouldn't be away from a computer an entire day this month, so as long as I have time, I should be able to make it.
I didn't quite make it all the way through this year. I missed two days: the 11th and the 13th. The 11th was because of a school function that went late, like I mentioned in Thing. The 13th, though, wasn't a matter of time, but of energy. I could see the computer from across the room, yet I didn't want to make any effort to use it. It was just One of THOSE Days.
Goal #4: Provide a clean, PG level blog. I will not post any mature content, and I request that you do the same. I don't want to make anyone read something above their maturity level.
So far, everything's been good. Thanks, everyone!
Goal #5: Be accurate. You saw the title of this blog, and you know what it means- Tell me if I'm wrong. All I ask is that you would please be respectful and have something useful to say. In other words, if you say that I messed up a fact, provide evidence. If you have a differing opinion, I would love to hear your side of the story if word it respectfully. All rude or inappropriate comments will not be approved and posted.
I didn't really have many comments that weren't all good things. There was a rule of which I was unaware that was pointed out to me in the comments, and I appreciate both the action and the wording of the comment. No hard feelings here! :) You can still comment if you see something wrong in any of the posts, and I will do my best to fix it.
Goal #6: Improve my analogies. I trying to find a way to word something earlier (I eventually took it out) and I came up with this analogy to make my point: Most vegetarians eat lettuce, but not all people who eat lettuce are vegetarian. Yeah, it could use some work. :)
I don't know how often I really used analogies. but none were blatantly obnoxious. Please tell me if you have a specific example that you think needs help, and I can try to improve it to the best of my ability.

I think there were a few other things that were accomplished over this past month as well. Many people have told me how much they liked my poem in Hush Little Reader... , and I think between that and I Thought You Hated Poetry, my ability and understanding of poetry has increased. In my English class, we just started talking about Shakespeare and his iambic pentameter (fun big words!), so I'm sure there'll be more to look forward to in poetry from that as well.

It's been a good month. I felt like I could speak my mind to many more people than if I tried to speak in person, and I could do it all whenever I wanted, wherever I wanted, and about whatever I wanted. When I got near the end, I started planning different topics to talk about and assigned them a day, but I don't feel like everything has been used that should have. It gets hard to keep up the whole "each day for a month" thing, but I don't want to stop posting. I know that the Slice Of Life world has something with writing once a week, and I might try something like that. It is nice to stockpile ideas for March, though, so maybe I'll drop out for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which happens in November) and hibernate until March next year. No matter how it settles, I do plan to go on!

Sorry, everyone. You're stuck with me.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Hypocrites! (03/30/16)

Confession time: I'm a hypocrite. Near the end of yesterday's post about frustration (link!), I said that sometimes I think we should forgive a situation or a person even if they haven't apologized first. Now there are certain people in all of our lives who are the complete opposite of us, and in this case, opposites do not attract. These are the few people who can get under your skin, but they do a really good job of it. I had to interact with two of these people today, and I just felt really irritated with them, even if they didn't realize it.

"Hey self!"
"You remember what you said yesterday about forgiveness?"
"Oh. Right. Do I have to?"
"Right now? I mean, these things take time. That's what they always say."
"But the sooner you get rid of the issue..."
"The sooner it should heal? Okay, I guess I'll try."
"Good choice."

I'm also a hypocrite for despising hypocrites. Someone will bug me because they act so much differently from their words, so I'll judge them really harshly, even if I keep my judgement just to myself. Then, every now and then, I see myself doing something that I say that I despise when other people do it, and then I realize that I'm being hypocritical again.

The Pharisees in Jesus's day were one denomination of sorts within the Jewish culture, and they were the most careful to make sure no one broke one of the Old Testament laws. They took laws beyond their original intent and created rules on top of rules to prevent from breaking those rules, but they focused more on the action than the intent. Matthew chapter 23 shows more clearly the problem, so I do recommend you check it out. (Link is to Bible Gateway.) Jesus called them hypocrites several times, especially in the book of Matthew.

From a human's point of view, there seem to be two different categories of sins: the big stuff and the small stuff. The big stuff would be things like (not limited to) murder and being unfaithful to a spouse. For people who don't have to control the impulse not to go out and stab someone, I would say that it becomes fairly common to take pride in one's self because of comparison. With that pride also comes more of the supposed small stuff: lying, cheating, stealing, judging, and hypocrisy. I'm not saying that anyone who isn't a murderer is a filthy, dirty, horrible human being who will cheat you out of your money and be an overall person to hang around with. I find in myself that judging other people and being a hypocrite is hard to avoid.

But with God, we're all sinners. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23 NIV ©2011). Death doesn't just apply to those who commit crimes or do something scandalous. Each little lie you tell or promise you keep is enough to separate you from God until you receive his gift, which is the Holy Spirit.

Quick note: I learned in a project I did last year about relationship issues that it's best to call out the action, not the person. If you label someone as a bully, then they may feel like they have to live up to that label, but if you target the bullying behavior, it sounds more like a problem that can be addressed. I don't recommend going around calling people hypocrites, either. (Again, that would make you a hypocrite. I mean.... make you sound hypocritical....)

I can't exactly end this by telling you guys not to be hypocrites because that would make me a hypocrite (again). Instead, please point out if you see that I'm being hypocritical about anything. Thanks!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Errrrrg! (03/29/16)


Frustration. Interjections. Writing. For some reason, the three don't all mix. Combining them may make you look like a bad writer because you usually have to add so many extra letters for the proper effect. Take these shortened versions for example:

Ah! = Aha! I got it!
Aah! = Eek! A spider!
Uh! = I don't know! Why did you ask me?
Ugh! = I just got punched in the stomach and it knocked the wind out of me! or Eww! That's gross!
Erg! = Probably still Erg! Or maybe pirate noises?
Oh! = Aha! I got it! or Oops! I just remembered something!

That's when you give up on using the interjection and write something like: (correction in blue)

Sarah was tired from a long day at school and then being teased on the bus ride home. She ran straight up to her room, locked the door, and flung herself onto her bed. "Ugggghhhhh!" Then she screamed in frustration.

And then you scream in frustration.

Do you ever have moments when you find yourself just screaming inside your head? Like if you have to do something because of social convention even though you really don't want to do it, or if you're running late for something and then you get stuck behind someone who's really slow and you can't get around them? Or maybe when the latest catchy and extremely annoying song comes on the radio and you have to suffer through it because someone else wants to listen to it? Maybe it's your friends and they aren't listening to you or they're forcing you to join their conversations that you don't want to have.

Then maybe something else comes. That feeling that really wants to emerge from the back of your head, the one that seethes from things like these, may start to churn a little faster. Maybe you let out a few angry words. Maybe you scream. Maybe your facial expression is intense enough to tell all you need to say. Maybe you keep it all inside and vent it out later. Maybe you don't ever let it out on its own, but you let it simmer until it explodes.

I think that Jesus didn't tell us to forgive just so we would mend friendships. Making peace with a situation helps keep down that internal anger. Social convention won't come over and apologize. The people in front of you don't know that you're running late. It's not the song's fault that it hit at a bad time. Your friends may not understand how you feel, and reacting with anger won't help. You don't need an apology to be able to forgive. Sure, it helps the process, but if you don't let it under your skin, you'll be happier.

And when someone makes you really mad, remember Romans 12:19-21: "Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge, I will repay,' says the Lord. On the contrary: 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (NIV ©2011)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Dictionary (03/28/16)

dictionary: n. a book that contains many words with their definitions (can also be found online instead of paper copy)
definition: n. a phrase or group of phrases that describe the meaning of a word or occasionally group of words

Here is a compilation of all the words with definitions that I have personally defined (at least, that I can find)  from my experiences in Slicing: (date order, not alphabetical; left in original formatting, including font)

alter: vb. to make different” (March 14, 2014)

"hipster: [hip*ster] 1. n. a person who wants to be against the flow of culture; thinks differently than others for the purpose of being different ant. mainstream 2. adj. when an object describes or represents a person who is called a hipster
****The dictionary definition was self made and therefore may contain formatting errors. Apologies to all of the Grammar Nazis out there." (March 4, 2015)

"general distaste: [jen*er*ul dis*tast]. n. a concept unknown to most people these days. Occurs when someone dislikes something but is not necessarily being cruel about it
hater: [ha*ter]. n. a term for someone who is cruel or has a strong distaste to any idea, person, place, or thing. Often used as an insult. see hate, hateful
heckler: [he*kler]. n. a term for someone who calls out in a crowd to say something mean to/ about the person speaking to the crowd." (March 12, 2015)

"detail:[dee*tayl] 1. n. an intricate component of an object, usually too small to be noticed at first glance 2.v. the action of giving an object details see detailed, in detail, detailing" (March 24, 2015)

"lonely: [lown*lee] 1. adj. when any sentient being feels unconnected from all other sentient beings; an emotion of wishing for no longer being separated 2. adj. when a sentient being is without a mate, usually increased when those around the being do have mates 3. adj. when a sentient being cannot relate to any other sentient being around; the feeling of being left out, even within a crowd of many (Even though there were thousands of people at the concert, Alexa was lonely because none of her friends wanted to come with her.) alone, lonesome," (March 26, 2015)

"power: [pa*wur] 1. n. scientific word for amount of work done per time unit 2. n. when someone can influence someone else because of trust, owed favors, pre established authoritative positions, promises, or blackmail; can be the result of direct or indirect interactions 3. n. the ability to do something 4. v. to produce an object’s energy powerful, empowertrust: [truhst] 1. n.  the belief that someone/something is not going to abuse the powers you have given them enough that you are willing to give more 2. v. to give someone/ something your trust 3. n. a term used often in banking that relates to companies and corporations trusting, trusted, trusts, trustee, mistrust" (March 27, 2015)

Nerd alert: I like writing definitions. I think they're a great idea for beginning a Slice or other writing because they either explain words that my audience may not know or put an idea into a different light. Once you have the idea, sometimes you can use it almost like a thesis statement, returning back to different points or parts of a list as you write. Other times, it just helps you condense your thoughts into one short blurb so that people know exactly what your writing is about.

Try it next time you write. Your definitions don't have to be as precise or as lengthy as those in the giant Webster you probably have collecting dust on a shelf somewhere. (Admit it... you know it's there!) They just have to be yours, and they should be fun to write. This way of starting has served me well, and it hopefully can do the same for you.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Name Twins (03/27/16)

Happy Easter!

Let's take attendance. Martha?
(no response)
Absent. Frank?
Here! Here!
Oh, sorry girls, I meant Andrea J.
(Andrea M sighs.)

I kinda like meeting a name twin. They understand what it's like to have your name, and it's fun to watch someone who is super confused figure out that both of you share a name. It isn't fun, though, when you're walking down a hallway and you hear your name, only to turn around and realize that someone was trying to get your name twin's attention.

Do you ever meet people who are name twins and wonder why they seem so alike? I mean, not everyone is going to look or act exactly the same as everyone else with the same first name, but I can't help noticing that they act more alike than they would with other people. There are some names that always seem to be yelled (which means that they're in trouble or they've wandered off again) and some names that are held in a higher honor because the people who have them earn their integrity and don't do much to lose it. 

But why are they so alike? Names aren't chosen by the personality of the child because usually the child isn't even born before the name is chosen. Even if the naming process begins after birth, you can't tell much about who the child will be just by looking at it unless you take a ridiculous amount of time trying to find the right name. I'm not a mother, so I wouldn't know personally much about this, but I don't think even a mother's intuition can go this far.

I have a few ideas on why this might be. The first is that it's all our perception. We notice that two people have the same name, so we naturally look for ways they are similar instead of looking at them individually. If they share a characteristic, you mentally associate it with their name and automatically look for that characteristic in other people with that name. 

Another explanation might be the personalities of the parents. Those who enjoy names like "Hannah" would have a different personality than those who enjoy names like "Hunter" or "Hannibal". If a girl's parents are more partial to a dainty, light, girly name, they would probably act in a way that would naturally shape her to be dainty and girlish. Of course, this is just a basic stereotype, so it won't fit everyone.

Similarly, the culture of the family may affect the personalities of their children. Names from a particular religion may be more prevalent in people who practice that religion, so the lifestyle of the family may be affected similarly. For example, if several Christian families name their child after the same Biblical figure, the name twins may be more similar because they are both growing up in a Christian household. Families from a certain geographic region may favor similar names, and you'll end up with name twins in families that have similar traditions and customs.

This may sound a little out there, but there may also be an element from the name itself. Something in the name may cause a version of convergent evolution. (science lesson!) In nature, animals with different evolutionary histories can form similar features based on similar conditions. A great example of this is how sharks and dolphins are genetically more different than you would suppose by their appearances, but because they both live in the same environment, they have formed similar features. If two people with the same name are treated similarly by culture because of their names, then even if they live in completely different households, they may grow more like each other by adapting similarly. This may not cause large scale similarities in groups of name twins, but it may account for similarities in personalities in people who are bullied or treated unfairly because of their names.

I'm not a psychologist or social scientist. I have no experience that you don't in classifying why people are the way they are. Again, I'm also stereotyping, which means that what I say definitely does not fit everyone in the categories that I stereotype. There is no guarantee that I am right. You can be whatever and whomever you want to be, regardless of your name and name twins.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Auto-correct (03/26/16)

Do you ever find words that are an example of themselves? An example would be the word "example". The word "noun" is a noun. And, as I started today, I realized that a word that needed auto-correct is the word "autocorrect". Apparently it isn't proper grammar according to the auto-correct on Blogger to use it as one giant compound word.

Auto-correct hates me. I'm sure of it. Well, auto-correct, I hate you too.

We all have the little things that make us feel OCD. For me, there are only two main things that I have to have perfect. The first is that when I eat pizza with pepperonis, each pepperoni has to fit entirely into my mouth because I don't want to have to bite through the extra layer of food to get to the end result. The second is those little red squiggly lines that appear underneath words that I know are spelled correctly. I realize that my last name is spelled phonetically. You don't have to tell me.

On my phone, I like to use the swiping option on my keyboard so I can hit all the letters I need without lifting my finger. It usually knows exactly what you were trying to type, but occasionally it turns words like "me" into words like "knife" or "new". (Both of which have happened to me.) I don't want my friend to bring knife a cookie, I want her to bring me a cookie.

Also, I've found that the auto-correct on Google Drive is great about recognizing really obscure words. It isn't great at knowing that you're using a different form of that word. I remember doing a research report on New Zealand and finding that it knew the name of a bird that I only knew because of the report, yet when I tried to make it plural, it decided that I had spelled it wrong. There was no fault in how I pluralized it, only in how it recognized it.

The worst is when I'm editing something. I decide to add a sentence or a word into the middle of a preexisting paragraph, and each time I stop, it notifies me that the word I just finished writing needs a space before the first word of the next sentence. I know that I can't leave it as it currently is, but because it isn't human, it doesn't have the ability to understand what I am doing and not remind me.

I guess that's the main reason why I auto-correct and I have such a love-hate relationship. (I do love it occasionally because it really is helpful against the words I strongly dislike because of their crazy spellings.) Auto-correct isn't human. It can't feel, think, or read your emotions. It's just doing its job. There will always be a difference in empathy between the living and the machines, and humans can just connect so much more in person instead of through computers, phones, or other technology.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Recipe For Disaster (03/25/16)

If you remember my post about disliked words, you know how some words bug me because of how difficult they are to spell. The word "recipe" is one of them. When I go to write it, I want to put an extra "i" right before the second "e" because usually the "e" at the end of a word is silent. Then I realize that there are too many "i" 's and try to take out the one that is supposed to be there. It all just doesn't make sense.

You might call a research report about a topic that is difficult to spell or pronounce a "recipe for disaster". Again, it sounds cliche, but I think it's still a fun idea. For example, it is acceptable in my family to change a message left on our whiteboard to say something funny if it has been left up too long. I wrote a note to myself on the mirror in the bathroom that my sisters and I share. I decided that the words "Jar of Pickles" was sufficient to remind myself to bring something random for a gag gift exchange. Here's what it ended up saying (as far as I can remember):

Pickle Juice: a healthy drink for freaks of all ages
1 Jar of Pickles
2 onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon garlic powder
3 teaspoons dragon blood
Instructions: Preheat oven to 350° and fill it with lighter fluid.
Combine all ingredients into small green bucket and

(No one ever finished that sentence.)

Don't try this at home. Putting lighter fluid into your oven to bake something is definitely not a good idea. It is, in fact, a literal recipe for disaster. 

I'm sure we have done things in life that are worthy of writing down in disastrous recipe format. A true example for me would probably be:

Infant Covered in Ranch
1 infant (can be substituted for toddler or young child)
1 fancy Italian restaurant (recommended brand: Spagetti Warehouse in downtown Columbus, Ohio)
1 cup of ranch
minimal adult supervision
lots of napkins 
Place infant into Italian restaurant. Add cup of ranch. Mix in several distractions and slowly add in minimal adult supervision. If no results show within several minutes, try bringing the ranch closer to the infant or taking out more adult supervision. Infant should get ranch all over hands, preferably also on face and/or clothing. When complete, clean infant with plenty of napkins.

Yeah. I was that infant.

Any recipes for disaster that you want to share? Comment below. (Keep it PG, please!) It can be from a real life experience, a near miss, or something you are thankful has never come close to happening to you.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Salt (03/24/16)

Breaking News. There has been a recent chemical spill on Main Street in Cincinnati, Ohio. The dangerous chemical, which is called "sodium chloride" by the scientists who produced it, is easily dissolved in water and may threaten the nearby water supply. It can cause injury if it enters the eye and it causes pain in open wounds. Police are now clearing the area and authorities recommend everyone in a 100 mile radius to evacuate immediately.

Disclaimer: Sodium chloride, abbreviated as NaCl or "salt" isn't as dangerous as it seems in the above news article (which is again satirical and has no connection to actual events), but instead has been very helpful to humans for generations.

Christians, you've probably heard and maybe even memorized the verse in Matthew about being the salt of the earth. ("You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled by men." Matthew 5:13 NI©1984) Chances are, you've probably heard sermons about discipleship that include this verse as well. There are several posters, wristbands, and other kinds of merchandise out there that encourage people to be the salt of the earth.

It's interesting to see the different ways you can use salt and apply them to this verse. The most common application is that salt is used as a flavoring enhancer to find what is already there and bring it out more. Salt is also used for preservation of foods, especially meats, if enough is used. Nowadays, we also use salt to lower the melting  point of water along roadways so we don't have to drive on snow and ice. Rubbing salt in an open wound causes pain, and it also comes with a cliche expression about making a painful experience worse, sometimes unnecessarily or for revenge.

There are a few other interesting verses including salt. In Colossians 4:6, Paul writes, "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." (NIV ©2011). In Genesis, God destroyed the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah but told Lot and his family to escape beforehand. They were told not to look back at the city as it was being destroyed. According to Genesis 19:26, "But Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt." (NIV ©2011). Sacrifices were to be salted, and a handful of salt was used in 2 Kings chapter 2 to heal some water that had been unclean. After some cities were destroyed, salt was spread onto their remains.

I don't know why, but salt seems to intrigue me. I'm not sure if any of this means anything to you, but there's some connection for me and I feel like I'm either really close to finding it or I have already found it and I just haven't realized it yet.

The good news is, salt still makes food more delicious, no matter how you interpret it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Writing Prompts

Yeah. Blank pages are no fun.

But how do you fill them?

It's great when you have one story that you really like when you're writing and you can keep going with the plot and characters, but getting to that point is really hard. It's a frequent question in groups of people devoted to writing: How do I start?

Ideas come to me. I have a ton of notebooks with maybe three pages worth of a story in them, and I always leave several pages in between in case I decide to keep going on one, although I know I never will. It just takes a lot of practice, creativity, and time spent staring off into space to get a good beginning. Remember that it's okay to start a story and never finish it, since the practice is all you need.

Write random stuff. Whatever you feel like. Google popular names and use your findings as names for your characters. Rewrite the ending to a book, mimicking the author's writing style if possible. Write down a dream, then add to the ideas of your subconscious with your conscious thoughts. Write a page full of micro-fiction just on a piece of paper you take with you on the bus or in your jacket. Take a phrase, such as "I'm afraid I can't do that", and make a bunch of different characters say it in different situations.

Use a new perspective. Animate something nonliving. Take the point of view of an animal or a plant. Write as the opposite gender, type of personality, or financial situation. Change tenses, 1st person vs. 3rd person, or trade narrators. If you have another friend you can easily contact, try to coauthor something, even if it's short.

If you're looking for something longer, just write a scene. A girl at her friend's house decides to order pizza, and her friend has an allergic reaction. Someone is forced to do something really strange that they don't want to do but secretly enjoy. Maybe write the same scene over and over again with different characters. Start with background characters, and then work slowly towards an antagonist or protagonist, and put a twist in it at the end. Several families go to old Aunt Gracie's funeral, and her husband finds out she was an international spy or that she isn't actually dead. Place several families in a restaurant and have them overhear bits of other people's conversations while keeping their own.

If you don't want fiction, just write down a bunch of thoughts. Maybe pick a topic, and keep adding to it. Write about mistakes (online) and don't allow yourself to use the backspace key. Think about thinking, and write about writing. Try a poem (the results won't be too disastrous). Have fun with it.

Remember, an idea is just an idea. It can be a horrible idea or it can be a wonderful idea, but if you never try it, you'll never know. It doesn't have to be long, and it doesn't have to be good. Don't bother editing unless you ever decide to publish it. Rereading your work gets you nowhere when you still have ideas to write down. No one will ever know what you write unless you show them.

Challenge! Write something either from your own imagination or from one of the ideas above, and then post a link to it in the comments. Make sure you make it public so that everyone with the link can access it, although if you can make it so that no one else can edit it, that's probably a good idea.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Is That a Real Genre? (03/22/16)

Alicia groans inwardly as she receives the "get to know you" paper from her teacher. It's the first day of school, and she has a ton of homework that doesn't really mean anything. She doesn't mind doing the work if it helps her learn, but the syllabuses (syllabi?) and quizzes just to test the equipment and programs are all monotonous for her.
She fills in the easy stuff: name, grade, parents' names and contact info... But then she gets to the more personal stuff and stops.  Which animal represents her? What is her favorite genre of books? What is her favorite book, and why? She sighs and puts the paper in her folder. It's ten in the morning, and she's not used to thinking this early in the day.

Fun fact: I write most of my fiction in present tense. I feel like it makes the story seem more unpredictable, since the narrator is speaking in real time and something can happen to them at any time. I also like switching between narrators, although it makes some people crazy when authors do that. Bwahahahaha.

I don't know about the animal question, but I'm pretty sure that Alicia and I have different favorite books and genres. I know, she's a fictional character and she can like whatever books she wants, but my taste in books is not much like that of a typical teenager.

I used to be the typical science-fiction-but-only-popular-dystopias type of reader, but eventually all the plots started sounding the same and I'd already read most of the good popular books. I don't want to commit to realistic fiction because there's so many books out there that are beyond my maturity level in what I would enjoy, and there's no way to tell when you pick up a book how far it will go apart from the section of the library in which you find it. True science fiction gets a little strange, as does fantasy, although I do admit there are really good books for all both as well as realistic fiction. Mysteries and historical fiction have to be done correctly to be good, so I have to pick and choose my favorite authors for those. Classics are overrun with Shakespeare and other extremely sad books that you are forced to read in high school, which also happens to be the point in your life in which you are the most emotionally unstable and at risk for reaching the same fate as the poor book characters. Nonfiction is okay... as long as you're interested in whatever you're reading about.

So what do I like? My current favorite authors are: C.S. Lewis, Lucy Maud Montgomery, and Agatha Christie. All of them wrote different genres, and all of them are 20th century authors who have regrettably passed away.

  • The first (Lewis) is a religious author who writes fiction that makes readers think more deeply about their spiritual lives. He's most famous for the Chronicles of Narnia series, but I also really like his The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce. It's all fiction that ties in some of the supernatural to prove his points, but he does make known, especially in The Great Divorce, that he is only trying to make the point, not guess at what the supernatural world is really like.
  • The second (Montgomery) is famous for Anne of Green Gables as well as the rest of the series, which I have read as well. It's probably the most realistic realistic fiction series I've ever read, and once you adjust to a slower pace than, say, Divergent, it's really funny and enjoyable. 
  • The third (Christie) is well known for her mysteries like the Hercule Poirot (don't ask me how to pronounce that- it's Belgian) series and And Then There Were None. I have read a good portion of the Poirot series and I did read And Then There Were None, and I think her style is wonderful because she gives you all the clues you need to figure out all the crimes, but there are so many plot twists and dead ends that it makes you feel really good if you actually guess the correct person in the end. (My favorite in the series so far is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Genius!) She also has two other series and many stand-alone books, one of which (The Mousetrap) has apparently also been remade into a play.
Q. So what do I call a genre that encompasses these three authors? (Plus any others like them that I find) 
A. Semi-historical fiction. Fiction that could happen (well, maybe not all of C.S. Lewis, but I digress) and takes place in the past, but only because it was written long enough ago that time, not the author's intent, has outdated their works. Their audience when it was written could relate directly to the characters in the time period because it was either present day or in their lifetime, but those who read it now know what happened from history class alone. (Now that I think about it, all of these take place before, during, and/or after WWI before WWII was predicted to occur.)

I don't think that's a real genre, but it's good enough for me.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Adventure! (03/21/16)

We all aspire to be great- to be the Katniss Everdeen or the Luke Skywalker who turns society from complete chaos to... something better... With our "FlashBright Flashlight", you can finally be the hero you always imagined you could be! Just call 1-800-SCAMMER to order your own. Once again, that is 1-800-000-0000.

Please don't call that number. It is for satirical purposes only. You are, on the other hand, allowed and, in fact, advised to look up the word "satirical" if you don't already know what it means.

Have you ever noticed how so many car commercials show high speed chases or hard terrain treks, yet no one actually does any of that in real life? (Well, except for the professionals, including the ones who make those commercials) They use the advertising trick of appealing to our adventurous desires to try to sell us their products.

Car commercials aren't the only ones. A lot of popular books and movies nowadays are action-adventures in which the main character is fighting off bad guys and stopping murderers. (Yes, this also includes dystopias like Hunger Games and Star Wars.) It's not that there aren't also good books and movies about plain, old, everyday life, it's just that we humans crave the action and adventure of action-adventure. It doesn't even end with the books and movies, either- ads and products everywhere promise something new and out of the ordinary.

The more I relate to those books, movies, and commercials, the more I tend to feel the strain of everyday life. Isn't it annoying how chores, such as laundry and dishes, never end? You can wash every piece of clothing in the house, yet what you're wearing will have to be washed, and within a week or so, you have a nice sized pile once again of things that need cleaned again. Wouldn't it be nice if you were living like Katniss, out in the woods with someone who understands you, without a care in the world? (Go Team Gale!)

Well, if you want Katniss's life, then you have to want all of her life, including the parts about killing children, not dying, and faking romance. You always want what you don't have, but once you get it, you realize how much better off you were before.

I'm pretty sure your life is exciting anyways. You just have to find it. Your name isn't going to be drawn from a hat and you'll be chosen to have a life worthy of the next famous dystopian novel. If you want to have fun, find the places around you where you can go hiking, bowling, skiing, rock climbing, or just hanging out with friends. Envy gets you nowhere except deeper into misery.

What if you really want to make a difference? What if you want to stand out from among the masses of people who drive back and forth between home and work?

  • Make a difference in someone's life. Be there for a friend, or even someone you don't know or don't like. 
  • Make a difference in the community. Support local businesses, clean up the local park, or create a great, new event. Start up a local scouting troop. 
  • Make a difference in an industry. Make a new clothing line to give women's jeans more pocket room, juniors' dresses a little more length, or girls' t-shirts something more than just sparkles. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

One of THOSE Days (03/20/16)

Do you ever feel like you can only do something if you're in the right mood for it? Or how you just can't do something because the day is just off a little?

I get those days sometimes with food- sometimes I can eat and eat and eat some more and still feel hungry, yet other days I feel full when I've barely eaten anything. This also seems to happen to me when it comes to cleaning as well- I have to be in the right mood for it until it reaches the point that I have no other choice.

I don't know whether it's writer's block or it's just one of those days. Maybe it's some of both. I just can't seem to write anything today. Part of that may be that I feel like I have a few posts that are really good quality and everything has to be the same, but I don't have enough spirit in me to write my best every single day of my life. No one does.

I'm sorry if you wanted something better for today. It's just one of those days.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Long Car Trips (03/19/16)

If a van full of teenagers departs from Point A and travels about 150 miles to Point B at an average speed of 45 miles per hour, and the van departs from Point A at 8:53 a.m, about what time will they arrive at Point B?

Mathematically: about 3 hours and 20 minutes

Mentally: way too long.

You haven't lived until you've taken a long car ride with a group other than your family, preferably teenagers. The things you encounter may entertain you, shock you, scar you (literally or mentally), or completely drain your energy, but the memories you make last forever. At least, it feels like it.

Things I've done on several hour car rides:

  • sleep
  • attempt to sleep and ultimately fail
  • listen to music on an iPod
  • listen to music from the people around me singing
  • sing along with the people around me
  • create songs and parodies of songs with the people around me
  • attempt to rap (and fail- don't ask)
  • come up with random lists
  • study
  • not study
  • laugh about my ultimate failure to study
  • talk to people
  • overhear people's conversations (It's physically impossible not to overhear things when all 12 or so of you are crammed into a space about the size of an apartment kitchen.)
  • awkwardly stay out of certain specific conversations
  • try to listen to the people in the front seat when I'm in the back and ultimately fail
  • stare out the window for hours
  • establish inside jokes
  • read
  • eat snacks that I bring
  • eat snacks that other people bring
  • hoard all the snacks between myself and maybe 2 other people
  • make a mess in general
  • draw
  • attempt to draw (and fail)
  • watch other people play games on their phones
  • help other people play games on their phones
  • play games on my own phone
  • annoy the driver
  • annoy people around me in general
  • look at the GPS and see the three digit number of miles we still have to travel on a particular road and sigh
  • get sick :(
  • encounter situations that I refuse to admit occurred

See what you're missing? It may not look glamorous, but this is the spice of life. The more you learn to get along with other people and enjoy long car rides, the more fun they will be. It's a great way to meet other people or get to know people you never really talked to before, and even the friends you thought you knew have something new to share on a long car ride.

Of course, a long car ride isn't the main activity of a trip. You're either going to be stuck with the people around you for several more days or you're almost completely sick of them because you've just spent the last several days with them and only them. Once you get to your final location, the feeling of uggggh from how sore, tired, and annoyed you are all seems to be overwhelming.

Give it a week after you all get back, and suddenly it'll all be better. Mostly.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Control-A (03/18/16)

File- New- Blank Template.
Write a paragraph or two.
Have a brand new idea that requires you to start over again.
Ctrl A. Ctrl X.
It's gone. It's that easy.

Keyboard commands are very useful for certain projects. If you write as much as I do, you start to pick up on the little things you can do. I just press a few keys to use italics in the middle of a sentence without having to move your mouse. If you have a conversation inside a character's head that you use italics for, this becomes very useful very quickly. 

This includes Ctrl A. It's the command for "select all". I find this one useful for moving an entire document on Google Drive to another format or selecting an entire work that I decide I don't like to easily delete.

I'm sure most of us would appreciate a lot of these commands in real life. Put a phrase in a conversation in bold lettering so the person you're talking to realizes how important it is to you. Undo the last thing you said to someone. Redo something that you just got rid of because you changed your mind and you want it back. Delete the spiderwebs in your house's attic so you don't have to keep finding your way through them. Intentionally save a certain phrase or idea in your brain so you make sure you won't forget it.

Ctrl A, however, is a little different. There isn't an obvious use for just selecting all of something- you'd need to do something else with it. You could select the entire universe, but that wouldn't make you the ruler of it all. You could select every word in the dictionary, but that doesn't mean you'd know them all. It wouldn't even help your cause in a vote because the person you'd end up supporting everyone, even those you don't like. It would be a rebellion against the system- Them: "Choose one."  You: "I choose all!". Also, if it's a competition in which you want to support everyone, like a drawing contest for kids, you could make everyone feel appreciated.

If you think a little less literal and take Ctrl A as an analogy, you still wouldn't have a good use for it. People don't like being generalized into stereotypes, so selecting all of a certain crowd and expecting all of them to work together would be disastrous. We actually do this in real life fairly often. We don't support one person with a certain job, hobby, or set of genes, and we select all people with that same job, hobby, or set of genes and make generalizations about them. It's human nature.

So... yeah. Food for thought. Any moral of this you can probably come up with on your own. Then again, I may be generalizing about people who read this, and now we're back to where we started. Literally.

File- New- Blank Template.
Write a paragraph or two.
Have a brand new idea that requires you to start over again.
Ctrl A. Ctrl X.
It's gone. It's that easy.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Fire! (03/17/16)

This was what I worked on all afternoon. I really like how it turned out. You are entitled to your own opinion.

"Alice James was an introvert to the core, but when Carlos insulted her brother's outfit, she fought back with a fire in her eyes, and even I was scared to talk to her afterwards." That phrase sound familiar? Fire in [insert any possessive adjective here] eyes? It may be a little cliche, which may make me sound slightly hypocritical because of what I wrote two days ago (hyperlink: March 15, 2016), but please hear me out.

Fire is strange. It's a plasma, so it behaves differently than solids, liquids, and gases. It also typically comes with a smell, which clings to clothing and skin until it either wears out after a few days or is washed out by water. Once something is burned, it cannot be "unburned" and returned to its original state. It is not defined by a single color, shape, or space.

But what is it spiritually? (Here's where I owe a big thank-you to Bible Gateway. Also, I owe a bit of an apology for the length. Note that these are only some of the 364 examples Bible Gateway brought up, so I chose the ones that I felt spoke to me the most or offered new ideas and information.)

Old Testament: In Exodus 3, God appears to Moses in the flames of a burning bush. Later in Exodus, (see chapter 13 verse 21), God leads the Israelites by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Sacrifices were given to God through the fire on an altar. Some Old Testament punishments included burning unfaithful Jews, and sometimes His wrath would bring fire upon nations. God Himself is described as a fire (Deuteronomy 4:24). When Elijah proved that God was greater than Baal, fire came down from heaven and consumed his sacrifice while the prophets worshiping Baal spent hours dancing and praying to Baal for him to arrive and prove himself... but Baal never did.(1 Kings 18). Later, Elijah was taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2). Daniel 3 tells of when King Nebuchadnezzar was mad at Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and threw them into the fiery furnace, and the guards throwing them in as well as their bonds burned up, but a fourth figure appeared with the three men who protected them. None of their clothes were burned, and they didn't even smell like smoke.

New Testament: In Matthew 3:11, John the Baptist tells the crowd around him that the one who is coming after him (which refers to Jesus) will baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Several places in his teachings, Jesus tells parables in which the disobedient will be thrown out into the fires of hell. Mark 9:42-50 is a great passage to explain this. Acts 2 tells of the Pentecost on which the apostles received the Holy Spirit, and it looked to them like there were tongues of fire that came to rest on everyone there. James compares the tongue (as in the human one that resides inside your mouth) as a fire in James 3, saying that it has a capability to destroy so much. The end times are also filled with references to fire in Revelation as well as the prophecy in other books.

Does this tell us anything? Fire is represented as instrument for the Lord, and yet there are many instances in which Israel's enemies (as well as our own) use fire in opposition to Him.

You don't have to agree with my logic, and I'm not quite sure of myself when I'm putting this out there because I have no definite proof to back up my claim, but I make a connection in my mind between the Holy Spirit and fire. The two are often mentioned together, and the Old Testament mentions several times an occasion in which God acts through fire and I can only guess whether or not it refers to God the Father or all three. Then my mind has to deal with the fact that it may be both answers at once, but I'll leave that whole conversation for another day.

So for me, the phrase "fire in her eyes" means a little more. There isn't just an energy or passion to accomplish something, but there is also someone supernatural who is intervening and counseling me to make the right decisions. And what if people could see a literal fire in my eyes when I act as the salt of the earth and the light of the world? What a great way to evangelize, right?
"Hey, Andi! Why are your eyes on fire?"
"Well, right now, I'm feeling the power of the Holy Spirit."
"What's that?"
"Let me tell you..."

Opinions? What's your favorite passage including fire? Do you agree with my ideas? Am I spreading heresy? (That's a big church word for false teachings passed off as spiritual truths, and there's an especially big problem when respected church leaders use heresy instead of the word of God.)
*I'm sorry, non-Christians, if you were expecting something epic including explosions and burning things and all you got was a bunch of religious stuff that doesn't pertain to you. Christians, you're stuck with me.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

What is it? (03/16/16)

You are not allowed to scroll to the bottom of this post. Nope. I see your finger on the mouse, just itching to scroll, but you aren't allowed. Don't do it! It's for your own good.

Great. Now I have to fill space so you can't accidentally see it if you glance down.

Eh. No problem. I write a lot anyways.

Remember... no scrolling.

Also, page down (as you read) very slowly. Make sure you stop right after the paragraph that ends with the word "reading".

Side note: This is another great example of why the word thing should be allowed in school writing. (If you didn't notice, the word "thing" in the previous sentence is a hyperlink to where I shared my defense of using the word "thing" in school writing.)

So there's this thing... and I'm sure you've heard of it... It's really annoying. Those who have it are bothered by those who don't have it, but those who don't have it don't mind not having it. The more you age, the more of it you seem to get, although it may reach a minimum point around your pre-teen and teen years. Who you are determines how much of it you have. More often than not, it's easier to sense when someone doesn't have it compared to when they do. 

So you probably think you might know what it is... Let me give you a hint: It is not a concrete thing. You cannot see it, feel it, smell it, taste it, or hear it. You can sense what it does, but not this thing itself.

Note that when I say that someone "has" or "doesn't have" this thing in question, I don't mean that it's a single trait that only some people acquire. Everything works on a scale. Whether or not you have a significant enough amount to say that you "have" or "don't have" this thing is all relative. It's just easier to write it this way.

Here's where it gets weird: There are two forms of it, and they seem contradictory. If a person has this thing, they are called the same as when a nonliving thing (I don't want to say "object" because it's not quite like that) contains something that would appeal more to people who don't have it. That's like calling both a bowl of ice cream and the sun "cold". As soon as you know what it is, though, this might make more sense.

Think you know yet?

Ha ha ha ha! All the people who decided to scroll to the bottom of the page will be disappointed because I won't tell you the right answer at the bottom of the page! The answer will be in the comments. Feel free to add what you thought it was as you were reading. 

A hippopotamus. Confused? Read a paragraph above this. Then start at the beginning again. No more cheating for you.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Cliches and Hipsters (03/15/16)

*It is acceptable to write the word "cliche" without adding an accent over the "e". I have included it as "cliche" instead of "cliché"because of how hard it is to add the accent. If it weren't so hard on this device, I would keep the accent above the "e" throughout this post.

I have been thinking about cliches for a little while now, and when someone mentioned them to me today, I had to write about them.

I don't like cliches. They take an original idea and use it so much that it loses meaning. You see them all the time in books, and even more in movies, since many plot lines are just borrowed, rephrased, and recycled. There are only so many similar books you can read before you grow sick of the same plot ideas used over and over again.

But have you realized how hard it is to write something completely new? How do you come up with an idea that surprises your readers but isn't too complicated or confusing, yet stays completely unpredictable? Say that you want to give a supporting character a hidden identity that isn't cliche. You can't make them blood related to any main character or secretly living a life of crime or even crime fighting, since those are used in so many other stories. But what else is there? Being a member of the British Parliament or the chief zookeeper of a small zoo isn't nearly as exciting.

So what really drive cliches? They're good ideas (usually), and it's a shame that they're given a bad reputation because people use them too much. But what good comes from them once they've already been used? New ideas are what we need to advance as a civilization, whether that means creating a stuffed animal in the shape of a bear for the first time (the beginning of the teddy bear) or creating the next idea of rerouting wires and electrical components to make the next new groundbreaking technology that will change the world. Sure, you can make money if you use someone else's design, but what's the point? It's not useful to make a knock-off version of the current popular app, and you'd get so much more of a reward if you used your own ideas. Also, there's a much lower risk of being sued by the original creator.

So if I think cliches are typically bad and using your own ideas is good, that means I should be a hipster, right? I mean, their goal is to go against what is mainstream, and many things in culture that become cool were originally found and brought to glory by hipsters. Isn't that what I want?

That's a pretty good idea, but it's not quite how I want to be defined. I don't have anything against the people who are hipsters, but the idea of being hipster is once again one of those things that is better as an idea than implemented in real life. What I'm trying to say is that, by assigning a look and a crowd to the idea, human limitations make it harder for the actual goal to be accomplished. I don't want to look or act like the stereotypical hipsters do because that's not who I am, but I like how they challenge how society praises or scorns certain subjects. The idea is good, but the application isn't what I approve.

Here's where I get stuck: I don't like to criticize ideas unless I have an alternative plan that will work better than the one already set in motion. Otherwise, I usually end up holding the world to perfect standards that cannot be met. But how can you solve this problem? Society isn't just one person, so I can't change everything at once. I'd just be a hypocrite for trying because all I'd do is replicate what the hipsters did, and soon the idea to avoid being cliche would become cliche! Why does it have to be a paradox?

Any ideas? Please comment below with what you think.

Monday, March 14, 2016

I Thought You Hated Poetry (03/14/16)

I want to head over to McDonalds and buy one of their pies... The McDonalds' pies are more rectangular and individual sized, so no pi in that pie. :)

On a more related note, raise of hands, who here doesn't like poetry, or at least didn't like poetry when you were in school? How many of you just don't like writing it? How many flat out hate it altogether?

Okay, I respect that. I know I'm not the best poet, so I see where the frustration comes in. But for those of you who completely hate poetry, let me ask you this: How far would you go to define poetry?

After all, poetry doesn't have to rhyme. It doesn't need punctuation or capitalization, especially if you are e e cummings, and the rhythm isn't always key. It isn't always short, but it often is, and there seems to be a theme for most poems.

But what crosses the line? Would this be a poem?

Or this?
There was a door there.

And what about rap? It's set to music but it doesn't really deal with pitch and other musical elements. It is an art form, but is it more like slam poetry than music? (Apologies to all you rap fans out there- I don't mean to be harsh about your music choice. I just want to make my point.)

Do you ever see an acronym or an initialism (like an acronym except you don't pronounce it as a word) and compare it to an acrostic poem? It's almost the inverse of an acrostic, though- you start with statements and make a word out of them instead of writing descriptive phrases for each letter in a word. Are the FBI and NASA secretly poems? Deep space missions and top secret investigations sound much more exciting than you would think a poem would ever offer, yet you can't deny the similarities.

What do you think? Are poems just distant cousins of these similar ideas? Or have you found a new reason to love poetry?

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Thing (03/12/16)

Sorry, I wasn't able to post yesterday. I was at a school function that lasted until late, and I didn't get back until late. I don't see the point in posting extra to make up for yesterday because I don't have anything extra special to say.

Today, however, I have something a little different.

A defense.
For the word "thing" in school writings.
With commentary that may occur in an actual fencing match.
Kinda. I'm not the best with fencing terms and official rules.

En guarde, English teachers.
The first one to reach three points wins.
Salute to each other, salute to the referee, and salute to the audience.

The argument of the teachers takes the first advance. Students use the word "thing" in writing in an attempt to be lazy. The students are unable to parry in time, and a point is given to the teachers. Score: 1 to 0

The teachers start another advance the same way, and this time the students are able to parry the attack and start their own. It can be used in certain contexts in a creative context. The teachers attempt a counter attack, but the students' blade triggers the point sensor. Score: 1 to 1.

The students begin the attack with their previous statement, and the teachers demand an example. Things start to heat up as the students reply that it can be used to convey suspense, such as saying there is a "thing" hiding out in the shadows. Once again, the sensor is triggered, and another point is awarded. Score: 1 to 2.

Once again, the students begin with an attack with the response of suspense, and the teachers parry and begin their own attack that other words can be used that better describe the situation while adding suspense. The blade makes contact, and a point is given. Score: 2 to 2.

The victory will be given to the scorer of the next point. The teachers advance with their last statement, and the students parry, demanding an example. They reply that the figure stands in the shadows, the monster stands in the shadows, or the creature stands in the shadows. The students parry that it's almost like using a pronoun, and that specifying even that it's a figure, monster, or creature may be too specific for the mood. Both blades land, and the referee has to look back at the instant replay to see whose attack landed first.

The students and teachers take off their helmets and shake hands. The crowd applauds both sides for the spectacular match.

So who won? Comment your opinion on whether or not you think the word "thing" is acceptable in more formal writing. Bonus points if you can use an example!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Books- the other parts of "the Ugly" (03/10/16)

Please see yesterday's post for the beginning of this thought.

Sorry about the cliffhanger, everyone. This just needed an extra post for explanation. The second "ugly" part about books is the book Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, which is actually pretty good for a dystopia, and I think it would make a good movie. It has a similar plot to many other dystopias, but it does a decent job of being unique. I only mention it for the wordplay.

The third "ugly" is banned books. (Thank you to Btcmann for the great suggestion which sparked the idea for yesterday and today's posts.) So why are books banned, and what makes them ugly?

There are two main reasons a book may be banned (due to content). The first reason is if it contains ideas that are dangerous for readers within a specific country. This isn't much of a problem in the United States, but in countries where the government wants control over how their people think and act, good books can be banned or burned to prevent future conflict. These are sad occurrences for us in the US, but there isn't much to be done to prevent it.

Here in the United States, we have our Bill of Rights, which includes the right to free speech and press. The government is not allowed to censor books that speak for minority rights. That doesn't mean you can go around saying what you want, since your words will still have consequences. That's what takes us to our second reason a book may be banned: maturity.

Occasionally a group of parents, librarians, or other worried adults will join together in a certain community and protest a certain book from being allowed in schools and libraries. They may say that it is too graphic for youth to be reading, that it describes a scene that is not meant for younger eyes. that it contains a suggestive picture, or anything else they deem too mature, Here's where it gets ugly.

Once a book has been banned, it gains the fame of being called out. This attracts members of the book's suggested audience to read it because they want to know why it was banned. More people would read it because of this fame than maybe would otherwise, which means more sales for the author, who will produce more books like it, and more youth who would read that from which they were being protected.

So do we ban books? If banning does more harm than good, then I say that we don't. We should, however, take more measures to warn those in the target audience of the level of maturity that a book has before reading it. Movies have a rating on the front, which warns the easily influenced that it is not advisable to watch the movie until a certain age, but it doesn't prevent these people from actually watching the movie. Kids can still watch rated R movies on Netflix and on their family owned DVD's, and there isn't a reason to keep them from it if their parents allow. If novels did more of the same, it would prevent people like me from accidentally reading something they didn't want to read because they would realize beforehand that it was there. It wouldn't take the ability to read such books away from the teens who really want it and it would help people find a book more suited to what they want. Meanwhile, this method is not glorifying books enough to the rating of "banned", since it would be on the cover of every book.

Agree? Disagree? Did I miss something? Please comment below with your opinion.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Books- the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (03/09/16)

T   hink deeply about life
h  elp increase vocabulary
e  xplore new places

G ive a sense of life if we could control it
o  we people their jobs
o  vercome social barriers to send messages to new people
d  on't have to stay forever with only one person

Wow. I'm surprised that acrostic actually worked. My acrostic poems don't ever seem to amount to much, although I don't necessarily practice.

Apologies to all who liked the first one. The rest of this will be in paragraph format.

The bad side of books is the limitation of words. The English language is so vast and beautiful, yet so much of what we do is the same. How many books have to use the same plot before someone catches on? How long can you describe a scene that would take a second for your eyes to take in but your words a lifetime before readers give up reading? How often is there a good idea that became buried in characters and plots that never makes its way to the surface? And why is it so crazy hard to write anything long enough and decent enough to publish? An idea takes merely minutes to form, but a chapter can take hours.

You know that the next unit in your English class will be rough when you get to the first format of the ugly side of books: Required reading. You know the scene- the teacher walks to the bookshelves of identical copies of books in a classroom and pulls out classroom sets of a novel that have been used by students for years. Everyone is assigned a numbered book, and you review what you can tell about the book by its covers, as we have been told not to do by parents and teachers. Then everyone turns to the dedication page, reads it, and then delves into the slow process of reading aloud together assigned page after page. All this is fine bearable until... out come the workbooks. Sometimes it comes in the form of an actual workbook, but often there are just copies of content questions passed out to every student and required for class, but either way creates misery in the lives of students.

It's not that required reading is bad, since the books classes read together are actually great books with important lessons that discussion alone cannot explain. The problem is that, in requiring such discussions and worksheets, many people learn to hate reading. Whenever someone requires something of you, such as a worksheet or tax, it becomes undesirable. On the flip side, if someone takes something away or doesn't allow it, there is some kind of mystical feeling behind it that makes you want to do it even more.

The other ugly side of books is... (Continued in tomorrow's entry)

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Cute (03/08/16)

This word is one of my least favorites. It has no place in intelligent conversation. There are four contexts in which I hear it often used: children, the elderly, non-human (typically animals), and romantically.

The non-human form of this word isn't too bad. Sometimes you see a puppy walking down the street and someone has to point it out to the group. It's a slippery slope, though. One day you tell your friend to look at the cute puppy, the next you're talking baby talk and using words like "cuddly-wuddly" to express your thoughts. Conversation takes a bad turn when it stoops to the level of "cute puppy admiration".

This form is a two sided concept. On one hand, you have the kid who has worked so hard to be like an adult and daydreams what being an adult is like. On the other, you have the teenagers or adults who have several times the child's life experience and who remember what it was like to be that age, but not quite as closely as they quite remember. It's quite entertaining to be on the older of the two sides, laughing at what cute things a child says or wears or even their looks like in general, but as a kid, it's infuriating. Sure, some kids can use their charm to get away with stuff, but imagine how degrading it is to call a kid "cute" when they want so desperately to be grown up. You're laughing at them almost constantly over things you should be explaining to them, and they have no idea why.

This  particular form is insulting to the point of being revolting, although it is definitely the least popular. Have you ever seen a lady with more life experience than you do something that she believes is normal but you see as eccentric? Have you noticed an old man unaware of his age? These are people to be celebrated, honored, and respected deeply, yet I have occasionally heard them called "cute" in their endeavors. That's like the child laughing at the adult for doing taxes or driving a car. It's just not right.

The last form of this word is maybe more annoying than anything else, although it does seem to push objectification slightly. You can get a group of girls together and they'll talk about tons of wonderful things... but once you add a cute boy into the room, faces turn red, accusations are made, and those obnoxious giggles begin. Some girls cannot be dissuaded from talk of a topic that won't matter in the long run, and then other girls don't care about what a cute boy thinks about a girl who will be over his looks in a week. As soon as you start calling someone "cute", you also start down the path of objectification by dehumanizing them slightly in your head and making them an item to be acquired. Not good, people. Not good.

In general, calling any living organism "cute" seems to place yourself above them and oversimplify their existence. It doesn't feel good to be reduced to another person's method of amusement and it's a back-handed compliment- it uses flattery to insult someone further. (An example of such a compliment would be if I told you that you're really good at soccer... because for once in your life you can actually do something successfully. It seems like I'm being kind by complimenting your skill, but it hurts on the inside because I'm insulting the rest of your life where you've tried to make your own way.) Overall, using the word "cute" puts self above others and gives you a sense of superiority over those who often aren't sure of what's wrong with their actions.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Disliked Words (03/07/16)

The following is classified information. If you use anything I am about to say against me...

Everyone has words that they just plain dislike, for one reason or another. For example, many people dislike the words "moist" and/or "juicy" because of the sound of the letters together and possible interpretations. As long as no one wants to describe a cake as "not dry" or eat a certain fruity brand of gum, these words can easily be taken out of everyday conversation. Other people have banned other words from their presence because they aren't nice words to tell one another. For this reason, I have tried to leave out strong emotional words like "hate" in this post out of respect for those who dislike these words.

"But Andi, when are you going to tell us what words bug you?" a faithful audience member  cries.

I have an actual list on my phone and on paper. I won't write down every single word, because I know someone out there will post a comment using every single one of the words I use in as short a sentence as possible.

There are some that are impossible to spell, such as receive, surprise, and perform, because, let's face it, letter order is difficult. Then there are words that sound gross but really aren't as bad. This includes most body parts in at least one context, since there's probably a teenager or adult out there who can make even your right foot sound inappropriate. The word tongue spans both of these categories.

Then there are words I hate because of their meanings. The word cute, which I will explain in another post, fits into this category. Laundry fits here as well, since it never ends and is so monotonous. (I'm wearing clean clothes by the way. You don't need to ask.) I also hate awards, since the people who need to be recognized are usually either tired of being recognized or just below the point of qualifying for the actual awards, (This goes for routine awards, like sports, clubs, or academics.) Everyone else is left with a feeling of boredom because it's another ceremony like all the rest or sad because they didn't make it as far.

The last category is cultural words. This includes the words we deem are "bad" and teach our high schoolers to say when they get mad. Basically, I like to keep everything PG for the reason I put in the sidebar. This category also includes ship names made with my own name. (For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, you take two names of people you think should be a couple, such as Percy and Annabeth from the Percy Jackson series, and smash them together, making a word like Percabeth.) Ship names are great when you're playing around and you decide two people would make a great couple... until you're one of the people in the ship name. It's like an arranged marriage, except by your friends and not actually binding or an indication of the actual future. Oh, the horror!

Reader challenge: Write a word that you strongly dislike in the comments and why you feel that way about it.