Thursday, November 14, 2013

Let's take a look in the mirror...

My Passion Project Progress

     My passion project was to create an "a capella" video with self-recorded music and editing. So far, everything has been great about the video. However, I haven't physically begun to create it.
     Before producing the video, I want to plan it out thoroughly so I don't come across a giant problem that I could have avoided by planning. My plans are all done, thank goodness. I found a good recording software, figured out how I want to edit the video, and chose a song. However, I've come across quite a few problems.
     The first problem is probably the biggest. I won't be able to do the video "tile style" like I had originally decided to. The editing program I use, iMovie, does not allow more than two tracks of video to play at the same time. However, I found a way through this problem when I realized that I could use the green screen. Although I can't have more than two tracks of video at the same time, I can focus on a more artsy style and use the green screen to have two versions of me on screen simultaneously. 
     My biggest achievement so far was definitely finding the song. The song is a Lion King medley, and it's fantastic because it's complicated and long (nearly ten minutes!). The reason why I wanted a complicated song was because it would teach me more than an easy song. 
     Welp, the only problem left is to create the video! I hope I don't have any problems getting the video to my computer like I did with my last video project, but I might be able to fix it or get around that problem. I can't wait for the finished product.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Grades Going Through the Grater

     The lessons in ROGATE have opened my mind.  The grading system in school never really seemed unfair to me.  I was so used to seeing the grading system used today that I never really thought of it any other way. As Louka says so fondly, "THIS SCHOOL IS UNJUST!"
     Obviously, grades are necessary.  They tell us what we need to work on and what our strengths and weaknesses are.  We obviously need grades to guide us in school life, until we are old enough to realize those things for ourselves.  Grades are a way of communicating, to simply tell you, "Hey! You rock at English!" or "Hey! You suck at math!".  However, grades are very flexible, allowing your weaknesses to grow stronger as long as you choose the right decisions.  So, if you have a 67 grade average in math, obviously you would work harder in math to get a passing grade.

     Maybe the grading system we use today isn't telling us what to work on effectively.  Maybe there's a much, much better grading system other than the traditional system.  That "much, much better grading system" is known as a standards-based grading system.  Honestly, I've been fine with the traditional system throughout my entire life.  That was simply because I wasn't exposed to any other sort of grading system.  To me, it has always been a number, at most three digits telling me how I did on a test or homework.  However, once the standards-based grading system had been introduced to me, I realized how much better it truly is.
     The traditional grading system tells you exactly what percentage of something you have correct.  It tells you if you have an average, above average, or below average understanding of skills taught in a class.  However, the traditional grading system does not tell you specific skills you need to work on or how proficient you are in a lesson.  The traditional grading system has faults that the standards-based system covers. 

     I just want to say this again. "THIS SCHOOL IS UNJUST!" I feel as if the grading system does not accurately display my intelligence. One bad grade does not make me stupid.  But one good grade does not make me a genius.  I feel like a few bad grades turns your grade from an A to a B, when really, you didn't understand the topic at the time you took a test.  However, with standards-based grading, you can easily see which subjects you clearly understood.  It's not based on averages, but what you know and don't know. 

     I think we should use a combination of both systems.  Although standards-based grading is nice, it doesn't cover everything.  Traditional system + Standards Based System = a grading system that tells you what you need to work on AND gives you specific grades for your schoolwork.  I think that'd be very nice, don't you agree?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Whew, it's gettin' dusty in here.

Uh, hi guys.

...Sorry I haven't been around.


...Sorry I let so much dust collect in here.

So, here's something good to make up for all the mess here. Something good happening in my life.

...Nope, can't think of anything. It's like when somebody asks you what your favorite book is, and all of a sudden, the only book you can think of is Brown Bear, Brown Bear.  Too bad Brown Bear, Brown Bear can't help me right now.

But I guess something nice going on right now is that I'm content.  I mean, what's better than being content with your life?  I'm not overly happy, but I had just the right amount of troubles in my life to keep me rolling forward.  Without troubles, we'd all be stuck in the mud.

I'm just really glad that I'm content.  Mm-hmm.

...Okay, okay, I'm sorry that was lame. Here's something good that's actually going on in my life.

I've decided I'm going to teach myself how to play flute, because all the flutes in my wind ensemble just sound so graceful. I just want to be as graceful as them. :) So I'm going to look for a flute seller pretty soon! Hoo-rah!

Welp, I'm done here. I'll try to clean up 'round here.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The ending to 'The Giver' makes me angry.

     Honestly, I despised the ending to The Giver.  It just made me angry.  I hate ambiguous endings that could go one way or the other.  I'm the kind of person who has to have a final answer, not something you have to think of for yourself.  The suspense is killing me slowly.  However, I think the ending suited the book.  It made you think, just like every single word inscribed on every single page.

     Everybody is practically punching each other to find the true ending of the book.  People are fighting and debates are erupting.  Did Jonas live?  Did he die?  And what about Gabe?  Did Gabriel manage to survive?

     Even the teachers are beginning to fight. In this excerpt from an interview with Lois Lowry, Lois merely tortures everybody even further by not giving a direct answer.

     "Student Question: My teachers argue over the ending of The Giver! How does it really end?
Lois Lowry: It ends with Jonas and Gabriel going downhill in a sled toward a house with welcoming lights. Ho ho ho. Aren’t I a mean author, not to be more specific? I like it when you argue. It makes you think."

     In this interview, Lois obviously wants to keep the answer a little bit more discreet.  She wants the debates to occur.  Stating that she wanted people to think only means that this book was indeed intended to force others to put their mind to something and ponder about it.  Perhaps this means that there is no exact ending.  Perhaps the Giver is endingless, up to your mind to decide what happens next.

     In another interview, Lois takes a side with the happier ending theory of Jonas and Gabe living:
  "I will say that I find it an optimistic ending. How could it not be an optimistic ending, a happy ending, when that house is there with its lights on and music is playing? So I'm always kind of surprised and disappointed when some people tell me that they think that the boy and the baby just die. I don't think they die. What form their new life takes is something I like people to figure out for themselves. And each person will give it a different ending."

      Lois Lowry hints at the giant possibility of Jonas and Gabriel living.  She states her clear opinion on what happens.  However, she still agrees that she likes people to think of the ending for themselves.  In many other interviews, she states that she wants people to come up with the ending for the book on their own.  Maybe Jonas  and Gabriel died, or maybe they lived.  But for now, it is rather unclear on what Lois Lowry wants us to think.

     Personally, I believe Jonas and Gabriel are dead.  For example, on the top of the last page in the book, it says that Jonas could feel himself losing consciousness.  If he were going to live, why was he going to lose his consciousness?  And if he did live, where would be 'make it' to?  Where was he going?  I think the lights and the things Jonas saw were simply hallucinations, his last thoughts as he pummeled to his death.  It was clearly his favorite memory, and it would be a lovely thing to imagine as you pass.  The visuals and the music was Jonas's imagination, or perhaps it was simply his 'passing' into Heaven or the world beyond death.  The lights and the music could have been 'ghosts' greeting him into the past.  
     In the last paragraph, the book reads, "Behind him, across vast distances of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too. But perhaps it was only an echo."  This could mean that the entire thought of music and lights were an echo of the past.  The memories he held could have been echoing throughout his last moments and through the Community.  After Jonas died, the memories, the feelings, and the colors would have gone back to everybody.  And that was Jonas and the Giver's dream- To be able to let everybody else experience what they could experience.  Jonas was simply the sacrifice to allow this to happen.

     Although it may not be true, I still believe Jonas and Gabriel have gone to Heaven.  Lois Lowry is trying to keep the ending as much of a secret as possible.  Whether or not Jonas and Gabriel made it to their destination, I believe The Giver was an excellent novel with a unique story line and a fantastic setting.  Lois Lowry definitely made us all think about what the ending could be, which sparked some healthy debates all across the world.  Until I read The Messenger,  I suppose the ending will be a mystery.

Friday, January 11, 2013

10% + 10% = 20%

       This is going to be a shorter blog post than usual. Fantastic. Excellent. Let's get started.

       Put simply, in this lovely ROGATE class, we're doing a 20% Project.  Don't know what that is? No problem. It's basically when we will donate every Friday of our week to work solely on a project of our choice. Nearing the end of the year, we will present these projects.

       My 20% Project will, of course, be composing a full-out musical piece for at least five instruments, vocals, and all that. If you know me well, that's pretty typical of me to do. It may sound easy and all that fluff, but it's not. I have to worry about triads, intervals, octaves, chords, harmonies, beats, timing- and the moust troubling of all, actually putting it into sound. It seems a lot harder now, right? You're probably asking: "Why would you do that? That sounds too hard."
       I'm doing it to expand my horizons. When I'm older, my dream is to be a soundtrack composer of movies and video games, like John William or Yoko Shimomura. I've only been able to compose for single instrument solos or maybe a voice accompanied by a simple ukulele. Now it's time to really put everything to the test and use at least FIVE instruments. Challenging? Yes. Worth my time? Most definitely.

       I'm probably going to have to use Noteflight to compose everything, which means I'll need a computer and the Internet (it'll be the death of me if my Internet magically decides to go away for a while). Maybe a keyboard, too, so I can play the chords and determine whether I agree with them or not.  Some tea would be good, to make me feel all inspired and natural. Maybe even a little happiness burst from my dog. Okay, now I'm getting off track.

       Of course, there are going to be some problems. Difficulties. Bugs. I'm probably going to have a tough time coming up with harmonies that will work with chords, and I'll probably have trouble coming up with DECENT lyrics. I'll even have trouble just finding people to play the parts- Or if I plan to play them myself, HOW I'll play it. I expect a lot of things to go wrong. But as long as I keep my sanity, I'm okay.

       Time to list some awesome people. My sister is one of them. She's a huge nut about movie soundtracks and songs, so I could go to her for some help if I want to add more emphasis on something. A few musician-friends may be good to go to, when I need people to play the piece. And finally, I'll need my best friends to give me some inspiration and relieve me of stress so I can calm down and focus.

I don't know why I like abrupt endings, but I do. They make you feel so uncomfortable, don't they? ... Yeah.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Advertising is a mirror. Think about it.

     Does advertising influence or reflect the culture of teenagers? This question is the chicken or the egg of nerds (no offense, ROGATE 7).  Although it’s rather debatable, the most reasonable and supported answer to this never-ending cycle of questions is that advertising reflects the culture of teenagers.  Mimicking the way people act and go about in their daily lives is one of the keys to efficient advertising.  When people can relate to something, they feel as if they could appreciate it more.  Advertising is almost like a mirror: it reflects and bounces back the culture of teenagers.

     To me, it seems that the American teenager has the same basis of a dream life: perfect love life, good-looking peers, and freedom.  If you simply sit down in front of a TV, I can guarantee that you will find at least ten different commercials that have at least one of the traits stated above.  Of course, if commercials were to step out of that block of the teenage dream, the consumers might feel uneasy about it.  It would be much more difficult to look at a commercial outside of the dream box and say that is the kind of life a teenager would want.  For example, if teenagers enjoy freedom and being able to rebel against the laws and rules of their elders, a commercial that features teenagers obeying the laws and rules of their elders may not necessarily appeal to the target viewers.  In order to be able to capture the attention of teenagers, advertisements would have to reflect teen culture by showing them the teenager’s dream life.  As said in an article on the topic of whether advertising reflects or influences teen culture, “Sporting goods often appeal to our desire to be better versions of ourselves, jewelry advertisements appeal to women’s desire for a Cinderella story and even men today are not spared from such emotional appeals”.  This article is suggesting that when we see our dream life used in a commercial, it is hard to say no to the offer.  When you see something you like, you look at that thing first, no?    

     Possessing the ability to be able to relate to something is indeed one of the greatest feelings on earth.  Relations are one of the most common ways to make friends and connections.  Likewise, when anybody on earth sees a commercial they can relate to, they feel as if they have a special connection to that commercial.  Seeing something you can relate to will bring out some sort of appreciation for it.  For instance, when one hears a story of which they share a similar trait or thought with a character, their brain somehow feels compelled to enjoy the story.  Likewise, in commercials, they may feature an identical problem to a common obstacle found in a teenager’s life.  In commercials and advertisements for an acne treatment, it may show a being whose life happiness has been limited slightly due to having blemishes on his or her face.  When teenagers recognize a problem of which they can relate to, they realize that the item being sold may help them with their troubles.  Perhaps that is why so many commercials feature a task that needs to be done.

     If there is anything to catch the attention of a teenager, it would be romantic drama.  Drama containing love and break-ups is the height of teenage interest.  Some product companies were clever enough to actually use that interest as an advantage.  Currently, the Mike and Ike candy company is holding an event, of which the names of the candy are “breaking up”.  The Mike and Ike candy boxes feature one of the two names scribbled out.  The candy company even created blogs and Tumblr accounts for the two personas.  Perhaps the commercials containing the words “breaking” and “up” caused a few teens to pick up a box next time they go out to a store.  The Barbie company performed a similar act a few years prior to the Mike and Ike love fiasco.  Barbie, the doll, apparently broke up with her male doll counterpart, Ken.  The company created some drama, stating the two had simply “grown apart”.  Although the Barbie company did not necessarily make the break-up as large as Mike and Ike’s, I’m sure it certainly did make a few pre-teens pick up a brand new Barbie doll.

     Advertising has a great impact on life, but what makes that impact is the influence teenage culture has on companies and sellers.  Teenage culture is easy to see and plain to the eye, so it is shown that advertising has taken advantage of that easy-to-see culture by reflecting it back at the consumers.  Many companies have shown to use techniques to catch its viewers, techniques that end up reflecting a teenager’s dreams, interests, and problems right back at them.  Take a few minutes of your day and watch a few advertisements.  I guarantee that you will find at least five examples of advertising acting as a mirror to teen culture.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2012, RETURN! 2013, I CHOOSE YOU!

       Okay, to start this off, let me just say this: 2012 was both one of the best and one of the worst years I have ever experienced.  I mean, don't get me wrong, I loved being alive for another full three hundred sixty-five days.  It's just... ... Some things people did makes me want to teleport into the Super Mario Bros world and just run into turtles until I run out of lives.

       Let's start with the best things, simply because I find that people generally start with good things rather than bad things.

      Find this silly, find this sentimental or profound, whatever you see it as, but I learned that I absolutely, positively, love tea.  It's delicious, wonderful, and makes me feel super duper artsy!  My favorite flavor happens to be Sleepytime Vanilla, with a few spoonfuls of added sugar.  Ah, tea.
      Somehow, during 2012, I formed a strange love and obsession with cafes.  Not fancy restauraunt with beautiful cloth covering the tables, but a small, cute cafe.  I'm not exactly sure why, but the idea of a little, cozy place to drink hot chocolate and listen to jazzy piano music sounds so appealing to me. Call me weird and crazy and I don't care, but please: Call me Maybe (haha, 2012 joke).
       I'm sorry the things I learned about myself aren't deep and zen-like. But I'm a simple person. You just have to understand that.

       This past year, I learned that people can be so amazingly... ... Senseless. Sorry, I know, that was rude. But it's kind of true. Don't get me wrong, the human race is great. We can invent things, we can figure out puzzles, and we can put our minds to work. But some people's actions just made me wonder where on earth they went to school.
       To start with everything... The duck face. No offense intended if you find the duck face attractive, and keep in mind that this is merely my opinion. But the duck face is... ... Duck-like. If you don't know what the duck face is, put simply, you pucker your lips almost like you're going to over-kiss somebody in a picture. That's a duck face. Don't make it seem better because you call it a 'kissy' face! A duck face is a duck face, and that's that.
       I should probably stop saying things that I learned about the world that are negative... I don't want an angry riot outside of my house tomorrow.

       Apart from all doubts and negativity, the world is great. There are some things people overlook that are so amazing. For example, even the plainest of fires may become a true bonfire, if the photo is taken at the right angle, at the right time, and possibly with the right cropping. From Malala, the girl from Pakistan, taught me to appreciate schooling, although I hate it. I suppose going to school and learning is better than not going to school at all. After all, I probably wouldn't be able to understand video games if I hadn't learned how to read and write and comprehend problems.

       Time to do some resolving. Alright. Here is a small list describing some things I want to do this year and reasons why. However, I'm probably not going to do them, due to laziness.

  • I want to be able to save enough money to buy an electric violin (Realist AV-4 PRO, to be exact). This is going to be hard for me, seeing how I don't earn an allowance. So far, I've been doing well by saving my Christmas and Birthday money. It's going to be a long trip, as the violin costs $1,500!
  • Start going outside more, excercise, and get buff! According to what I've been learning in my Health clas, I am probably the unhealthiest, most unfit person on earth. I don't excercise and I'm kind of a weakling. So this year, I'll try to excercise and get fit! This is going to be the hardest goal for me, to be honest. I'm really bad at running, moving, and going outside (I have really bad allergies). Maybe I'll try doing a lot of Dance Dance Revolution or something.
  • Compose a full-out, longer than one minute piece for at least three or more instruments. I like to compose pieces for instruments. And so, I'd like to take that to a new level, by writing an entire, complete piece. It'll be hard, but hey, I think I could do it in a year.

       Aww, poo, time to do stuff I DON'T want to do. Argh, I'm probably not going to follow these, but I'll try.

  • I need to stop apologizing to ITEMS, not PEOPLE, if I drop them or bump into them. I'm not even kidding, I do this. I'll run into a chair, and without even thinking, I'll say, "Sorry, Chair." It's not a good habit at all. People give me weird stares. Haaaaaah (that was a sigh), I should work on these.
  • Stop buying a new video game before I finish the one I'm workin on. I end up getting distracted in the new video game, and I end up neglecting the other. Then, I'm left with a giant list of video games I have to finish (I've defeated that list by now and I'm only working on one right now, but it might happen again). Alright, self-control, LET'S DO THIS.
  • Stop neglecting to brush my hair. Obviously, I'm not good at brushing my hair. So, I need to STOP neglecting that task!