Back To School

What A Change

 

    I find everything going on right now so weird. School isn’t at school anymore, and I doubt we will return any time soon. The novel Coronavirus has affected us in such a way, resulting in online classes. 

I Imagine I can speak for most people here, I do not like homework. Personally I have never minded classwork, but now almost everything will most likely be homework. I know the workload will decrease from before (if you could call it that), but it still bothers me. 

I will miss being able to interact with my friends person to person, but at least we still get to talk.

While I just complained about work, I realize I will have more free time than ever, and am not sure what to do with it. There are few sports, so I will have to find a way to occupy my time.

Some classes I will really miss being there in person, but others will remain almost the same. I really wish things could go back to normal before the end of the school year, but that’s not likely. 

Everything is just so weird, but nothing can change it, so I just have to accept it.


Running

Haven’t Given Up Yet

As I have started to run again, I have found myself enjoying it more and more, and running for longer. My last run earlier today was 8 miles, and while not especially fast, was enjoyable. I find the most enjoyment in exploring knew routes on the trails. Sadly, many of them are covered in water, making them blocked off, but I have discovered a whole other set of trails. I was just starting to tire out of running the same route, as really exploring the trails is the most fun part, and I was heading back. I decided to take a different route back to the main road, and immediately found so many different trails, all elevated and therefore dry. I was tired, as I had just run 8 miles, so I decided to tackle it another day.

I still find it so weird that all other sports have basically shut down. I see a fair amount of people on the trails (although few running), and many bicyclists on the street. I see very few cars, making it easier than ever for them, so I imagine the bicyclists are loving that (and I might go for a bike ride). 

Who knows how long I will keep running every other day, but I hope to keep it up for at least a month. I don’t really have many options for sports in this strange time, so I try to make the most of what we have still.


A Reminder on Pets

Coming and Going

How Quickly They Can Leave

I know many of you reading this have pets, most being cats or dogs. Other pets include things like snakes, lizards, and even spiders. Most people take their pets for granted. You know how your pet is doing, and it takes part in your day to day life. Most have a long life ahead of them. 

With Dogs and Cats the future is easier to see, but with smaller pets, it can be a foggy future.

My sister had a pet bearded dragon named Iggy, who she has had for two years and brought to college with her. When she came back to Massachusetts for school closing her boyfriend brought it down with him. He is a reptile enthusiast (even having an endangered species license), and took great care of him. 

While calling him, something went wrong, as he looked over at Iggy’s enclosure at his house and saw him struggling. He immediately told Alexa and at the same time set into motion to try and save him, but he couldn’t identify the problem. Alexa set out to go to see Iggy, but before she got there he had died. 

The cause was unknown, and the result was sudden. With larger creatures it could have been identified and dealt with, but it was too sudden and Iggy was too small to identify it quickly enough. 

The next day they buried him in the backyard.

With pets like cats and dogs your time with them is mostly clear and, especially with no cars out, are safe. However, things can come out of the blue, so treasure your time with them and enjoy them while you can


outside

The Wonders of The Outdoors

Today I wanted to talk about going outside. With being advised to distance yourself from others it can be hard to find time to exercise. Most sports facilities are closed, and practices cancelled. In that time I have decided to do some running.

By my house are trails, and they are fairly well taken-care of. I decided to run for an hour yesterday, and plan to do so again tomorrow, and every other day (as I get quite sore after a run). The trails were surprisingly populated, and I encountered many people along my run. I ran about 4 miles in that hour (with about 20 of those 60 minutes walking), and had a great time. I got lost many, many times, but never where I was bothered by it. The trails were great and I was enjoying it, listening to music as well. I ran into some of my neighbors while on the trail.

When I decided to head back home I encountered my mom’s car returning from Costco, and then they pulled ahead. I was shocked as to what I saw when I reached our road. 

There were a total of about ten people, all our neighbors (who we almost never see outside), and they were all back from running. A quarter of our neighborhood was running, and we all met up at that one spot and talked. It was a sight to behold. 

Afterwards I headed back to my house, and had to help put the items from Costco away, but I was happy, and was glad I got some exercise in after days of just sitting around.

What I’m trying to get at is head outside, for just an hour or so every other day, and have some fun. I got plenty of time to spend on video games still, so there is no worry. 

 

 


Lord of The Flies Theme

Human Nature

Humans Nature in Lord of The Flies

 

    Human nature can never be changed, only suppressed. In Lord of The Flies, human nature is savage and brutal, caring only for itself. Other animals are trophies, rewards for a hunt well done, or a prize at the end of a day. Their life is unimportant, and their loss is your gain, and people are just suppressing that desire in “normal” society. Jack and his hunters killed a pig, surrounding it and stabbing it with spears, finally slitting its throat. They cheer abut their victory, and shout, “Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Spill her blood” (Lord of The Flies, pg 69). They abandoned the fire to complete the hunt, and relish in their kill.

“The twins stood with the pig swinging between them, dropping black gouts on the rock. They seemed to share one wide, ecstatic grin. Jack had too many things to tell Ralph at once. Instead, he danced a step or two, then remembered his dignity and stood still, grinning. He noticed blood on his hands and grimaced distastefully, looked for something on which to clean them, then wiped them on his shorts and laughed” (Lord of The Flies, pg 69).

    Jack is the leader of the savagery,  and he is proud of that. His savagery comes in conflict with Ralph when Jack abandoned the fire to get more people to help hunt, and a ship passed by, not noticing them because there was no fire. Jack ends up leaving the group because he cannot do what he wants with Ralph as the leader, he cannot satisfy his desire to just hunt, the animals and the beastie. The littluns are no different than Jack, and enjoy control over a living being: “He became absorbed beyond mere happiness as he felt himself exercising control over living things” (Lord of The Flies, Pg 61). Savagery in human nature is what makes the society the boys create devolve. Human nature is unavoidable, and will show itself if not suppressed. As Lance Conrad say:“There is an undercurrent of savagery in the human psyche. Anyone who forgets this and doesn’t guard against it, risks being swept away by it.”


Writing Advice

 

    When writing a story there are a few important things to consider and remember. Big mistakes can ruin a story, and having none doesn’t make it great. From my own experience, and from others, I find these pieces of advice very helpful.

1. Don’t choose an idea just to make it different. In my piece him being a blacksmith is important, but it becomes almost forgotten later in the book, because it is not relevant. Choosing your main quirk of your book should not be made with only the idea of being unique. If the story is good it doesn’t matter as much the premises, as long as the execution is good. However, choosing a premise is vitally important, and must be one of the first things you do. Choose what you can endure writing about, or you may come to regret it.

2. When having a magic system it is helpful to make it clearly outlined to the reader. From reading other books I have found a few very important things about magic systems. They range from hard to soft, with Lord of The Rings being very soft, while Avatar: The Last Airbender is very hard. A soft magic system has vague rules, and can make scenes very confusing. Why didn’t a character cast a fireball, if the answer is he just can’t, then that is a soft magic system. A soft magic system is defined by what is shown, and only that can be used for reference. A soft magic system can be very problematic if used by the hero of the story, because it can turn into a plot device to win the battle every time. Using it in the villains hands is a great way to use a system like this, but doing the same for the villain can get repetitive. A hard magic system has clearly defined rules, and as such is easily understood by the reader. The metals I have in my story have an effect, and will carry out that effect, so the reader knows exactly what they can do, so there is no confusion as to why something is possible. In Avatar you can manipulate elements, you get tired by doing so, and you can only manipulate them in certain ways if you have learned. Hard magic systems are overall just easier to work with, unless you write yourself into a corner. Always show tiredness or a physical effect on the user of the spell if using a soft magic system, or it will feel like “why didn’t they just finish them off, the could have easily done so.” A time where a hard magic system becomes a problem is when you introduce a new element that differs from the system, because if you do it can make the whole point of a hard magic system go out the window. Doing that in a soft magic system is easy, but overall, when writing make sure to understand your magic system before writing about it, before you get stuck.

3. Plot devices are very useful tools, but sometimes can be seen as a deus ex machina. This is very related to the magic system, but if your character gets suddenly saved by a magical item, or by outside help, or by showing power they didn’t clearly have that is a deus ex machina. Your reader should be able to understand why they survived an encounter, and letting them off the hook like that too many times can lead to disinterest by the reader, as there are no consequences. If you are going to have your character suddenly manifest a power, make sure to have some foreshadowing as to make it understandable.

4. Focus on character development and plot. When writing a story you want the reader to connect with the character or at least understand them. I had to write quickly, so so moments are assumed rather than shown. You need to make a character you can work with, and a cast too. Character development should happen over a long time, or an assumed long time. Assumptions of change can work, but if used too much can make the reader disconnect with the character and not understand their reasoning. The plot is important, but if the reader doesn’t care about the character then that is unimportant. Having a secondary main character can give your main character a lot of development if used properly, making the task easier.

5. Don’t forget about side characters or weaknesses. When a character has no weakness they become boring. Almost if not all successful stories have conflict, whether physical or emotional. The character needs to fail, or come close to it, as otherwise they can be seen as unfairly powerful. There needs to be a struggle, whether artificially created or not. Side characters can mark a characters growth if they are considered overpowered in their world. My book did not include being fully overpowered, but he was powerful. If I would have continued my story I would have made my hero fail spectacularly, and have the next part of his quest making it back to where he was, before moving on. Forgetting about side characters can be kind of annoying to the reader, which I found out not while writing this story, but by reading others. If they are important it is especially important to not forget.

    There are many ways to write a bad story, but just as many ways to write a good one. The rules and advice I have given you are important, but not essential at all if you can write around them properly. Obviously being different can often work quite well, and having the hero use a soft magic system can work well. When writing Dragon Ball Z the author, Akira Toriyama, forgot about a character named Launch, and Dragon Ball Z is very successful. An example of a contradiction to everything on my list is Sword Art Online. It had an impressive premise, so it gained popularity (although in no way would I consider it a great story, and I actually personally could care less about it). Problems that arise are no character development, too many plot devices that have no reason for being there, and a character without any physical or mental weaknesses. It did manage to succeed however, proving you can write a popular story ignoring almost all of my advice, if I consider myself so wise.

 


WW Fenn

My speech

 

I will say:

this is from a game called the messenger, prompted by trying to explore a cabinet holding great secrets when the shopkeeper is out, and constantly attempting to do so.

“Fine. Here's some insights from Jordan the Wise for you. Life is going to come at you hard, so there are a few things you should know. Most important of all, is realizing that you have something to offer the world. But in order to do that, you first need to sort yourself out. Lending your ear to the lessons contained in stories of old is not a bad place to start. You see, as human conscience grew in knowledge, it equally grew in arrogance. We seem to be at this point where the value of stories is lost on us all. Not really caring about morals anymore, we are simply looking to be entertained. But their power on our subconscious is by no means hindered by our intellectual pride. Stories send a clear message to our being, and when told properly, can offer guidance in how to live our lives, impacting us in ways we sometimes don't even notice. In fact, recurring themes more often than not represent archetypes, and contain lessons on how to or how not to behave. Consider dragons for a moment. Fantasy stories always seem to have them hoarding treasure. Not coincidentally at all, two of the biggest innate fears in mammals are fire and reptiles. So dragons are really a metaphor representing that which you fear the most. Now, why would an immortal fire-breathing reptile care to sleep on a pile of gold? The answer can be read between the lines: the treasure you seek is guarded by your greatest fear. Don't get me wrong, the pile of gold is as much a metaphor here as is the mighty beast that doesn't even exist. Find your dragon and slay it, then your treasure will be revealed. This is the wisdom storytellers of old were trying to convey, only they didn't have the scientific method, a framework by which to structure arguments, or even a high IQ audience. The lesson isn't any less important or relevant today, however. That which you most need to discover within yourself is hidden where you least want to look. Now ask yourself; why were you so curious about my cabinet? Are you a very conscientious person, adamant on leaving no stones unturned? Or have you not mastered your insecurities, and the fear of missing out is what's really driving you at this moment? Maybe you are simply hoping to get a laugh out of some unexpected one liner? Because I'll admit we both know I could kill the mood right now and tell you about how a depressed clown once attempted to lift his mood by eating bowls of confetti. What I'm getting at is, regardless of your motive here you have clearly demonstrated curiosity, and faith that the world holds surprises for those who take an honest look. While that can certainly be said about the world, it's even more true about your inner self. Now whether that is scary, insightful or encouraging depends entirely on how far you have made it on your personal growth journey. Life is made of many exams, most of which will present themselves to you more than once. Betrayal, joy, illness, adventure, treason, cooperation, purpose, loneliness, warmth, loyalty... Indeed, just like stories old and new, life has recurring themes when testing humans. The important part is not whether or not you pass each test, but that you show up, acknowledge your score and ponder how it can inform who you should become. From there, everything is there inside of you to help you find your own way. Who knows, the underlying meaning of The Messenger's story might even hit you eventually. But for now, let's get back to your adventure.”

-Thierry Boulanger



I chose this piece because I liked it when I first found it. It struck me. I had to try to open the cabinet in the game so many times that the NPC who would give this speech started looping text in order to trick you into leaving, and after getting there you are not allowed to leave during the speech. It was interesting, and I liked it. It has some deep meaning but when it ends, it encourages you to figure Out the meaning in time. The circumstances I found it in are a large part of why I chose it, but I like the meaning as well.


A Child’s Christmas In Wales

Bobby Skrivanek

9th Grade Fitz English

Literary Analysis Essay

Due: 12/18/19

A Child’s Christmas In Wales

Writing Techniques Create Vibrancy 

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“Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.” 

― Albert Einstein

 

    There is a reason for everything, you may just not know what it is. A movie is great because it has a great plot, a war is won because one side had better tactics, a sport is fun because it is challenging. A Child’s Christmas In Wales by Dylan Thomas is an enjoyable and memorable story because of how it utilizes sentence building techniques such as simile, metaphor, and muscular verbs to make vivid descriptions that bring the story to life.

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Tradition

Bobby Skrivanek

9th Grade Fitz English

Tradition Narrative Paragraph

Due: 12/18/19

Our Tradition

What Makes Us A Family

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“From home to home, and heart to heart, from one place to another. The warmth and joy of Christmas, brings us closer to each other

-Emily Matthews 

    Traditions can bring a family together. Every year my family decorates a Christmas tree, but our family’s special tradition is to get a Christmas ornament from everywhere we travel throughout the year. The best part of Christmas is when we are all together, spending time together laughing, talking and remembering our travels throughout the years as we put all of the ornaments that we have collected over the years on the tree. I was just getting the ornaments from the basement as per usual:

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The Power of Themes

The Odyssey: Books I~XII

How Determination, The Power of the Gods, and Hospitality Permeate The Odyssey 

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“To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme, no great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it.”

-Herman Melville

 

    All stories stem from something, and most are brimming with themes. Some are simple and some are complex, but they all do the same thing, enhance the story. These themes can help the reader understand the story, or simply to prove a point.The first twelve books of The Odyssey show the importance of themes; they present a reading challenge, and they tells us a powerful story. The first twelve books of The Odyssey exemplify the importance of determination; demonstrating how Odysseus’s unending determination brought him to where he was. The power of the gods is brought to light as Poseidon decides the fate of Odysseus. Hospitality moves the plot forward, introduces new characters, and demonstrates the kindness of the Greeks. If I can take away something from The Odyssey, it is the importance of themes in a story and how these themes create a memorable reading experience.

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