Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Pinhole Cameras to Make




Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tribehouse 2

<C><P F="1" /><Z><S><S X="152" H="94" Y="392" T="9" P="0,0,,,,0,0,0" L="235" /><S X="632" H="53" Y="394" T="7" P="0,0,0.1,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="372" /><S X="152" H="10" Y="405" T="10" P="0,0,0.3,0,0,0,0,0" L="159" /><S X="94" H="10" Y="291" T="10" P="0,0,0.3,0,0,0,0,0" L="212" /><S o="ffffff" X="69" H="10" Y="192" T="12" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="292" /><S X="254" H="12" Y="245" T="4" P="0,0,10,0.2,180,0,0,0" L="34" /><S o="bdab6a" X="-41" H="10" Y="439" T="13" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="121" /><S X="325" H="14" Y="210" T="4" P="0,0,10,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="36" /><S o="bdab6a" X="347" H="10" Y="448" T="13" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="127" /><S X="255" H="12" Y="176" T="4" P="0,0,10,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="34" /><S X="326" H="14" Y="143" T="4" P="0,0,10,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="38" /><S X="256" H="13" Y="109" T="4" P="0,0,10,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="38" /><S H="13" X="325" Y="73" T="4" P="0,0,10,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="38" /><S o="ffffff" X="107" H="10" Y="95" T="12" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="213" /><S H="12" X="329" Y="275" T="4" P="0,0,10,0.2,180,0,0,0" L="34" /><S o="ffffff" X="591" H="10" Y="226" T="12" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="420" /><S o="ffffff" H="10" X="591" Y="118" T="12" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="420" /><S X="13" H="10" Y="75" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,90,0,0,0" L="40" /><S X="24" H="10" Y="71" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,-30,0,0,0" L="16" /><S X="27" H="10" Y="83" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,40,0,0,0" L="14" /><S X="52" H="10" Y="65" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="25" /><S X="53" H="10" Y="87" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="25" /><S X="63" H="10" Y="73" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,90,0,0,0" L="22" /><S X="42" H="10" Y="75" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,90,0,0,0" L="24" /><S X="82" H="10" Y="78" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,-90,0,0,0" L="41" /><S X="94" H="10" Y="67" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="23" /><S X="117" H="10" Y="77" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,90,0,0,0" L="32" /><S X="684" H="10" Y="84" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="26" /><S X="678" H="10" Y="94" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,90,0,0,0" L="27" /><S X="687" H="10" Y="107" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="30" /><S X="711" H="10" Y="94" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,-70,0,0,0" L="31" /><S X="724" H="10" Y="97" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,60,0,0,0" L="36" /><S X="717" H="10" Y="97" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="18" /><S X="738" H="10" Y="94" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,90,0,0,0" L="43" /><S X="748" H="10" Y="106" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="20" /><S X="771" H="10" Y="83" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="31" /><S X="775" H="10" Y="108" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="30" /><S X="765" H="10" Y="98" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,90,0,0,0" L="32" /><S X="516" H="10" Y="345" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="34" /><S X="516" H="31" Y="354" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="10" /><S X="548" H="38" Y="353" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="10" /><S X="560" H="10" Y="356" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="23" /><S X="576" H="41" Y="355" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="10" /><S X="612" H="10" Y="343" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="29" /><S X="600" H="31" Y="357" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="10" /><S X="615" H="10" Y="357" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="26" /><S X="627" H="18" Y="349" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="10" /><S X="622" H="24" Y="367" T="5" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,-40,0,0,0" L="12" /></S><D><P X="-37" P="0,0" C="da7e14" Y="152" T="89" /><P X="113" P="0,0" Y="402" T="83" /><P X="198" P="0,0" Y="404" T="83" /><P X="66" P="0,0" C="6ec1d4" Y="91" T="24" /><P X="75" P="1,0" Y="286" T="68" /><P X="32" P="1,0" Y="286" T="67" /><P X="121" P="1,1" Y="285" T="67" /><P X="36" P="0,0" C="ffffff" Y="172" T="86" /><P X="355" P="0,0" Y="355" T="66" /><P X="75" P="0,0" Y="246" T="73" /><P X="39" P="0,1" C="6ec1d4" Y="187" T="19" /><P X="158" P="0,0" Y="88" T="33" /><P X="133" P="0,0" Y="186" T="30" /><P X="60" P="0,0" Y="29" T="61" /><P X="477" P="0,0" C="3b98a1" Y="53" T="90" /><P X="526" P="0,0" C="3b98a1" Y="52" T="90" /><P X="577" P="0,0" C="3b98a1" Y="52" T="90" /><P X="629" P="0,0" C="3b98a1" Y="52" T="90" /><P X="679" P="0,0" C="3b98a1" Y="52" T="90" /><P X="734" P="0,0" C="3b98a1" Y="52" T="90" /><P X="790" P="0,0" C="3b98a1" Y="53" T="90" /><P X="848" P="0,0" C="3b98a1" Y="52" T="90" /><P X="727" P="0,0" Y="113" T="22" /><P X="735" P="0,1" C="ffffff" Y="113" T="24" /><P X="604" P="0,0" Y="113" T="30" /><P X="510" P="0,0" C="ffffff" Y="113" T="19" /><P X="448" P="0,0" Y="112" T="68" /><P X="543" P="0,0" Y="24" T="61" /><P X="620" P="0,0" C="46788e" Y="375" T="24" /><P X="663" P="0,1" Y="221" T="16" /><P X="616" P="0,0" Y="220" T="16" /><P X="495" P="0,0" C="46788e" Y="373" T="24" /><P X="744" P="0,0" C="46788e" Y="373" T="24" /><P P="0,0" X="453" Y="220" T="16" /><P P="0,0" X="499" Y="220" T="16" /><P X="634" P="0,0" Y="221" T="17" /><P X="474" P="0,0" Y="222" T="17" /><F Y="186" X="471" /><F Y="185" X="636" /><T Y="219" X="746" /></D><O><O P="0" X="476" C="6" Y="353" /><O P="0" X="477" C="11" Y="355" /></O></Z></C>


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Facing Fears & Controlled Falling

----The rumbles of the engine, the passengers' screams- pounded in my ears. And I wondered how it would feel to fall.
----"HEY," said Sarah. Poke poke. "Elaine." Why is she pausing like that? "We've been in this line for an hour, right?" An odd look was on her face. I couldn't quite put my finger on it.
----"Yeah," I say, not seeing the point in her words, "And? Wow, imagine how long it must feel like to Moo-" Sara "Moocow" was waiting for us outside, since she refused to go on Bizarro.
----"Ok, that's nice," interrupted Sarah, "Now, we're already this far, so would you turn back now. Like, if I told you that the ride was super scary?" She was smiling now, in a mischievous way.
----"Oh!" (a brief hersitation), "No way! This stupid roller coaster of yours is wasting an hour of my life!" I exclaimed, throwing my hands into the air for dramatic effect. Did I mention that I didn't even want to be in this line, that I'd rather be standing outside, bored to death, with Moocow? The only reason I was doing this was a bribe of cotton candy and an immense amount of peer pressure. Ok, so maybe I wanted to ride the largest roller coaster in the park a little... But that little bit wasn't greater than my fear of that controlled falling.
----"Well..." began Sarah slowly, "It's actually really scary and you almost go upside-down and there's more big drops, not just the one right there oh and by the way it's super fast." That was in one breath, by the way.
----Hold on. Whaat?
----"Are. You. Freakin'. Kidding. Me?" In my mind, I grabbed her collar, pinned her up against the wall, and shook her violently. In reality, I was throwing my hands in the air, then smacking my forehead with the palm of my right hand. "Ugh."
----"So, you're going to turn back now?" Should I? Could I? There was no obvious way to get out of the line, as far as I could see. Did I really want to waste all the time that I spent, all the tiny particles of anticipation that had collected?
----"Nope," I grinned. I could tell that Sarah was taken aback.
----The rest of the line, although only about fifteen minutes long, was hard to endure. It was hot, people were getting impatient, and I had to pee.
----Finally! Time to board the coaster. I sat in my seat, waited for the attendants, made sure my guard thing was locked and then... instantly regretted it.
----We started to move.
----I can't say much about the actual ride. It was actually pretty amazing. When I worked up the courage, i put my hands up in the air, once. And the going upside-down thing was a lie. Typical Sarah. What I can say is, I can't imagine not having that experience, not riding my first non-wooden roller coaster, not facing my fear.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Looking Glass

The eyes in the sketchook-
Are they not the eyes on the printed page,
In which I have studied so carefully,
The flakes of my skin bushing off
With the dust of the ink?

Those eyes are hollow and heavy lidded,
Sinking into their sockets.
The eyes of an fabled ancient hero,
Stern pupils, channeling souls,
Seeking lost aspirations.

Did a bit of me fall into the eyes
In the careless way that
And in their shape,
The blurred graphite lines,
Why do I see fear?
There is no fear in the looking glass.

Is that drawing a better refection
Than a glass frosted with a sheen of dust
Grasping the edges
Of my being/

But no,
It's not fear.

It's regret.


Food Memoir: Fried

Audrey already had some. She was killing me, the way she slowly crunched down on ever morsel of that delicious fried dough, obviously savoring its greasy crust.

A thin, airy sort of breeze blew by, sending a puff of powdered sugar my way. As it drifted through my nostrils, the craving intensified.

I felt like my stomach was about to eat itself.

I lunged. "Eugh!" squealed Audrey, swiping her plate out of my reach, "Go get your own!"

"I can't!," I whined, "You know that I only have two dollars with me, and you lost my dad." 

"How was it my fault?" We started to bicker.

Long story short, after much ado about nothing, I got my fried dough. And so, our little band of tourists headed to a horse show being run in a building not far from the fried dough stand. 

Oh, the things you could see at The Big E! The show wasn't anything fancy, but hey, it's the thought that counts, right? We were content, sitting in our soft theater style seats and enjoying our (fresh?) pastries. Dad, however, wasn't so gratified. I guess seeing someone else eating a colossal lump of fried carbs can make anyone hungry.

"Let me taste some," said my dad, reaching over to rip a piece. Like Audrey, I immediately snatched it away, in the direction of Audrey. Doing so, a huge cloud of sticky powdered sugar settled upon us.

"Gah!" "Ugh!" We all exclaimed, quickly dusting ourselves off. Audrey wanted to get up and shake her jacket out thoroughly. She commanded that I hold her bag.

You see, the seats weren't huge. They were also the type that snapped up when one got up. So, by standing up, Aud managed to set up a gruesomely sticky chain reaction that makes me feel like washing my hands just thinking about it.

The horse show was long, and so we sat there eating, watching, and giggling. My hunger was satisfied. I was also slowing down. Finally, I actually looked at my plate.


Two thirds of the fried dough was still there! That was freaky. Shouldn't mostly b gone by now? I looked at Audrey's plate. She had even more left over!

Taking another bite, I realized that I didn't feel so good. And Audrey... had stopped eating. Suddenly, a wave of nausea washed over me, and the staleness of the powdered sugar, the hint of- was it lard?- made me feel like I couldn't take another bite.

I forced myself to eat just a little more, for the sake of not wasting. Bleh. "Want some?" I offered Dad, maintaining a sincere face.

"Why?" asked my dad suspiciously.

"Nothing, I just thought you'd like some fried dough," I stated. Innocent. "Geez, didn't you want it before?" Apparently not. Maybe that powdered sugar incident changed his mind.

I grabbed Audrey by the hand. "Come on. We're finished." Then, with great, gallant strides, we marched up to the brown speckle plastic trashcan (who chooses these colors anyway?) and smartly flipped our plates inside.

Thump. Thump. Another- rather foul smelling- powdered sugar cloud. I looked at Aud. Aud looked at me. We grinned, raised out hands slightly, and gave each other a light high five.

"Thank God that stuff is gone," she exclaimed, "Now, let's wash our hands!"

"Don't forget about enjoying the rest of the show!"

Monday, June 4, 2012

Next Week

Things are often harder then they seem, according to Dad. I had no real experience with this, as for most of my life I had no difficulty learning things or accomplishing tasks, and I had often felt contempt and annoyance with my peers who couldn't figure something out.

Basically, I wanted to learn how to play guitar. The clarinet was easy enough, so I felt like the guitar would be no trouble at all. We bought one off the internet, and got some method books from the library. I was eager to get started, and impatient to learn.

The first day, I played for about fifteen minutes before I couldn't take it anymore. The second day, I had bandaids wrapped around my fingers. The third, there were no more bandaids, so I just taped some tissues around the fingers that hurt the most. The fourth day, it actually wasn't so bad. I started to see some callouses on my hands.

A few weeks later, my dad got me a new guitar book which had a different approach. Rather than teaching chords, it taught individual notes. They didn't make my fingers hurt so much.

Throughout the summer, I enjoyed relatively relaxed days, and plenty of time to pursue my musical and artistic whims. Then, fall came. Like the leaves on the trees, my free time was quickly disappearing. Between swimming, middle school, Chinese school, art lessons, fencing, clarinet, and sleeping, there wasn't much time for leisure.

The practicing went from half an hour a day to half an hour a week to fifteen minutes a week to none at all. The ambition of learning something new was slipping away as I tried desperately to simply keep up.

"I'll get back to it," I promised myself, "next week for sure."

"Next week for sure."

"Next week for sure."

One November morning, a huge, messy pile of stuff was on my desk (so much for my resolution to be organized). As I started to pick through it, I mused, "This pile of papers and books. They're all priorities. And it never gets cleaned up, because more and more things just get piled on. My guitar dream, that's at the bottom of the pile. It only exists when everything else has been cleared."

With a sigh, I came clean with myself. I quit. It wasn't the first thing in my life that I didn't live up to my own expectations. And each time, I had promised myself, "It won't happen again. I'll make a change."

The guitar is still in its case, leaning against the wall next to the desk-pile. Perhaps it'll fit in my arms better now, since I've grown? Perhaps the metallic strings won't hurt my fingers anymore, which have been toughened by a crescendo of household tasks and responsibilities.

Perhaps next week.

 |             []   |
Random ascii house... (not part of story)

Thursday, May 17, 2012



She looked shy
And nice, I thought.

She was new.

I smiled and waved
At her
to be friendly

Like I never was?


I hadn't achieved
Much of anything.

Always, good
But never


Hello, what's
Your name?

I'm Elaine.

to our team.


Maybe I did
Achieve something.

By helping someone,
Be her friend.

Like I never did?


Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed

Jessica clutched her money in her hand. It seemed awfully easy to lose that way. I didn't say anything though. We headed into the lobby to buy our snacks. I didn't mention how my storage system was much better. Jess didn't even have boots.

At the vending machine of the pool facility, I reached into my boot. And... the ten dollars wasn't there. A feeling of dread washed over me.

"No no no no no no no no no no no," I gasped under my breath, "This isn't possible!"

Jessica just looked at me with a "What?" look on her face. Whatever else she said that moment, was lost from my memory in the urgency of the situation, everything but my immediate problem flying out of my thoughts and memories.

The next twenty-or-so minutes was a flurry of activity. Jessica and I retraced our steps. The money was nowhere to be found.

"It was the team in the blue!" she deduced, "They had to be the ones who stole your money." Jumping to conclusions was something that Jessica liked to do. (OK, maybe I do that sometimes too...)

"What am I going to do?" I wailed, "My parents are going to kill me!" By then, I was in complete panic. Ten whole dollars! My parents got angry when I lost a hair pin that cost less than a dollar ("You need to be more careful! These things don't grow on trees, you know!). They would flip if they found out about this.

I grabbed Jess by the shoulders. "You have to help me!" She obviously understood how suspicious and annoyed my parents would get if I told them I had spent ten whole dollars on bagels and fruit in only one day of the swim meet.

Jessie was just about the smallest sixth grader ever. She looked like she was about eight years old. It was actually kind of funny, that wise look on her face at the time. So... wise. Have you ever seen a teeny tiny little girl with that face? I would be laughing if I wasn't almost in tears at that moment. Silently, I cursed myself for being so careless.

Still bearing that "look", Jess produced a five dollar bill from her plastic baggie. "Pay me back," she grumbled. Was that annoyance in her face?

I literally snatched the money. Then I snatched up Jessica and probably crushed her in my hug. "Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!!!" I quiet-screamed, "Ohmigawshiloveyoujessieyouaremybestfriendthankyouthankyouthankyou!"

When I got home that night, my parents did ask. And I lied, and I gave them Jess's money. I breathed a sigh of relief when they didn't give me any trouble. They were satisfied. I felt awful about it, I still do, being a frugal person myself.

Jessica had always been my most reliable friend. In terms of body mass, she's incredibly small. Maybe that's why I underestimate her sometimes. Which just goes to show, you never know who's going to save you from being grounded for a year.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The J. Peterman Experience- Acara Flat

Your mask is waiting on the dresser. And the gown. It's peach and pink and ivory and gold. Satin and gauze and lace.
The heels are waiting in their box. Their toetips are full grain gold leather, like the heels. Surely, no one will see the shoes. Surely, you can substitute them out, right?
The attic smells musty and sweet. There's a broken perfume vial on the floor, its contents long gone, shards of pink glass glittering in the dusty beam of light.
You see the mismatched boxes on crooked towers. A green dress is on the floor. There are hats. There are watercolors and jewelry and dried tubes of rouge...
Than, a sharp glint catches your eye. It's a silver stud on a pair of navy suede flats. They fit.
You can find another pair of shoes. These are too precious to hide under a gown. These are definitely a keeper.
They're the picture of quiet elegance, the leather lining cured with age. The seams are undetectable, and silver studs flawless, free of scratches. They don't make shoes like this anymore.
Beautiful and functional, the Acara Flat is perfect for special days, as well as every day. Highest quality waterproof suede shell, to withstand rainy days. Premium grade Italian leather lining. Sophisticated sterling silver studs. Womens' sizes 35 through 40. Half sizes available. $478.00  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How to make an origami ninja star: reflection

Dear Mrs. Shanley,

In addition to being my first craft tutorial, How to Make an Origami Ninja Star was one of the most unique writing pieces I have ever done. Being a craft tutorial,  How to Make an Origami Ninja Star also proved to be very challenging, as it included both visual and written components.

Usually when I write, I allow myself to ramble, adding semi-relevant details here and there to enhance the piece ans infuse more of my voice into the writing. However, the purpose of this piece, to teach, gave me less room to do that. In the past, I had read long winded, unclear tutorials by people who obviously didn't edit. Often, these tutorials had excess background information, something that I myself have a problem with. As I wrote this piece, not only did I focus on sentence fluency, but being straight to the point as well. Another HUGE difference that How to Make an Origami Ninja Star had from my usual writing process was the pictures. Formatting all those pictures and getting them to stay put was agonizing. Some other bumps in the road, including my camera's memory card being formatted, made it so that the time I spent fumbling with the pictures probably outweighed the amount of time I spent actually writing!

Something came up in our conference that was a toughie: how to substitute out the word "piece". There really is no other way to describe the individual... pieces that make up a ninja star. In the end, after checking several thesaurus websites, the best I could come up with was "segment". It would do, although the sound of the sentence wasn't extremely satisfying.

Overall, I'm glad that I chose an origami tutorial as my topic. I think that the biggest thing people will take from reading this is, well, learning how to make an origami ninja star. Hopefully, this will assist some of my friends in their relentless quests of obtaining cute things made of paper, which usually involves them constantly harassing me until I give in and make them one. From now on, I'll just tell them to refer back to my tutorial.

In fact, I like that. "Refer back to my tutorial." It sounds sharp and professional. Maybe I'll even make a few more.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Where I'm From- Inspired by George Ella Lyon

Where I’m From

I am from Aquafresh
from decoupage and sesame oil.
I am from peeling white paint,
the sunshine warming dusty corners.

From the hydrangea bush,
the magnolia tree,
whose long gone limbs
as if they were my own.

I’m from hard work and overachiever,
from Yunli and Yihe.
I’m from cynical and from sleep deprived,
Sit up straight and use more effort,
and 两只老虎.

I’m from Saturday breakfasts, Los Angeles.
from The People's Republic and winter melon soup,
from the dog with eight spots
who disappeared one day.

Those memories of laughs and tears
hang so precariously in the air.
Float from room to room,
settle in my heart.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Document Based Question: The Decline of Feudalism

The feudalism system was established in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire, and was based upon loyalty. In feudalism, the distinction between the four major social classes (kings, lords, knights, serfs) were prominently drawn, and each class depended on each other. However, during the decline of feudalism, these lines began to blur and fade. Several factors contributed to this decline, namely the signing of the Magna Carta, the onset of the Bubonic Plague, and the Hundred Years' War. These events impacted the system of feudalism on any different levels.

King John was pressured into signing the Magna Carta in 1215 AD by rebellious barons who threatened to desert him if their desired course of action was not taken. The Magna Carta reduced the power of the kings, forcing them to ask permission of their lords before making decisions. It also ensured people convicted of crimes a trial by jury, instead of a trial by ordeal or combat. King John was against signing the Magna Carta, but quickly saw the power his lords had to abandon or overthrow him. "King John, seeing that he was far inferior in strength to the barons... granted the underwritten laws and liberties," states Roger of Wendover. In other words, King John only signed the document in a desperate, last resort attempt to hold his throne. By granting those rights mentioned in the Magna Carta, King John overturned many of the rules of feudalism, and gave the people what they weren't entitled to, if based on feudalism. This upset of feudalism's social hierarchy contributed to its eventual decline by paving the way to limited monarchy.

Carried from Asia by the rats that stowed away on trade ships and transmitted by fleas, the Bubonic Plague, or "Black Death", as it is commonly referred to, devastated over one third of Europe's population. The loss of so many citizens proved detrimental to the economy. Livestock wandered about aimlessly, with no one to herd them. Abandoned cities were collapsed due to their lack of maintenance. "Because of the fear of death, there were low prices for everything," (Knighton) as that was the only thing that merchants could do to lure people into buying their goods, since people were wary of each other, as they feared catching the plague. Alas, the plague not only affected the economy of feudal Europe, but the social pyramid as well. Because the majority of the working class succumbed, it became near impossible for business operations to flourish. The survivors of the Black Death were able to demand huge sums of money or rights for their services. Money and rights inevitably lead to power for the common people something unheard of in true feudalism. So, not only did the Bubonic Plague impact feudalism on an economic level, but a social one as well.

The Hundred Years' War was fought between the French and the English for land. During that time, their monarchs collected taxes to support large, professional armies, reducing their dependency on knights. This, in turn, reduced the power of lords, as a major role they played in feudal society was providing knights to fight for the king. Additionally, advancements in military technology, like the invention of the English longbow and the cannon weakened armies of knights. These new weapons were able to pierce through armor and bring down castle walls, exposing the knights inside. Once wounded, knights became useless, so their value fell dramatically. In the painting by Jean Froissart of The Battle of Crecy, the well organized, professional English army is using their longbows to kill French knights. The knights were much more scattered, and some were laying dead on the ground. Soon, the class of knights was diminishing, bringing lords down with them.

Thus, feudal Europe was on a path of rapid decline. As the lowest social class rose in power, the higher ones (lords and knights) fell. Additionally, trade was halted by the war and plague, leading to a collapse in the economy. Finally, people were granted rights that they could not have under feudalism. All these events were the result of three events- the signing of the Magna Carta. the Black Death, and The Hundred Years' War. These events spurred the fall of the Medieval socio-economic system of feudalism.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Chinese Essay: Summer Break












Thursday, March 29, 2012

How to make an origami ninja star: Draft

Part 1- Intro and Materials

A ninja star is a simple origami figure, made from 8 pieces of paper. The ninja star was given its name because of its resemblance to, well, ninja stars, as well as its ability to transform. Pulling or pushing pieces of the ninja star in or out will cause it to transform into a donut-like ring or an eight pointed star.

You will need 8 square sheets of paper, each of the same size. You can use square self-stick notes, cut out magazine paper, newsprint, origami paper, or almost anything else you think of. Generally, slightly stiffer paper will work better for this project because it isn't apt to fall apart when your star is assembled.

Part 2- Folding the Pieces

1. First, fold the paper in half. Open it up, and use the center crease as a guide as you fold the top two corners in, similar to as if you were to make a paper airplane.

2. Then, using the same center crease, close the figure back up, so that the triangular flaps you just folded are on the inside. Remember to fold with precision and make sharp creases. Otherwise, the ninja star will not assemble correctly.

3. As shown in the diagram, push the opposing corner in. Align the center creases together, then flatten. The figure now looks like a parallelogram. The folds for the project really are not difficult, they just require you to be accurate and precise.

4. Your figure should now look like the first picture when opened up, and the second one when folded properly. 

Part 3- Assembling the Star

For many, this is the most difficult or confusing part of making a ninja star. It's very important to do this part right, and make your creases tight, otherwise your ninja star will fall apart.

5. First hold one of the pieces like this, with the point facing left and the open end facing right. Take a second piece and hold a second piece vertically, with point facing up and open end facing down. the vertical piece (piece A) should be above the horizontal piece (piece B).

6. Now, slide piece B into piece A, so that flaps of piece A "hug" piece B.

7. You will notice that the little corners of piece A are sticking out. Tuck these corners into the open end of piece B.

8. Now, continue adding pieces to the ninja star like so. When you get to the last piece, things will start to get a little tricky. you must put the open flaps of the piece over the preceding one, but stay between the flaps of the first one.

9. When you have the pieces in the right paces, carefully tuck the corners in, so you don't undo any of the other pieces.

Congrats!!! You've finished making your very own ninja star! Now, practice playing with it (THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP!) Grasp two opposing fingers and pull on the ninja star. Continue with each "set" of pieces until your ninja star is completely transformed!

If all has gone well, you now have an amazing ninja star of your own. Now, go show it off to your friends.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Testing the Validity of a Website

Most modern day students resort to the internet to do research. Well, why should't they? Using a search engine to find information is quick, simple, and high yielding. Unfortunately, not all of the information posted online is reliable or accurate, which is why the knowledge of how to test the validity of a website is crucial to anyone who does Google searching.

Before you start researching, you'll need to know what information you'll be looking for the most. For many topics, it's best to start out with "who, what, when, where, why?", as well as any other information that seems interesting.
  • Who?
  • What?
  • When?
  • Where?
  • Why?
  • Other:
Now, the second step is to look at your search results and find the sites that look promising. These are the ones you'll go to first. Also, preview some of websites, if you're not sure. 
Screen reader users, click here to turn off Google Instant.

Here are some tips that'll help you filter out which sites you want to use, and which sites you don't:

  • NEVER use wikis! they can be edited by anyone and any sort of irrelevant information can be posted on them!
  • Well known sites or organizations that you may have heard of before will most likely be trustable.
  • Do not use websites that are biased, for example something that was created to promote a certain political party, or talk trash about another.
  • ".org", ".gov", or ".edu" websites are good sources to consider.
  • If using an unfamiliar website, check what the author of the article/site is. If that author has credentials like college degrees or job experience, the information he or she provides will most likely be reliable.
  • While in the search engine, read the URLs. Websites with URLs related to your topic are worth checking out.
  • Read the website descriptions, so you can skip over anything irrelevant. For example, when one Google searches "civil war", one of the results is the homepage of a band, not information on a historical event.
  • Sometimes, visual clues can show you whether a site is reliable or not. If a website has distracting, inappropriate, or popup ads, it's usually not a good source. If a site looks amateurishly designed or difficult to navigate, it is probably best ignored as well.
  • Pretty much any website made for the sole purpose of kids or education is dependable- so an easy way to get basic information about anything is to write "for kids" after the keywords for whatever you're searching for.
  • Is the information current? Some topics will require up to date information, such as world events or science, since topics like these are always changing.
  • If the grammar on a site is insufficient or the sentences choppy, it was cleary not written by someone who knew what they were doing.
  • Of course,one must also use common sense. If the information seems weird or incorrect, don't trust it right away! Instead, find backup in other sources.
After you've found some trusty sources for your research, gather the information you need. A good way to do this is to read the headings of each paragraph, of find any words in the article that are emphasized (large, bold, italics, underlined, different color, etc.). These words may give you a clue about what its context contains. Sometimes, it's more appropriate to actually read an article and find details, while other times, skimming will save time and eliminate surplus information.

The web plays a major role in our lives today, including our educations. It may be large and not extremely organized, but with the right tools and knowledge, anyone can make it safer, easier to use, and more beneficial to their personal needs.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Letter Essay #3: A time of Angels

Dear Mrs. Shanley,

Due to an extremely unappealing cover, a boring blurb, or perhaps (most likely) both, I've put off reading "A Time of Angels" for three years now- the amount of time I've had this book ever since it was given to me as a gift. The book is by Karen Hesse, and tells the story of a teen girl named Hannah who's parents are trapped in Russia by the war. Therefore, she lives in small Boston apartment with her sisters and her Tanta (Aunt) Rose. Tanta Rose and Hannah both work hard to support the family, but Rose's companion Vashti is annoyed by the girls.

When she is not working to help her family, Hannah draws. Lately, she's been drawing what she sees- angels.  Soon, many people in the neighborhood fall victim of the disease. When Rose is killed by the influenza epidemic, Vashti decides that the best course of action is send Hannah away into the countryside, where relatives are to care for her. On the train ride there, she catches the influenza and misses her stop in Albany, ending up unconscious and under emergency care in Vermont. Throughout all this time, Hannah is helped by a mysterious girl with black hair and violet eyes. Because of the influenza, Hannah's throat is badly damaged, and she's rendered unable to speak, writing and drawing in a notebook to communicate instead. A kindly old man who refers to himself as "Uncle Klaus" takes her in and nurses her back to health. During her time with Klaus, Hannah learns about kindness, giving, prejudice, and pain, as Klaus is of German blood and shunned by many of the townsfolk.

Constantly haunted by the fear that she has abandoned her sisters, Hannah, with the help of Uncle Klaus, earns money to pay for a train back to Boston. When back home, Hannah finds everything changed: many people dead, families torn apart, empty streets, and nearly every school and business closed. She rejoices to find her sisters alive and well. At the end of the book, Hannah reflects upon her journey and thanks the angel girl with violet eyes who helped her.

"A Time of Angels" was definitely a very engaging read. Even though the plot was a little extreme, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Karen Hesse has a way of letting the reader have a strong emotional connection with the characters (have you read "Out of the Dust"?)- I really could feel what Hannah was feeling (it was pretty stressful), and imagine all the places in the story, even though the author didn't actually put in too much of an in depth description of the setting(s).

Another thing I liked about "A Time of Angels" was that it actually taught me some stuff! From it, I've figured out three random folk cures: first, skim milk fixes broken cups, second, drinking excessive amounts of vinegar helps cure influenza, and finally, that oats wrapped in a little cheesecloth bag make for a more soothing bath. Yes, they're strange. I'm pretty sure that I'm only going to try the broken cup thing...

However, there was one major problem in the book that stood out to me. After all of Hannah's good times in Vermont with Uncle Klaus, she left for Boston way too... easily. ""One to Boston, please," I said, putting Uncle Klaus's money, Ottiwell Wood's money, my moose maple money under the grill." [Hesse 227] With this quote, Hannah describes paying for her ticket back home. There was very little hesitation to leave Uncle Klaus anywhere in this section of the story, and I didn't understand that. Personally, my heart ached when Hannah went back to Boston, because I couldn't help but think of how happy she was in Vermont, and how much Klaus must've missed her.

Also- the last sentence was a downer. "Slowly, making our way back across the rooftops of Chambers Street, Harry and I went home." [Hesse 269] This sentence was almost a complete book killer! All the pretext of it was amazing, magical, and described Hannah's ethereal encounter with her angel. All that, and then you give me "we went back home"? From a celebrated and award-winning author like Karen Hesse, I expected more. Exactly what I expected, I'm not sure, but I know that I wanted more.

In conclusion, the book "A Time of Angels" was a satisfying read with some errors, which while they left me with some questions, did not do too much damage to the overall quality of the text. After reading this, as well as the "Out of the Dust", I'm definitely thinking about investing some more time into Karen Hesse's works. Her stories are so creative and intricately woven! I'm sure that "A Time of Angels" is going to be one that I'll revisit over and over again.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tribe House 1 Map

<C><P F="0" /><Z><S><S Y="135" T="0" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="657" X="338" H="10" /><S Y="324" T="0" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,90,0,0,0" L="400" X="12" H="10" /><S Y="-49" T="0" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,30,0,0,0" L="500" X="373" H="10" /><S Y="0" T="0" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,-30,0,0,0" L="529" X="239" H="10" /><S Y="269" T="0" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,90,0,0,0" L="100" X="660" H="10" /><S Y="404" T="0" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="654" X="341" H="32" /><S Y="269" T="0" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="644" X="338" H="11" /><S Y="407" T="6" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="291" X="811" H="40" /><S Y="295" T="0" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,0,0,0,0" L="115" X="927" H="10" /><S Y="276" T="0" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,90,0,0,0" L="45" X="982" H="10" /><S Y="277" T="0" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,90,0,0,0" L="45" X="876" H="10" /><S Y="191" T="0" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,-30,0,0,0" L="65" X="898" H="10" /><S Y="191" T="0" P="0,0,0.3,0.2,30,0,0,0" L="65" X="953" H="10" /></S><D><P Y="389" T="13" X="740" P="0,0" /><P Y="388" T="13" X="786" P="0,0" /><P Y="388" T="13" X="834" P="0,0" /><P Y="388" T="13" X="882" P="0,0" /><P Y="388" T="13" X="931" P="0,0" /><P Y="388" T="15" X="106" P="0,0" C="8a311b" /><P Y="387" T="17" X="303" P="0,0" /><P Y="387" T="16" X="385" P="0,0" /><P Y="388" T="16" X="224" P="0,0" /><P Y="387" T="28" X="620" P="0,0" /><P Y="262" T="14" X="349" P="0,0" C="95311e,bde8f3,faf1b3" /><P Y="388" T="17" X="515" P="0,0" /><P Y="351" T="25" X="548" P="0,0" /><P Y="351" T="31" X="519" P="0,0" /><P Y="351" T="21" X="336" P="0,0" /><P Y="351" T="52" X="281" P="0,0" /><P Y="265" T="29" X="283" P="0,0" /><P Y="266" T="22" X="460" P="0,0" /><P Y="264" T="24" X="243" P="0,0" C="f05cd3" /><P Y="263" T="29" X="605" P="0,0" /><P Y="263" T="24" X="419" P="0,0" C="fa9b1e" /><P Y="268" T="22" X="124" P="0,0" /><P Y="263" T="24" X="589" P="0,0" C="46788e" /><P Y="262" T="24" X="82" P="0,0" C="6ed265" /><P Y="388" T="20" X="191" P="0,0" C="48230c" /><P Y="262" T="33" X="193" P="0,0" /><P Y="262" T="33" X="42" P="0,0" /><P Y="262" T="33" X="384" P="0,0" /><P Y="263" T="33" X="554" P="0,0" /><P Y="387" T="1" X="919" P="0,0" /><P Y="289" T="10" X="963" P="0,0" /><P Y="384" T="4" X="879" P="0,0" /><P Y="290" T="52" X="914" P="0,0" /></D><O><O Y="204" P="90" X="505" C="3" /><O Y="333" P="90" X="440" C="3" /><O Y="203" P="90" X="334" C="3" /><O Y="204" P="90" X="164" C="3" /><O Y="334" P="0" X="440" C="11" /><O Y="204" P="0" X="164" C="11" /><O Y="203" P="0" X="334" C="11" /><O Y="204" P="0" X="505" C="11" /></O></Z></C>

Sunday, January 22, 2012

CheeseForMice Spoiler

[spoiler] [img]photo URL here[/img] [/spoiler]
If you want the spoiler named just make the beginning tag like this: [spoiler=name]

My Maus Drawings ^_^

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Do you want to be the reason
She cries behind closed doors
With the lights off
Late into the night
When the world sleeps?

Do you want to be the reason
Instead of a proud smile
She lowers her head
And hides her face
When her name is posted
Big and shining on the wall?

Do you want to be the reason
She suppresses her ambition
And hides her dreams
Until they disappear
On their own?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Best of 2011 Credits

Best of 2011

Question 1. One word/phrase that describes 2011- New Beginning. This year, I started middle school. Also, I've set goals and worked hard to improve upon myself in many different ways. Also, I started fencing in 2011 and I LOVE it! Fencing is much harder than I expected, but it's really fun and a great challenge.

Question 4. Something I let go of this year- this year, I lost my lucky bracelet at a swim meet, but decided not to pursue it. It seemed like I'd had it forever. Moreover, It wasn't changing my life at all. That day, I decided to take my life into my own hands. I don't know if "luck" exists or not, but I won't take a chance by depending on it. That day, I had let go of my "security blanket", which felt strange at first. But now, I feel very comfortable without it and couldn't care less.

Question 13. Last year, I went to Florida to visit my friend Wendy, who moved there two years ago. The weather was AMAZING there! It wasn't too hot or too cold, and the beaches had gorgeous turquoise water and soft white sand. This year, I would like definitely like to visit there again. Also, if I had the chance, I would travel to France and soak up all their great art and culture. I would especially enjoy going to the Louvre and Notre Dame to admire some of the greatest visual arts in the world.

Question 14. Last January at the Leete, Kosto, and Wizner New Year's party last year, there was this delicious yellow poppy seed cake topped off with whipped cream, strawberry syrup, and strawberries. (mm...) I've looked everywhere, but have never been able to find a recipe for it. I guess the delicious-ness will have to only exist in my mind... (sigh)

Question 15. My most joyful ordinary moment in 2011 was when I was in Florida playing badminton with Wendy. The sun was peeking over the clouds, and the coarse grass tickled our bare feet. Normally, I dislike badminton, but being with a friend made it all very enjoyable and special.

Question 16. I've never been a great swimmer, so I was thrilled that I had made a lot of progress in 2011. However, I even surprised myself when I got a 1:18:19 in the 100 yard backstroke in December of 2011. That was as close as I had ever gotten to an Age Group cut; in fact, I was only 0.2 seconds away!!! I was both extremely proud and disappointed at this (only 0.2seconds!!!!). This year, I made it my goal to drop that 0.2 seconds and make the Age Group cut.

Question 17. This year, the most memorable books I read were Cinder by Marissa Meyer and Stop Pretending by Sonya Sones. Stop Pretending is a beautiful and haunting collection of poems by a girl whose older sister goes crazy and causes much internal and external conflicts within their family. The one verse that speaks most to me is, "4-1=0" [Sones, 82], and describes how the narrator feels about her sister being gone changing her formerly 4 person family.

Question 19. A huge trend that emerged out of nowhere last year was feather extensions. It seemed like overnight, everyone had colorful feathers extended into their hair. Personally, I was disgusted by this, considering that feathers come from BIRDS, and therefore, BIRDS get hurt in the making of feather extensions!

Question 24. When I went to Florida last year, I really wanted to go parasailing. Unfortunately, the boats were all booked, so I wasn't able to, but I plan on going parasailing in Rhode Island this year. It looks like a lot of fun and I'm looking (very) forward to it. My parents say that I may get to go this summer in Rhode Island.

Question 25. This year, I'm going to stop procrastinating and make every moment count. If I better organize my time, there will be so much more that I can do! I've already started to make extensive color coordinated schedules that include elements such as priority or time limits. This will enable me to have more scheduled free time, and better yet, seize the day!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Shatter- First Draft

Another bomb explodes in the air. There is fire. Desks, potted plants, paperwork in manila folders. Objects fall, reminiscences of normal human life. That is in the past now. Ash swirls down like gray snow.

There is deafening noise. It pounds in my ears, leaves ringing that bounces back and forth in my skull. People scream tortured, anguished screams from the ground. I dare not look. A man flies down from a burning building. I see that he has black, black hair and a gray tweed suit. He wears no shoes, only red socks.

Even through the window, I can smell smoke. It stinks, like rotten eggs or decaying garbage.

I feel guilty for being here, alive, safe. Whole. Where is Lucas? Where is an older brother when you need one? Lucas is big and strong. He is thirteen years old. In past summers, we would laugh in the shade and run in the grass. That was only two years ago. It seems ages away.

I start to cry. "It isn't fair!" I wail into the gray wall. A mistake.

"SHUSH!" the whitecoat thunders from the other room. He strides in. "Do you want us to be discovered?" he hisses.

Then, he noticed my tears. I try to brush them away, feeling embarrassed. "Now, hush hush Maria." the whitecoat says in a softer tone, bending down to give me a hug, " you're lucky to be here."

The hug leaves me with a strange, chemical smell in my lungs. It's what everyone says, I think. "You're lucky to be here." I wonder if I really am. I certainly wouldn't want to be out there. The whitecoat walks away.

"I don't want to be here," the words come out barely a whisper. As soon as I say it, It sounds wrong. Ungrateful. Another message bleeps in my brain. 'You are lucky to be alive. They made sacrifices for you. Now you must do the same.' The voice is cold and electronic. I wonder whose voice it is. Why does it sound like that? How does it know everything?

Five years pass by. The war rages on. The messages still bleep in her head. Maria has lost track of time.

The white rat sees the girl again. She is afraid, he thinks. She does not know what will happen. The rat sighs and climbs to the rim of his food dish for a better view. He has been observing the girl for quite a while now. She has dark, short hair trimmed once a week by the ones in white.

Despite everything, the rat is fond of the ones in white. They have given me what no rat has possessed before, he thinks. Intelligence. The rat knows that he possesses amazing capabilities and emotions that no rat has ever felt before.

Because of this, he knows. He knows what will happen to the girl, who is entering the incubation chamber. He knows that he will see her again in five years, when she will emerge. He knows he will be right in his cage, right by the barred window when she emerges.

Perhaps, just perhaps, thinks the mouse, I may just have met my match. At this he shuddered, and retreated to his burrow under the fiberglass shavings.

Mouse with Eyebrow Ring ^_^

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Grocery Store is like a Cell- Manager's Office/Nucleus of Plant Cell

The Manager's Office is like the Nucleus of a Plant Cell

The nucleus of a plant call is located near the edge of the cell. This is because that the vacuole of the cell is so large that it pushes it off to the side. The nucleus is the "control center" of the cell and contains all the instructions for the all the cell's activities. The managers office in a grocery store is near the edge of the store, since the shelves for merchandise take up so much room. In the manager's office, there are papers and computer records of store's activity, such as profits, popular items, expenses, and business strategies. These things determine what happens in the store. The nucleus in a plant cell and the manager's office are similar because they both serve the same purpose and are both in the same location.