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