Thursday, December 17, 2009
One of the characteristics that I most enjoyed about this read was the sheer amount of hidden themes within. For example, Shakespeare tried to convey a message stating that destiny exists by use of supernatural occurrences. Near the beginning of the play, a soothsayer approaches Caesar telling him to “beware the ides of March.” His wife dreams hinting that he will die that day, and even a scholar attempts to warn him of his safety. Through everything though, Caesar still goes to the Senate, and is assassinated there. No one could do anything to change his fate, just as Shakespeare intended. Another way this theme is illustrated is in Caesar’s ghost appearing to Brutus. His ghost says that they will meet again in Philippi. Brutus could have gone anywhere, but ended up in Philippi, where he saw the ghost again, and later committed suicide. In both examples, Shakespeare attempts to convey a message about his belief in destiny, which was shared by the majority of the populous at the time.
As with most of Shakespeare’s books, each character comes alive with variety seldom seen elsewhere. Julius Caesar obviously behaves like a spoiled, cocky brat, whereas Cassius seems like a sly snake slithering through the grass stalking his prey. Brutus’ utterances always carry gravity for they rarely occur out of turn. Mark Anthony’s oratorical skills are ever present in his speech to the common people at Caesar’s funeral. He begins by playing on their interest. They all believed that Caesar was a threat to the people, so the clever Antony mentions that he “has come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.” Later he begins to use logic and the element of pity on the common people, “When the poor hath cried, Caesar hath wept; Ambition should be made of sterner stuff. Yet Brutus says he was ambitious, and sure he is an honorable man.” He knows how to play people’s emotions, and I feel as though I never get to see the real Mark Anthony in this play. As they say though, “It takes all kinds.”
Shakespeare’s subtle use of theme imbedding, coupled with his vivid characterizations make Julius Caesar a must read for nearly every person. However, I have my fair share of qualms with the book. The play owes the poetic format it was written in to the beautiful sixteenth century iambic pentameter, yet this boon also becomes a shortcoming because of the actual words Shakespeare used. Many are not used with the same meaning, and some have not been used for hundreds of years. This can add difficulty to any reader’s life, so discretion is advised. Other than that, I have no problems with this book, and recommend the play highly.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
In this book, most of the Tribulation Force, now at the group’s highest number, must hide out in their safe house located in the all but decimated city of Chicago, while the other members, acting as inside men, must find a way to escape New Babylon before the application of the mark of the beast begins. Should they fail and be forced to receive the loyalty mark of Satan, their souls could be condemned to Hell. The application of the mark will begin with criminals in prisons, but ever since Carpathia’s resurrection, prisons have been filling up with more “heretics” refusing to worship Carpathia. In other words, good Christians and Jews will be the first to have to take the mark… or the alternative, death by guillotine. Their main techie, and luckily a higher-up on the inside, David Hassid, manipulates the database in order to give certain Tribulation Force members fake identities within Carpathia’s headquarters, and send them on the most important mission and risky mission yet; Save as many believers as possible from the guillotines without looking suspicious in any way. In the end, the insiders concoct a risky plan to escape New Babylon and simultaneously make everyone save the stateside Tribulation Force believe them dead. However, such a strategy requires nearly as much luck as skill, and possibly cannot be pulled off. Will they be able to save themselves from eternal condemnation? Perhaps, perhaps not.
The characters in this series often seem real because of their own character strengths and flaws. They also seem dynamic at times, changing certain mannerisms or behaviors. For instance, in the sixth book in the series, Rayford, probably the main protagonist, becomes overcome with hate for the antichrist, Nicolae Carpathia. He journeys to Jerusalem armed to the teeth, determined to finish off the greatest evil the world had ever seen at that point. However, he fails and later realizes the foolishness of his actions and is deeply regretful of how easily he succumbed to hate.
Bitter-sweetly, this book holds the place of eighth in a series of thirteen, meaning that I cannot clarify much of what happened in the previous seven, but I can look forward to the remaining five at the same time. To be blunt, I cannot recommend this book to people whom do not have much connection to Christianity, not even an interest. However, I do recommend this novel to people interest in biblical prophecy, because the manuscript’s basis is the prophecies themselves. All in all, this series shows promise, and so far has been quite enjoyable.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
A leader without leadership skills will soon be either a leader without followers, or a follower of another leader. No one wants to follow someone that cannot lead. Leaders must be firm in their decisions, and look at the good of the whole instead of the good of just a select group. Should some fickle, biased person find them self with people under their command, their unsure commands and favoritism will soon cause dissent among their lackeys, which will then lead to mutinous behavior or desertion. Either way, a leader without the skills necessary to lead will eventually end up losing his or her position.
A leader must make decisions for a whole group, and typically there are many different opinions within a group. The leader must humble him or herself and look at the repercussions of any and every possibility before deciding on any particular action. Many times this decision effects the populous directly, sometimes being a possible way to improve their lives. In order to make this decision effectively, he or she must listen to the different opinions of their group, then choose the action. By listening to the common people and enacting plans to assist them, a leader essentially serves them.
Whenever the time comes to pass on the torch, expectations are made. Everyone expects the new leader to take the reins and to build upon their predecessor's success, or to patch everything up after a bad leader's rein. A true leader will intend to bring a golden age to their organization, country, etc., and thus fulfill their expectations. Should a half-baked person step up to the plate and claim power, they typically will tear down whatever their predecessors had made, good or bad. Unfortunately, this tears down the good more than the bad typically.
Of the many leaders that have ever existed across this world, the vast majority have not been true leaders. However, their counterparts, the good leaders, have more than made up for their unworthiness. Otherwise, the world would be in a state of anarchy. But even good leaders sometimes are not good enough, and in that case a true leader becomes necessary. True leaders usher in a golden age, and given enough in a row, the ability to maintain their prosperity.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Unfortunately, December also means semester tests, and everything we have done culminating onto last couple weeks of the semester, just like the last week of the last nine weeks. That week was crazy: We had tests, papers, and other massive assignments coupled with Homecoming that Friday. I actually procrastinated to do everything possible that week, (even get a date for Homecoming. I was unsuccessful and actually could not even go to the dance) and definately regretted my decision. After all, having to write and post multiple blog posts, study for tests, publish lab write-ups for biology, and finish many other important assignments really puts the stress on someone. Perhaps had I put first things first and done my assignments in a timely manner, the week would have been like any other week. I will be sure to do everything before the last moment this time, before it is too late again.
Many people tell me that I am very strange for this, but I love the cold. Therefore, winter is my favorite season. Perhaps the snow deserves credit for holding my interest. Maybe the fact that I hate sweating deserves some mention. All in all, for some odd reason and against the usual oppinion of the populous, I enjoy winter more than any other season, and because December basically begins winter, our twenth month appears to be the best one.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
- God: Without Him, none of us would be here, or so I believe anyway.
- My mother: My mother raised me, practically being both a mother and a father. She also has always been there for me.
- My grandmother: She always took care of me when my mom was at work or elsewhere away from me.
- My father: My father taught me the definition of wrong through example.
- My great friends: They continually support and uplift me.
- My house: My home shields my family and me from the elements.
- Thomas Edison: He developed a way to harness the power of electricity.
- George Washington and the rest of the presidents: They have led our country through thick and thin, to the point that we are now. For that, we should all be grateful.
- Alexander Bell: He invented the telephone and initiated the series of events leading to the advent of the modern cellular phone.
- Whoever invented the computer: Perhaps his or her invention has become a bit of a curse as we become dependent on computers, but, for now at least, the benefits outweigh the risks.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Possibly my favorite habit, perhaps because I was already a practitioner, was "Be Proactive." To sum the chapter up, Sean Covey said that our emotions and reactions are determined by us, not outside influences. For example, if two friends got into an argument, they could either get angry at each other and spend months recovering their relationship, or they could remain level-headed and reach a peaceful solution. Proactive people typically succeed where hot-headed, overly dramatic people do not. Difference even exists in the language used by proactive and reactive people. A reactive person may see a situation and list all of the negative circumstances, whereas a proactive person will search diligently for a solution. A reactive person may feel as though they must do a certain action, but a proactive person will choose to do the action in question. Being a cool, calm, and collected person (except when I am embarrassed, or when I am in a competition of sorts) for as long as I can remember, practicing this habit was merely acting as I always have.
Unfortunately, one habit proved (or rather is proving) outstandingly difficult to even begin to master. Habit four, "Think Win-Win" still challenges me everyday. Looking back on my past, I see exactly why, and actually Sean Covey mentions a similar story in his book. Since my early childhood I have hated losing. Perhaps because the losers, even second place, never received as much interest or as great a prize. Moreover, my hate of losing spawned an even greater love of winning, which infused me with a "Win-Lose" mentality. For years I have held to a, "Only one of us will win, whereas the other will lose," motto. Thinking that everyone can win seems a bit far-fetched and foreign to me. Even worse, I sometimes adopt a "Lose-Win" strategy when outnumbered in a discussion. For the record, that does not mean that I give into peer pressure! By that I mean whenever I am in a group working on something, and more members are for another idea than mine, I just choose not to defend my idea, or any similar scenario. Luckily I have never adopted the infamous revenge tactic, "Lose-Lose." Whenever I realize that I cannot win, I always help out the person who deserves to win most out of the people who stand a chance, and at anything really. Dragging people down with me really just does not sound that appealing.
Many habits I had a head start on because I practiced aspects of them in my everyday life. A couple are "Seek First to Understand Before Being Understood," and "Sharpen the Saw." Listening has always come easy to me, and with the ability, the responsibility of playing therapist for people. My problem comes with the "Being Understood" half. I have never a very open person, and only I speak openly to one or two people at maximum. At least the first half comes easy to me. Whenever I saw that there was a chapter on basically resting, I became exited! I thought, "YIPPEE! Finally, an excuse to laze around all day!" Then upon reading, I discovered that that merely covered about a quarter of the habit. Moreover, for renewing the body, exercise is recommended, not laying around all day. However, some parts, such as renewing the mind, heart and soul I would ace a test on, and luckily they are the other three dimensions of "Sharpening the Saw."
A teen wrote a comment for Sean Covey, and it said something like, "If The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens doesn't help you, you already have the perfect life." Honestly, I disagree. I readily admit that the book has assisted in some aspects of my life, but anyone who reads and does not put the habits into action is wasting their time. I reccommend this book to anyone who sees improvement to be made in their life and would love to improve their life, which I hope includes everyone.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Over the last few months, during normal conversation with my female friends, I often stumbled across habits or conditions which reaffirmed my gratitude to God for making me male. For the record, I apologize in advance for any offence taken, but this is my honest, blunt, opinion. This list goes from the most gladdening to the most trivial. Moreover, generalities are used in nearly every reason of this list, so not everything listed applies to every person. Just in case, I apologize in advance again.
- Childbirth: I hear that bearing children hurts more than anything else. I would rather not experience anything to that degree. The result may be more than worth the pain, but I am just glad that I do not have to experience anything near that pain.
- Periods: Many friends of mine complain of the cramps and uncomfortableness that accompanies this monthly cycle. Moreover, the moodiness that may accompany a period may cause tension between close ones.
- Menopause: Later in life, many women experience menopause, which can be accompanied with hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and other negative symptoms. To me, menopause sounds like a miserable time, and, like my first two reasons, something that I would definitely not enjoy. Luckily, I do not have to.
- Horrible guys: I have to admit, some guys are jerks. Some are players, some are opportunistic, and some just do the absolutely unforgivable. It seems that every girl I know looks past the most obvious negative in a guy and utterly falls for him. If their attraction (or perhaps dependence) becomes too great, then sometimes they go through cycles of love and hate. I couldn't stand being so fickle. Understandably, this does not apply to every female I know, but to quite a few, it does. Sometimes, guys go too far though. This breed of scum relies on intoxication and trickery to have his way with women. Such dirt does not deserve life.
- Shaving, and alternatives: Women have to shave a much larger area than men. Honestly, shaving my face can be more than enough! Some even get waxings, which, to tell the truth, frighten me to no end. How can anyone undergo such pain willingly?
- Make up: Personally, make up seems to be a multi-million dollar waste of money. To me, most girls look fine without makeup. Even worse, sometimes they look worse with makeup on. Spending a great deal of time attempting to look perfect when your natural skin looks good enough seems like a grand waste of time.
As time continues to pass, I will probably add and subtract items from this list, but have no fear, I am sure that I will always be extremely thankful that I am male. As a bit of a disclaimer, I must say that nearly everything listed in this post is based on assumption and hearsay. None of this I have personally experienced exactly as I have written. For example, I have shaved, just not my legs. That being said, I say my final appology for any offence taken and retire until next time.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Unfortunately, this book contains certain characteristics that disappointed me. One, over-casting, can degrade from the overall effect of a book by going into too much detail involving minor characters. Another problem of over-casting involves remembering characters. With so many characters, remembering every one, and relevant information involving them, becomes difficult. Robin Cook also uses strange names in Foreign Body, which is justified because the events unfold in India. However, he uses names very similar to each other, for example the names Rajish and Ramesh can be confused very easily.
Another dissatisfying trait that this book possesses is the point at which the book caught my interest. By the time I actually reached the good part of this book, I had sworn that I would never read another of Cook’s books. The satisfying action in this book occurred within the last twenty percent of the novel. Most books have action placed throughout, but this manuscript concentrated all interesting parts near the very end. Not only is the action too concentrated, but also any decent skirmish dissipates momentously quickly.
Thus far I have not allowed Robin Cook any leeway or slack. Thus far I have criticized and cut down his work, but despite all of the negative aspects of this novel, some positive features exist. For one, this book made me think. The events told of in this paperback seem impossible at first, but upon further inspection, a revelation may occur. Some people will do anything for money and power. Inside this tale, greedy, despicable humans inside this book and outside, commit crimes remorselessly just to gain material possessions or power. This book simply provokes one to question the morality of big business, their government and others, and perhaps other seemingly normal people. After reading this novel, I realized that anyone can succumb to corruption, and given the right circumstances, definately will.
Regretfully, this book’s over-casting, slow pace, and other degrading traits take away from the thought provoking aspects of this novel. If read through completely, Foreign Body becomes a decent read, but the difficulty lies in reading through the book completely. Had I not had to have read the book for AP Biology, I would have thrown the paperback into the fire and realize that watching the sorry book burn actually turned out to be more entertaining than reading to where I got to. I must say, I do not recommend this book to anyone save die hard Robin Cook fans. To be quite blunt, Robin Cook’s Foreign Body was a complete waste of time and given the opportunity, I would un-read the pitiable novel.
Within these pages, an important theme lies. This book teaches the importance of every decision we make. As Hannah demonstrates, even small actions lead to bigger ones, and perhaps by other people at that. A simple action such as being on a joke best/worst list had repercussions until Hannah’s death. The list opened doors for rumors to start, people to talk about, and drama to center around. Later, certain guys attempted to take advantage of her based on the rumors they heard. One was a Peeking Tom who took pictures of her through her window! As Hannah herself states, “When you mess with one part of someone’s life, you’re messing with their entire life.” The theme of this book can be stated as, “Your actions have repercussions throughout every part of a person’s life, and not only theirs, but everyone close to them as well.
Most books I enjoy possess a simple, easy to understand format, but Th1rteen R3ason’s Why has a format far from my preference. However, and despite my confusion between the speakers at times, I loved the format in which the book took. In the book, Hannah’s words are italicized, and Clay’s responses, thoughts, and other actions are in plain print. The book does not split Hannah’s speaking and Clay’s reactions into different chapters, but integrate one into the other. Oftentimes Clay contradicts Hannah’s statements in his mind as he listens to her tapes.
As can be expected from a book about a girl who kills herself and the people whom contributed to her suicide, the tone can be spiteful and dark. However, other times, I can practically hear a normal teenage female voice speaking something sarcastic, or cracking a pun. I hate to say this, but sometimes this girl actually says funny things. To make matters worse, she says them in the tapes regarding her suicide! For most of the book, she does not sound resolved to kill herself. She does not even like the word! As the book progresses, an apparent change occurs in Hannah’s voice. The once slightly disturbed teenager turns utterly despondent and indifferent to the world. Clay, on the other hand, speaks roughly the same throughout the book. His melancholy statements regarding Hannah remain until the end. Other characters, such as Tony, stay the same for the entire book as well.
Th1rteen R3ason’s Why tells the story of a funny suicidal teenage girl and another teenager who only wants to know the truth, no matter how gruesome. Through the tapes, he learns gruesome truths about others, and he learns his own part in her demise. During the night, he travels to the scenes mentioned by Hannah, and listens to each story at their respective locations. Clay learns the same lesson that everyone should learn after reading this book. He learns that every action has a reaction on everyone. However, this book contains a little mature content, so I advise reader discretion. Despite that fact, I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone, no matter their favorite genre.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
One original characteristic that I noticed while reading this book was the characters. Every character possessed different personalities, different attitudes, and slightly different dialect. Wells makes denizens of the back-water town Iping sound straight out of the country, whereas the citizens of larger towns speak in a more cultured, correct manner. Even among the members of Iping, variation exists. For example, Huxter speaks nearly perfect English, whereas Hall injects a bit of country jargon into standard English. On the other hand, educated people, such as Dr. Kemp, speak very perfect English, and speak as though they are above other people.
Another characteristic the book possessed that impressed me lies in the writing style. At the beginning of a chapter, the narrator makes matter-of-fact comments, whereas during the actual telling of the tale, the tone seems rather angry, and later, insane. “I have told the circumstances of the stranger’s arrival in Iping with a certain fullness of detail, in order that the curious impression he created may be understood by the reader,” is one such matter-of-fact statement. An example of an angry to manic tone could be, “It was my landlord with threats and inquiries, and old Polish Jew in a long grey coat and greasy slippers. I had been tormenting a cat in the night, he was sure, --- the old woman’s tongue had been busy… I told him to get out… In a moment I had him by the collar; something ripped and he went spinning out into his own passage. I slammed and locked the door and sat down quivering.” The characters seem to come alive in this novel!
All praise aside, The Invisible Man stands as a solid good read, and a book worth reading. From nearly page one, curiosity and suspense kept the pages turning. However, this book can be a bit difficult to read because of the old English words used. In the end, the rewards of this book greatly outweigh the costs. I recommend H. G. Wells’s The Invisible Man to anyone who enjoys a good science fiction novel, and anyone who likes a book about power, and the consequences of possessing it.
One unusual characteristic of this book lies in the writing style. To my dismay, a pessimistic, nearly despondent, and angry tone pervades itself through the entire book. Normally, such a horrible tone makes me want to scream, “Burn it!” within the first three pages. However, despite the dreadful style, this book kept me glued to the page and not wanting to put the book down.
Yet another facet of this classic that engrossed me was the wide cast of characters present. Salinger knows how to make people out of characters for sure! By the time I had finished half of the book, I felt as though I knew Holden well enough to predict his next abysmal phrase. Even minor characters such as Stradlater and the nuns are described in so much detail; they seem to have more of a personality than some real humans. Stradlater’s hurried actions and snobbish request (as well as Holden’s commentaries about him) suggest that his personality can be summed up as snobbish and arrogant. The nuns’ kind actions and courteous behavior toward Holden portray them as stereotypical nuns.
Other examples of the uniqueness of this book lie in the setting. Typically, I can relate to the setting of a book somehow, but this takes place in the Big Apple, New York City. On the contrary, Salinger describes the streets to a degree in which I could find my way through the megalopolis.
All rambling aside, I thoroughly enjoyed J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. The unique style and word play captured me and held me hostage until the last page. I highly recommend this book, and can guarantee that it will be like nothing you have read before.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
The common stereotype of pirates states that they are stinky, angry, greedy, ruthless, brigands. However, the captain doesn't fit that description. He washes nearly religiously, and uses almost an entire bottle of my body wash every time. He keeps his cool constantly, and this calm seems unbreakable. However, he comes out of his tranquil state when challenged to a contest of sorts. Anything really will bring out his competitive side. He rejoices when winning, and would rather die than lose. Captain Quack behaves in an altruistic way. He avoids plundering towns and merchant ships, and focuses on mythical treasures and other pirates. Not only does he target these sea-thieves' ships, but he also chooses the worst of the worst to attack. Then he doesn't take the treasure as his own, but he attempts to return the loot to its rightful owner. He is a very greedy pirate isn't he? Captain Quack Sparrow became a pirate for lack of a better word; really, he conducts himself more like a vigilante. Captain Quack always gives his victims the opportunity to go peacefully, and never rushes needlessly into a fight. He conducts himself very much unlike the vulgar prejudice, no?
People say to never judge a book by its cover, and that cannot be truer in this case. Pirates do not behave decently, and the captain shouldn't be excused from that fact. However, Quack Sparrow's tale cannot be described as normal. I have presented one mere facet of Captain Quack Sparrow's personality, and have not even begun on his story. However, in due time, his tale will unfold, reveal its mysteries, and make his life fully known.