Talking About It Without Using “It”

I don’t usually post twice in one day, but this is a really great listen if you’ve got 8 minutes. Extra Credits is a wonderful show because they tackle topics that other people can’t do right, and always find a way to weasel in reason and compromise for every side of the story. Also addresses all sorts of other issues in video game culture that are not directly mentioned (also this episode is older than some bigger outbreaks of hatred) but is rather implicitly talked about.

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The AP Exam: English Language and Composition

So, after being sick last Thursday and Friday, and all weekend long… I returned to school today and had the chore of my AP English midterm. It consisted of two essays in an 84 minute period: an argumentative and a rhetorical analysis.

The thing with an AP class, especially with this one, is that there’s not a lot of STUFF to learn. You’re really just learning three separate skills. A rhetorical analysis essay prompt asks you to read a passage of writing and dissect it and look at what the author has DONE and why they did it, rather than the message of their words. This is most often (and most easily) done with a speech, but sometimes there’s other weird fictional pieces or memoirs in there. Odd stuff, really. An argumentative essay is really easy if you have any opinions at all: you’re given a controversial issue, and you must determine whether it is X or Y and justify your case with evidence. If you want any kind of a strong essay, you counter yourself and then explain why you’re still right. “Some people might THINK it’s X, but it’s really Y because …” et cetera. And finally, the synthesis essay is basically an argumentative essay on steroids with pre-given sources. You have seven or eight-ish sources, one or more of which is an image of one kind or another (usually useless graphs, in my opinion, that don’t contribute to the actual prompt’s purpose), and you utilize them to form an opinion about the issue.

That’s about it. This class teaches you those skills, and not really a whole lot else. Some vocabulary for rhetorical analyses, but if you’re good at dissection, you don’t really need to know what each tool is called if you can use it properly. (It helps, though. Like if you have an assistant to hand you your tools and would rather have your eyes on whatever you’re dissecting …. but this metaphor’s going too far.) The thing this creates is that this class, much more so than the AP Psychology* class I’m taking, is really a class for the exam. Some people debate the credibility of AP classes because it’s literally “teaching to the test” but the problem with this is that these are college courses that not everyone’s actually going to try in.

What I’m getting at is that AP English is a year-long course and if you keep on doing your work and actually exerting effort … there’s no way not to get upper-half grades on your essays. The problem that everyone faces is time. Time, time, time. There’s never enough time, really. And after I finished my midterm this morning, I sat around and watched as people were scurrying with messy handwriting (and thought about all the sample essays we’d read which I couldn’t read because of the dreadful handwriting) and I wondered why we couldn’t type them. The school can easily revoke Internet access to computers on its network. We are a techie generation, after all, and the future’s computers, regardless of what you’re going into. And the thing is, I don’t know how old y’all are (does anyone even really read this blog? If so, you must be irritated by my parenthetical overuse) or how much bearing that has, or how much or how often you write – but I revise in my head. I don’t plan when I write. I just write. That’s the only writing I can do and the only writing I’ve ever been able to do … and go ask my English teachers, they all think I roll out some pretty great stuff. So, right – the point is, everyone in this class probably has the skills that they need. But they can’t finish their essays because they’re stressed for time and their hands cramp up from handwriting and then they freak out because they don’t have enough time and whatever they’re able to scribble out before time’s up is illegible and THEN where are they?

Boy, I can get on a tangent, eh?

Mostly the reason I’m writing this is because I couldn’t find any good posts about it elsewhere. I think it’s an honest thought worth considering. Wouldn’t be too hard to pull off, I don’t think – a lot of classes take their exams in libraries anyway, where the computers are, at my school at least. Imagine those graders down in Kansas or wherever they are (does it change?) – how much easier would their lives be if they could just read a nice typed paper instead of deciphering the hundreds or maybe even thousand or so different handwritings they have to read?

Do discuss, I’m deeply interested in this possibility.

[[** So, our AP Psychology class. Psychology is a great class to take in high school as an elective because it’s interesting and you can and probably will (directly or indirectly) use it out of class. AP Psych is for those students who think they might wanna go beyond school and become a psychologist … or for those who’re really interested in it. The thing is that the class isn’t really hard. At all. The exam is a joke. We took our midterm back in December because Schleer’s a great teacher who wanted us to relax during our midterms week (as much as possible) and it’s so easy. He makes his tests much like the multiple choice on the midterm/exam, so nothing was really a surprise. And the essay questions…? Not hard at all. So the thing is that you can really use the class outside of class and if you’re any smart, well, that’s what you do.
Also, he acts like the class is so hard, but it’s not. He’s just addressing that so many people are lazy fucks who don’t do any school work. In AP Psych, you do indeed have to do the homework. But if you do, it really pays off.]]

You think the only people who are people…

… are the people who look and think like you.

I don’t have that much to say tonight. I’m just very sad. People continue to politicize and criticize and review and theorize the Sandy Hook shooting. I don’t know if you know this about me, but I really despise conspiracy theorists. Or at least those really pushy hateful conspiracy theorists who, similarly to extreme vegans, refuse to allow you to peacefully exist if you don’t accept their views and thoughts and feelings. If you disagree, you are a fucking disgrace. According to them, you are filth and you hardly deserve to exist. Especially in my family, this is directed against me in the form of elitism and superiority complexes. I am always wrong and misguided because I am younger and therefore cannot possibly know what I’m talking about.

And the sad thing is that you can’t just let it go with these kinds of people, because they won’t let you. They can’t shove their opinions aside for awhile to maintain decent conversation. I can’t understand it. I really can’t.

I’m sorry. I wish I had more to write about today, but I am at a loss. I’m just so frustrated and sad. This weariness is meaningless. Why do people like to breed stress? Whom does it benefit?

Nobody.

The Stuff!

I got an Alienware. It’s beautiful. I love it so very much. I don’t really have enough words for how much I love it. It is personalized and has my name laser-cut in the plate on the bottom.

I also got a thermal-painted mug from ThinkGeek which I adore, with a pixelated heart on the front. It fills up with red with warm beverage inside. It is wonderful. I also got a Horde wallet and beanie, which are wonderful. I also got demon hunter socks (Diablo 3), two sets of pajamas, too many pairs of socks to count, Guild Wars 2, Minecraft, The Secret World, Saints Row: The Third, and other awesome odds and ends.

Among several other awesome gifts, here are some highlights … Kenny, Natalie and Deanna got their mom a customized photo album, which was really spectacular and well put-together. Kenny and his dad both got brand new gaming keyboards, which are super wonderful (I got to use both before leaving!). Kenny’s dad also got a huge framed version of the family picture they took this year, which Kenny’s mom and I wrapped with the big bag they use to store tissue paper because yay recycling. Kenny received a one-soda-fitting USB refrigerator from ThinkGeek (popular spot for gifts this year). Kenny’s mom got three premium dog beds for her three pups – Muffin, Vivi and Curly. Deanna got an excellent jewelry tree and a mini camera, both of which she adores. Natalie got a neat memory photo board,  and a candle plus a hand-made candle holder Deanna made in pottery class.

For Deanna, I bought an awesome three-tier candle (scents include waterfall, ocean breeze and mountain air). For Kenny’s grandpa, who blesses his grandkids and the overly-fortunate me with creative monetary gifts every year, I got a fluffy dog bed for his beagle Ginger. For Natalie, I got a banana paper notebook because she likes doodling and writing and being green. For their dad, I got a memory-foam premium mouse pad … because it wasn’t dragons or Star Wars-related which are the kinds of presents he gets every year from everyone else! I also got two pairs of holiday towels because their downstairs bathroom is being renovated and Kenny’s mom mentioned being excited about refurnishing and decorating it. Aaaand Kenny’s awesome gift will be reserved for his 18th birthday in May because I completely flopped this year for Christmas, for which I deeply apologized about a million times. I wrapped and ‘gave’ him a super soft and warm blanket his mom had purchased and let me put my name on the nametag for. At least he liked the blanket … but I can’t slack like that!

For my mom, there were four presents. One was a mix CD with happy music on it, customized with music I picked out for her and music she’d been wanting. She uses these CDs in her car because she 1.) can’t plug her old iPod in to the car adapter and 2.) refuses to put much music on her work-paid iPhone. One was an Android action figure that Kenny bought two of from ThinkGeek, the other going to his friend in Web Dev who looooves Android. My mom’s first phone-of-choice, bought shortly before her job paid for her iPhone, was an Android – and although she has come to love her iPhone, she loves the little figure still. One was an orange popsicle magnet from Cleveland’s airport, through which I connected on my homecoming flight. The final present was a Cleveland Browns feminine-fit low-cut shirt which is brown and not orange, because despite graduating from OSU, she insists she looks bad in orange. She loved everything.

I think this Christmas was supremely awesome for everyone.

Happy New Year 2013

So, we survived 2012.

2013 feels weird. I don’t know why yet. I don’t really have any resolutions, because I’ve been becoming a better person over the past year and I’m on a pretty positive path. I have some goals – find a select number of colleges that I wanna apply to and take the SAT twice or thrice, however many times it takes to acquire satisfactory grades – but all of these are months and months away.

I’ve done a little introspection though and decided that I need to focus more. I’m kind of scatterbrained. I create stress for myself over things that aren’t worth worrying about. I don’t relax enough. And Kenny and I seem to have these weird phases where we’re not close enough. I focus more on reading Facebook and catching up on people who matter very little than I focus on spending time with Kenny and hearing about his day and what he’s done, et cetera.

Spending Christmas with him and his family is really a wonderful experience. They’re so  familial and close-knit. Even with their house in semi-ruins (well. . .) they’ll still decorate. They’ll still get up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on Christmas Day to open presents. The togetherness, even if patchy at times, is something so alien to me. And wonderful to be a part of, even for a little while.

This whole year though, I think, has just not been focused enough on what’s important. Not to say that years past (at least for me) ever were anything closer. I think my mom and I have grown a lot closer, even though there’ve certainly been bad patches. I still don’t like her boyfriend and I have my reasons, so I probably won’t, but that’s okay. I can be tolerant, which is all that really matters. I’ve been working on my homework and grades and stuff, but the indifference is creeping on me. Not because I don’t care, but because caring all the time is cumbersome. I don’t sleep enough. Like I said, I don’t give Kenny the attention he deserves. And the saddest part of this, though, is that I don’t really know why I’m acting weird about it. Why aren’t Mom and I getting along all the time? Why aren’t I just doing the homework and moving along? And most important to me, anyway – why am I not giving Kenny the attention and respect and love that he gives me effortlessly?

I don’t know … and that makes me sad. That’s my resolution, I guess. To focus more on what’s important.

Anyway, this is the reflective, philosophic post. Next up is the personal, materially Christmas-oriented post. 🙂