Sunday, September 29, 2013

I Know I'm Posting a Lot of Videos But...

I'm sorry for all the YouTube links and videos but they just really hit the nail on the head with a lot of stuff.

Speaking of which, if I hear one more thing about "kids these days", and how lazy we are, and how everything is going down hill, I am going to scream. So, I'm not saying you have to or anything, it's completely optional, but you should really watch the video I attached to this. 


-xoxo

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Un-tech Savvy

I am currently blogging from my new Samsung Galaxy Tab 3! Yes, this is the one I was talking about a few blog posts ago, my amazing Godfather completely surprised me and got it for me and I love it.

The only downside...

It's not compatible with itunes. As previously stated in past blogs, I was a big Apple person, I have an iPhone and MacBook, so I've spent a pretty penny in the itunes store. I have movies, music, shows, stuff that I would want on my tablet.

I synced up my tablet and tried to transfer everything, assuming it would be like my Apple products and just show up in my itunes, but nooooo, they have to make it extra difficult. Forty-five minutes later, after reading the instruction manual, I do what the manual has instructed me to do and go on the android website and download the itunes equivalent for Samsung. An hour later, after dragging over my music, tv shows, and movies, I re-sync up my tablet and everything goes smoothly.

It was in this false sense of security that I decided to try to see what a movie would look like on here. I tapped on the movie title and a screen popped up that said "not compatible with your device", in my naive state I thought maybe it was a fluke so I tried all the movies, music, and tv shows and none of them worked. Not cool.

After further investigation I gathered that itunes encrypts their stuff with something that makes it unable to play on non-Apple devices. From an Apple business standpoint, this is great! It forces people to stick with Apple because it's easier to use the software they already have, plus they don't want to lose the stuff they purchased from itunes.

From a regular person with itunes and a tablet, this sucks. I like this tablet too much to switch to an ipad, yet I want my itunes stuff. They give me no choice but to be shady and find some anti encryption android software that has to be out there somewhere on the internet,

I feel personally victimized and bullied.

Why must they make this so difficult,  can't we all just get along? I should not have to give an arm and a leg to get stuff that I paid for, and therefore own, onto a different device. I should be able to put my itunes purchases wherever I please, from whatever company I please, whether it be Apple, Samsung, or something else entirely. No matter what I do with it I paid for it, they still get the money, so I don't understand why this is even an issue.

I'm really not tech savvy enough for all this.
-xoxo

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Art of the Student Athlete


My athletic background is pretty extensive. I've been doing sports year round since I was four years old. I was born into a track family, my sisters did it and my parents were very involved with it, it was just assumed that like them I would spend my spring and summers running track and play basketball in the winter. I'm a rebel. I couldn't just do what my sisters did, that would be too easy, I had to try everything and come to my own conclusions and opinions because that's just how I am. I'm a generally athletic person, sports just come naturally to me. I've been running track for 13 years, danced (jazz, tap, and pointe ballet) for 9 years, played basketball for 9 years, played volleyball for 4 years, did competitive gymnastics for 3 years, played field hockey for 3 years, and did softball for 1 year. There were times when I would go straight from one practice to another; I was active to say the least. 

When I look back now it seems like a lot but for me it was just hanging out with my friends only we would be outside running around or in a gym doing suicides. Much to my parents dismay I didn't take it seriously until around 8th grade, but how serious can you really expect a 12 year old to be? I was just happy to be there and surprised I even made the teams most times. I remember during basketball my parents would get upset with me for smiling too much, they thought I lacked aggressiveness. 

You could be the ripest, juiciest, peach in the whole world but there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches. That's just life. 

With the exception of track (freshman through senior year) and volleyball (freshman through junior year, I jumped ship to Cross Country for my senior year) which I continued to do in high school, I was doing all of these sports during elementary and middle school. I got straight A's from 1st grade to 7th grade. I received my first B in Algebra 1, a high school class mind you, in the 8th grade and I was absolutely devastated. This was just the beginning of my rocky road with the world of mathematics. School was a breeze for me, I didn't even try most of the time. I enjoy reading, I enjoy writing, these were never challenging tasks for me. The homework, if we even got any, I usually finished at the end of class. I live in a very good school district and the schools are top notch, I was just a very good student, it was just easy.

And then I got to high school.

High School just raises the stakes for everything. Freshman year the only thing on my mind was, "these are the grades that are used to decide the rest of my life". My thought process was if you get bad grades then; you go to a bad college, you get a bad job, you end up homeless, and then you die. In my household college isn't one of those optional things, it's assumed, it's a known fact that you will attend college and get an education which I fully support. There's no such thing as being overeducated.

Since freshman year I've taken all honors and AP classes with the exception of math and science, those were always L-2 or "accelerated" which is like the next level down from honors. My brain cannot process math, I don't know why. It's just something I struggle with a lot. Albert Einstein once said, "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." I am a fish trying to climb a tree when it comes to math. It just doesn't work. And it's not even all math; I can do real world math that I will actually use in life, I got an A+ in accounting, so I will be able to do my taxes, pay my mortgage, pay my bills, and handle my personal finances but gosh forbid something like 2z³ - 3z² + 2z -3 = 0 come up in real life. Even with tutors I have consistently gotten C's in math since freshman year. I don't like it, I don't understand it, and most importantly I don't see the use for it. I have no plans to be a mathematician or a scientist so someone please tell me when I will use precalculus in my daily life!? When will I exclaim "Oh thank goodness for that geometry from freshman year, I'd be in a real pickle without it!" It lowers my GPA and makes how I look on paper (test scores and transcripts and what not) seem merely average and I hate it and math is stupid. Not that I'm bitter or anything. 

And I'm involved in more than just sports; I'm in National Honor Society, National Art Honor Society, Peer Leaders, and The Scout (my school newspaper). I try to be well rounded and get a taste of everything. 

As of fall of my senior year I have 8 varsity letters. Being a student athlete, especially one who aspires to be a collegiate student athlete, is difficult. In my opinion it's completely worth it, but it's something you have to work at. Time management is not only a commodity, its a necessity. Different things are due at different dates for different classes, there are meets and games and practices everyday and homework due and everything just happening at once. It's a lot.

Freshman year was the first time I had to juggle serious sports with challenging schoolwork. Managing time is hard. The only thing I ever learned from science is that for every action there is a reaction. Freshman year I dedicated a majority of my time to school and my track performance suffered. Sophomore year I was fully consumed by track and I worked very hard in and outside of practice and my grades dipped. Junior year I tried to find a happy medium between freshman and sophomore year and my grades stayed the same but I had my best season yet. Action, Reaction. For senior year I'm just trying to push through and give it all I've got. This is the end of the "easy" part, after high school it's full speed to college then straight into that "real world" I've heard so much about.

I'm not going to lie and act like after a hard workout or a long meet I haven't just showered and crawled into bed, fully knowing I have homework to do and tests the next day. In that moment, when you're that tired and depleted, there's just nothing left. Seven hours of school, three hours of practice, you're just completely done. 

But you have to suck it up, get it done, and do the best you can. And yes, sometimes that means just writing whatever and doing the bare minimum just to get by, but that's better than just blatantly not doing it. 

A majority of the time it's just having the maturity and the will power to get stuff done, to know there's a bigger picture, something you're working towards. Really it's preparing you for life I guess. I mean I've only experienced the high school version of "life" thus far, but I've observed my sisters and parents for years and it seems like a million different things, all going on at once, that all require your care and attention. Just do the best you can, the last thing you want is to look back and wish you had done more, or pushed yourself, or tried harder. You can do it, I believe in you!

Life's tough, nobody makes it out alive
-xoxo


Monday, September 16, 2013

The New Miss America

Nina Davuluri (previously Miss New York) was crowned Miss America last night in Atlantic City

Good for her! I know there's been a lot of backlash over Nina being the first Miss America of Indian decent to win, but I truly think she represents America and did a great job. She embraced her culture during the talent part of the competition (as shown above) and plans on using the $50,000 scholarship she received for winning to follow her dream of becoming a doctor. I don't know why people continue to forget that this is a nation of immigrants, unless you're 100% Native American, someone at some point in your family's lineage came here from somewhere else.
 
I found the racist and ignorant comments aimed at her truly disturbing and disgusting. There were so many tweets going on and on; "I swear I'm not a racist but this is America, she shouldn't have won", "Miss America? You mean Miss 7-11", " The liberal Miss America judges won't say this - but Miss Kansas lost because she actually represented American values. #missamerica" "9/11 was 4 days ago and she gets miss America".

It's 2013, not every American has blonde hair and blue eyes (this isn't Sweden!), and I think that's a good thing. 
 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Shout Out to Chipotle

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUtnas5ScSE

That video is creepy. It's extremely well done, yet creepy. There's a Scarecrow game that goes along with it too (you can get it in the app store).

But that's kind of the point. To quote Mr. Ellis, my World Cultures teacher, "I'm one documentary away from becoming a vegetarian". When I actually think about what I'm eating, really think about where it came from and the journey it took to eventually end up on my plate, I lose my appetite, and I'm not even a fast food eater. Every so often I'll have Chick-fil-a, but besides that I won't touch the stuff.

I'm really pleased by the direction the Nation is going in as far as healthier eating and lifestyles. There's now a Subway in most Walmart's instead of McDonalds, I think people are more aware of the contents of their food as far as what exactly they're eating, and when I listen to the radio on my way to school almost every other commercial is about healthy alternatives to soda, and going out and being active. I don't know if this stuff will be enough, but it's surely a step in the right direction.

I grew up in a pretty healthy household but junk food never really appealed to me even when I was younger. I'm a huge fan of organic food (fruits and veggies especially), Whole Foods is great, I try to have at least three pieces of fruit with every meal, I only drink water with the exception of Naked smoothies which not only taste good but are good for you, and whenever I'm given the option I always choose wheat over white (except when it comes to grilled cheese, you can only make a grilled cheese on white bread, that's just principle). 

How do you make a change? You target kids. Adults are usually set on their opinions and routines, but kids are young and easily susceptible and don't know any better. McDonalds knew it (why else would their mascot be a clown for goodness sake! They had a children's cartoon show!!) and other fast food chains hopped on the bandwagon. Good for Chipotle for actually using this knowledge to do some good and try to help kids be healthier. 

We are the cumulation of the choices we make, so choose wisely.
-xoxo

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Cleanse

Over the summer I realized how cluttered my room was. I'm graduating from high school this year and then I'm going off to college. This has forced me to think a lot about the things I use and don't use (I can't take it all with me, a dorm is only so big). This led to me finally going through my closet and anything that I hadn't worn in the last 3 years I gave to Good Will. I was surprised how challenging this was, it was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I don't really think of myself as a materialistic person, but I have an attachment to my stuff that, I'll admit, is selfish. That's MINE. Mine mine mine. Don't touch it, don't look at it, don't think about it, because it's MINE. I would be on the verge of putting it in the giveaway pile, and then...

No, I can't possibly get rid of this, I wore it that time, with that person, on that day, that was such a great day. 

Or...

But what if I'm at a place, and then I run into a friend who has another friend who has a cousin who's a DJ who knows a guy who's having a throwback disco themed party next weekend and I don't have my multicolored sequined halter top!? What then??

OR the ever popular and oh so effective...

I paid $70 for these jeans I can't just give them away! These were expensive!

Because I'll really be getting my moneys worth by letting them sit in my closet for another 3 years...
Of everything I told myself, the most powerful one was remembering how much I paid for it. It's all about the benjamins. 

But now, when I look back at the amount of money I spent on clothes I not only didn't need, but didn't wear, I feel like an idiot. My older sister works in the fashion industry and she's really opened up my eyes. 

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Ladies and gentlemen, we are getting swindled. The clothes from these high end stores cost like $3 to make in some Cambodian sweatshop, and then are sold for $75. We, the consumers, purchase it, blissfully unaware that we just got played. It's mind boggling, it truly is. Look up the companies you are buying from and see #1: how the people who are making the clothes are treated (multi-billion dollar companies who pay their employees 5 cents a day, on a good day!), #2: how much what they're making actually costs so you can see how much you're getting ripped off, and #3: if the clothes are made in an ecofriendly fashion because a healthy earth, is a happy earth. 

I like shopping as much as the next girl but this kind of ruined it for me.

I feel like I've been lied to or something. 

It was amidst all of this that something occurred to me. How truly blessed was I that I was able to buy any of this nonsense in the first place, and then have so many other clothes that I could not only not wear them, but forget I even owned most of them? 

It really put things in perspective.
Why wouldn't I want to spread this good energy around to other people, to share my good fortune and be a blessing to someone else? 

I then proceeded to really comb through my closet and find things I didn't wear. I ended up filling two huge black trash bags with clothes, took it to Good Will, and felt great.

Three months later I can honestly report that the earth kept rotating, the sun didn't fall out of the sky, and I survived The Great Closet Cleanse of 2013. I neither miss nor remember anything I gave away, and my closet feels in no way shape or form lacking. I still have way more clothes than I need, more than enough to wear to school and all the other places I go, and I guarantee sometime in the near future I will go shopping because as a citizen of these United States, it's my civic duty to help our economy in any way I can (or so I tell myself).

Since I was in the cleaning mood, I decided to apply the same thinking to other things I had an extreme excess of. However, that was quite overwhelming so I procrastinated the task until right this moment.

Back in the day (Freshman year to be exact), I used to be really into technology. I wanted all the new devices, all the new gadgets, everything. Well, fast forward three years and now I have a bunch of out of date technology, since these days three years might as well be three hundred in the tech world, just sitting around. I don't even use most of it and I genuinely feel bad. Who am I to have all this stuff and just dismiss it at as clutter when there are people who would actually use it and cherish it? 

As a culture, we love our toys and I, sadly, am not immune. It's hard to part ways, yet it's a necessary evil. You see...

I have two staples as far as technology goes, my iphone and my MacBook. Two things I use everyday. BUT, I think I'm finally going to delve into the world of tablets. My mom and my sister both have ipads and they love them, but I don't think the ipad is for me. Frankly, it's too big, and it costs too much. I know they have the ipad mini but that seems too much like an ipod touch on steroids and I already have an iphone so I just couldn't justify it to myself. And I know it's called the ipad "mini" but the price is not so mini, $330 is ridiculous. What's the point when you can get a regular sized one for $70 more?

I'm sorry to do this to you Apple, I've been a faithful customer, but I think I'm going for the 7 inch Samsung tablet. It's smaller, it basically does all the same stuff, and (the real reason) it's $199. 

The whole reason I was even getting a new device to begin with was because I have a lot of music. I have thousands of songs, and a bunch of shows and movies in my itunes, and there's so much other stuff on my iphone that it can only fit 5 songs at a time. My way of countering this was getting the ipod classic, one big monster machine that would hold all the music, movies, shows, everything. Little did I know, the ipod classic is $240.My thought process was; gee, for that much money I might as well get a tablet, then I can just do everything on it. And so here I am.

Why do I need any of it, you may ask? 

I am on my school's winter track team, I actually do cross country and spring track as well, but anyway, in the winter for meets we travel 2-3 hours by school bus. Now this isn't every once in a blue moon, it's several times a week. We leave school early to go to the meets, and return usually around 11pm (the latest I've gotten home is 1am). Here's a little experiment, for the next 2 hours play the same 5 songs on repeat. 

Yeah.

I tried the Pandora thing but I have a limited data plan and I can't be using it up like that, so I came up with the ipod idea which then evolved into the tablet idea. The tablet will be pretty awesome because it holds everything, and it has a bigger screen, yet it's not totally obnoxious. Since I'm either on the bus or at my track meet for long periods of time, somewhere in there my homework has to get done. I have written 3 page long critical analysis essays on my iphone on more than one occasion. Afterward I vowed to myself; never again. 

So this year, I will be using my tablet, and, since I plan on continuing my track career into college, for the next 4 years after this as well. I don't even care that in 5 years they'll probably have some super sleek super thin new thing and mine will be old and out of date, as long it still works, I will be mighty fine. 

But back to what I was saying, the old stuff I have is just sitting here. Tomorrow, I am going to suck it up and go to Gamestop and trade it all in for the $2 it's probably worth, and I will be well on my way to a clutter free, more effective life.

Go be productive!
-xoxo 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Banksy


I have always been a lover of good, powerful, art and a street artist I've really started to like is a guy named Banksy. There's a documentary about street art that was produced by him and also features him called Exist Through the Giftshop and it's really quite interesting if ever you want to take a glance at it. To summarize: Banksy is a graffiti and street artist but the whole thing with him is no one has ever seen him, no one knows who he is. Allegedly they now have photos of him and you can google it but whatever, to add to the mystery lets just ignore those allegations for now. 

His art is really spectacular. It's nothing crazy intricate, just simple with a message about society, government, things of that nature. He really has a problem with the government labeling graffiti as "vandalism" which is evident in some of his work. 

There's a whole debate amongst street artist over whether or not he's a sellout because his art is worth a lot of money, not that he himself directly sells any of it, and he has a documentary and what not but you know what they say; don't hate the player, hate the game. 

More power to you Banksy, whoever you are. 

*visit his website here*= http://www.banksy.co.uk/menu.html






















-xoxo

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Middle East Simplified (Kinda)


Tomorrow is September 11. I am a proud American citizen, born and raised here, I'm from a military family with a grandfather who lived and died a proud member of the United States Army and was a WWII veteran, I have three uncles who were all either in the National Guard or Army Reserves, and a cousin who is proud and serving member of the Navy. Go USA!

I was very young when 9/11 happened and I, as well as many other people I'm sure, aren't exactly sure how or why it happened, or rather what led to it. I don't think there will ever be a real explanation or justification for so many innocent lives to be taken and it was truly a tragedy. 

I'm going to try, I may not succeed, but I'm going to try to explain what led up to 9/11.

Just a general disclaimer; I'm no Middle Eastern expert. I must say I have had some very excellent teachers (shout out to Mr.Ellis and Mrs. Politis) whom I feel have given me the ability to grasp and understand what's going on in the Middle East, and the world for that matter, but I'm neither a college professor nor a text book. I will try my absolute best to give a simple layout for an extremely complicated situation. If you are interested in this type of stuff I highly recommend reading The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. He's a phenomenal writer and a native Afghani and he really humanizes what's happening over there and explains it all really well without it being boring or confusing. 

All this stuff is still so relevant to today and what's happening right now but it's a lot of information and it's hard to keep up. 

Okay so let me try to break this down...

There was a TON  of stuff leading up to 1979 (Western hatred and whatnot) but those are for another day, today, we'll start here:

---> = arrows

1979: Soviets invade Afghanistan trying to spread communist gov. --> we back Islamic insurgents (called the mujahideen) who resist Soviets (we don't want communist to spread, so we give them training and guns) --> war goes on for about 9 years, by 1990s Soviets Leave (Russian 'Vietnam War' just to give a reference) -----> Russians say "don't go there, don't do it" *Afghanistan called the Graveyard of Empires*

Soon the wheels start turning and the U.S. realizes hmmmm.... Afghanistan might be a threat to the us... so.... we train Iran and give them guns and just let them kinda go at it 

P.S. Iran and Afghanistan don't like each other

*The U.S. doesn't actually physically give anyone guns/ weapons, we give them money for whatever it is that they may need in a time of war .... (guns) *

-Parts of Afghanistan chaotic and lawless -> Enter the Taliban, strict Muslim extremist who take power PLOT TWIST  (the Taliban was previously the mujahideen)

Yes we trained them. And gave them weapons. Kinda. 

The Taliban did things such as:
-treat women TERRIBLY 
-public floggings and executions for no real reason
-forced to wear burqa (the face and body covering) because "the face of a women is a   source of corruption" for men not related to them. riiiiight.
-no education, forced to go to underground schools with death as the outcome if caught
-arranged marriages by force
They did many other absolutely terrible things to women, you may Google them at will
-hatred of Western anything 

^All of this was/is an extreme attempt not to lose their culture

Enter Bin Laden (who btw is Saudi Arabian NOT Afghani), he comes to Afghanistan and creates Al Qaida

Taliban = regional

Al Qaida = global

Yes, there's a difference. 

What are they: Muslim radical extremists. Technically the Taliban is a "political movement" and Al Qaida is a "militant Islamist organization" but I mean... lets be real here. 

Fast forward...

9/11/2001 --> U.S. invades Afghanistan (trying to dismantle Al Quadea and ipso facto Bin Laden) --> The War In Afghanistan (those details are for another time)


SIDE NOTE *completely unrelated to what I was previously talking about*:

Obama: I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria. HALLELUJAH. Open ended wars are just not good for us as a nation right now, especially right on the heels of the last war we were in... Obama really cleared up a lot and made it clear that his goal is NOT war, overall I think it was a great speech.

SIDE SIDE NOTE:



As I watch the analysis of Obama’s Syrian Speech on CNN, all I can think is ;I'm really getting tired of these Republicans. Newt Gingrich is just making himself look stupid, he needs to just be quiet.


Let me just rant about Republicans/ Congress for a minute...

Okay Republicans, we get it. You didn't vote for Obama; you don't like Obama. Okay that's great, I didn't vote for him either, I'm not even old enough to vote. As a complete third party who can make an un-bias observation I must say; Republicans need to move on and get over it. Whether they like it or not he's here and he's going to be here. They're putting what's best for their party over what's best for the country, but isn't their party's goal supposed to be doing what’s best for the country? They need to straighten out their priorities. When your party's goal is making the President of the United States, regardless of who he is, the man who was voted to his office by the people of this great nation, a "one term president", who exactly is being helped? He won office not once, but twice so I believe the country (certainly not all of it but the majority) has spoken.

So Congress... What's their approval rating these days, 9%? Focus on what's best for the country. That should be goal number one, point blank, no questions asked. Nobody should even have to tell them that, that should be common sense. Regardless of who's from what party, there needs to be term limits! Okay give the congressmen/congresswomen their shot, go ahead, but once they act up, like they've BEEN acting up, there needs to be a way to get rid of them. Congress is accomplishing nothing. The rest of the world is moving on and progressing and, if it were up to Congress, America would just be at a standstill. We would be eight years behind everyone else because for two presidential terms they couldn't do anything but bicker like a bunch of middle school girls. It's disgraceful, it really is.

People risk everything to come here. They give up all their possessions, and possibly never see their families again to come here and have the opportunities we have, to have their shot and to give their kids a shot at the "American Dream". At my high school there are two janitors who emigrated here from Russia. In Russia they were nuclear physicists and now in America they’re janitors cleaning up after rich upper-middle class kids. That’s quite a career change. People sacrifice a lot to come to America and I think Congress doesn't realize this because if they did they would treat their positions with respect and would genuinely want to make our country better. 

If they want to have some kind of Republicans vs. Democrat thing they can lace up their sneakers and go out on the White House lawn and have at it in a game of flag football. Maybe that would finally squash this constant need to be better or have more power than the other party. I don't know about them but I learned cooperation and teamwork in the first grade.

To quote Mr.Steve, a retired teacher and now part time carpenter and full time nature lover: "America is the greatest nation in the world, you don't see anyone trying to sneak into China."

And with that, goodnight.
-xoxo




Monday, September 9, 2013

Notes From the Universe

Something new that I recently signed up for are daily emails from the Universe and I highly recommend everyone sign up for it. It's completely free, they won't spam you to death or sell your email address to other people who will spam you to death (check out the Privacy Policy on their website for more details), and it's run by some really great people who just want to inspire the world. I won't bore you with all the information, you can read about that on their website which I will link below, but they're daily reminders that put life in perspective. With school, work, sports, social lives, and all the other stuff, we, myself included, tend to lose sight of the "bigger picture". Here's a sample of one of the emails:

"Some claim not to know, not to see... but, Liz...

That there are birds who sing at every hour of the day for no other reason than to be heard...

Creatures of the deep who flip and twirl just for the fun of it...

"Furry friends" who love just as dearly as they are loved, and...

Flowers so exquisite, pleasing human eyes could be their only explanation... must surely prove that you're living in the most magical fairytale ever imagined. N'est-ce pas?

Tallyho,
     The Universe"

Pretty awesome right?

Check it out at: http://www.tut.com/Index/index

Stay golden,
-xoxo

Hello Blog-iverse!

I'm new to all of this but I'm very excited to get started! I'm a high school senior and I'm making this blog for my journalism class but I'm sure I will continue to blog long after I graduate and go off to college. I was so excited for this and have been coming up with ideas all last week and I can't wait to share them with you guys!

Until next time,
-xoxo