Follow by Email

Saturday, December 21, 2013


December 18, 2013 was a big day for my brother.  He graduated magna cum laude from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University!  It's impossible not to be proud!  It's time for him to make his mark on the world.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Hacking the School Schedule

Today Whitney Houg, Breanna Timmons and I hacked our school schedule by traveling to each others favorite classes! This is Whitney's welding class!

Thursday, December 12, 2013


BIG questions.....see our work! (Here!)

Literary Circles: Great Expectations

I read Great Expectations by Charles Dickens in a group with Allyson Brown, Miki Kagawa, Rachel Shedd, Brenna McNamara, and Rebecca Aldrich.  We all had different jobs, mine was to find historical and literary references and to research them for their relevance to the book.

Page 6- "He was a mild, good-natured, sweet-tempered, easy-going, foolish dear fellow - a sort of Hercules in strength, and also in weakness.

Page 10- "Some medical beast had revived Tar-water in those days as a fine medicine, and Mrs Joe always kept a supply of it in the cupboard."

Page13- "I knew my way to the Battery, pretty straight, for I had just been down there on Sunday with Joe."

Page 17- "I fully expected to find a Constable in the kitchen, waiting to take me up."

Page 20- "Wopsle said grace with theatrical declamation - as it now appears to me, something like a religious cross of the Ghost in Hamlet with Richard the Third.

Page 34- "...he would probably have excommunicated the whole expedition."

Page 86- "...and carrying a basket like the Great Seal of England in plaited straw."

Page 93- "I was pulling the bellows for Joe, and we were singing Old Clem, and when the thought..."

Page 133- "...and felt rather like Mother Hubbard's dog whose outfit required the services of so many trades."

Page 217- "The Queen of Denmark, a very buxom lady..."

Page 218- "Lastly, Ophelia was a prey to such slow musical madness..."

Page 219- "The joy attended Mr Wopsle through his struggle with Laertes on the brink of the orchestra and the grave..."

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Big Question Continued....

Why are people so afraid to make mistakes when we can learn from them?
In this Ted Talk, Diana Laufenberg, explains how learning from mistakes is a better way for kids to learn in the common curriculum system.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I found Dr. Preston's mini-me!

Thirteen year old Logan LaPlante has taken all that we have focused on in"Open Sourced Learning" and has proven that it works.  He has achieved his ambitions of living a happy and healthy life through hacking his education system.

My Big Question...Continues

I am spending this year trying to answer/find solutions to my big question.  Why are people afraid of failure when you can learn from it?  Dr. Preston showed me this article about how virtual games show you how to learn from failure.  This blew my mind! I had never connected the dots until reading this.  Online games makes learners okay with failure because they are able to restart when they do something wrong and are awarded when they get it right.  This article talks about how to engage students in this virtual gaming type of learning.

Monday, November 25, 2013


No Exit Text Questions:
Think about the place you have chosen as your hell. Does it look ordinary and bourgeois, like Sartre's drawing room, or is it equipped with literal instruments of torture like Dante's Inferno? 
Can the mind be in hell in a beautiful place? Is there a way to find peace in a hellish physical environment? Enter Sartre's space more fully and imagine how it would feel to live there endlessly, night and day:
I have never really thought about what hell would be like.  I have never characterized it by instruments of torture or dark, fiery infernos.  Hell is different for every person, I think that is what makes it so frightening; it is individualized to make sure that every person is equally miserable.  You must pay for your sins, and your payment depends on what makes you most miserable.  Basically, my hell would be a combination of both Dante's and Sartre's.  Similar to Dante, the punishment would worsen depending on the sin, and similar to Sartre, the punishment would be individualized for every person.  To be able to find peace in a hellish environment would be very difficult, especially for the type of  people that are damned there.  Their minds are filled with fear and excuses.  Most sinners don't believe that they deserve punishment for what they do.  The sinners that do accept punishments are forgiven and don't go to hell.  Being stuck in a hellish situation night and day with no escape would drive me absolutely mad.  Even people who are forgiven would not be able to handle conditions like that.

Could hell be described as too much of anything without a break? Are variety, moderation and balance instruments we use to keep us from boiling in any inferno of excess,' whether it be cheesecake or adultery? 
Yes, at least my interpretation of it.  Endlessness is enough to drive anyone mad.  It is the perfect torture device.  This is why people don't stick to doing the same thing over and over.  There are always factors changing around us.

How does Sartre create a sense of place through dialogue? Can you imagine what it feels like to stay awake all the time with the lights on with no hope of leaving a specific place? How does GARCIN react to this hell? How could you twist your daily activities around so that everyday habits become hell? Is there a pattern of circumstances that reinforces the experience of hell?
Dialogue gives a sense of emotion to perceptions of surroundings.  The severity in which surroundings are received impact the audience.  Garcin impatiently questioning the vallet shows his fear and helplessness.  I love change, and sleep.  I can't imagine how incredibly awful it would be to stay awake all the time in the same place with no changes.  Garcin takes hell in internally.  He tries to ignore it, but bottles his fears up inside.  In an ordinary day, if you enjoy what you do so you repeat it, is doesn't necessarily mean that it's hell.  Eventually someone will grow tired of the repetition and change their routine. This isn't possible in real hell.  In real life I would picture hell as someone stuck doing an uneventful job that they hate and can't get out of.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


My group is reading Great Expectations.  We plan on making a Facebook page to communicate and update information on.  The book is 412 pages longs so in the ten days that we have to read it, we will read around 41 pages a day.  When our work is complete, we plan on taking snapshots of our Facebook page and uploading them to our blog.


In the darkness, stay they may;
for the cave is where they live their life
and they know not of the light of day.
To them, their surroundings are rife.

As shadows dance across the cave wall
the prisoners sit in muteness,
for them the cave is all;
a flicker of light, shadows, shackles, and darkness.

What will happen if one is set free?
In a new light they are sure to be enlightened,
but how can this be?
With in open-mind their future is brightened.

An open-mind frees the soul
for acquired intelligence takes no toll.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Plato's Allegory of the Cave

1. According to Socrates, what does the Allegory of the Cave represent?
The Allegory of the Cave represents how we perceive things around us and how people with different backgrounds have different interpretations of the same thing.

2. What are the key elements in the imagery used in the allegory?

The prisoners and their chains, the fire, the puppet shadows on the cave wall, and the reflections in water are all key elements of imagery in the allegory.

3. What are some things the allegory suggests about the process of enlightenment or education?

Plato believes that everyone is given the capacity to learn when they are born, but for most it is difficult and takes time.  The allegory shows how individuals can be "enlightened" by being brought out of a cave into the real world and being shown the life they never knew existed.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Hamlet Essay Remix...In Progress

A Poetic Inquiry

Big Question:  
Why are people so afraid of making mistakes when it is proven that we learn from them?

A Sonnet of Fear

When life becomes a trembling world of fear, 
you question every single move you make, 
afraid your loving soul will disappear; 
for danger looms, awaiting your mistake. 
What hidden word will cause explosion's might 
to back you in a corner of despair? 
Your sole reprieve lies in the ebon night, 
yet anger boils from pain he wouldn't spare. 
Where love once dwelled resides a burning hate 
as desperation's hand has gained control. 
No longer viewed as your eternal mate; 
to save yourself becomes the utmost goal. 

Envisioning a pool of crimson red; 
a knife within your hand; your fear is shed.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Jo Lynn Ehnes

I choose this sonnet to represent my big question because it expresses the emotions of fear that I am curious about.  Why does making a mistake feel like its the end of the world?  There are so many benefits of trial and error.  Failure is a very good learning tool. "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

Sonnet Analysis #1

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Do Actions Speak Louder Than Words?

      Throughout the play Hamlet by Shakespeare, Hamlet is expected to take action based upon his words, but is compelled by others and fails to carry out his promise until the end of the play.  The term performative utterance suggests that there is a division between what is said and what is done and that "certain language doesn't merely describe action but acts in being spoken." (deBoer 1) Based on a dry cut understanding of this term and its use in the play, it would be expected that Hamlet would kill Claudius much sooner.  The use of performative utterance in this play rather shows how Hamlet finds himself through self overhearing; he gains knowledge of himself by overhearing what he speaks.   There are three main forces of performative utterance that are evident throughout the play and show how Hamlet is able to find himself through his words.

     In act I when Hamlet says, "So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word; it is 'Adieu, adieu! remember me.' I have sworn 't," to the ghost of his father; Shakespeare is using the locutionary force.  Hamlet doesn't just speak, he delivers a message.  Through his words his  entire audience has a similar idea of what he means and what his purpose is.

     Early in the play Hamlet establishes his intensions.  By saying, "I have sworn 't," Hamlet is making a pact that he will kill his uncle Claudius and avenge his father's murder.  This is the illocutionary force; what is done in being said.  By swearing, Hamlet is telling his audience what his intensions are.  An example would be, "I now pronounce you man and wife."  Simply by the utter of these words it is known that the couple is now married.  Based on performative utterance, it is expected that Hamlet will now go and kill Claudius without hesitation, but it's only through self overhearing that his pact is fulfilled.  He is constantly compelled by other characters such as Horatio, Gertrude, and Ophilia, but through his internal and external conflicts he realizes his own utterance and in doing so realizes himself.  This is when he can finally get his revenge.

     By swearing that he will kill Claudius, Hamlet is achieving half of the battle.  Based on performative utterance, his words will "change the reality that they are describing."  This is the perlocutionary force; the result of what is being said. Even though it took five acts to get the job done and everyone died except Horatio, Hamlet carried out his promise.  Until this point, Hamlet was finding himself through self over hearing. In this process he learned who he could and couldn't trust and also learned of his love for Ophilia.  Once Hamlet successfully killed king Claudius, the use of performative utterance was complete.

     Once Hamlet was able to hear himself speak, the use of performative utterance in Hamlet became apparent. By breaking down Hamlet's promise to avenge his father into the three main forces it was clear that the action of words created a reaction. "Language does not only describe but does." (deBoer 3)

Per formative Utterance Notes

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Vocabulary #9

aficionado: (noun) an enthusiastic and usually expert follower or fan
All of brothers are Laker aficionados and enjoy keeping track of their stats.

browbeat: (verb) to intimidate by a stern or overbearing manner; to bully
When football players are lined up before each play they browbeat their opponents.

commensurate: (adj.) equal in size, extent, duration, or importance; proportionate; measurable by the same standards
Parents try to commensurate the amount of attention that they give to each child.

diaphanous: (adj.) very sheer and light; almost completely transparent
The diaphanous shells was very delicate and easy to crack.

emolument: (noun) profit derived from an office or position or from employment; a fee or salary 
The store manager was given the generous emolument of a trip to Hawaii.

foray: (noun) a quick raid, especially for plunder; a venture into some field of endeavor; (verb) to make such a raid
As soon as the sun went down the bears began their foray throughout the campsites.

genre: (noun) a type, class, or variety, especially a distinctive category of literary composition
Alternative music is currently a very popular genre.

homily: (noun) a sermon stressing moral principles; a tedious moralizing lecture or discourse
The pastor's homily started to become repetitive.

immure: (verb) to enclose or confine within walls; to imprison, to seclude or isolate
I hate being sick because I feel immured to my room.

insouciant: (adj.) blithely indifferent or unconcerned; carefree; happy-go-lucky
I love the insouciant feeling that comes with camping in the Sierras.

matrix: (noun) a mold; the surrounding situation or environment
We are stuck in a matrix of pollution.

obsequies: (noun) funeral rites or ceremonies
A very respectful obsequies was help for her dear friend.

panache: (noun) a confident and stylish manner, dash; a strikingly elaborate or colorful display
Her panache made her really easy to talk to.

persona: (noun) a character in a novel or play; the outward character or role that a person assumes
Hamlet's persona is difficult to follow until the reader begins to read between the lines.

philippic: (noun) a bitter verbal attack
Cyber bulling is characterized by philippic attacks that are getting more and more out of hand.

prurient: (adj.) having lustful desires or interests
They became prurient with the idea of obtaining a large sum of money.

sacrosanct: (adj.) very sacred or holy; set apart or immune from questioning or attack
The sacrosanct plaque depicted  very important part of their history.

systemic: (adj.) of or pertaining to the entire body; relating to a system
Soccer is a very systemic sport at requires every part of the body to work in unison.

tendentious: (adj.) intended to promote a particular point of view, doctrine, or cause; biased or partisan
The tendentious propaganda that airs during political elections is not in the least way effective.

vicissitude: (noun) a change, variation, or alteration
Playing basketball was quite a vicissitude from playing soccer.

tools that change the way we think

"Back in 2004, I asked [Google founders] Page and Brin what they saw as the future of Google search. 'It will be included in people's brains,' said Page. 'When you think about something and don't really know much about it, you will automatically get information.'
'That's true,' said Brin. 'Ultimately I view Google as a way to augment your brain with the knowledge of the world. Right now you go into your computer and type a phrase, but you can imagine that it could be easier in the future, that you can have just devices you talk into, or you can have computers that pay attention to what's going on around them and suggest useful information.'
'Somebody introduces themselves to you, and your watch goes to your web page,' said Page. 'Or if you met this person two years ago, this is what they said to you... Eventually you'll have the implant, where if you think about a fact, it will just tell you the answer."

-From In the Plex by Steven Levy (p.67)

How does use of the Internet, media, and/or technology change the way you think? Focus on your memory, your ability to concentrate, your sense of time and priorities, and the subjects/topics that interest you most. If you find "thinking about your thinking" difficult to assess, try the following strategies: compare yourself with older people who did most of their formal learning before smart phones and 2.0 existed; compare yourself with contemporaries who don't use those tools much today; read up on what education leaders and thinkers have to say about generational differences in thinking.

When you have the internet as an instant resource, you immediately have abundant resources from all over the globe. Dr. Preston could tell us something that he believes to be accurate and true and we could look up his statement and find numerous answers and facts that differ from what he told us. Before smart phones and even the internet were in wide use; students just had to believe and accept what they were told in school. Every student now has the power to initiate their own learning and come to their own conclusions. Quite frequently students will have questions that know one knows the answer to. With access to the internet in the palm of our hands, Dr. Preston can coin his famous phrase, "look it up." This opportunity makes our education more complete and leaves us open to make our own interpretations to what we find. As a result, every student becomes an individual through their learning and becomes self sufficient. As students we no longer have to rely on any one person for answers; we can think and act more independently and control our own success.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"To be or not to be..."


Going into Hamlet, I didn't have very much background on the play itself.  I only knew that it was a tragedy so obviously, everyone dies.  I thought that the first one to go was going to be Ophilia, but it turns out that her father beat her to it.  On a more serious note, Hamlet's character has been very intriguing to me as the play has developed.  As soon as I feel like I have him figured out, a twist happens that has me guessing again.   As Dr. Preston has pointed out, a person that is able to control his or her madness can't be mad.  The way Hamlet's character changes for different people is a sign of his control, but the ghost of his father arriving at midnight during act III raises more questions for me.  Was the ghost really there or was Hamlet just seeing and hearing things, hence was Hamlet truly going mad? In act I Horatio and Marcellus can see the ghost of the King, but in act III Queen Gertrude can't.  Is this because Hamlet truly has become mad or because the ghost can control who sees him?  Hamlet's character constantly has me questioning what he will do next.  I'm curious to see if Queen Gertrude will continue to be Claudius's pet as the play unfolds or if she will side with Hamlet.  I know that Claudius is planning to have Hamlet killed, but I don't know how he plans to do so, and I don't know how Hamlet will respond to it.  I have a pretty strong feeling that by the end of the play both Hamlet and Claudius will be dead, but I have trouble predicting what will lead to their deaths.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Act III raises a lot if questions for me.
Going into act III many people were saying that they got the perception that Queen Gertrude was aware of what Claudius has done, but after reading act III I'm not getting that vibe.  Based on my perception, when Hamlet confessed to his mother about what he knew of his father's murder she seemed shocked.  She even then gave off the portrayal that she didn't believe his story and blamed such outrage on his "madness."

Polonius's murder did not come as a shock to me, I expected it.  I also saw Claudius's reaction to the play coming.  What I didn't understand was Hamlet's actions toward Ophilia during the play.  At one point he was laying in her lap and at another he was "shunning her to a nunnery."

My favorite part of the act was when King Claudius was repenting his sins and Hamlet came in and almost killed him.  Hamlet stopped himself because he didn't want Claudius to be able to go heaven, but as soon as Hamlet leaves the room Claudius says, "My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go."  Which gives the audience that engaging feel of regret that Hamlet didn't kill him when he had the chance.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Literature Analysis #3

By Toni Morrison

1. Briefly summarize the plot of the novel you read according to the elements of plot you've learned in past courses (exposition, inciting incident, etc.).  Explain how the narrative fulfills the author's purpose (based on your well-informed interpretation of same).
       The main character Sethe is a slave.  The book goes into painful details about her experiences of being a slave and ultimately leads to her planning to escape.  Her first attempt at escaping goes horribly wrong; everyone in her group gets caught and some of them are harshly and graphically murdered.  Sethe is whipped and beaten as punishment because she is six months pregnant at the time.  After this occurrence she is determined to escape.  She sends her three children ahead of her to her mother-in-law who lives across the Ohio River.  She then literally just gets up and walks away from the plantation.  She was so pregnant and badly beaten that nobody on the plantation thought that she would be capable of moving.  A run away indentured servant named Amy Denver found her and helped her deliver her fourth child whom she named Denver.  Sethe then made it to her mother-in-law's and got to see that her children were safe.  Eighteen days later Sethe's owner who is called Schoolteacher comes for her and her children.  They run into a shed and she plans to kill all of her children and then herself so they wouldn't have to go back into slavery.  She only kills her oldest daughter Beloved before she is stopped.  This action demoralizes everyone's opinion of her.  
       Then the story shifts to a male slave named Paul D. who lives on the same plantation.  He is sold and his graphic story is told.  He eventually frees himself and eventually finds himself back with Sethe years later.  Sethe and her children are haunted by Beloved's ghost and Paul gets rid of her.  Sethe asks Paul to stay with them.
       Beloved returns in the flesh as a stranger at Sethe's and Paul's door, but only Denver knows that it is Beloved's ghost.  Denver protects Beloved from Sethe because she fears that she will kill her again and thoroughly enjoys Beloved's company, but Beloved only cares about Sethe.  Sethe and Paul are finally getting close and see a future together so Beloved tries to break them apart by seducing Paul.  Paul is conflicted, but cant tell Sethe what happened.  
       Paul eventually finds out that Sethe killed her daughter and leaves her.  Sethe accepts that fact that the stranger is Beloved returned to her and is at first delighted to have her daughter back.  Beloved slowly eats away at Sethe and as she grows weaker, Beloved grows stronger.  Denver realizes what is happening and goes out on her own for the first time for help.  She convinces the women in the community to help her family and they bring food everyday.  She then builds up the courage to ask for job.  She tells the person who hires her the story about the ghost and the whole town comes together to rescue Sethe and drive Beloved away.  Denver runs into Paul in town and tells him that Sethe is dying. He tells her that she is her own best thing.
     The purpose of the book is show that your past in not inescapable.  By suppressing things that haunt you, it is difficult to move on and embrace the future.

2. Succinctly describe the theme of the novel. Avoid cliches.
       The theme of the novel is to face your past so you can move on into your future.  Sethe continually suppresses her past and never faces it so it haunts her.  

3. Describe the author's tone. Include a minimum of three excerpts that illustrate your point(s).
       The tone varied for each character, but for the narrator Sethe, the tone was characterized by regret and depressed mournfulness.
“Some things you forget. Other things you never do. But it's not. Places, places are still there. If a house burns down, it's gone, but the place--the picture of it--stays, and not just in my remory, but out there, in the world. What I remember is a picture floating around out there outside my head. I mean, even if I don't think if, even if I die, the picture of what I did, or knew, or saw is still out there. Right in the place where it happened.” 
“Me and you, we got more yesterday than anybody. We need some kind of tomorrow.” 
“It never looked as terrible as it was and it made her wonder if hell was a pretty place too. Fire and brimstone all right, but hidden in lacy groves.” 

4. Describe a minimum of ten literary elements/techniques you observed that strengthened your understanding of the author's purpose, the text's theme and/or your sense of the tone. For each, please include textual support to help illustrate the point for your readers. (Please include edition and page numbers for easy reference.) 
 1. Allusion: Paul D saying "Red heart. Red heart. Red heart" (page117) is like the phrase"Red rum red rum" from The Shining.
 2. Musical Reference: "Lay em down, Sethe. Sword and shield. Down. Down. Both of em down. Down by the riverside. Sword and shield. Don't study war no more. Lay all that mess down. Sword and shield." (page 86) This refers to the spiritual "Down by the Riverside."
 3. Symbolism: Sethe, Denver, and the "holy ghost" Beloved might symbolize the Holy Trinity.
 4. Dialect: "How come everybody run off from Sweet Home can't stop talking about it? Look like if it was so sweet you would have stayed." (page 13)
 5. Metaphor: "Women did what strawberry plans did before they shot out their thin vines: the quality of the green changed.  Then the vine threads came, then the buds.  By the time the white pedals died and the mint-colored berry poked out, the leaf shine was gilded tight and waxy.  That's how Beloved looked- gilded and shining." ( page 64)
 6. Flashback: "slavery, though repealed, is still with us." (page 6)
 7. Irony: It's ironic that Sethe's like finally starts to come into place as she is dying.  She has acceptance from her community, Beloved no longer haunts her, and Paul is there to take care of her.
 8. Imagery: "Down by the stream in back of 124 her footprints come and go, come and go.  They are so familiar. Should s child, an adult place his feet in them, they will fit.  Take them out and they disappear again as though nobody ever walked there." (page 275)
 9. Repetition: The very last chapter repeats, "It was not a story to pass on'" as the story came to an end. (pages 274-275)
 10.  Biblical reference: When Stamp Paid feeds baby Denver some blackberries (page136), it's like the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:3-3:7).

1. Describe two examples of direct characterization and two examples of indirect characterization.  Why does the author use both approaches, and to what end (i.e., what is your lasting impression of the character as a result)?

-Direct characterization: The grandmother Baby Suggs; "Her past had been like her present-intolerable-and since she knew death was anything but forgetfulness. she used the little energy left for her pondering color." " Suspended between the nastiness of life and the meanness of the dead, she couldn't get interested in leaving life or living it." The introduction of Baby Suggs sort of set the whole tone for the book.  Her hopeless death paved the way for a very mournaful and depressing story.
Indirect Characterization:  Sethe; she is telling the story so we learn about her through her actions.  "Afterward-not before-he considered Sethe's feelings in the matter." "Even if Sethe could deal with the return of the spirit, Stamp didn't believe her daughter could."

2. Does the author's syntax and/or diction change when s/he focuses on character?  How?  Example(s)?
- I didn't notice any difference in the word choice or sentence structure from character to character.  Although, there was a change in tone; for example the plantation owner had a different tone than Beloved who had a different tone from Sethe.

3. Is the protagonist static or dynamic?  Flat or round?  Explain.
 -Sethe is a dynamic character. She experiences many external changes throughout the book and at the very end experiences an internal change.  She is also definitely a round character.  She has multiple dimensions as she deals with internal and external struggles.

4. After reading the book did you come away feeling like you'd met a person or read a character?  Analyze one textual example that illustrates your reaction. 
-After reading this book I felt like I read a character.  I think that the biggest reason for this is that I couldn't relate to any of the characters so the story felt like an actually story rather than an encounter with people.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Vocabulary #8

abase-  v. to behave in a way that belittles or degrades someone.       

       Claudius was openly really to abase Hamlet's mournful lenses over his father's death.

abdicate-  v.  to renounce one's throne.

       Claudius forced his brothers abdication of the throne by murdering him and taking        his place.  

abomination- n. a thing that causes disgust or hatred.

       Claudius murdering his own brother in an abomination to mankind.

brusque-  adj. abrupt or offhand in speech or manner.

       Shakespeare's abrupt plot twists make his tragedies among the best in history.

saboteur- n. a person who engages in sabotage.

       Claudius is a saboteur and killed his brother to steel the throne.

debauchery- n. excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures.

       Hamlet and Ophilia are attracted by the debauchery that they have for each other.

proliferate- n. to increase rapidly in numbers.

       Hamlet needs to proliferate his followers in order to get Claudius off of the throne.

anachronism- n. something that you would expect to see in a different time period.       

The Hamlet videos shown in class had a bold anachronism, a video camera.

nomenclature- n. the choosing of names for things.

       Shakespeare had a knack for nomenclature, all of his characters have interesting name.

expurgate- v. o remove objectionable or unsuitable matter from.

       Laertes is trying to expurgate Hamlet from Ophilia's life.

bellicose- adj. demonstrating aggression and willingness to fight.

       Hamlet's bellicose manner after talking to the ghost of his father worried Horacio.

gauche-adj. unsophisticated and socially awkward.

       The man's gaucheness in appearance made him difficult to approach.

rapacious- adj. aggressively greedy.

       Claudius's rapacious behavior will come back to haunt him.

paradox- n. a statement that leads to a self contradictory conclusion.

       In a paradox, Hamlet realized that his ghost of father was asking him to get revenge.

conundrum- n. a confusing and difficult problem or question.

        Ophilia is at a conundrum on whether she should continue seeing Hamlet or listen to her brother.

anomaly- n. something that deviates from what is expected.

        Deaths in Shakespeare's tragedies are not an anomaly.

ephemeral- adj. lasting a very short time.

        The ephemeral mourning for his father upset Hamlet.

rancorous- adj. characterized by bitterness or resentment.

        After hearing what Claudius had done, Hamlet was rancorous in his feelings towards him.

churlish- adj. rude in a mean spirited and surly way.

       Claudius's churlish behavior toward Hamlet made him suspicious of his uncle.

precipitous- adj. dangerously high or steep.

        The precipitous cliffs made the girl feel dizzy.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Dear O,
The conundrum that has been set forth in front of you is a difficult one.  Your father and brother's brusque abomination of this man's debauchery towards you is understandable.  I would listen to their advise for they care about you and are only trying to expurgate this man that they don't feel is right for you.  It does not seem that they are trying to churlishly abase your judgement, it simply sounds like they are caring for your well being.  Falling in love with a prince seems glamorous, but in reality he won't have any time for you when his state needs him.  His ephemeral love for you will be quite the anomaly of what you would expect from true love.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Based on this article, reading literary fiction helps you build a higher capacity to understand people's emotions.  Literary pieces such as Hamlet let you become the main characters and experience their thoughts, emotions, and hardships.  This alone helps readers develop a higher capacity to understand people in real life.  Reading into characters like Hamlet gives readers the chance to understand new emotions that they have never experienced before.  By discovering these new emotions through literature, readers have a higher capacity to understand them in real life.  For example, if someone has never experienced the emotion of losing a parent, they could experience it through reading Hamlet.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


a) What do you know about Hamlet, the "Melancholy Dane"?  
-I only know Hamlet from what I've heard from past students and that is that it's hard to understand,  or the reason that its Shakespeare but for the reason that it jumps around and there is lot going on which makes it hard to follow.  Oh, and everybody dies.
b) What do you know about Shakespeare?  
-Let's see, I know that he writes in iambic pentameter, and that his plays are mostly, if not all, tragedies.  He wrote Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, and of course Hamlet.
c) Why do so many students involuntarily frown when they hear the name "Shakespeare"?  
-I feel like Shakespeare is taught as a daunting task.  When I was introduced to Shakespeare in seventh grade my teacher introduced his writing as something that was impossible to understand and said she hated teaching it.  She basically went about it with that "Let's just get it over with," kind of attitude.  Of course, before even looking at text we think its difficult because we are taught that it is difficult.  If the teacher doesn't look forward to it, then neither do the students.  I must say though that Mr. LeClair did an amazing job with Romeo and Juliet and Mrs. Byrne made Julius Caesar quite enjoyable as well.  I like studying Shakespeare because my past teachers have made it really fun. 
d) What can we do to make studying this play an amazing experience we'll never forget?
-I'm already pretty excited, but I think that it would be fun to do some kind of group project, maybe assign groups different sections of the play to recreate on video and share with the class.  It would be so much fun and pretty hilarious for everyone in class to take part in acting out Hamlet.


In the time given, I tried to formulate a thesis that would lead into a four paragraph essay.  The first paragraph talked about Chaucer erasing social dividing lines by poking fun at stereotypes through his characterization. The second paragraph should have talked more about how Chaucer's point of views in each tale relate to the people telling them and how this affects the audience, but it wasn't clear in my thesis and I veered off topic while trying to make sure I included enough comparisons to answer the prompt.  The main thesis statement of my essay was, "By doing this, Chaucer effectively erases the dividing line between the social classes of his time period."  I followed this statement fairly well throughout my essay, I just needed to make mu topic ideas more clear in my introduction to keep the essay more organized.

New Thesis:
Through Chaucer's use of characterization he has an extraordinary impact on his audience.  He describes every one of his characters in depth and effectively erases social dividing lines by poking fun at their stereotypes.  By telling each tale from the point of view of the storyteller, Chaucer brings characters to life for his audience.  Chaucer's detailed characterization bridges the strict social dividing line of his period.


Because Miki was hiking more slowly than the rest of the group, she turned a corner and the group was gone.  Miki was lost and sat down on a rock, only to fall backwards through a wall of ivy.  She discovered a cave, which at the other end, opened up in view of a giant tree house.  Miki heard a noise in some of the trees, and Lindsey came swinging in on a vine, only to ricochet off a tree.  Miki was now involved in Lindsey’sshenanigans.  Lindsey was ebullient when she saw Miki, filled with a plethora of excitement.  She becameloquaciously garrulous and asked Miki how she found her.  Then, suddenly, she burst into a harangue and started verbally attacking Miki.  Lindsey’s ephemeral happiness, then capricious attitude scared Miki.  Miki called her a dipthong, but secretly wished that they would get along and be interdependent with each other.  Lindsey’s sanity was at a point of no return; everything she muttered was undetermined codswallop, with the use of a sesquipedalian.  By the time the rest of the group arrived, they figured Miki had become wonky.  
Meanwhile, the group’s inchoate plan to find Miki caused them to search along the trail for hours.  Finally, they found Miki’s water bottle by a rock and Rachel stumbled into the wall of ivy.  When they found Miki with Lindsey, the Lindsey they saw was juxtaposed to the one they knew in high school; she wore mungoclothes and her hair was messy.  When Lindsey saw the group, she tried to eschew them away from her hideout.  After talking to Lindsey and trying to see the composed and tame Lindsey they once knew, the group knew that they needed to get Lindsey back to civilization, but she refused any help from them, saying that the world was too stressful.  A schism formed in the group over whether to stay with Lindsey or leave her.  Then,perspicacious of this controversial decision, Melissa suggested that they compromise by taking turns to come visit Lindsey every so often.  Everyone in the group, besides Lindsey, agreed, and then, the group became uncertain as to what they should do next.  They didn’t see much of a need to continue hiking the Pacific Crest Trail when they had “found” Lindsey.  Then, Rebecca had an idea.  She was thinking of the times they had had in high school and remembered how they had all wanted to go to explore Egypt together.  She didn’t want this reunion to be over so she suggested this trip to the group.  After some hesitation, they seemed genuinely excited about the prospect of adventure.  They said goodbye to Lindsey, each of them promising to return, and headed back the way they had come so they could all travel to Egypt.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


How could I improve my preparation and or performance on Friday's midterm?  Hmmm... Let's see, if I only had more time.... No just kidding.  I think that I could have been much more prepared than I was if I would have just planned a little better.  I had a lot of important due dates and events that fell on Friday and I should have gotten more of head start on getting everything done.  Another thing that would have been extremely helpful in studying for the vocabulary would have been to flip my flashcards over after I learned the definitions and studied the words.  As I was trying to recall all the words and definitions that we have learned so far this year, I was having all kinds of definitions run through my head but I couldn't remember the words that went with them.  A positive from the midterm though is that it was a helpful studing tool for the SAT the next day because it was fast paced, I wrote an essay in twenty minutes, and had a lot of vocabulary under my belt.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Literature Analysis #2

Heart of Darkness
By: Joseph Conrad
1. The story is centered around the main character Marlow.  The rising action begins as he joins a Belgium trading company in the Congo as a sailor in hopes of meeting a man named Kurtz.  His journey begins along the Thames river and takes him up to the Congolese river.  As he is traveling to the central station he witnesses the horrors within the Company.  There are workers that are underfed being treated poorly and overworked by their European overseers leading Marlow to think that the African atmosphere is causing the men to lose their sense of humanity.  When he arrives at the Central Station he finds out that his boat has been sunk so he spends three months repairing it as his desire of meeting Kurtz increases.  Once Marlow gets the parts he needs in order to repair the ship he sets off on the difficult journey up river joined by the manager of the central station, some agents, and some cannibals.  On their way up river a thick fog rolls in and as soon it clears up they are attacked by the arrows of natives.  One of the arrows kills the African Helmsman before Marlow scares the native away with the steam engine whistle.  Marlow and his crew later arrive at Kurtz's Inner Station where they expect to find him dead because it was rumored that he was very ill.  Someone came out of the station and assured Marlow that he was not dead.  Expecting to finally get the chance to meet the brilliant mind of Kurtz, the climax begins when Marlow realizes that Kurtz left his European style of humanity behind and established himself as a god among the native savages.  Obviously still very ill, Marlow takes Kurtz on the boat for the night before they plan to leave in the morning.  Marlow realizes that Kurtz went missing and finds him crawling on all fours toward the village of the natives.  Marlow finds him and encourages him to return to the boat.  Marlow finds out that Kurtz ordered the natives to attack the steam boat earlier in hopes that Marlow and his crew would turn back and let him finish his business with the natives, but Kurtz's plan was unsuccessful.  Now on the boat, Kurtz's illness is causing him to talk in riddles.  The falling action takes place as Kurtz entrusts Marlow with his documents that explain his legacy.  Soon after, Kurtz dies which causes Marlow's health to fail.  He barely makes it back to civilization before his health begins to return.  Once finished with his voyage, he refuses to give the company Marlow's documents and instead gives them to his fiance.  The author wrote this after a trip to the Congo so this story was inspired by his travels and is meant to portray the madness that imperialistic companies in the Congo has created.
2. The theme is madness as a result of imperialism.  The book portrays all of the people that work for the company in the Congo as almost savages themselves; succumbing to their savage surrounding and losing their sense of humanity.
3. The tone was uncertain, the narrator sees the results of the company and it's affect on people but can't help continuing his same path.
  • "Hunters for gold or pursuers of fame, they all had gone out on that stream, bearing the sword, and often the torch, messengers of the might within the land, bearers of a spark from the sacred fire. What greatness had not floated on the ebb of that river into the mystery of an unknown earth!…The dreams of men, the seed of commonwealths, the germs of empires."
  • "They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force—nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others. They grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got. It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind—as is very proper for those who tackle a darkness."
  • "I had then, as you remember, just returned to London after a lot of Indian Ocean, Pacific, China Seas - a regular dose of the East - six years or so, and I was loafing about, hindering you fellows in your work and invading your homes, just as though I had got a heavenly mission to civilize you."
4.  I read this on ibooks so page numbers won't be very accurate because they vary on how big you make the text size. Second, I don't know the version because I just downloaded a free copy the was available.
  • Historical reference to El Dorado: "Eldorado Exploring Expedition." Ch. 1 p. 72
  • Biblical reference to Matthew 23:27-28,  "a whited sepulchre." Ch. 1 p. 22
  • Symbolism, flies symbolize death.  "A continuous shower of small flies streamed upon the lamp, upon the cloth, upon our hands and faces." Ch3 p. 44
  • Motif, the story is always leading back to darkness.  "It had become a place of darkness." Ch. 1 p. 10 " The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds...seemed to lead into the heart of an
    immense darkness."p. 113
  • Imagery, "The water shone pacifically; the sky, without a speck, was a benign immensity of unstained light; the very mist on the Essex marshes was like a gauzy and radiant fabric, hung from the wooded rises inland, and draping the low shores in diaphanous folds." Ch. 1 p. 4
  • Diction, the language and word choice used has a huge impact on the author's purpose.  "The simple old sailor, with his talk of chains and purchases, made me forget the jungle and the pilgrims in a delicious sensation of having come upon something unmistakably real."Ch. 2 p. 9
  • Personification, "Flames glided in the river." Ch. 1 p.9
  • Simile, "Swept and ungarnished staircase, as arid as a desert." Ch.1 p.14
  • Simile, “I watched the fog for the signs of lifting as a cat watches a mouse.”p.62
  •  Imagery, "In the offing the sea and the sky were welded together without a joint, and in
    the luminous space the tanned sails of the barges drifting up with the tide seemed to stand still in red clusters of canvas sharply peaked, with gleams of varnished spirits." p. 1

1. Direct characterization is
the process of conveying information about characters in narratives by means of description, through their actions, speech, or thoughts.
Examples:  "Marlow was not typical." p.9 "This is the reason why I affirm that Kurtz was a remarkable man."  The author mainly uses direct characterization to develop Kurtz's character because we don't meet him until the second half of the story even though he is introduced way before he is met.
In indirect characterization, characters are presented by means of description, through their actions, speech, or thoughts.  The author uses indirect characterization to develop Marlow's character because he is the narrator of the story so we get to learn about him through his thoughts and actions.
Examples: “I was within a hair’s-breadth of the last opportunity for pronouncement, and I found with humiliation that probably I would have nothing to say."  " I know nothing as to the fate of the less valuable animals."

2. When Marlow is talking to Kurtz the diction changes a little because he struggles to find words.  The story is told in the past tense so other than dialogue, the syntax and diction doesn't change to much.
3. The protagonist Marlow is a dynamic character and he is very rounded, as he tells his story of going into "the heart of darkness" to his crew mates, we learn more about him as he talks of his experiences.  We also learn about how his experiences changed and affected him.
4. I felt like I met Marlow because as he was telling his story, the audience could read into his thoughts, feelings and emotions.  As he got deeper into telling his story, his character became more real and the audience could sympathize for him and what he was going through. 

“I was within a hair’s-breadth of the last opportunity for pronouncement, and I found with humiliation that probably I would have nothing to say. This is the reason why I affirm that Kurtz was a remarkable man. He had something to say. He said it. . . . He had summed up—he had judged. ‘The horror!’ He was a remarkable man.”

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


My group read The Wife of Bath's tale which has one very big similarity to the tales that we learned about today from our classmates.  In each tale, Chaucer writes in a way that sounds how the person telling each story would talk.  For example, the tone and diction used in the Wife of Bath's tale matches the type of speech that a woman might have.  The way the imagery is described and the emotions are portrayed sounds like the Wife of Bath is telling the story.  This is similar to the Lawyer's tail in that even though the tale talks of graphic hardships, everything is said plainly and to the point just like a lawyer would describe it.  Another similarity that many of the stories share are the profane and graphic events that lead to each journey.  In the Wife of Bath's tale, a knight rapes a young maiden before his journey begins.  In the Lawyer's Tale, Constance's fiancĂ©'s mother slaugters everyone of their guests on their wedding day  before she begins her journey.  In the Merchant's tale, January's wife May sleeps with another man in a tree!  Everyone of Chaucer's stories begin with some kind of graphic and profane sin.  Most likely to catch and appeal to his audience.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


The story begins with a knight.  He comes across a fair maiden and steels her maidenhood.  The king wants his execution for punishment but the queen begs him otherwise.  The queen gives the knight a choice, he can die then and there or answer a question.  He choose the later of the two.  The question was "What do women most desire?" He had a year to research and come up with his answer.  An old hag gave him his answer but in return he had to marry her and love her.  The knight answered the queen's question correctly, but was not happy about marrying the old and ugly lady.  He was rude to her so she went on this long tangent basically saying that he could either accept her the way she was as a supportive and loyal wife or take her as an unfaithful fair maiden.  After listening to her long speech, the knight gave her her own choice, wanting her to choose what would be for her.  Touched by this, she decides on both.  She could be both fair and loyal.  Once she was beautiful, they lived happily ever after.

Wife of Bath (indirect characterization):
Characterized as an elderly hag.  She doesn't object to it.
"For though I may be ugly, elderly, and poor."
Knights initial reaction to her after she asks for his hand in return for saving his life.
"For love of God, please choose a new request.  Take all my goods and let my body go."
"You are so old and loathsome and descended, to add to that you're from such a lowly kind."
Rather than be offended by this the women try's to make a deal with the knight.
"I could amend the stress you are under, if you desire, within the next few days, if you'll treat me more kindly in your ways."
Once she turned young and beautiful, the knight fell in love with her.
"And when the knight had truly seen all of this, how she was young and fair in all her charms, in utter joy her took her in his arms."

Chaucer's Purpose:
Chaucer's purpose in telling this story is show that there is true beauty within and all it takes is the acceptance and love of someone else to bring it out.  Once the knight realized how beautiful the woman was on the inside, it was no longer difficult to see her beauty on the outside as well.  This story teaches the importance of acceptance.

Happy 123rd Birthday Yosemite!

Your beauty continues to astound people.  It's a shame that no one was allowed into the park today to celebrate the amazing and glorious wonder that you are.

(Photo taken by Nick Steller from the top of Yosemite Falls)

(Photo taken by yours truly from the trail leading up to Inspiration Point)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Character Study 3

     The six girls begin their journey on their quest to look for Lindsey.  Melissa and Becky take the lead with the rest of the group shortly behind them.  Melissa has trouble keeping up a conversation because she is troubled over the state that Lindsey might be in.  She senses that Becky is feeling the same way so she just tries to keep herself distracted by the passing scenery.  
     Suddenly Becky and Melissa hear this shrill scream and run to where the sound came from.  When they trace where the scream came from they find themselves in a strange situation.  They see a man that looks fresh out of a penitentiary half way up a tree shaking, and two men down below, one laughing hysterically, and the other blurting out random facts about giant spiders.  The two girls skeptically walk up to the men and they introduce themselves.  The man that was blurting out spider facts was Dan Smith, he seems really intelligent but incredibly annoying, the man laughing jovially was Javaris Jamar Javarison-Lama, it was really hard to take him seriously, and the man in the tree was Quatro Quatro.  It turns out that Quatro Quatro is extremely afraid of bugs and was freaked out by a fake tarantula that Javaris stuck to his water bottle.  By the time the three men finish introducing themselves, Ally, Brenna, Miki, and Rachel catch up.
     The three men tell us that they're heading back to the trail head and try to scare us into not continuing any further by telling us stories of eerie sounds and strange happenings once the sun falls.  Melissa feels very suspicious and doesn't believe a word they say.  She is determined to continue on and she can tell that her friends are on board as well.  They thank the three men for the advice and politely decline it.  The girls decide to stick closer together and walk at quicker pace to distance themselves from the strangers.  The six girls begin to worry as the light beyond the horizon slowly dims.  They find a place to set up camp for the night and wait for morning to come.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Character Study 2

     With her friends by her side, they embark on a journey that they will never forget.  Miki, Brenna, Becky, Ally, Rachel and  Melissa all begin their long journey not knowing what to expect.  The most daunting part of setting out on this adventure isn't its length, but the fact that the seventh person in their group tried to tackle this trail alone two months ago and there has been no sign of her since she left.  There was a missing person report of the news so Melissa told Rachel to contact their group of friends.  Now this motley group of six plan to set out in hopes of finding their dear friend, but they don't know what to expect around each corner that they take.
     Melissa feels reassured to have her five friends by her side as they begin to embark on this daunting journey.  Ever since she was little, Melissa dreamed of completing the Pacific Crest Trail, but never did she dream that she would be doing it for this reason.  She tries to make herself feel excited for what's to come and hides her fear of finding out the truth about their friend Lindsey.  She puts on a happy and confident face for her friends because she knows that they are depending on her to use her preparation to help everyone make it out safely.  Without a moments hesitation, she leads her friends into the unknown.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Canterbury Tales (1)

   In the prologue, Chaucer pretty much establishes himself as the king of characterization.  He describes each and every character that he meets in an ironic and satirical way that erases the dividing line between the strict social statuses of the period.  England in the 14th century was characterized by a strict social pyramid with knights on the top and servants on the bottom.  The way that Chaucer describes each of these characters shows that one person is no better than the other just because they have a higher status.  For example, the Friar will give anyone repentance if they pay the right price.  This portrays the Friar as corrupt and greedy.  You can tell that Chaucer will eventually tell each of characters' stories.  I want to read about the clerk and the monk.  They are the two that I am most curious about knowing.

Character Study (1)

The minute that the first sliver of sunlight rises over the horizon her eyes shoot open, butterflies fill her stomach.  She says to herself, "today is the day!"  Melissa excitedly begins packing her backpack. She grabs a mat, a sleeping bag, pocket knife, rope, flint stones, all of the essentials to surviving alone for  twenty two weeks.  She had spent her whole life preparing for this moment; the moment that she could embark on her journey along the Pacific Crest Trail.  She would begin at the border of Mexico and end at the border of Canada; 2,663 miles of brute mental strength and courage.  Hiking through the beautiful forests and majestic mountain ranges has always been her dream; now she just hopes that all of her preparation until this point will pay off.  Once the sun is fully up she prepares to begin her journey, feeling nervous and excited at the same time, she takes her first steps.

My Dashboard

     I love the idea of having a dashboard.  It is really helpful having everything in one place.  On my dashboard I have bookmarks to all the links of all of my class websites, my Facebook feed, email, world news, soccer news, and the weather.  I saved it as an app icon on my iPad for easy access.  I used Netvibes but after reading Brenna's comment, I am tempted to check out Symbaloo to see if I like it better.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Vocabulary #6

obsequious- adj. obedient, dutiful.
  • The intern obsequiously got coffee for his boss.
beatitude- n. extreme blessedness; exhaled happiness.
  • I was filled with beatitude when I read my acceptance letter to Stanford.
bete noire- n. a person or thing that one particularly dislikes or dreads.
  • My dentist appointment is the bĂȘte noire of my day.
bodev. to be an omen of; to announce beforehand; predict.
  • The news bodes evil days for him.
dank- adj. unpleasantly moist or humid; damp and often chilly.
  • "Your life is your life, don't let it be clubbed into dank submission." -Charles Bukowski
ecumenical- adj. general, universal.
  • The significance of the book of John is ecumenical to the entire Christian faith.
fervid- adj. heated in spirit, enthusiasm.
  • The fans fervidly turned the game around with their cheering.
fetid- adj. having an offensive odor, stinking.
  • The skunk released a fetid odor all over my dog.
gargantuan- adj. gigantic, enormous, colossal.
  • Planning a wedding is a gargantuan task to take on.
heyday- n. the prime stage of great vigor and success.
  • I wish I could return to the time when jazz was in its heyday.
incubus- n. a nightmare.
  • She was awakened by an intense incubus.
infrastructure-n. the basic, underlying framework or features of a system or organization.
  • The core infrastructure of the corporation effectively help it together after the stock market crashed.
inveigle- v.  to entice, lure, or ensnare by flattery or artful talk or inducements (usually followed by into)
  • The young woman inveigled the handsome man into buying her dinner.
kudos- n.  honor, glory, acclaim.
  • He received kudos for raising $5000 for children in need.
lagniappe- n.  a gratuity or tip.
  • The restaurant gave out mints as lagniappes after every dinner to thank their customers for their purchases.
prolix- adj. extended to great, unnecessary, or tedious length; long and wordy.
  • Roxanne's prolix explanation about relativity bored everyone in class.
protege- n. a person under the patronage, protection, or care of some one interested in his or her career or welfare.
  • My little soccer protege took directions so well.
prototype- n. the original or model, on which something is based or formed.  
  • The engineers initially built a prototype of their robotic arm to see if it would work.
sycophant- n.  a self-seeking, servile flatterer; fawning parasite.
  • The sycophant woman felt that her wealth put her above the common population.
tautology- n. needless repetition of an idea, especially in words other than those of the immediate context, without imparting additional force or clearness, as in “widow woman.” 
  • Our principle speaks with such tautology that it's hard to figure out his point of the conversation.
truckle- v. to submit or yield obsequiously or tamely (usually followed by to  ).
  • Don't truckle to unreasonable demands.