Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Another Holiday Success

St. Patty's Day is probably one of the best holidays for college kids--or anybody that likes to drink. It gives everyone an excuse to wake up at the crack of dawn and replace their morning coffees with ice cold brewski without being labeled an alcoholic. And more importantly, it's the one holiday a year where the whole point of it is to get drunk. No presents, no costumes, no preparation, just straight drinking. Amazing.

However, for whatever reason, Spring Break is scheduled for next week, and mathematically speaking, that means that this week is midterm week. St. Patty's in the middle of the dreaded midterm week? Lovely. 

I spent the night mainly with Blondie, a girl from Colorado that is easily one of the funniest, most talkative people I have ever met. And she has a car, which comes in handy. There isn't any single story from the night that is entertaining enough to blog about, but I will do a quick run-through of the night. First, I'll start out with a list of the bad things that happened on St. Patty's Day, followed by the list of events that were funny (but maybe only to the people included). Either way, in my eyes, St. Patty's Day was an epic success. 

Bummer #1: St. Patty's Day happened to fall on the week of midterms, meaning about half of the student body had a midterm today. About half of them stayed in to study.
Bummer #2: Nobody was down for kegs and eggs at 8 in the morning.
Bummer #3: Boston wanted to go out with me.
Bummer #4: I had not stocked up on any alcohol--between my room, Willow's room, Calabasas's room, and Blondie's room, we had about a half of a water bottle full of tequila. And it wasn't even cold.

Good news #1: Blondie's neighbors had enough supplies for Irish Car Bombs to kill about 50 people. And they let us drink them for free.
Good news #2: Blondie and Calabasas both have fake IDs, so since there were no crazy parties going on, we had the option to hit up SubPlace.
Good news #3: Boston does NOT have a fake ID. So she couldn't come.

After doing some Irish Car Bombs, we headed toward SubPlace, intending on drinking pitchers of long islands and chilling for a few hours before heading to a few parties. However, when we arrived at SubPlace, we ran into a group of about 5 people that we knew, and we sat with them, and decided we were having more fun there than we would at any party. The girls without the fake IDs (aka Boston and the rest of the girls on my floor) that went to the parties ended up going to three house parties, all of which were either broken up by the cops, ran out of alcohol, or fights broke out. They were at home and in bed by 11. We were having too much fun to leave, and here's a quick rundown of the events that took place:

1.) Calabasas didn't get a wristband, regardless of the fact that her fake ID actually has her picture and name on it. The bouncer took one look at her, X'd out her hands, and let Blondie and me in without a problem. Even though both of our IDs look nothing like us.
2.) Calabasas tried to buy a drink regardless. It didn't work. It was an epic fail.
3.) I got a free pitcher of long islands after I talked to the guy that was working there, because he was wearing a jersey from the college that my brother attends. And I asked him if I could get a pitcher for free, and it somehow worked. Awesome.
4.) Blondie went to get a cup of water, but forgot to turn off the faucet, which caused a big overflow of water in the middle of SubPlace. 
5.) On our way out, the bouncer offered me a shot and so we took a shot together. Even though I'm not of age. Hilarious.
6.) When I returned home, Boston got mad that we never left SubPlace, even though she never called or texted any one of us to meet up, and then proceeded to talk about how she can't wait for her ID to get here.

And on a funny side note, Boston found a place online where you send in a passport photo of yourself, $150 cash, and your information to a lady in Florida, who will make you a fake ID that blacklights and scans. Supposedly, the woman will contact you before making it to make sure the information is right. Boston sent it in last week (overnighted it so she can get it before spring break), and still hasn't heard from the lady. Sounds like a scam, Boston...

All in all, St. Patty's Day was an epic success. Green beer, Irish Car Bombs, and ridiculous stories. What more could a person want?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Thanks a lot, WebMd

Almost a year ago, in May 2008, I was getting ready for bed and was feeling very drowsy, achy and tired. I attributed those feelings to a long weekend, but I had to be up bright and early to work as a chef the following morning, so I brushed off feeling under the weather as just a common cold. I brushed my teeth, washed my face, and before I got into bed, I started coughing. I know, coughing isn't a big deal for most people, but the next thing I knew, I was coughing up phlegm with blood in it. I freaked out, and did the only thing that made sense at the time--I logged onto In my panicked state of mind, I clicked on the "Symptoms Checker" link and proceeded to fill out my symptoms accordingly. All of a sudden, symptoms kept popping up that I didn't even realize I had until I read WebMd. Feeling faint? Check. Tiredness? Check. Rapid heart beat? Check. Swelling neck? Check. I went though as many symptoms as I could, trying to get the most accurate diagnosis as possible. When my results came back to me, I ran into my parent's bedroom, scared to death that WebMd had diagnosed me correctly. I had tuberculosis.
  However, after waking up my dad, and explaining to him how I had come to the conclusion that I had TB, my dad pointed out that I did not, in fact, have TB, or even anything like it. I was just suffering from exhaustion and overworking myself, which ended up making a lot more sense than TB. One would think that I had learned my lesson the first time around with WebMd, but today, a very similar situation occurred. 

I didn't get a good night's sleep last night, and I woke up feeling groggy and tired. I downed several cups of green tea to give myself an energy boost before heading to class, and around noon, I started to experience a bonecrushing headache. The front right side of my head was pounding, and everything I did seemed to make it worse. I turned to WebMd, clicked on the "Symptoms Checker," and conveniently under symptoms for "head," they have a box that you can check that says "Headache (worst ever)." I thought for a second, decided that yes, this headache was the worst headache I've ever had, and I was expecting to be faced with many other options such as "Gets better or worse while exercising," or "Wakes you up in the middle of the night," which are usually common pages that the Symptoms Checker takes you to in hopes of accurately pinpointing your problem. However, after clicking the "Headache (worst ever)" box, the quiz was over and apparently WebMd is so accurate it only needed to know that one symptom to make an accurate diagnosis. It said I had a brain aneurysm. 

Multi-Modal Literacy Narrative for Writing & Rhetoric

Assignment: A typical literacy narrative examines significant events in a person's development as a literate person. It recounts one's history of reading and writing, identifies key moments, or tells stories about one's personal experience. Your narrative will do that--and more. You need to expand the definition of literacy to include the use of technology to communicate with others. We'll use the following basic definition: "21st-century literacies: reading and writing in diverse and participatory contexts, including print and screen."

All told, you should end up with a textual component around 1000-1500 words long. The multimodal element will include something beyond a plain text piece--and you have a great freedom to do so. As long as the additional elements demonstrate some aspect of 21st-century literacy, I encourage you to push the boundaries of a traditional literacy narrative.

And the finished copy:

The stories of how and when I learned how to read and write are so boring that I don't even remember them with any vivid details, I only know what my parents have told me. I remember the big moments, but unfortunately I only can recall them without the details that would have made them into a great story to tell today. I remember being tutored so that I could learn how to read, I remember sitting in my Kindergarten class, bored out of my mind while the teacher taught us how to read simple 3-letter words, and I remember writing the cursive alphabet over and over again. However, I don't remember what it felt like to look at a book full of words and be amazed that I could read them, nor do I remember what it was like to not be able to read or write. I don't believe my literacy lies in the times that I built my foundation for how to read and write, but when I found myself by gaining knowledge through reading which inevitably led to me discovering my passion about writing. There was no one time in my life or academic career that I can describe as the moment in my life when I decided then and there that I wanted to be a journalist; but rather a series of events and self-discovery that led me down the path that I am on today.

In my junior year of high school, I had a pivotal moment in my literacy, and more importantly my writing, because I was in an English class with Mr. Polster. Mr. Polster was the teacher that every freshman, sophomore, and junior prayed for when they were finally assigned their class schedules and teachers for the year in August. His clear passion about the lessons he taught were infectious, and it was next to impossible for a student to walk out of his class at the end of the year unchanged. Mr. Polster was unlike any other teacher I have ever had in my academic career because he was so clearly passionate about living life and teaching my technology obsessed generation to do the same. I can still vividly recall the times that the middle-aged man would stand in front of our class, wearing one of his signature knitted sweaters, using his hands to animate his words as he jumped around the classroom in an effort to get his point across while yelling at us, literally trying to force his message into our heads, "This is the most beautiful moment of your life!"

Every single day, Mr. Polster would sip his morning coffee out of the same coffee mug, which had a beautiful picture of mountains and the words "Boulder, Colorado" printed on it. I was so affected by him because he was the first teacher that didn't criticize my work, and he was the first teacher I was able to relate to because we both shared the same love for Boulder, good literature, and hatred for the superfluous people that the materialistic American culture continues to breed. Mr. Polster's passion for life and encouragement led me to decide that I had to be a writer, and though I had always enjoyed writing, if it weren't for his classes, I would have never had the confidence in myself to pursue a career in journalism.

Mr. Polster always dreamed of being a writer, and he was very passionate about recognizing good writing. For every writing assignment his classes completed, he would photocopy the best paper and pass it out to the class, meticulously crossing off the author's name and being careful never to mention the person's name, either. Mr. Polster would always read aloud the best paper, and midway through the year, I realized that almost every paper that was photocopied was my work. Though I had always hated the sound of my own writing, that started to change slowly as I was constantly being praised for my work. I loved seeing my classmates marvel at my papers and complain to Mr. Polster, "no sixteen-year-old can write like that." I remained anonymous for a long time, and due to my silence, they had a conspiracy theory that because nobody had taken credit for the papers, Mr. Polster had to be the real writer behind them. I finally started to gain confidence in my writing once I realized that other people thoroughly enjoyed reading my work, and I eventually confessed to my peers that I was the real author who had been writing the photocopied papers. My classmates were shocked, because being a good writer and a bookworm were aspects of myself that didn't fall in line with my athletic stereotype. Everybody congratulated me because they were so impressed with my writing, and people I had never even talked to even approached me to help them with their papers. The previous slackers in my English class took on the same style of writing that I had, and before long, they stopped coming to me for help and instead came to me with their graded papers in hand, begging me to read them, because for once, they were proud of their work. Knowing that I was not only able to produce writing that had an impact on others but also help my peers feel the same passion towards writing that I had was one of the greatest feelings. I realized I had impacted several people's lives, just by sharing my passion with them, and I realized that in a way, Mr. Polster does the same thing.

Towards the end of my junior year in high school, Mr. Polster assigned a six-week project that we had to work on both inside of class and outside of class. The assignment was to write a research paper entitled "I am Not a Philistine! and within the paper, each one of us had to write about any piece of art that had changed our lives (including, but not limited to, paintings, novels, plays, songs, and movies). I contemplated my choice of art very carefully, but ultimately wrote about the movie Fight Club. Mr. Polster had openly told me that he saw the movie and didn't like it, but was interested in seeing what I thought was so life-changing about the movie. I spent hours in my school's library researching topics like Generation X, the 1950s, nihilism, the prominence of patriarchy in religion, and the psychological impacts of a man when he was raised by a single mom, with no father figure in his life.

I have written many good papers in my life, and I have even had an article published in the popular daily newspaper, The Plain Dealer, but to this day, I have never been more proud of a piece of my own writing than I was with the finished copy of my paper. Because Mr. Polster had already told me he really didn't like Fight Club, I figured that when he started passing out the photocopies of the best paper, it wouldn't be my work. I was wrong. Mr. Polster read aloud my paper to the class, exploding with excitement over my thesis, word choices, and advanced themest hat I had included; and for the first time, I realized that writing is an art that has the power to change the world, one person at a time. It was in that moment, when I saw how my ideas had affect others so significantly, that I knew I wanted to be a writer.

When I was a child, I had an insatiable thirst for knowledge and a curiosity that has never gone away. I still read everything I can get my hands on, and I have been known to read textbooks for classes I'm not even taking just because I find things interesting. As a 10-year-old, I wanted to be a writer so that I could enlighten another little girl like myself one day with a book I had written. When I was 16, I wanted to change the world by forcing people to look at things in a different way or make them question why they see things the way that they do. And as an 18-year-old college-bound student, I was one of the lucky ones who entered college with my major already declared and my life planned out ahead of me in black and white. However, without Mr. Polster, without his encouragement and passion to ignite my own faith in my writing, I would never have been on the path that I am on today, and I will never be able to thank him enough.

Final Grade: According to the rubric, it should have been an 88% because my multimodal component was a copy of my Fight Club paper, which didn't demonstrate my literacy of the 21st century, but my professor was thoroughly impressed by my papers, and said that an 88% didn't reflect my work. I ended up with a 95%. SCORE!