Featured

English 9, Lesson 105 – How My Autobiography Will Be Different From Darwin’s

This week I finished Charles Darwin’s autobiography.  His autobiography was rather short (only eight chapters), making it possible for me to finish it in four days.  In this essay, I am going to talk about the things I would do in my autobiography that are different from Darwin’s.

The first thing I would change is the length of the book.  As I mentioned in the last paragraph, Darwin’s autobiography was only eight chapters long.  When I write my autobiography, I plan to make it a lot longer than eight chapters.  But I wonder if the original autobiography was longer than the one I read.  In the first few pages of the book Darwin’s son, Francis, informed the readers that the autobiography was originally written for his children and some parts of the book were removed for privacy purposes.  I am not sure how many private things Darwin may have added to the book, but it could contribute to why the book was so short.

Another thing Darwin did, that was slightly frustrating, was that he did not describe many important things that happened to him.  For example, his time in the Galapagos.  He did not take the time to write about or describe his experience there, but he did include the fact that he went there.  This left the reader wondering about what happened during this time.  Darwin also did not mention what caused him to suddenly become an atheist, though I can understand why he did not write about this topic.  It is a sensitive subject for some and he may not have wanted to share his opinion with others.  When I write my autobiography, I will be sure not to leave out too many details. 

Towards the end of the book, Darwin started to exclude the time periods of certain events making it hard for readers to understand what time period we were reading about.  In the first part of the book it was very easy to understand what year or decade we were in, but it started to become less clear towards the end.  That happened to be around the time Darwin started talking about his mysterious illness.  I am not sure if this was intentional or not, but it was certainly confusing for me to read.  For my autobiography, I will be sure to remember to include the dates of events I mention to avoid confusing my readers.

As you can see, I have learnt a lot from Darwin’s autobiography.  I think leaving out time periods is a very valuable lesson for me as I know I sometimes forget to specify when certain things happen. You can always learn from other people’s mistakes, and I have definitely learned from Darwin’s. 

Featured

Business 9, Lesson 105 – My Ad

This week in Business, I have been learning about the different parts of ads and how to write them.  In this essay, I am going to write a pretend ad for two novels I plan on selling, and explain my logic for it.

The logic for my ad is quite simple.  Besides listing the price, I also showed a picture of the product to show customers that the books are in good condition.  I also included the books’ descriptions, the author, how many books I am selling, their conditions, the genre and appropriate age group, and their original prices.  I thought that if people knew the original prices, they would know that I am offering them a good deal.  For my ad, I was following the format of book ads I have seen on different online shopping platforms like Shopee and Lazada (primarily Asian platforms).

As you can see, I added all of the necessary details to the ad.  I have never written an ad before, and I am not sure if this will sell well, but I think I did a good job of attempting to write one.

My Ad:

Selling Keeper of The Lost Cities books #8 and #8.5.  Book #8 is hard back.  Book #8.5 is paperback.

Description of Book #8 (from fandom.com):  ‘Illusions shatter—and Sophie and her friends face impossible choices—in this astonishing eighth book in the New York Times and the USA TODAY bestselling Keeper of the Lost Cities series. Sophie Foster wants answers. But after a lifetime of lies, sometimes the truth is the most dangerous discovery.

Description of Book #8.5: A guide to the world of elves with recipes of the famous desserts as well as information about Firefox, the Council members, and Black Swan and Neverseen members.  A short novella that takes place after book #8 is at the end.  

Author: Shannon Messenger

Books: 2

Condition: lightly used

My Selling Price: $10 per book

Original price: $20 for each book

Type of Book: Young Adult fiction. Suitable for ages 10+

Featured

Business 9, Lesson 100 – Redistribution of Income

This week in my 9th Grade Business course I have been learning about the redistribution of income and the ‘morals of economics.’  After going through all the lessons, I will say that my view on redistribution of income has changed.  In this essay, I am going to explain why my opinion changed using the example of grading.

Before this week I did not see anything wrong with redistributing someone’s income.  In my mind, I saw it as the people of a country or state helping those that are less fortunate.  But after this week’s lessons I now see that redistribution of income is not the best solution to help those in poverty.  The example that made me realize this is the grading system.

Imagine, you are in school with others around you.  A test is coming up and you start to study.  Your friend, Mark, does not want to study but wants a good grade.  You advise him to stop being lazy and to start studying, but he does not listen to you.  Mark goes up to your professor and asks for a new grading system.  Your professor tells Mark that he will think about it and dismisses Mark.  On the day of the exam your professor announces that those who get a higher grade will have to give 25% of their grade to those who got lower grades.

This example is exactly like the redistribution of income system.  Those that are poorer (have lower grades) are given things that they did not work for by those who worked hard to earn money (or grades).

If this grading system was used in schools this would discourage students from studying for two reasons.  One, if the student did not study they would still get a decent grade from others without having to do anything.  Two, those that do study do not get to keep all the benefits they should earn.  Those that studied would also feel cheated and most likely stop trying to earn good grades when they know they will not be able to keep them.

I am not saying that I am against helping those in poverty.  But I feel that I should be able to do it of my own free-will instead of being told to do it by the government.

Featured

English 9, Lesson 100 – Should I Include Reconstructed Speeches in My Autobiography?

This year in 9th Grade English, I have read seven autobiographies, with many more to come.  Almost all of them included reconstructed speeches the person either gave or heard.  From the other autobiographies I have read outside of this class, reconstructed speeches seem to be a common thing to add to an autobiography.  Does this mean I should add one in my autobiography as well?

If I write my autobiography now, as a 13 year old, I would not add reconstructed speeches into my autobiography for two reasons.  Reason one:  I have never had much patience to listen to speeches.  Only speeches with topics that really interest me would keep my attention.  As I have not come across (or searched for) speeches with interesting topics I would not have any speeches to include in my autobiography.   Reason two, when I come across the reconstructed speeches included in other people’s autobiographies I tend to get bored and skip through it, or only skim through the text.  In a past essay, I stated that I wanted my target audience to be teenagers my age, which leads me to assume that most children are like me and would not be too interested in reading a reconstructed speech.

However, if I wrote my autobiography as an adult, or even as a 20 year old, I would consider adding reconstructed speeches into my autobiography.  By the time I am 20 years old, I would assume that I have found and attended speeches that piqued my interest (most likely while in college) that would leave an impression in my mind.  If this is the case, it would be very easy and enjoyable for me to write about the speech while keeping the points accurate.

As you can see, speeches are not something that I would consider adding to my autobiography now.  But, if I start writing my autobiography as an adult, I will obviously not have to same mentality (and patience) as I have right now at the age of 13.

Featured

Business 9, Lesson 95 – Where I Want to be in 20 Years

Growing up, almost every child has an idea of what they want to be, do, or become.  Obviously, as the person gets older their dream/idea of what their future looks will change.  As young children , we have wild and maybe unrealistic, ideas of our future, but when we become teenagers and the prospect of high-school and college come up, we start taking our futures seriously.  In this essay, I am going to talk about where I see myself in 20 years.

In 20 years, I will be 33 years old.  It is hard to realistically write about the future, especially 20 years from now.  But I will try my best.  One thing that I know for sure is that I want to be an actress, onstage and in front of a camera.  I have been pursing acting since I was very young.  

In 20 years, I am an established actress with a few movies and musical theatre productions under my belt.  I also want to be married with a child (or two), and be a stay-at-home Mom who writes songs and novels on the side. I want to continue writing for the rest of my life.

Honestly, it feels weird to think of myself as an adult (a little scary too).  This essay was a little exciting to write as the future is full of opportunities.  I will not lie; thinking about life after high-school and college is exciting. There are so many possibilities out there. Thankfully, I have plenty of time to work towards my dreams.

Thanks for reading!

Featured

English 9, Lesson 95 – My Target Audience for My Autobiography

When you are writing a book you must always keep one question in mind: who is my target audience?  This question applies to any book whether it is a novel, history book, autobiography, etc.  In this essay, I am going to talk about my target audience for my autobiography.

If I write my autobiography now, at age 13, it will mainly be for children around my age.  I feel that children my age will be able to relate to my life more than adults.  Teenagers will understand what it is like growing up with constant access to the internet, as well as growing up in a Covid world.

Some adults may find it interesting to see the world from the perspective of a 13 year old, but I doubt it.  I hope that other teenagers will find my autobiography interesting and relatable.

Thanks for reading!

Featured

English 9, Lesson 90 – Benefits of Writing an Autobiography

For the last 90 lessons of the 9th Grade English course I have been reading and analysing autobiographies.  So far I have read Jim Lehrer’s, Helen Keller’s, Mark Twain’s, and Sergei Kourdakov’s autobiographies.  Now it is time for me to think about my own autobiography and a question arises: what benefits come from writing an autobiography?

In my opinion, I think people write autobiographies for four reasons: for their own enjoyment, so others can learn from their mistakes, to inspire people, and to leave a legacy behind.

Enjoyment

For me, I love to write and I find it fun, unlike some of my friends.  I do not doubt that the people who wrote autobiographies also liked to write.  When I was younger my Dad would tell me that people love to talk about themselves, and I think that this is the same for writing.  Who would not like to write about themselves?  Especially when they know that other people may read it.  Writing about your life, especially your childhood, will bring back old memories that you may have forgotten, or have not thought about in a long time.  Some people may enjoy looking back on their life and remember the adventures they had.

Educational

Your autobiography can also help other people.  You may have heard the saying “you learn from the mistakes of others,” or something around those lines.  Let’s say that you made a bad mistake a few years ago and you do not want others to make the same mistake.  Putting this incident into your autobiography, with ways to avoid this situation, can educate and help your readers from making the same mistake and landing themselves in an unfortunate position.

Inspiration

Not only can your autobiography educate your readers, you can also inspire them.  For example, Helen Keller’s story is definitely a very inspirational story.  When I was a young child she was one of my idols.  Her story shows that you can do anything if you put your heart into it, even if you are blind and deaf.  If you have an inspirational story with a moral, there is a high chance that your readers will be affected by it. 

A couple years ago I found an autobiography by a child actor who was on Broadway.  At the time I was only 11 years old and I was not a child who liked to read autobiographies for fun, but this certain one intrigued me.  I borrowed the book from the library and inhaled it in under a week.  The actor’s story was slightly sad, but very inspirational and enjoyable for me.  His story showed me that success is never impossible.

Legacy

In the 9th Grade English course, and the 9th Grade Business course, Dr North has mentioned leaving behind a legacy many times.  Before 9th Grade I never took the time to think about my legacy.  As I am only 13 years old I think I have plenty of time to figure out what kind of legacy I want to leave behind. 

For me, my legacy is not something that is important to me (yet).  But it occurred to me that for adults their legacy is something that matters to them.  For some people, their autobiography is their legacy, or is something that they want to be a part of their legacy.  Honestly, I cannot think of a better way to leave a legacy.  A book about your life, written by you, does seem like the most fun way to make your legacy.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many benefits to writing an autobiography.  I am sure there may be many other reasons, but these are the four that came to mind when I thought about it.

Thanks for reading!  

Featured

Business 9, Lesson 90 – The Ideal Apprenticeship, and Why

Earlier in the 9th Grade Business course, Dr North mentioned getting an apprenticeship during the last few years of high school.  In this essay, I am going to talk about the ideal apprenticeship for me and why.

With my school, my parents and I planned it in such a way where I finish high school at 16 years old, giving me a two year gap between high school and college.  I had originally planned to get an internship at a production company.  But now, I am leaning towards the idea of focusing on my acting in those two years.

But, if I change my mind (again), and decide to get an internship/apprenticeship, I would want it to be based around acting or teaching acting (as an assistant).  In my mind, the internship would be ideal if it was not too far away from where I live, and is something that I like and want to do.  It would be a huge bonus if I had co-workers who were around my age and have the same interests as me.

As you can see, I am not too interested in getting an internship anymore.  I would rather spend my gap years auditioning for acting roles (movie or onstage), learning the Quran (Islam’s holy book), and writing my novels.  I would also like to have enough time to enjoy my last few years as a teenager before I go off to college with legal adults who are supposed to be mature and ‘grown-up like.’

Featured

English 9, Lesson 85 – How I Can Make My Autobiography Less Disjointed Like Mark Twain’s

This week I started reading Mark Twain’s autobiography in English class.  While reading the book I made two observations.  One, each chapter is no longer than five pages.  The longest chapter (so far) was only three pages long.  Two, the stories in each chapter are very disjointed.  It was if Twain had ideas but did not take the time to sort them out.   In this essay I am going to talk about how I plan to make my autobiography less messy.

In Twain’s autobiography he wrote down memories in chronological order.  But none of them really connected together.  In Public Speaking class we learnt the importance of making one idea flow into another one when we write out speeches.  I think that this is also very important when writing a book.  I also felt that Twain was telling random stories.  While some were important moments of his life, others seemed irrelevant for readers.

When I write my autobiography I will find links between each idea/story so the book flows smoothly and the readers do not feel like they are reading a messy diary.  I will also take time to go through my thoughts and memories before I start writing.  I will only write about big/impactful moments in my life and not every funny or amusing memory I can think of. 

One way to help me do this is to keep a journal.  Humans obviously cannot remember each and every day of our lives.  Our minds would be very cluttered if we could do this.  Keeping a journal will not only give me something to reference back to, but it will also help me remember certain things or details I would have forgotten if I went by my memory alone.

My parents always say that you can learn from other peoples’ mistakes, and that is what I am going to do with my autobiography.  It was very smart of Mr. North to give us a disjointed autobiography to read.  Now all the students taking the 9th Grade English course will not make the same mistakes Twain did.   

Featured

Business 9, Lesson 85 – How I Will Implement a Chapter of Dale Carnegie’s Book

After four weeks of reading, I have finally finished How to Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie!  The book was very entertaining and educational.  I loved the examples he gave to show how each lesson would work in real life situations.  In this essay, I am going to talk about how I plan to apply one of these chapters to my life.

In my last essay, I talked about the most difficult lesson in the book: “if you are wrong admit it quickly and emphatically.”  I think that this principle is one that I want (and need) to implement in the future.  My plan to start implementing this lesson sound quite simple.  I plan to suck up my pride and apologize when I do something wrong.  For me, this is the definition of easier said than done.  This will be quite difficult at first, but it is not impossible.

I also plan to implement a lesson from part two, chapter three:  “calling a person by their name is the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”   I totally agree with this.   My plan to implement this tactic is to write down their name in my notes or to get their number and add them to my contacts. 

As you can see, I have quite solid and easy sounding plans for how I want to apply these tactics to my life.  I will admit that the first lesson may not be very easy to do, but I am determined to carry out my plan.

Featured

Business 9, Lesson 80 – The Most Difficult Technique in Carnegie’s Book So Far

For the past three weeks I have been reading How to Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.  At the end of every chapter Carnegie would give a ‘principle.’  In this essay I am going to talk about which principle is going to be the most difficult for me to use.

If I am being honest, most of the principles that I have read about are already things that I know and do.  But there is one principle that I know will be the hardest for me to use.  It is from Part Three, Chapter Three: “if you are wrong admit it quickly and emphatically.” 

I do not know about others, but I find it quite hard to admit it when I am wrong (I will attribute this to my pride).  Even when I am wrong, and I know it, I still have a hard time admitting that I was wrong.  If I have to admit it willingly and emphatically, that may be a challenge.  But if I suck up my pride and admit my mistakes it will help me in the future.  The examples Carnegie gave in this chapter proves it.

In this first few pages Carnegie told us a story about him and his dog.  He had a park that he liked to take his dog to, and one day a police officer came up to them and asked why the dog did not have a muzzle and a leash.  Carnegie said that he had forgotten it at home.  The policeman let him off, but warned Carnegie there would be consequences if he caught them again.  Carnegie used the muzzle and leash a few times afterwards, but eventually stopped.  One day, the same policeman caught them without a muzzle and a leash.  Instead of letting him come over and reprimand him, Carnegie went up to him and started to apologize profusely.  The policeman took pity on him and let Carnegie off, this time with no warning.

As you can see, when you start apologizing before the other person gets mad you may get them on your side and they will let you off the hook.  Carnegie says that people like to feel important, if they feel they helped you and did a good thing, they will feel good about themselves and treat you less harshly. 

Maybe I should start trying to use this principle on my Mom when I get in trouble.

Featured

English 9, Lesson 80 – Why Was Plunkitt so Open About His Money?


This week in English I finished reading George Washington Plunkitt’s ‘autobiography.’  In the last few chapters, Plunkitt talked about how he gained his wealth, calling his method ‘honest grafting.’  In this essay I am going to talk about why I think he was so open about how he earned his money.

First, let me explain what honest grafting is.  Honest grafting is when a politician jumps on any and every opportunity they find to make money.  In Plunkitt’s case he would buy things and sell them at an increased price.

An example given in the book was about “when an old brick road was being rebuilt, and the old bricks were being auctioned off. Plunkitt told the other bidders that if they did not bid, he would give them a portion of the bricks. So he bought the bricks for about 2 dollars and gave the other bidders their allotted portions. He could then sell the rest of the bricks and make a profit.”[i]

I personally think that Plunkitt was open about his money for three reasons: publicity, to prove he was not a crook, and he wanted to brag.

As a politician, publicity is a big thing.  If you portray yourself as a self-righteous person who is law abiding and caring, the people will love you and vote for you.  Plunkitt did a very good job of doing this.  In my last essay I mentioned how he was very connected to the people and was always helping them out.  By showing everyone how he made his money not only would he be creating talk around his name, he was showing the people how easy it is to make as much money as him.

Plunkitt was a very rich man, and many thought that he used illegal and unethical means to acquire his wealth.  By showing talking about his tactic to make money he showed the people and his enemies that he was an honest man.  Earlier in the book he said that he thought “The politician who steals is worse than thieves. He’s a fool.”

I also think that by showing people how he made money gave him bragging rights.  He explained and showed what he did and in a way, was subtly bragging about how much money he made because of how smart he was.  Before Plunkitt ‘honest grafting’ was not a thing.  In a way, he was considered the ‘creator’ of honest grafting.  If you Google honest grafting Plunkitt’s Wikipedia page is the first result.

As you can see, Plunkitt was quite proud of his new tactic to gain money.  Creating a brand new method of gaining money will definitely create a lot of talk around his name, as well as prove to his enemies that he was a law-abiding citizen.  I also think that a small part of him wanted bragging rights at dinner parties.


[i] Hussain, Sofia. “Plunkitt and His Money.” 26 May 2021. Web. Retrieved 12 August 2021. https://sofiarpc.home.blog/2021/05/26/english-1-lesson-80-plunkitt-and-his-money/

Featured

Blender Project, Section 2 Wrap Up

In the past month I have been working on the second section of the Blender course. The last time we saw Corey (my character), only his head was formed. But in the second section I created his body, arms, hands, legs, and feet.

Once again, this is the first time I am doing this, so please try to ignore how chunky he looks.

Featured

Business 9, Lesson 75 – Why is Trust in Establishing Long-Term Business Relationships Important?

Trust is an essential part of any relationship, business or not.  In this essay I am going to talk about why trust is important using the example of a small business as it rises up from the ground.

For the sake of this essay, pretend you have a small business.  During the early days of your business you meet a kind customer.  They are very excited about supporting your business and orders multiple products from you.  They find your products satisfactory and become a regular customer.  Over time they order more and more products, and you in turn slip in free gifts to thank them for their loyalty.  Because of your kindness, the customer starts to trust you and refers you to friends and family.  Your customer trusts you and feels like they can tell their friends about your products without the fear of them receiving damaged or defective goods. 

This same thing can be the same for a business partner or an investor.  Imagine you are contacted by an investor who sees potential in your business and is interested in funding you.  You and this investor become close friends and he (or she) helps your business skyrocket.  Five years later, you run a very successful business and you are making thousands of dollars every year.  Your investor friend may not be a big part of your life anymore, but five years ago you and the investor started a relationship which led to mutual trust.  The investor refers your business to other people and you do whatever you can to help them out.

As you can see, trust is a very important thing in business ordeals.  Trust is the basis of every relationship whether it is a business endeavour or a romantic relationship.

Featured

English 9, Lesson 75 – How Did Plunkitt Patriotism Connected to Tammany Winning the Election?

This week in English class I started reading George Washington Plunkitt’s autobiography (more like a biography that was anonymously published, but that is a different matter).  In the chapters that I have read so far it was very obvious that Plunkitt hated the civil service exam.  He thought it extinguished the patriotism of the people.  In this essay I am going to talk about how Plunkitt thought patriotism attributed to Tammany winning the election.

First, let me clarify what Tammany is.  When I first saw the name Tammany I thought it was a person, but it is actually a name of the political party Plunkitt was a part of.  The proper name of this party is Tammany Democrat.

During the time when the book was written (late 1800s) the civil service exam determined if a person would get into the army or not.  The exam was a lot like the exams we students take nowadays.  There would be math word problems and other academic subjects.  Plunkitt claimed he saw many men with undying loyalty to their country take the exam and fail, leading to the death of their patriotism.

When Plunkitt saw this he would find these young men and put them in any available job he thought they would be suitable for.  Plunkitt had a saying: “be at the fire before the firefighters.”  Judging by what the book said, Plunkitt was always looking out for the people.  He got up close and personal with each and every inhabitant of Manhattan.  He knew the name of every man, woman, and child.  He remembered their interests and likes.  If he knew of a person with a good arm he would invite them to join the town’s baseball team.  If he knew of a person who thought they had a good voice, he would be invited to the Glee Club at City Hall. 

In the book he said that he would give the children candy.  “They learnt that Uncle George coming meant candy.”  He claimed that one little girl “held on to her Father’s whiskers until he promised to vote for Plunkitt.”

The people got the impression that Plunkitt was always looking out for them.  This made people think that the Tammany party would bring prosperity to their country, causing them to vote for the party.

As you can see, Plunkitt knew that the people only wanted what was best for their country.  He knew that if he portrayed the hero looking out for the citizens he would get a good reputation for his party and convince the people that voting Tammany would help their country.  After all, who would not want their country to prosper?

Featured

Business 9, Lesson 70 – What it Will Take for Dr North to Persuade Me to Use Spreeder for Ten Minutes Every Day?

In the beginning of the Business 9 course, Dr North mentioned a speedreading website called Spreeder.  He recommended that we use it for ten minutes every day.  Today’s essay topic is “What it will take for Dr North to persuade me to use Spreeder for ten minutes a day?”

I have already used Spreeder a few years ago when I did the ABC course (Academic boot camp) in the Ron Paul Curriculum and sometimes I still use it when I have to read articles that I find really boring.  It is a good website for those that want practice with speedreading or when you have really long reading assignments, but I honestly do not think that it is a good website for me. 

Whenever I use the website my mind tends to wander while I am speedreading because my hands have nothing to do.  I tend to prefer speedreading straight from the article so my hand can at least focus on scrolling down the page.  I only use Spreeder when my eyes get tired or I get a headache from reading.

I know that Dr North wants me to use the website as a way to practice and work on my speedreading skills, and I am not trying to say that Spreeder is a bad website, but it does not work for me.  However, that does not mean it will not work for you.  I think I that my speedreading skills match the reading assignments I have to do at the moment.  If I ever need to start reading more words at a faster pace I will definitely consider using Spreeder again.

As you can see, Spreeder is not the website for me.  I need to be doing something with my hands while reading an online website or my mind will wander.  I think I will stick to speedreading straight from the article for now. 

Featured

English 9, Lesson 70 – What Was Booker T. Washington’s View of the Future?

Yesterday I finished reading Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington.  Throughout the book, Washington made his idea on how he wanted the future to look like was very obvious.  In this essay, I am going to talk about what those ideas were.

Like I said in my last essay, Washington wanted blacks to be considered equals to whites without being judged by the rest of the world.  He recognized that it would be at least 50 years before this would be possible though.  Washington believed that working hard and being kind to others would make you successful life (I agree with this belief whole-heartedly), but he also believed that “something will turn up, if you pray and be patient.”  He justified this belief by using his school in Tuskegee as an example.

In the earlier chapters of the book Washington talked about how poor the school was when it was first started.  They did not have enough to money to make dorms for the students, and the lodgings they could provide were less than ideal.  But somehow the school stayed afloat and became successful.  How?  Washington mentioned how the school always seemed to receive enough money for whatever they needed whenever they needed it. 

One day the school had a speaker come to talk.  Since the school did not have an auditorium, the speaker had to present his speech out in the open.  However, while the speaker was presenting a storm passed through and it started to rain hard.  The school did not have a shelter to provide for him and he had to continue to present his speech in the rain.  Washington noted how the speech was still very good despite being performed in the rain.  Afterwards, the speaker told Washington it would be nice to have an auditorium, or at least a building for speakers to present in.  The next day the school received a generous donation from two women for an auditorium.  Coincidence?  I think not.

As you can see, Washington had a very optimistic outlook for the future for black people.  I really enjoyed reading Up From Slavery because of Washington’s character.  He was a God fearing man who believed in hard work and honesty.  He had a positive idea for the future, but stayed realistic and acknowledged that he would probably not live to see equality between the two races.

Featured

Business 9, Lesson 65- My Business Plan

So far in my Business course, Dr North has said many times that starting a business in your teenage years can be very beneficial for you in the long run for many reasons.  I agree with the reasons he lists (income, sense of responsibility, impresses future employers), and have come up with an idea for a business of my own.  Today’s essay topic is “I will sell my business when it will be making [?] per year so that I can [?].”

If I am being honest, I always thought of my business as a ‘side gig.’  Of course, it would be amazing if my business could grow to a point where I would not need to do anything and can solely focus on my acting, but at this moment in time I am not sure how that would work.  In my plan, my business will be writing books and publishing them.  My goal is to write at least one fiction novel by the time I am 15 years old.

As a back of the envelope estimate, each book will sell for $5.  Assuming the middlemen take 30% of the sales, I will receive $3.50 per book.  If I sell a minimum of fifty books per month, I will make $2,100 in my first year.  I realize that this is a relatively small figure, but I have yet to understand the genesis of publishing a book and getting it into the hands of my readers.  Once I have figured that out, I will be able to duplicate that process in subsequent years, and have a better grasp on the profit and loss scenario. 

As you can see, I have a general idea of how I want my business to unfold in my teenage years.  As for when I become an adult, I will see how well my business is doing and go from there.

Featured

English 9, Lesson 65 – Was Booker T. Washington’s Program for Gaining Social Acceptance for Blacks an Elitist Program?

This week’s essay topic is “was Booker T. Washington’s program for gaining social acceptance for blacks an elitist program?”  I am going to assume that the ‘program’ is referring to Washington’s school in Tuskegee.  To answer this question, no, I do not think that Washington’s program was elitist.

Elitist means a society where a person, or a group of people, are superior to others in the society. 

I think it is safe to say that this was not Washington’s intention.  As a black man who had seen slavery in the early years of his life, I doubt he would want to do that to the whites.  He did not want the blacks to be ‘higher’ than the whites, he only want equality.  

I do not think that at any point in time Washington’s program made it seem like he was trying to make blacks superior to the whites.  He only wanted equality between the two races, not superiority.

Featured

Blender Project, Section 1 Wrap-Up

For the past three months I have been working on the first part of my Blender project. I have been using a course on Udemy to guide me.

I am trying to make a cartoon character named Corey. So far I have only done the face, head, and mouth (including tongue and teeth). Here is what my character looks like right now:

This is my very first time making a character on Blender, so please excuse how chunky it looks.

Featured

English 9, Lesson 60 – The Most Memorable Moments from Booker T. Washington’s Autobiography

For the past two weeks I have been reading Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington.  So far, I am really enjoying the autobiography.  In this essay, I am going to talk about a couple moments from the book that I found memorable.

The Umbrella

Washington was called to Tuskegee, Alabama to be a teacher at a college to train teachers.  When he reached the city he realized that there was no schoolhouse for him to teach in and he was forced to make do with old barns or churches.  In the autobiography he described how bad the condition of the buildings were.  When it would rain, the rain would seep through the cracks in the roof.  He recalls how one of the older students would give up his studies to stand next to Washington with an umbrella over his head so he could continue to teach the others without getting wet.

I found this memorable because it showed how much that student admired and respected Washington. 

Buying the Plantation

After a while, the old barns and churches would not be sufficient for his lessons.  He took out a loan and bought an old plantation, which he turned into a school.  He noted how after the lessons were over the students would work on improving the main house themselves.  This was memorable for me because is showed how much the students actually wanted to learn.

Washington also wanted the students to have some experience in agriculture because at that time students would need those skills.  He wanted the students to help clear the trees from the land so they could start a farm.  However, most students were hesitant.  Many thought that doing that work would tarnish his reputation.  Washington started to clear the trees by himself and over time the other students started to help out.

This was very memorable for me because it shows a lot of things.  Firstly, it shows his how he wanted his students to have real life education and not just book education.  It also shows how he taught his students that work is not bad.

Christmas Traditions

In Chapter Nine, the last chapter I read before this essay, Washington describes the Christmas ‘traditions’ of the people of Tuskegee.  Let me say, it is not pretty.

During the last weeks of the year Washington gave the students a break from school so they could celebrate with family.  But the people of the city used these weeks to get drunk and party.  Weapons were used by everyone (and everyone was drunk).  Parents would spend all of their money on alcohol, prompting their children to run around the town asking for Christmas gifts.  Fights broke out, and overall it was violent and unsafe.  Washington was appalled by how the sacred holiday of Christmas was turned into this.

This was very memorable to me because it is so different from how people celebrate Christmas nowadays.  The fact that this actually happened all those years ago is so hard for me to imagine.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are quite a few memorable moments in the book.  Personally, I find it incredible that Washington was able to change his student’s mentality and attitudes after teaching them, not many teachers can do that nowadays.

Thanks for reading!

Featured

Business 9, Lesson 60 – Three Time-Allocated Changes That Will Increase My Productivity

This week in Business class I read more chapters from Living the 80/20 Way by Richard Koch.  In the book he talked about making time-allocated changes to your daily life to increase your productivity.  In this essay I am going to talk about three time-allocated changes that I can make to increase my productivity.

Follow my Morning Routine

A couple weeks ago I decided to come up with a morning routine for myself.  I follow this routine most mornings, but as it gets closer to the weekend my motivation to stick to a schedule is next to nothing.  But if I force myself to keep to a schedule my attitude towards the rest of the day will be more positive and I will be more energized. My morning routine (for weekdays) looks like this:

  • Wake up at 7 am and brush teeth
  • Stretch
  • Do ab workout from YouTube or go swimming (I live in a condo with a  pool)
  • Shower if I did go swimming
  • Eat breakfast at 8 am
  • Start school by 8:30 am

Writing Time

I am currently working on my first YA (young adult) novel that I plan to publish as an e-book by the time I am 15 years old.  Many authors have said that setting a certain time period to write every day has made their brains recognize when it is time to write, that is how many of them get their ideas.  I set a writing time (5 pm) for myself a couple months ago, but I have been having trouble sticking to it.  But, like following my morning routine, if I force myself to sit down every day at 5 pm to write I think that I may be able to get more ideas out.

Bedtime Routine

Like my morning routine, I have come up with a bedtime routine but I do not always follow it.  But like my morning routine and my writing, if I force myself to follow the routine and go to sleep at my bedtime I will (hopefully) get a better sleep and be more energized to do my morning routine the next day.  My bedtime routine (for weekdays) is supposed to look like this:

  • Shower (if I didn’t in the morning) by 8:30 pm
  • Call friends at 9 pm
  • Get off the phone at 10 pm
  • Do prayers with my Dad until 10:30 pm
  • Listen to my podcast, listen to music, or read by book until 11 pm
  • Go to sleep at 11 pm

Conclusion

As you can see, I already have time-allocated things to do each day.  I will keep trying to do it all, even if I do not want to.

Thanks for reading!

Featured

Business 9, Lesson 55 – What Can I Cut Out of My Schedule to Improve Efficiency

This week I started reading Living the 80/20 Way by Richard Koch.  One of ways to “live the 80/20 way” is to cut out certain things from your week to increase productivity and efficiency.  In this essay, I am going to talk about what I can cut out of my schedule to improve my efficiency.

I already have a pretty busy schedule on the weekdays and I honestly think that I have cut out everything that would slow me down.  Which is why instead of cutting things from my schedule I would add and rearrange things.

My mornings are already filled and there is nothing I can cut to increase efficiency.  But in the afternoons, after I eat lunch, I could go nap for an hour before continuing with my school.  When I return to my work I will be refreshed and energized (theoretically).  At nights, after dinner, I could shower right away.  This way, my hair will dry before I need to go to bed and I will not have to push my bed time later because my hair is not dry.

As you can see, there is not much I can do to improve efficiency in my weekly routines.  I have already cut out everything that would slow me down or distract me.  I can only see moving my shower and adding a nap to improve my efficiency. 

Thanks for reading!

Featured

English 9, Lesson 55 – What Were Washington’s Arguments Against the Slave System?

This week I started reading Up From Slaver by Booker T. Washington.  In the first few chapters of the book Washington talks about his opinions of slavery, mainly his oppositions.  In this essay I am going to talk about Washington’s main three arguments against slavery.

Work Ethic

Washington noticed how the slavery system may seem like it is only benefitting the whites, but in reality it was hurting them as well as the blacks.  When the slaves were freed, the whites did not know how to do manual labour for themselves as labour was viewed as jobs for the ‘lower rank’, the slaves.  They were so used to having people do it for them that they could not run their own farm without the help of their former slaves.  On the other hand, the slaves may know how to work, but they could not to read, write, or do mathematics as they were never taught.  Both parties lacked quality skills that they needed to survive, which is why many slaves started agreements with their former masters so that they could survive. 

Washington also noticed how all slaves worked hard, but for different reasons.  For those who had kind masters, they worked hard to please them.  But those who had cruel masters, they worked hard so they would not get a beating.  He found it wrong that the people’s work ethic was tainted by fear of punishment.

Stealing

As a young child, Washington would see slaves stealing things from their masters.  As he grew older he realized that the system would make it somewhat acceptable to steal, in fact, it was common.  Washington frowned upon stealing, but at that time it was the only way the slaves could survive since they were not given much to survive on.  He felt as if the system was prompting bad habits, such as stealing.

Family Structure

Washington’s final argument was that the system ripped apart the family structure.  In those days, as you probably know, slaves were sold from owner to owner.  Their owners rarely cared about the fact that they may be taking a mother or father away from their family or taking a child from their parents.  This happened to Washington himself.  He never met his biological father, never even knew his name.  He was raised by his mother and older siblings.  He did not have a father figure in his life until after he was freed. 

Unfortunately, this was common for the blacks back then.  Washington, like my family and I, believe that every child should grow up with both of their parents around.   

Conclusion

As you can see, Washington had a pretty good argument against slavery.  He was a man with a good conscious and morals.  He stressed hard work and good work ethic to the students he taught in his early adulthood.  Like he said in Chapter Four “I have had no patience with any school for my race in the South which did not teach its students the dignity of labour.”

Featured

Business 9, Lesson 50 – What 20% of This Week’s Lesson Influenced Me the Most?

This week I was supposed to read The Breakthrough Principle of 16x by Richard Koch and write an essay about the 20% of the book that impacted me the most.  But I was not able to get the book in time for the lessons.  Instead of writing about the 20% of the book that impacted me the most, I am going to talk about the 20% of this week’s lessons that impacted me the most.

I think the thing that impacted me the most, and that I remember without looking at my notes, is the 80-20 rule and what it is.  The 80-20 rule states that the majority of the effects (the 80%) comes from the minority of causes (the 20%).   Like in a textbook, if you read the conclusion, look at any of the pictures or graphs that are in the book, and sections that look interesting you get 80% of the knowledge from only 20% of the book.

The really fascinating thing about the 80-20 rule is that it applies to everything.  Business, relationships, your social life, everything.  Now you may be wondering how the 80-20 rule applies to your relationships and social life.  Let me use the example of being in a relationship.

Let’s say that Husband A and Husband B (I know, really bad names, bear with me) work the same hours and go home at the same time.  Husband A does not have a lot of extra work to do and spends three hours with his wife after work every day.  Husband B has a lot of extra work to do and can only spend time with his wife for an hour. 

The wife of Husband A is not happy and complains that he does not spend enough time with her while the wife of Husband B has no such complaints.  Why?

It is because Husband A is on his phone playing games or reading emails during the three hours he is with his wife, while Husband B is actually talking to his wife and giving her love and attention.  Even though the wife of Husband B is not getting as much time with her husband as the wife of Husband A she is happy because she is actually getting attention.

20% of the work produces 80% of the results.

As you can see, this week has taught me a lot about the 80-20 rule.  I have heard about it before this week’s lessons, but these past lessons have just solidified my understanding of this rule.

Featured

English 9, Lesson 50 – How Literature Has Affected Me

Reading has always been a big part of my life.  My parents have always encouraged reading since I was in the womb (this is not a joke).  As a result, I have become a huge bookworm.  Despite the fact that I have probably read over a hundred books, none of them have ever affected me in too big of a way, except one book.

Six years ago, when I was in 2nd Grade, I was given a book to read for my English class.  It was called A Doctor Like Papa by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock.  The book follows Margaret, a young girl who wants to study medicine to be a doctor like her father.  Her mother discourages this because ‘doctoring’s no kind of life for a woman.”  Spoiler alert: her mother eventually relents and allows Margaret to study medicine and she becomes a doctor when she is an adult.  The book is set during the last few years of World War 1.

If I am being honest, I do not remember much of the book anymore since I have not read it in over three years, but I do remember the two things that really affected me.

This book was meant for very young children and was only 100 pages, making it easy for me to finish the book in one sitting.  In the book a virus breaks out in Margaret’s village.  Margaret and her younger brother are sent away to their aunt’s house to live until the virus passes.  But while traveling the two siblings get lost and stumble upon a house with a family who was sick with the virus.  Margaret uses her limited knowledge in medicine and tries to help the family members.  She is only able to save one member, a young girl who is slightly younger than her.  In the book the young girl’s parents and baby brother were taken by the virus. 

Even as a seven year old, I would fully get into the books I read and thinking about suddenly losing my parents struck me hard.  I had always imagined that death only happened to the elderly, but this book made me realize that it can happen at any time.  Up until that point I had not given death much thought.  Why would I?  A seven year old is more concerned about when their next playdate will be, not when their last breath would be.

This book made me realize that death is not just talk, it can actually happen and it does happen in real life.

The second thing that affected me happened a couple years after my first read of the book.  Because of the interesting plot and its short length, A Doctor Like Papa became one of my favourite books to reread when I got bored.

One day, when I was nine or ten, I decided to reread the book and while reading a realization hit me.  Margaret was just like me!  She had a dream (she wanted to be doctor) and she never gave up on it, even when her mother would discourage it.  It reminded me of what my Dad would always tell me “follow your passion and ignore what others say.”  This really made me believe in what my Dad said even more. 

After all, if someone as brave and headstrong as Margaret could get what she wanted just by working for it and sticking to her dream, why can’t I?

As you can see, this book really affected me at a young age, which is saying a lot considering books do not usually affect me too much.  That book will always be one of my favorites and will always be a reread for rainy days.

Featured

Business 9, Lesson 45 – Why You Should Not Borrow to Buy Something That Depreciates

As a general rule, you should never borrow money to buy anything.  Always pay in cash.  You do not want to become a serf of any institution or another person.  However, in this day and age, almost all businesses and people borrow money to buy depreciating assets, including houses.

For those who do not know what depreciating assets are, they are items that are consumed (e.g. laptops, clothes, cars, furniture, toolboxes).  For this essay I will be using cars as an example.  The concept of borrowing a depreciating asset is not black and white.

When a business buys a car on borrowed money, the car is depreciating but it is also used to generate an income. The income the business generates makes the business an appreciating asset.  The income generated is enough to pay off the loan on the car.  Businesses borrow money against their income stream.

When a consumer buys a car on borrowed money, the car starts to depreciate and the consumer is using their own personal income to pay off the loan.  In Singapore, for example, prices of cars are prohibitively expensive because of government taxations and regulations.  But many people still buy cars on loan for various reasons, whether it is for convenience, social status, timesaving or all of the above.  For some people, this may be worth it, while for others it is not.

Personally, I would never borrow money to buy anything, especially something that depreciates as I do not see any value in it.  But I do think that buying a depreciating asset for a business to generate income is smart as long as they have a way to pay off the loan and not fall behind on their payments. As for the consumers who buy a depreciating asset on borrowed money, it is a personal choice.  Who am I to tell you what to do with your money?

Thanks for reading!

Featured

English 9, Lesson 45 – How Helen Keller Escaped Her Metaphorical Prison

This week I have started reading The Story of My Life by Helen Keller. In the book, Helen calls her blindness and deafness a ‘dark prison.’ It was not until Ms. Annie Sullivan, Helen’s teacher, came that she was finally seeing light in her prison.

If you do not know the story of Helen Keller, she was a woman who had lost her sight and hearing at a young age due to an illness she contracted as a baby. Her teacher, Ms. Sullivan, arrived when she was five years old and taught her everything a seeing and hearing child would learn.

One of the first things Ms. Sullivan taught Helen was that everything had a name. Ms. Sullivan put Helen’s hand under a water spout and spelt out the word ‘W-A-T-E-R’ into her hand. Immediately, Helen realized that this cold, liquid thing that was in her hand was called ‘water.’ Ms. Sullivan continued to do this with toys, chairs, anything the two of them could find. This was the first escape from Helen’s prison.

After a while, Helen had learned every name of every piece of furniture and dish in the house. She understood the meanings of simple words, but not abstract words. One day, Ms. Sullivan spelled ‘T-H-I-N-K’ on Helen’s forehead. This obviously puzzled Helen, but being the ambitious and determined child she was, she tried to figure out the meaning of ‘think.’ Finally she realized that ‘think’ is the little voice in your head that tells you what to do.

Ms. Sullivan taught Helen how to sign, read with her fingers, and talk. When Helen was young, braille was not yet invented. The blind would read by dragging their fingers over raised letters on a piece of cardboard, which is what Helen would do to read with Ms. Sullivan’s help.

Ms. Sullivan was truly the key to unlock Helen’s dark prison. Without her help who knows what would have happened to Helen. But Helen’s success is not solely because of Ms. Sullivan. She was a stubborn young girl with the desire to learn about the world, all she needed was someone to be patient and teach her, and that is exactly what Ms. Sullivan did.

Thanks for reading!

Featured

English 9, Lesson 40 – Which is More Important When Writing Dialogue from Memory: Accuracy, Succinctness or Liveliness?

When writing autobiographies, there is no doubt in my mind that the authors have to write all of their dialogue from memory.  But when they are doing this there will, of course, be some gaps or inaccurate parts.  When writing dialogue from memory, is accuracy the main focus, or should succinctness and liveliness be the main focus?

Before getting into the essay, if you do not know what succinctness means do not worry, I did not know what it meant until I had to write this essay.  Succinctness, or concision, means clear and precise expression in a few words.  Now back to the essay.

Like many things, there is no general answer for this answer.  In some books, like manuals, you would want accuracy and succinctness.  But in an autobiography or novel, you would want liveliness.  It is no fun to read a long and boring paragraph full of dialogue.  Liveliness is what keeps the reader engaged and interested. 

I am not saying accuracy and succinctness are not important, in non-fiction books they are what you are looking for. But in autobiographies, liveliness should be the main focus when writing dialogue.

Thanks for reading!

Featured

Business 9, Lesson 40 – What I Have to Give Up to Save 10% of My Income

This week in Business class I have been reading short stories from The Richest Man in Babylon by George Samuel Clason.  The book comprises of many short stories with lessons on how to save and gain money.  One of the stories I read this week focused on saving 10% of your income.  In this essay I am going to talk about what I would have to give up if I wanted to do this.

At the moment, I do not have a stable income, unless you count birthdays and holidays.  By the time I have a stable income from a job I will probably be 15 or 16 years old, and my financial expenses will have probably changed.  But since I do not know what the future will hold, I will talk about what I will have to give up now to save 10% of my income.

Usually, I do not spend my money on clothes or jewellery, but on meals or snacks when I go out with friends.  It is only recently that I have been spending more money on books and ‘trinkets.’  Honestly, I cannot think of many things I would need to give up.  Perhaps cutting back on the amount of snacks I get while I am out and prohibiting myself from being in the same mall as a bookstore so I do not get tempted to go in (yes, I have a problem. No, I do not intend on fixing it).

I do not spend much money on a regular basis, so I think saving 10% of my income will not be too challenging.  I will need to do something about my book buying addiction though…

Thanks for reading!

Featured

English 9, Lesson 35 – How Kourdakov’s Use of Contrasts Strengthened His Narrative

This week I read four more chapters of The Persecutor by Sergei Kourdakov.  This week’s chapters were a little more graphic than past chapters and were honestly a little harder to read because of the things Kourdakov described.  In this essay I am going to talk about how Kourdakov uses contrasts to strengthen his narrative.

In one chapter Kourdakov and his team were sent to break up a meeting of Believers who were planning to baptize new members.  The baptism was meant to happen in the late afternoon, but Kourdakov and his men were already at the location in the early morning.  They decided to turn the day into a picnic.  They brought sandwiches and vodka, as well as their guitars so they could sing songs and such.  Kourdakov described how it was a nice day, perfect for a picnic.  One page later and there are bloody and graphic descriptions of what he did to the Believers.

He does this in another chapter where he gets invited to a banquet with other cadets from his naval academy and high ranking officials.  All of the officials get their own private rooms with fancier food and drinks.  While wandering, Kourdakov gets invited into one of these private rooms, which led to him seeing the not so pretty side of Communism.  All of the officials were black out drunk.  Most, if not all of them, were passed out.  Orlov, the man who invited Kourdakov in, started to bash Communism and the government in his drunken state.  No one was there to stop him because everyone was drunk.  This appalled Kourdakov and he ran out.  To him, Communism was his religion, his only belief since childhood.  To hear these high ranking officials bash his religion, the one they are supposed to support, was world shattering for him.  In this chapter we really saw how deeply Kourdakov believed in Communism and how much he believed in it.   

Kourdakov is a very gifted writer.  The way he words his sentences and uses contrasts to describe situations is very unique and addictive.  I may not like certain things that he does and describes, but I am enjoying the book and cannot wait to continue next week.

Featured

Business 9, Lesson 35 – Three Goals I Want to Achieve by the Time I’m 70 Years Old

This week I have been learning about goal-setting and ‘Plan B.’  In this essay I am going to talk about three goals I want to achieve by the time I am 70 years old and how owning my own business will help me reach those goals.

My Three Goals

About two weeks ago, I wrote an essay, which is similar to this one, about what I would be willing to settle for by my next birthday, my 18th birthday, and my 25th birthday.  All of the goals I listed in that essay were related to my acting and writing.  Unless my interests in these topics change in the next 57 years, these three goals will also apply to my acting and writing.  Of course, there is a possibility that as I grow up my interests will change, but for the sake of this essay let’s assume that my areas of interests never change.  With that being said, by the time I am 70 I want to have performed in at least 25 movies/plays, have written a minimum of 20 books, and have published physical copies of at least half of the books I have written.  I would also like to live in a house that allows me to have my own reading room/nook and my own office where I can write my books all day, every day.  Even though that last goal may more like wishful thinking than a real goal, I still hope to achieve it one day.

How Owning My Own Business Will Help Me Achieve These Goals

Starting, and owning, my own business at a young age will help me develop a stable income.  Assuming the business is a success, I now have a stable and reliable source of income where I am in charge, allowing me to focus on my writing and acting.  While I am out going to auditions or spending hours in front of a computer writing my books, I have a source of income that will pay for my expenses.  As an adult with a family, this source of income will allow me to provide for my family and still continue doing the things that I love.

Conclusion

As you can see, having your own business can be quite beneficial to you.  The tricky part is coming up with an idea that will actually work and bring in a decent amount of money.  I will be honest, if my business does not bring in too much money I will not be able to solely focus on my interests.  But since I am only 13, I have plenty of time to figure out these things.

Thanks for reading!

Featured

Business 9, Lesson 30 – How Much Money Won’t I Have at Age 70 if I Keep Watching TV?

Before I get into this I want to state that I do not watch that much TV.  Majority of my time is spent on social media.  I am not saying this is better, if anything it might be worse, but I spend about two to three hours per week watching TV.  Majority of my time is spent on social media, which I will be including in the hours I spend on “TV.”

I spend about 21 hours on my phone per week.  That is about 88 hours per month. According to the exercise Dr. North gave in Lesson 23 (multiply $20/hour); it would come up to $1,760 per month.  What does this number mean? This number is how much I will earn by the time I am 20 years old if I start at 15 years old.  If I keep up at watching social media and TV at 88 hours per month, from the time that I am 13 to the time I am 70, I would have lost approximately $1.2 million.

This proves that TV is not actually free.  You may not feel it in the moment, but spending time on social media and TV is costing you hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Does knowing this make me want to cut down on my TV time?  I’m not going to lie; this does make me want to cut down.  Will I?  Maybe for a week before going back to my old schedule.  But I will keep in mind how much I’m wasting while watching videos on my phone.

Featured

English 9, Lesson 30 – What Choices Led Kourdakov to His Failed Assignment?

This week in class I read more of Sergei Kourdakov’s autobiography “The Persecutor.”  In this essay I’m going to talk about decisions Kourdakov made that led to his failed assignment.

If you have not read the book here is some background.  Kourdakov joined the Soviet Union Navy at the age of 18 and immediately starting climbing in rank.  He had self-motivation and had developed a good reputation for himself.  One day a man from the Secret Police came to Kourdakov and recruited him.  Kourdakov, and 14 of his friends, became a unit working for the Secret Police.  They were only called in to do small jobs like breaking up bar fights.  These small assignments were actually training for something bigger, breaking up the Believer’s (God worshipping people) meetings.  The first raid against the Believers did not go the way Kourdakov’s superior wanted it to go and the men were sent back to bar fights.

Honestly there are quite a few things that led him to fail the assignment.  If he never joined the Navy he might have never been recruited for the Secret Police and never would have an assignment to fail.  Even if he had joined the Army, he probably would have gotten recruited.  With Kourdakov’s motivation and reputation he would have risen in ranks, like in the Navy, and would become known by the Secret Police. 

If his reputation and motivation is the reason he became well-known by the higher commanders, what choices did he make that gave him the motivation?  His motivation to always get to the top stemmed from an incident that happened to him as a child.  Kourdakov, an orphan, was placed in a children’s home with other orphans and children who were taken from their parents.  When Kourdakov was young a famine struck the Soviet Union.  One of his closest friends, Sasha, died because of the famine.  That was the day Kourdakov learnt that in this world only the strongest survived.  This drove Kourdakov to always be the best and strongest.  He was determined to survive.

He started to throw himself into schoolwork and eventually got noticed by his teachers.  The head of his school placed him in charge of the Communist Youth Group of his town.  After that Kourdakov, still determined to be the best, worked hard to make his youth group the best in the district.  In the book Kourdakov talks about how ambitious this goal was since the district he was in was rather large.  But when you are motivated you can do anything.  He won the award of best youth group in the district.  With this reputation, it was no wonder he started to rise in rank after joining the Navy.

The only way Kourdakov would not have been noticed by the Secret Police is if he joined his friend’s crime syndicate or if he became a normal civilian.  I personally think that if he joined civilian life he would excel at whatever he was doing, but he would not be happy.  With his ambition he would not be satisfied until he was at the top.  Knowing this, I would assume he would have joined his friends’ crime syndicate and become the head of a gang.

As you can see, there are multiple choices that led to the failed assignment.  It is funny to think that so many things happened because of one event that impacted Kourdakov as a child.  I wonder what would Kourdakov done with his life if he never met poor Sasha.  Would he have turned out as motivated and hardworking?  Or would he have turned to drugs and vodka like his friends? 

I suppose we will never know.

Featured

English 9, Lesson 25 – Major Turning Points in My Life

This week I have been reading Sergei Kourdakov’s autobiography titled The Persecutor.  After reading about eight chapters of the book I realized that Sergei had some major turning points in his life as a child.  Between the disappearance of his Father and the death of his Mother and the adventures he had in the various children’s homes he lived in.  In this essay I am going to talk about some major turning points in my life.

I Moved Countries

If you have been following my blog for a while or if you have read previous essays, you probably already know this story since I have written multiple essays about this topic already.  If that is the case, feel free to move onto the next section.

I was born and raised in Stamford, Connecticut and up until my 10th birthday, I had my life planned around the fact that I would be staying in the US.  Boy was I wrong.  A month before my 10th birthday my parents told me we would be moving across the world to Singapore, the country where my Mom was born and raised. 

For a 9 (almost 10) year old kid who had planned my whole life in Connecticut, this was world shattering.  But after a while I got excited about the move and started counting down the days until we would pack up and leave.

I celebrated my 10th birthday with close family friends and two weeks later my parents and I left Connecticut for Singapore.

Despite my initial sadness about leaving my old home, I settled in quickly and made a ton of new friends.  If I never left Connecticut I never would have met my amazing homeschool community and made friends with other children who homeschool.

Covid-19

I am pretty sure the Covid-19 pandemic was a turning point for everyone.  Covid was, and still is, a huge bummer.  At the time that I am writing this the Singapore government has implemented new regulations to try to lessen the sudden spike in cases.  These regulations have basically put everyone back in lockdown.

Last year, when Covid first started, and Singapore entered our lockdown (aka circuit breaker or CB), all of my extracurricular activities were cancelled.  My swimming and dance classes halted and it was impossible for me to meet up with my friends.

But despite Covid ruining everything, I am sort of thankful for Covid (NOT COMPLETELY! DO NOT THINK I LIKE ALL OF THIS! I DON’T!).  If I never went into lockdown I never would have bonded with my two best friends.  I bonded with a lot of other kids too, who, like me, were going insane because of being stuck inside for two months.

None of my lockdown friendships lasted after we went back to our somewhat normal routines.  None of my friendships except two.  The two that survived are now my two best friends who I love and cannot live without.

Conclusion

As you can see, in the past three years I have two major turning points in my life, each one resulting in new friends.

Thanks for reading!

Featured

Business 9, Lesson 25 – What I Am Willing to Settle For in the Next 10 Years

This week I have been learning about goal-setting and planning for the future, which has brought up three very important questions for me: what am I willing to settle for in one year?  What am I willing to settle for by my 18th birthday?  And what am I willing to settle for by my 25th birthday?

What Am I Willing to Settle For By Next Year

By this time next year I would like to be halfway done, if not already finished and proofreading, the novel I am currently writing and planning to self-publish on Amazon Kindle.  I want to be in an acting or singing class in my local acting school and I want to be preparing, or have already been in, a showcase of some kind.  Whether it is a Christmas Show or a small class performance, I would like to have been in one.

What Am I Willing to Settle For By My 18th Birthday

By the time I turn 18 I will settle for a minimum of two books self-published on Amazon Kindle.  I want to have gotten into an acting college by then and have done an internship at a production company.  I also want to be in a minimum of three showcases.

What Am I Willing to Settle For By My 25th Birthday

By my 25th birthday I will settle for no less than five books self-published on Amazon Kindle and at least one book professionally published.  I want to have gotten at least one professional acting gig and if not, I want to have a job that I like and is supporting me and allowing me to go to auditions.

How Will Going the Extra Mile Help Me Obtain These Goals?

I personally think, that if I go the extra mile in writing my books I can publish more of them in a shorter amount of time.  I will, hopefully, become known to other people and they will boost my book/s, making me known to publishing companies. 

By going the extra mile in my acting/singing classes, my teachers will think of me when they see auditions in which I fit the criteria.

If I go the extra mile in school now I will have a better chance of getting into a good acting college who will help me get professional gigs when I get older.  If I go the extra mile in college they will see potential in me and hopefully recommend me to people in the industry.

If I am being honest, I do not see how I can go the extra mile in my writing.  I know that I could improve on my writing habits and consistency, but I do not see what ‘going the extra mile’ would look like when it comes to my writing.  When it comes to my acting I see ‘going the extra mile’ as showing enthusiasm, doing the work with gusto and energy, and showing my love for the class and acting/singing.  I see going the extra mile in school by putting my heart into my work and not falling behind in lessons.  I also see it as having motivation to do school.

I might need to put a lot of work into this whole ‘going the extra mile’ when it comes to school.

Conclusion

As you can see, I already have an idea of what I want to accomplish in the next 10-12 years when it comes to my callings.  Going the extra mile may not be easy, especially when it comes to my schoolwork, but I know it will pay off in the end.

Thanks for reading!

Featured

English 9, Lesson 20 – The Most Memorable Stories From A Bus of My Own by Jim Lehrer

For the past four weeks I have been reading Jim Lehrer’s autobiography A Bus of My Own.  In this essay I am going to talk about the two stories from the book that I consider memorable.

The Pinball Machine

If you have read this book, I am sure you read the caption and immediately know what the story is. 

I do not remember the exact of Lehrer at the time of this story, but for arguments sake, let’s say he was under ten years old.  Lehrer’s father had a meeting with a friend and gave Lehrer some money to play with the pinball machine.  Lehrer had never beaten this certain machine before and expected to lose like he always did.  He had felt the urge to go to the bathroom and figured he would play a round, lose, and then go to the bathroom.

Turns out, he won the first round, and the second, and the third, and fourth and every other turn after that.  The more games he won the more he needed to use the bathroom, but he did not want to leave the game, especially since he finally beat it.  Finally, Lehrer could not hold it in anymore and, in crude terms, peed his pants.  Only then did he leave the game to run to the bathroom to hide from the embarrassment.

The Loss of Betsy’s Brakes

When Lehrer was a child his parents owned a bus company known as the Kansas Central Lines.  Business was not very good, which eventually forced Lehrer’s parents to go bankrupt, but this story is from before then. 

Business was not good meaning the bus line did not have much money, meaning the Lehrer’s were not able to get new buses and experienced frequent maintenance problems.  One of the buses, known as Betsy, had a problem with its brakes. 

One day, when Lehrer was only 12 years old, he was helping the driver, Cameron, by being his “assistant driver.”  Halfway through the ride Betsy’s brakes gave out and became completely unusable.  Somehow, Cameron managed to control a brakeless bus through traffic and delivered all of the passengers to their final destination unharmed.

Lehrer and Cameron had not told the passengers about the ‘small’ problem with the brakes so they would not be scared.  It was a good plan, until Lehrer yelled that the brakes were out as soon as he saw his parents.  The passengers heard, and it is safe to say they went ballistic.  Some were angry while others were grateful that Cameron managed to not crash the bus. 

Fred, Lehrer’s brother, gave him the nickname “Mr. Big Mouth”, which stuck for a very long time.

Conclusion

In all honesty, I am not sure why these two stories are the ones that I find memorable.  Maybe because they were the first two stories in the book or maybe it is because I am around the age Lehrer was when these things happened.  Or maybe I just find the stories comical and it stuck in my brain.  Either way, these are the two, very entertaining stories, I find memorable from A Bus of My Own.

Thanks for reading!

Featured

Business 9, Lesson 15 – Why is Running My Own Business a Way to Guarantee My Employment in a Decade?

In this modern day and age, robots and AI are everywhere.  These said robots and AI are getting smarter and more advanced.  They are no longer a small voice on your phone called Siri who has hearing problems.  They are getting so advanced that many companies are starting to replace human workers with robots.  Which raises the question, are robots replacing our jobs?

I do not doubt that eventually robots will take quite of a few of jobs that are traditionally done by humans, but I do not think that they will replace all of us.  At the same time, it never hurts to have backup plans in case they do.  Starting your own business may be the best solution if the robots ever do take our jobs.  It is the bosses of companies that choose whether to use robots or not and if you are the boss of your own company/business you can choose to not use robots.  Being the boss of your own company also makes you safe from being replaced.

As an aspiring actress and author, I feel that my job is safe from robots.  But who knows, maybe robots that look like humans will be made to star in TV shows instead of actual humans.

Thanks for reading!

Featured

English 9, Lesson 15 – The Four Good Things That Came as A Result of Jim Lehrer’s Heart Attack

For the past few weeks I have been reading Jim Lehrer’s autobiography “A Bus of My Own”.  This week I have read the chapters entailing details about Lehrer’s heart attack and recovery.  In this essay I am going to talk about the good things that came as a result of the heart attack.

After the heart attack Lehrer made big changes in his lifestyle.  In earlier chapters he stated he was a big smoker, so much so that he had stashes of cigarettes in his office and under his car seat.  He also said his eating habits was that of a “pimply faced teenager.”  After the heart attack he quit smoking and started eating healthier things like turkey sandwiches, fruits, and vegetables. 

Having the heart attack also helped Lehrer get over his not so irrational fear of hospitals.  The fear came about after his Father died because of a heart attack in a hospital and only solidified when his Mother died from a failed surgery.  As he said in one of the chapters “Lehrers always die in hospitals.”  Because of this fear Lehrer put off going to the hospital when he was feeling the symptoms of a heart attack.  After having the heart attack and going into a hospital, not once, but twice and coming out alive both times, he overcame his fear of hospitals.

After his recovery, Lehrer went back to work.  At first it was just sitting in on meetings and pitching ideas, but eventually he made it back on screen.  One of the things he did onscreen was make a small special about his experience with the heart attack called “My Heart, Your Heart.”  At first he was hesitant to air the special.  He did not want to be known as “The Guy on TV Who Had a Heart Attack.”  Despite his reservations, he went through with it, and thank goodness.  After the special aired Lehrer were getting calls from viewers who had saved their own lives and others around them because of what he said.

One woman called saying her co-worker asked her to drive after feeling chest tightness.  The woman said her co-worker said “that Lehrer guy on TV said not to fool around.”  The woman continues the story and says as soon as they got to the emergency room her co-worker had a heart attack.  Lehrer got many other calls like this, but none of them were as extraordinary as this particular one.

As you can see, many good things came out of a life threatening experience.  Not only did Lehrer improve his own life, but took his experience and shared it to the world, saving many peoples’ lives.

Thanks for reading!

History 7 – The Islamic Story of Moses (Musa in Arabic)

The Islamic story of Moses states that he was born around in 1393 BCE in Egypt during a time when the Israelites were slaves of the Pharaoh (the Coptic culture is derived from Pharonic times). The Pharaoh didn’t let the Israelites worship God. They made the Israelites worship idols like them.

The Pharaoh at the time was told that a prophet would be born from the Israelites and that this prophet would be his downfall. Not wanting that to happen, the Pharaoh made a rule that every other year, all newborn Israelite boys would be killed.

Moses was born in a year where newborn Israelite boys were killed so his mother put him in a basket, and sent him down a river, praying that God would protect him. Ofcourse, Moses would always be protected by God, and was guided to the Egyptian queen who was bathing in the river. She picked up Moses and convinced the Pharaoh to let her raise Moses as her own.

Moses’s mother was in despair that she had lost her son but God would not let her stay in that state for long.  God made sure that Moses would not suckle on any other woman’s breast making the queen look for someone who could breastfeed him.  When Moses’s sister, Miriam, heard that her brother was safe and needed a wet nurse, she suggested a woman to the queen who happened to be her mother.   Baby Moses knew that this was his mother, and latched on.  The queen saw that Moses liked this “strange woman”, and made her his nanny.

Moses grew up in the palace with his mother as his caretaker. He learned  to read and write, everything a prince would need to know. By the time he was a young man, he was exceptionally strong and educated but he had a stutter which made him very self-conscious.

When Moses became a young man, he saw an Israelite in a fight with an Egyptian. The Israelite called on Moses for help. Moses went over and punched the Egyptian, killing him.  Moses was scared for his life, and fled Egypt.

Moses had no idea where he was going. He just ran away from Egypt.  His aimless escape led him to Madyan (or Midian in English). It is supposed to be located on the east shore of the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea.  When he reached Madyan, he saw two women trying to lift a boulder that was blocking a well.  When Moses saw that, he offered to help lift the boulder and get water for them. The women expressed their gratitude to Moses, and then hurried home to tell their elderly father about him.  Their father told them to go find Moses and invite him to dinner.  Moses, who was tired and hungry, accepted the invitation and joined the women and their father for dinner.

At dinner, the women’s father told Moses that he planned to wed his daughters soon, and that if Moses worked for him for 8 years, he could marry one of his daughters. If he worked for 10 years, Moses could choose which daughter he wanted to marry. Moses, who wasn’t planning to go back to Egypt anytime soon, chose 10 years of work, and claimed one of the daughters, Zipporah, as his wife.

Moses started to miss his family, and since nothing stopped him from going to Egypt, he left with Zipporah.  On the way, they got lost in the middle of the night and saw a fire in the distance. Thinking that there would be people there to help them, they rode in the direction of the fire. The fire turned out to be God calling out to Moses. God told Moses to throw down his staff, and when Moses did, God turned the staff into a giant snake to prove that He was God.  Moses got scared and started to run away from the snake but God told him to come back, and not to be afraid of the snake.  Another miracle that God showed Moses to convince him that He was God was to turn his hand into a shining bright light when he touched his heart inside his shirt. God then told Moses to go talk to the Pharaoh, and convince him to free the Israelites, and remind him of the Sovereignty of God. Moses thought that this would never work because he had a stutter but God reassured him and said that he could ask his brother Aaron to help him.

When Moses arrived in Egypt, he called on Aaron to help him convince the Pharaoh to free the Israelites. Aaron agreed and headed to the palace with Moses.  Aaron told the Pharaoh to free the Israelites, and if he didn’t, he would be disobeying a command of God.  The Pharaoh was greatly angered with Moses.  The Pharaoh declared that he was god, and that he would never free the Israelites. To prove that God was more powerful than the Pharaoh, Moses challenged the Pharaoh and his court.  The Pharaoh declared that there would be a public duel between his magicians and Moses.

The Pharaoh’s magicians went first, casting down their staffs and ropes, and making it look like they were moving like snakes. When it was Moses’s turn, he threw down his staff which turned  into a snake larger than before and ate the magicians’ snakes on the items on the ground. The magicians, as well as all the onlookers, saw that God’s power was far superior. The magicians accepted Moses’s God as the One True God. The magicians repented, and God, being All Forgiving, forgave them.   The Pharaoh was infuriated that his magicians had been defeated in the duel in front of the public.

Moses and Aaron realized that the Pharaoh wasn’t going to free the Israelites anytime soon. So, they devised a plan to sneak the Israelites out of Egypt. In the dark of night, Aaron and Moses collected the Israelites and snuck out.

The next morning the guards discovered that the Israelites were gone and informed the Pharaoh. He was furious that Moses and Aaron had taken the Israelites. The Pharaoh created a search team, including himself, and set off in the direction the people went.

The Israelites were trapped at the edge of the Red Sea with the Pharaoh closing in behind them. God told Moses to hit his staff on the ground. When the staff hit the ground, the Red Sea parted in two, and Moses and the Israelites  were able to pass through.  The Pharaoh and his men also tried to pass through but the water closed on the Pharaoh and his men, drowning them.  It is said that the Pharaoh accepted Moses’s God before drowning.

After crossing the Red Sea, the Israelites continued on to their Promised Land with Moses and Aaron.  They hadn’t brought much food when they escaped so God made sure that every morning when they woke up, there would be food on the ground for them. God also provided fresh springs of water for them to drinks.

But the Israelites were not grateful. Aaron and Moses kept trying to remind the people how much God had given them but were unsuccessful.  When the time came to take their Promised Land from the disbelievers, they refused.  The Israelites insisted that it was impossible. They claimed they wouldn’t succeed  because the disbelievers had a larger army.   Moses and Aaron reminded them that they would be protected by God like always. But they still refused.

As punishment for not obeying Him, God “cursed” the Israelites to wander the desert for forty years without a determined home.

While travelling across the desert, Moses saw a burning bush at the top of a hill called Mount Toor (now known as Mount Sinai). Moses recognized it as God wanting to talk to him, and left the Israelites with Aaron.  When Moses got to the top of the hill, God told him to write down what He dictated, which was the Torah (i.e. The Law). Moses finished inscribing the Torah on tablets after forty days and nights.

Moses was very happy that he had the Torah for the people. When he reached the bottom of the hill, he saw what the people were doing while he was away.  They had melted gold and constructed a golden calf to worship.  Moses was greatly angered that the people had slipped back into idol worship, and that Aaron had let them do this.  Aaron claimed that the people threatened him if he didn’t let them make the calf.

After wandering across the Sinai desert (in the Sinai Peninsula)for forty years with the Israelites, Moses finally died at the age of 120 years-old.  Before his death, he asked God if he could live for a little longer to lead the Israelites but God said no, and that it was his time.  Who can argue with God?

As you can see, Moses spent almost all of his life leading and helping the Israelites. In my opinion his biggest achievement in life was delivering the Torah, or the Law, to the Israelites. The fact that Moses asked God for more years to live to lead the Israelites just shows how dedicated he was to them.