Thursday, May 21, 2009

Update

You know what’s kinda annoying? Most of you should know that I listen to Nightwish and that after Nightwish finished their tour for their Once (2005) Album, they fired their lead vocalist Tajra Tuuren due to a wide variety of reasons.

Well, anyways, Tarja released a solo album that I have and most of it isn’t really that good actually. I mean, she has a wonderful voice and she does a good job with the vocalization, musically the thing is a far cry from Nightwish’s release with their new female vocalist.

Anyways, the best song, imo, on Tarja’s album (My Winter Storm) is a Alice Cooper cover called Poison. Good song, makes me want to get the Alice Cooper original… but anyways, at the end of the song they have some male vocalization and what’s really annoying is the guy SOUND EXACTLY LIKE NIGHTWISH’S male vocalist… you know, the guy Tarja DOENSN’T work with anymore? So… yes, that’s rather annoying. I mean, seriously, have all the male vocals you want, but don’t go and find a copycat for the guy you used to sing with. Marco doesn’t work with you, don’t pretend he does. When Nightwish fired Tarja they didn’t find a Tarja copycat to replace her, they found a new vocalist who sounds nothing like Tarja, specifically so that no one would compare the two.

Also… I finished my programming class today. Took me forever, but thanks to my classmates and my teacher I finally got all the bugs out of my Chutes and Ladders assignment and I now have a working Chutes and Ladders game in Visual Basic. Very nice. But seriously, I had one major problem and a few bugs that, in total, took me and one of my classmates an entire HOUR to figure out. Crazy, no?

*sigh* I’m so glad to be done with programming. I mean I enjoyed the class, but it was very frustrating for me because I felt like I wasn’t able to learn at the pace the class expected me. At the same time, while I did enjoy parts of the class and the many moments where things just “clicked” were amazing, most of the time I got really frustrated in the class and felt rather… stupid. Though, I do have to say it was a very informative class because I now know what programming is all about. Can’t say I exactly like it… but I do still really enjoy technology and I do want to be involved with computers and software stuff in the future. I think the key is figure out how I can be involved with software development (especially in the form of video games. :D) while at the same time not do a large amount of programming itself. Of course, the problem is how do I work with programmers without knowing what, exactly, they do? It’s a question I’ll have to answer at another point in life.

And I am so tired… I think I might actually take a nap today… wow. Anyways, next week is my last official week of Eleventh Grade. I have just 4 more latin Lessons, a final test and then my Math and English final and I’m on summer holiday. Yippee!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Final English Class

Well I had my last English Class for 11th grade this year. Lots of fun [i]was[/i] had. ;) Anyways… I’ve decided to show you guys how much my writing has improved. I’ll post two of my papers; my first Comp and my 2nd semester midterm. I got a 68 on my 1st comp, and a 93 on my semester midterm.

Read and enjoy!

First Comp:

Goat Fell: The Conquest


My summers usually end up rather normal, even boring, sometimes. Not this summer. Not once during my summer vacation did I fear that I would run out of activities. One of the first memorable events this summer involved climbing Goat Fell, the highest mountain on the Scottish Isle of Arran. While my parents participated in the Leadership Development Course (LDC) our family resided in Scotland. One weekend several of the male “LDCers” decided to take a day trip and climb Goat Fell Mountain. Of course, I assumed nothing unusual would happen during our trip. I expected an ordinary hike, I found an extraordinary adventure.

So, early one Sunday morning, ten set off for an adventure that none of us would soon forget. Our journey to the foot of the mountain did not take long. A short car ride, a quick wait for the ferry, a relaxing ferry ride, and another short ride, this time on a bus, and the footpath that lead up the mountain; the adventure had begun. When I began this climb, I assumed that I could handle the physical stress it would place on me; I assumed wrong. Reaching the top of the mountain all but exhausted me. By the time I arrived at the peak, my body ached, protesting at every unnecessary movement I ordered it to complete. With my body in such a condition, I greatly enjoyed the rest I had on the mountain peak.

It felt good to be on the top of Goat Fell, it gave me a sense of accomplishment to be able to say, “I climbed Goat Fell!” I have not climbed to many mountains and it felt good to sit on the top of that mountain, eating some lunch and rest, knowing that I had just completed what a great feat of physical strength. Little did I know that a true test of my endurance still lay ahead. Eventually, we decided to finish our journey and start our trek down the mountain. Still tired from the climb up, I headed down at a rather slow pace, ending up at the rear of our group. We had no problems going down until someone realized we should probably pick up the pace. His exact words being, “If we are going to make the five O’clock ferry we are going to have to significantly increase our speed.” We needed to run the remaining two miles, in other words.

Of course, my body told me that I should not start running, but I needed to catch that ferry. Ignoring common sense told my body to shut up and began to run. I ran, and I ran, and I ran, and with the ferry still not in sight, I kept running. Forest, field, and beautiful Scottish landscapes, failed to make an impression upon me as I struggled to simply put on foot in front of another in a timely fashion. The running eventually got to me, I had to stop, I could not go on. Never before had I pushed myself so hard, and no matter how much I wanted to catch that ferry, I knew in my current state completing this feat of endurance would not happen, I simply did not have the energy. With all my hope of returning home in time gone, I neared collapse, but at that moment, my savior appeared, this savior came in the form of a bus driver. Overjoyed as the bus stopped and allowed me to board, I lay on the seat, sweaty, tired, and a dull throbbing pain effulging my entire being.

Our ferry back provided me and the rest of my group some much needed rest. No one, not even the fittest amongst us had any energy left. We allowed silence to overtake us. Washing the salt and sweat (mostly salt) off my face, I enjoyed a soda and a much needed period of not using my feet. I had survived. As we sat on the ferry talking and drinking our beverages, I realized what I had just experienced would be a memory that I would cherish for years to come.


Midterm:

The Miner’s Journey


“Morning again. Morning means… breakfast,” Griwn the dwarf thought. After getting out of his bed, he made his way to the tavern’s common room for some breakfast. “Today I’ll finally reach the Steelcap Mountains,” he thought as he sat down at his table in the common room.

Sitting down Griwn ordered his usual fair: bacon, eggs, sausage and bread, all washed down with cold, refreshing apple cider. He put the sausage, bacon and eggs on the bread and made himself a sandwich. Griwn savored the meal since he would not get another meal cooked by Ian, the tavern’s chef, for several weeks. His meat had the exact right flavorings, grilled sausage never tasted so amazing. Ian claimed his great-grandfather had stolen the family bacon recipe from the gods themselves. Griwn believed him; never before had he tasted such amazing, such succulent bacon.

When he had eaten all the food on his plate, Griwn returned to his room instead of ordering a second round, as he had done so the past three days. He checked his gear, which he had carefully cared for all his days as a miner. Pickaxe, shovel, camping equipment, he had everything he would need once he reached the mountains and their iron-filled mines. Griwn also made sure his weapons still remained in good working order. Gertrude his custom made, custom scoped, dwarven longrifle, needed some cleaning. Picking the weapon up Griwn admiringly felt the smooth, well crafted weapon and looked at its sharp features and wonderful lines. Ever since the gnomes invented gunpowder rifles and muskets became the dominant weapon on the field of battle, but unlike other races the dwarves had a special relationship with their weapons

Griwn paid his bill and left the inn, again ready to walk the winding paths of the Empire. He had traveled these roads for decades now, moving from one mine to another, never staying more than a year or too. This nomadic lifestyle suited him, as it did many of his people. Griwn found the idea of travelling from one location to another, never staying in one place, but always on the move, irresistible. In love with travelling, Griwn did so constantly, always taking time to observe the sites, hear the sounds, and smell the wonderful fragrances of a long and rarely traveled highway, the smell of blooming flowers his ultimate favorite amongst.

He now looked about and took in the sights and sounds. Despite the hilliness of this part of the Empire, Griwn found himself surrounded by trees, beautiful, green leaves on every branch with the wind rustling through them. From time to time he would spot a rabbit, squirrel, or perhaps even a deer on this rarely-travelled path he now took. “Ah, the wonders of nature,” Griwn mused. Griwn happily took a minute to rest on the path. He took a seat on the ground, near a rock and ate a piece of jerky. Some sparrows landed near him and he watched them as they pecked at the ground and chirped. Simple pleasure like these sparrows always made Griwn’s journey’s all the more memorable.

As the day came to its close Griwn finally cleared the forest and came to the beginning of the mines. When a few lone prospectors had discovered iron in these mines, they discovered it here, at the foot of these grand and majestic mountains. Griwn originally avoided the Steelcaps because soon after the discovery of iron in the mountains dozens of mining companies had moved in, using cutthroat business tactics to make as much money as possible. These companies left little room for a small time operation like Griwn’s. But six months ago, after three years of hard work and labor, Griwn finally procured entrance into the Dwarven Miners Guild, and told his first assignment required him to report to the Guild leader at the Steelcaps.

With the forest finally clearing, Griwn glanced up at the mountains and became caught up in the breath-taking view of the mountains. “Beautiful,” he said, a smile on his bearded face. He then glanced at the sun, realizing that if he wanted to find his foreman before nightfall he would have to pick up the pace.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hell Hath No Fury Et All

Hell Hath No Fury Et All – Demon Hunter

I know this might sound ridiculous, but I can’t get over that line. It’s just… so amazing to think about.

Demon Hunter is a “Christian” “metalcore” (those are in quotes because I’ve never understood why we have to label all bands made up of Believers “Christian”, the second one because I disapprove of the genre label of Metalcore. It doesn’t make a lot of sense) band that I really like. Primarily they’re a band I appreciate because of their lyrical content versus their music. Ryan Clark, their vocalist and chief songwriter, primarily writes heavily Christian lyrics, but does so in a different fashion than many famous Christian bands/artists like Kutless or Third Day. As a metalcore band they tend to have rather aggressive lyrics, much of which are often growled or shouted. These lyrics often focus on war or struggles, and are always written from a Biblical perspective.

Anyways… so the line I have above, Hell Hath No Fury Et All, is the bridge of Storm the Gates of Hell. The song itself is really good, great lyrics and awesome style, but its that line in the song that resonates the most with me.

We live in a fallen world, and one that is in constant turmoil. In America people are losing their jobs because of a recession. In Africa people are dying in senseless wars that serve no purpose. In South Asia people are starving and dying because they don’t have access to proper medicine or health education… I could probably spend the majority of my time writing on this blog writing about the troubles of the world and still have plenty left over.

The reasons for this fallen world is, of course, mankind’s inherit sinfulness. Even if every man and women on earth served God we would still have many of these problems, though one would belief that they’d be significantly less.

However, much of the world does not serve God. Some of it in fact, is in direct opposition to God’s will and his commandments. From Atheistic professors who mock all religions to Islamic Clerics who preach their intolerant and unjust views. NOTE: I’m not saying all Atheists or Muslims are evil or anything. There are extremes to all beliefs and religions, even Christianity; these are just some examples that came to my mind. These people have set themselves up in direct opposition of our God and aligned themselves with the Devil and his minions. They serve no purpose other than to weaken the cause of Christ.

Now, while we are all called to love our neighbor and our neighbor are the Samaritans of this world (that is to say, people whom we hate and despise), people need to realize that ideas of those who preach against God and the Bible must be refutted. I don’t necessarily mean debates or open discussions, actions (such doing things that certain religions/creeds/beliefs do not allow or accept) can often speak louder than words. However, people need to realize that Satan rules this world and he doesn’t want mankind to have a happy life with God. Furthermore, mankind is a fallen race and that as such many humans will refuse to see the light and in fact oppose it at all possible turns.

Demon Hunter sees this and through their music encourages their listeners to fight against the enemy. Now, like I said, they don’t mean literal physical attacks and armies or something, they mean fighting their ideas, their lies and their false thinking. Where unbelievers kill, steal, lie and hate, Believers must remember to heal, give, tell the truth, and love.

Now, I’m sure many (if not most) Believers do in fact heal, give, tell the truth and love quite often. And I know its discouraging to see all our hard work go to waste. What is the point of teaching a man how to farm when he can’t buy seeds to plant? What is the point of giving health care to a family when they refuse to change their health-damaging ways? What is the point of loving a man when he refuses to love back? Etc. In moments like that, we need to remember: Hell Hath No Fury At All.

Despite the fact that at times our actions seem pointless, hopeless, and fruitless, Hell Hath No Fury Et All. No matter what Satan or the Forces of Darkness do, no matter how many times a person rejects the Gospel and in fact fights against it and the principles it stands for, Hell Hath no Fury Et All. In the end, Jesus WILL come, Jesus WILL reign and peace WILL be restored. Our world WILL become perfect and happy and if you believe in Christ then you have no reason to fear or despair, because Satan already lost 2000 years ago. Hell Hath No Fury Et All.

Just thought I’d share that with you.

Werewolf

Well recently, I’ve been playing some Werewolf games on the internet.

What is werewolf? Well this game was first introduced to me as Mafia a long time ago by some people in Thailand while we were on vacation. In mafia the game is divided into two rounds: day and night. During the day all the players get one vote and can vote to kill a player. During the night certain players with special roles get to do various actions.

Now, in mafia, there are two teams: the mafia and the villagers. The mafia (usually 2ish of them) must kill all the villagers, (and can kill one player of their choice every night. As well as voting during the day) while the villagers must find out who mafia are. On the side of the villagers is the sheriff and the doctor. The sheriff can investigate one person every night to discover if they are the mafia or not. The doctor can choice to protect one person every night and if that person is targeted by the mafia they will not die, but live because the doctor arrived at the scene of the crime just before the person who was attacked was killed.

So anyways… this game was always played in real time face to face with other people. Roles were dealt with via playing cards and the game generally moved fast and the mafia rarely won. However, I also learned of a different version of mafia called werewolf:

Werewolf is basically mafia but with a fantasy village setting rather than a small town setting. The roles are the same but there are extra ones: the lovers (one dies, both die) the village idiot (if he dies, he can kill someone as well), etc.

Anyways, so I discovered that one website I visit regurlarly, http://www.giantitp.com (primarily for the webcomics) has lots of werewolf games going via PBP. (these games can be seen under the “structured games” subforum of the “Silly message board games” forum. I’m registered as toasty on this website if anyone cares) I started playing in these and after two somewhat boring, but still decently fun games and one game where I got to play the devil (similar to the sheriff except I am a wolf (mafia) and my “investigations” reveal a players role, not if he is a werewolf/mafia or not) and managed to have some good fun because one of the werewolves managed to convice everybody he was a villager (we killed the villager’s seer (sheriff) and baner (doctor) in the first few rounds of the game very easily, primarily because they trusted the wrong person in the early game) and thus we won.

Now I’m in another two games and loving them both. I’m a villager, so while I don’t have any special role to play I’m beginning to see the intricacies of how the game works and learning to trust no one except myself and the like. One of these games is really crazy right now… I’ve changed my vote like 3 times and everyone agrees that the game has become really confusing. Best part is we’re only on day two! :D

What I think makes these werewolf games so fun is the fact that because they are doing via PBP instead of real time there is a lot more elements of deception and logic and stuff. People have time to plan their actions, look at how other people have voted and work out who is lying and who isn’t. This kind of stuff can be done in a face to face werewolf game, but it often generates into random “I think its Isaac!” with no logic to back the statement up.

And… I need to get to bed.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Slumdog

Hmm… a while back I finally got my hands on Slum Dog Millionare a watched it. This was actually a love time ago, but I was too lazy to blog about it:

So… my response was, besides the epic soundtrack (it really did deserve an award for the score) the movie wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. It was a feel good story written by Americans about India, with perhaps a focus on Mumbai. That being said, there was some truth to the movie. The poverty, the gangs, the violence, the crime and all that exist. My mom didn’t want to watch it because she has seen these things up front and it’s too real for her. Since I haven’t directly seen any of this (not to say I’m unaware of these things and I realize that they go on in Dhaka about as much as they do in Mumbai and other Indian cities, I just don’t see them because I keep to myself and don’t travel about in the slums or at night or interact with more “shaddy” people), I was able to watch the show without it effecting me too much.

But, like I said, Slumdog was a feel good movie. Jamal gets on the TV show, he wins the money, he gets the girl, he lives happily ever after. Even his brother, who ends up dying (killing himself, you could say, though he doesn’t actually pull the trigger) has a somewhat happy ending. He had dug himself into a hole and got out of it the only way he knew how: killing his boss and letting his former companions get their revenge. The dying in a bathtub of money was good imagery, since I like to imagine it was the amount of money that Jamal won, something about how money doesn’t buy happiness or the like.

And yet, despite the fact that this show has such a clich├ęd ending it somehow captured the heart of Oscar guys as well as lots of Americans. People going on about how Slumdog is amazing and we all should watch it. I watched it. It wasn’t amazing. If anything, I thought the Dark Knight was a better done movie. The Joker was EPIC. It was just amazing. Heck, I enjoyed Iron Man more than Slumdog. Yes, Slumdog was a better show, but it wasn’t as fun. I’ll probably never want to watch Slumdog again, but I’d watch Iron Man again.

People say that Slumdog was amazing, but I’ve seen better movies. Gladiator? Master and Commander? 3/10 to Yuma? Russell Crowe has made some amazing movies. I don’t even have to mention LotR or Star Wars (original trilogy only please) everyone knows how amazing those movies were. If Slumdog is the best thing to come out of Hollywood (and given the amount of awards and praise it received, much more than any other movie released this year or last) then I weep at the lack of talent Hollywood now has. Where have movie makers like Peter Jackson and actors like Will Smith gone? When will our next Pirates of the Carribean (not as epic as LotR, but very well done nonetheless) or Spiderman come? Will they ever come? Recently the Oscars have been doing badly in terms of making money, this is because since the last LotR there haven’t been any movies that have captured the heart of America, or the world for that matter. The best thing we can show the world is the Dark Knight, a tale of how far humanity has fallen, or Slumdog, a feel good movie that says “miracles happen”, just in a rather dramatic and well done way.

Despite all my criticisms, I did honestly enjoy Slumdog, but looking back on other movies I’ve seen, I don’t think I’d choose to watch Slumdog again over lots of other movies. I’ve seen better.

Random fact of the day: Iron Maiden truly are the Gods of Metal. :D