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Debate Topic [Assault Weapon Ban: Con] – Log Entry 10

          For our debate, I was assigned the topic regarding the Ban on Assault Weapons. Furthermore, I must support the con side of this argument. This side, however, is not the view I initially had supported due to my belief that assault weapons can cause so much unnecessary harm. As of right now, I know that assault weapons are primarily used in the military as a form of protection. They have the capacity to kill large numbers of people at one time, if necessary. These devices are not commonly used for hunting as well. When looking up this topic, it is made clear that there had once been an Assault Weapons Ban that took place between the years 1994-2004. Once this bill had expired, it had been debated whether or not it was of any useful purpose at all. Moreover, the website, congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/66, shows that there is a recent push in Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban. Surprisingly, there are not many websites that are directly against the ban on assault weapons. Logically, I plan to address my side in this manner: 

          Our government is based on the constitution. Putting a ban on the assault weapons violates the second amendment of this document. Moreover, others say that if Assault weapons are banned, nothing will stop the criminals from acquiring them. Because of this, nobody will be able to defend themselves against these individuals. 

          Regarding this topic, many individuals who are against gun control believe that it is ethically unjust to use tragic events to promote a political point of view. In addition, these people also claim that psychologically stable gun owners may save hundreds to thousands of lives with their assault rifles. 

          During this debate, many emotions can be brought into play. First of all, many gun owners believe that safety is their number one priority. The use of Assault weapons provides protection for one’s self and family for these people. Furthermore, within the debate, I could utilize the feelings of pride and patriotism. Many assault weapon owners feel extreme pride for their country, and believe that their personal rights to protect their family would be violated if assault weapon use was restricted. 

Assault Weapons Ban - Con

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Virtues Experiment – Log Entry 9

          Throughout the course of the week, I utilized our group’s fifteen virtues in an attempt to become morally perfect. I did not reach this scale of perfection as humans are merely imperfect beings. However, throughout my various attempts, I felt as if I became a better person. 

          When looking at my results, it is made clear that I had the most trouble with silence and cooperation as the week began. I believe that the reason for this is due to the fact that my brother, sister, and I were packed into the back seat of our car for at least 10 hours a day, for two days, while we were driving to Miami. A lot of trifling conversation was made, quarrels, etc. along the way. Once we arrived and boarded our ship that would take us around Mexico, I met amazing people my age from all over the world. The ship was filled with diversity! Not once did I judge or form a bias based on where one was from, the language they spoke, or the religion they had acquired. This made Justice a fairly simple virtue to follow. Because of this, I learned so much about the diversity of various cultures around the world by opening up to them. This, in turn, made them open up to me. I even used some of the basic Spanish I had studied throughout the years to show that I acknowledged their culture and native language. While onboard, myself along with the other people I had met were set to perform different tasks. We would play various games, go on scavenger hunts, etc. exercising the “Cooperation” virtue my group had made. However, as we sailed the vast Atlantic waters, I began to forget to fill out the Virtues Chart. This, in itself, violated Resolution. Moreover, maintaining Cleanliness was a must while aboard the vessel. With up to 1000 people in a small area, staying clean was necessary to avoid pathogens that could have been brought onto the ship. Temperance was difficult as well, as there had been an “All You Can Eat Buffet” open at all hours. 

          Not only has this experiment helped me become a better person, it has also had ethical implications to those around me. Similar to what had been stated above, not showing judgment, cooperating with others, maintaining sincerity, etc. helped me become a more likable person. Along with this, it gave the people I met the opportunity to talk openly and freely with me. As a result, by the time our excursion was over, I made many new friends/acquaintances from all around the world (The United Kingdom, Chile, Mexico, Columbia, Argentina, The United States, The Philippines, etc.). Furthermore, while utilizing tactics from this experiment, I was able to defuse situations that could have escalated into larger problems as we headed back home. This provided for a tranquil ride home as compared to the quarrelsome drive to the Port of Miami. 

          Although I did not become the “perfect person” as the experiment concluded, I did, in fact, become a better person. I became more open, cooperative, sincere, and righteous, meeting astonishing people from all around the globe. 

 

          *Turned in late due to the lack of internet connection while on our cruise to Mexico.

Diverse cultures from around the world.

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Poetry Final (The Dodo’s Conundrum) – Log Entry 8

          When first reading the poem, The Dodo’s Conundrum, I primarily noticed that the stanzas alternated between free verse and verse meter. This originally led me to think that the poem was comprised of two different selections. When analyzing the work, I noticed that the stanzas had been split between chaos (free verse) and order (verse). This possibly could provide a contrast between the orderly model world discussed in the verse lines and the chaotic “real world” present in the free-verse lines. This led me to construct the following theme: “Life is unpredictable no matter how much you want to control it.” As the verse stanzas are easy to understand, I continue to find the free-verse lines difficult to comprehend. Various outside works are present throughout the text as well, increasing its difficulty. One line present in the second stanza writes, “Some days Thoreau had it right/ About the teeming masses yearning to be free–” The annotation states that Thoreau, an American transcendentalist and author, believed that people should seek true happiness instead of being stuck in a melancholy life. However, this annotation does not clarify the reasoning behind the following line regarding the “teeming masses yearning to be free.” What are these “masses?” Are they people, objects, thoughts, etc? Why is it titled The Dodo’s Conundrum

          When analyzing this poem while utilizing the sound and sense questions, I found it to be easier to pick apart Eldorado. Eldorado’s story was simple and easy to understand. However, the story within The Dodo’s Conundrum’s free-verse lines was chaotic and quite difficult to dissect. Furthermore, the addition of lines alluding to outside works confused me even more as I had never interacted with those outside texts. 

          When writing two of my own poems, I modeled them after we had read Eldorado. Eldorado is presented in a story-like manner. However, I was not exposed to free-verse poetry beforehand and did not write in this way. Because of this, The Dodo’s Conundrum had been a challenge to read and analyze.

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Poetry – Log Entry 7

          When we began our Poetry Unit in class this year, I was surprisingly nervous knowing that I got an exceedingly low score on the pretest that we had taken. Poetry, in general, has never been a strength in me, partially due to the lack of emphasis put on this topic in previous years. However, even though I am not the best at poetry as of now, I continue to feel that I am improving. 

          When answering the Sound and Sense questions for my selected poem, A Ball is for Throwing, by Adrienne Rich, I found it to be quite difficult to analyze. When performing scansion on this poem, the rhyme pattern was not secure, the meter chanced frequently, etc., making it quite difficult. To add on to this thought, some of the language used in this poem felt disorganized, making it extremely hard to follow. This, in turn, made answering the Sound and Sense questions almost impossible. These struggles, however, were somewhat lifted when analyzing the poem, Eldorado, by Edgar Allen Poe. This poem, unlike the previous selection, told a story. The rhyming pattern was consistent throughout, with slight variants within the meter. The pattern like form that this poem possessed made it easier to analyze and quite enjoyable when answering the Sound and Sense questions. 

          Not only have my poetry skills benefited me within the classroom, but they have also helped me outside of school. One night this weekend, my parents and I played a game known as Psych in which two players make up wrong answers to a given question in an attempt to “psych” the other player out. The topic relating to this round was Poetry, as a matter of fact! The goal was to write an ending to an actual poem in an attempt to “psych” the other player out. Using my knowledge of rhyme and meter patterns, I not only psyched the other players out, I guessed the correct answer as well! 

          Although my experience with poetry remains imperfect, I believe that proficiency comes with time. I may not become the next Robert Frost, but I will have learned something valuable in the end. 

Poetry Image

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Finishing Your Short Story – Log Entry 6

          When we first looked at the six-word short stories in class, I came across the one that stated, “Nothing would grow there ever again,” which really struck me. Initially, I pondered, ‘What if humans in the far future continue to misuse our planet, ultimately leading to its demise (hence the six-word short story)?’  This lead to the thought of a Geologist who had tried their hardest to keep the planet clean, but failed due to the corruption of this futuristic world. This version, however realistic as it seems, did not make it to the writing phase. There were just too many loose ends and gaps when constructing this idea. Then came the thought of a family who had moved to an island to escape the polluted overpopulated world of this same time period – a more reasonable short story choice. Their farmland would be selfishly taken away by the antagonist, “The Voice of Reason,” sparking their journey. This became what is currently known as Adalee’s Diary. Adalee, a 12-year-old girl writing down her everyday experiences as her family’s lives slowly become corrupt, would become the protagonist of this story. My initial thought was to introduce Adalee’s brother, Calix, into the story as a minor character who would be by her side throughout the narrative. However, while in the writing process, Calix was drafted into the military. This, in turn, would hurt Adalee’s family, ultimately making it weaker. Along with this, I also wondered what would happen if he were to come back into the story near the end, discovering that is family is long gone. This turned into the epilogue of the current short story. In addition to this statement, when Adalee’s family dies on this island, I originally wanted the final entry to end abruptly. This, however, was changed due to the fact that it did not flow too well as it seemed to end a bit too suddenly. As of now, it ends in a heartbreaking promise. 

          I highly enjoy the writing layout as a diary currently. Seeing Adalee’s innocent thoughts, dreams, and wonders displayed on the various pages only to be crushed by the arrogant society of this futuristic world is truly heartbreaking. Sadly, however, I continue to dislike the speed at which the story comes to a close. To this day, I am continuously trying to add dialogue and small scenes to make the ending of this short narrative powerful. 

          My independent reading book, The Martian, coupled with The Devil and Tom Walker have both influenced my story in one way or another. To begin, the diary layout of The Martian motivated me to produce this short story using the same format. The futuristic time period of this novel also inspired me when writing my own. To continue, some metaphors and symbols used in The Devil and Tom Walker aided in the production of Adalee’s Diary as well. Throughout my narrative, the use of color to express symbolism is present throughout, similar to the way Washington Irving told his tale.

Pollution in the Pacific Waters

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The Martian – Log Entry 5

Imitation present in Andy Weir’s, The Martian.

 

          When reading The Martian by Andy Weir, I discovered various literary elements that could help me during my short story writing process. One characteristic which could possibly find its way into my own short story is the tone Weir uses at this point in the novel. The short story that I had assembled tells the tale of a family who is in a desperate search to find a new home in a futuristic, polluted, and overpopulated world. The tone Weir uses to express the panic in the Nasa workers could be incorporated into the fear present in the family who is in a desperate search to start a new life away from a corrupted world. 

          Firstly, to provide context to what has been happening in the novel, while on the Sirus 4 mission, Watney’s plan to travel to the Pathfinder space probe had been discovered by a group of NASA employees. Amid the discovery of Watney’s plan, the author – Andy Weir, makes it readily apparent that the group of employees is in a state of panic. One employee states, “Presuming he’s rationing his food, he’s got enough to last him three hundred and fifty more days. That means we need to build a presupply in three months” (102). The tone Weir has used in this short passage supports the statement above which shows that the group of workers, who are trying to keep Watney alive for as long as possible, are in a state of panic. 

          Weir also uses diction to express the panic present in the Nasa personnel. He executes this by using vulgar terms and profanity within the characters’ dialogue. Although Weir uses this technique within his writing, I do not feel that it would be appropriate within my narrative. I do feel as if the feeling of panic and anxiety within the family present in my own short story is quite necessary to the narrative, however. Fear would have to drive the plot due to the fact that the entire story revolves around one family’s fear of a corrupted and yet arrogant society.  

Mission Control – The Martian

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The Martian – Log Entry 4

Setting in The Martian by Andy Weir

          In The Martian by Andy Weir, the setting drives the plot. Every situation Mark Watney finds himself correlates in some way to the setting of this novel. While Watney plans to find the RTG (radioisotope thermoelectric generator) to heat up the freezing rover he plans on taking to find the Ares 4 landing site, he ponders, “Mars is a barren wasteland and I am completely alone here. . . All around me there [is] nothing but dust, rocks, and endless empty desert in all directions. The planet’s famous red color is from iron oxide coating everything.  So it’s not just a desert. It’s a desert so old it’s literally rusting” (89). Not only does this passage showcase the hostile conditions Mars possesses, it also reminds the audience that Watney is alone, and that every action he makes affects his chances of survival. Because of the loneliness he experiences, Watney finds comfort in the HAB due to the fact that it is the only place that reminds him of home. As well as this, the low temperatures of the Martian landscape motivate him to take on this mission to find the RTG. Without it, he may die from the lack of heat present on Mars. However, with this device, the abundance of radiation given off by the Plutonium-238 core could end up killing him too.  

 

          The setting present in this novel has an effect on Watney’s future actions as well. As he plans on traveling to the Ares 4 landing site, he notifies the audience of the dangerous adventure that is yet to come. He writes, “[It’s] 10,000 km away. And because I’m on the flattest part of Mars, the first 650 kilometers is nice, smooth terrain (Yay Acidalia Planitia!) but the rest of it is nasty, rugged, crater-pocked h—” (78). The use of the terms “nice” and “smooth” when describing the terrain make the tone of the passage yet comforting and optimistic. However, the tone of the novel changes drastically when Watney notifies the audience of the “nasty” and “rugged” journey that awaits. 

 

          Watney’s constant struggle to keep himself alive in an extraterrestrial setting proves to the audience that he is a determined individual. Due to his human instincts, when situations do not go as planned, he continues pursuing those tasks in a desperate attempt to win the battle against the malevolent conditions Mars possesses. 

Rover in The Martian

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The Martian – Log Entry 3

Blog 3 – Humor Analysis

 

          In Andy Weir’s novel, The Martian, humor and comedic effects are used sporadically throughout the text. In Mark Watney’s case, while stranded on Mars, he develops his own sense of humor to keep himself alive. The reader can not help but think about the psychological trauma he must be going through coupled with the thoughts that his teammates left him on Mars to die. To counter this thought, Watney often makes sarcastic comments throughout the course of the novel. These particular comments ultimately lighten the mood to this otherwise dark story. For example, when Watney constructs his plan to take the excessive amount of hydrogen out of the HAB, he utilizes the HAB’s atmospheric regulator. His plan had been to reduce the HAB’s oxygen level below one percent so the abundant amount of hydrogen already present would not react with the oxygen and cause a catastrophic explosion. Because the atmospheric regulator was not complying, Watney remarks, “I can’t blame it. Its whole purpose is to prevent the atmosphere from becoming lethal. Nobody at NASA thought, ‘Hey, let’s allow a fatal lack of oxygen that will make everyone drop dead!’” (pg. 50). As stated in a previous entry, sarcastic simple statements like this can bring about humor within the audience, possibly even making them chuckle. 

 

          To provide context for my next statement relating to humor in this novel, as it progressed, it changed its point of view. Unlike the exposition of the story, which had been narrated by Watney himself (1st person), at this point in the novel, the tone briefly changes into 3rd person. Weir chose to write this segment of the novel this way to describe the events occurring on Earth since news of Watney’s “death.” Various NASA employees soon discover that Watney is still alive on Mars. With no means of communicating with him, they quickly begin devising plans on how to keep him alive. While doing this, one of the employees ponders, “What must it be like . . . He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology? . . . I wonder what he’s thinking right now” (pg. 76). This statement is directly followed by one of Watney’s Mars entries stating:

 

LOG ENTRY: SOL 61

How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.

 

          The humor is seen in this brief passage through the contrast between the ominous tone brought about by the NASA employee followed by Watney’s light-hearted remark. The author chose to write it this way to specifically bring about humor within the audience. I, as the reader, even chuckled when this statement was made. This moment affected me in that Watney continued to present himself as a perfectly sane person, despite the situation that he was in, with a likeable personality.

 

          Personally, I believe that humor should be added quite infrequently in a novel like this. Because the tone that the story is written in is quite dark, the addition of too much humor would make the novel comedic. As a result of this, it would not present itself as a Sci-Fi Thriller.

 

The Martian – Hypothetical Situation/Parody:

 

LOG ENTRY: SOL 45

          You won’t believe what I found today. While collecting soil samples for my potato plants, I ran into something miraculous, yet strange. My mission on Ares 3 was not to discover alien life forms, but guess what, I did. They are the coolest things ever too. When us ‘Earthlings’ think about aliens, we expect them too have the power to rip our heads off, but these ones don’t (yay!). I even invited one inside the HAB for dinner. I don’t think that that was such a good idea because he ate 80 sols worth of food (boo!). But hey, at least I have company now after being stranded on this planet for what seems like years! The little guy is staying here for the night too. I think I’m going to go to bed now. Goodnight!

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The Maritan – Log Entry 2

The Martian – Andy Weir

Characterization

          In The Martian, Andy Weir brings out Mark Watney’s personality and actions by utilizing various forms of characterization techniques. While reading this novel, the audience may notice that Watney is writing his entries in a humorous yet sarcastic tone, despite the situation that he is in. To provide context as to what is occurring in the novel at the moment, Watney has devised a plan that he believes will work to create water for his crops. He plans on taking the leftover hydrazine tanks from the MDV (Mars Descent Vehicle) and catalyzing them with the use of the element, iridium. Because the reaction is highly exothermic, this proves to be quite dangerous for Watney’s safety and survival. When Watney constructs a set up for this chemical process, he realizes he needs to build a vent to burn the newly formed hydrogen. He acquires plastic bags for this process and states, “One thing I have in abundance here are bags. They’re not much different from kitchen trash bags, though I’m sure they cost $50,000 because – NASA” (39). Comments like this are used frequently throughout the text. As stated above, Watney uses humor and sarcasm throughout the text resulting in the assumption that he is a calm, collected character that is desperate for a chance at survival. On page 43 in the novel, the martian writes, “Over the past few days, I’ve been happily making water. It’s been going swimmingly. (See what I did there? “Swimmingly”?).” This line from the text provides an example of some of the humor found in the text.  Watney tends to use simple interjections throughout his writing, such as “yay,” “boo,” “bleh,” etc., to further clarify this idea. Not only can the audience make assumptions on Watney’s character by what he says in his journal entries, the audience can develop a connection with him as well. Although his situation is starkly non-realistic, the audience is able to feel his pain, struggles, and moments of joy with his use of words.

 

          When I began reading this novel, I developed the impression that Watney was an ignorant, pessimistic individual. However, my reaction to his character changed as the novel progressed. I noticed that he utilizes humor coupled with various instances of sarcasm to aid in his survival. If Watney remained pessimistic throughout his time on Mars, he would not have survived for as long as he has so far. To clarify on this idea further, Watney utilizes these character traits to make light out of the situations he finds himself in. Not only do I believe that Watney has changed dynamically as a character, he has gained a significant amount of optimism that will aid in his survival. For all I know, he may even be able to make it out of his situation alive and return to his original planet, Earth. 

The Martian – Plant Growth

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The Martian – Log Entry

The Maritan – Andy Weir Reading Log:

         The Martian, by Andy Weir, is a novel surrounding the protagonist, Mark Watney, and his survival alone on the planet Mars. As the story begins, Watney explains his situation. He was sent to the planet Mars, on behalf of NASA, to take part in one of the various “Ares Missions.” Their mission was to “send people to another planet for the first time and expand the horizons of humanity” (pg. 2).  The MAV (Mars Ascent Vehicle) was his space team’s only way to leave the planet. This object could only stand so much force caused by the frequent wind storms. When news of a 175 kph sandstorm was received, the team was forced to abort their mission and leave the planet. While leaving, Watney was impaled with a reception antenna knocked down by the intense winds. Five out of his team of six astronauts left the planet without him, because they believed he was dead. Struggling to stay alive, Watney managed to seal the breach in his suit and make it back to the Hab (the team’s living quarters) safely.  As both an experienced Botanist and Mechanical Engineer, he tried constructing plans to stay alive. With no means of communication or food that will last him a little over 400 days, Watney is forced into a panicked state. The next team of astronauts (Ares 4) is set to arrive 1400 days after his team’s official landing (Ares 3). However, Watney fears that they may never arrive due to the news of his sudden “death.” With this in mind, he plans on using his botany skills to grow crops for himself and possibly build a communications dish to help him converse with NASA and the Ares 4 mission.

          As the story progressed, I developed the impression that Mark Watney is a pessimistic yet determined individual. He tends to go through depressive stages where he believes that he should “quit trying” the task at hand. He often believes that there is no way out of various situations too. In direct contrast to this characteristic, he never has failed to perform a task due to his current mindset to stay alive for as long as possible.

          As for the reasoning behind why I chose this book to read, I have always been intrigued about space and the wonders our universe holds. Because of this, I assumed that this novel would be a perfect fit for me and make for a suspenseful, thrilling adventure.

Illustration of Humans on Mars