Last Words

Summer is almost here and that means the school year is coming to an end. This blog was created for my language arts class and now that the year is done I will no longer have to continue blogging. This will be my last post. In a way I am sad because I really do enjoy school at times. I always get nostalgic at the end of the year and think how much I am going to miss school but every year at the beginning of the school year I can’t believe how fast summer went and I don’t want to return to school.

The beginning of summer will also be exciting because there is so much free time to do things. I already have plans for all the productive things that I want to do this summer and that I want to accomplish but I am sure once summer is here I will get distracted by doing something else that is funner or I will keep pushing off what I plan on doing. I know one thing that I really want to do is read a lot.  I even did an earlier blog post about it. Part of the reason that reading is so high up on my list is due to this blog. Writing these posts every week really made me think about what I read and the connections I can draw from it.

Many times blogging was something that I disliked doing, especially at the beginning of the year. Once I got use to blogging and found a better style blogging became easier and enjoyable. I might try to kid myself and say that I will keep blogging even after I no longer have to but I know I won’t. But just because blogging isn’t something that I am going to spend my future free time doing doesn’t mean it wasn’t beneficial to me. Through this blog I started writing with a more conversational tone, in comparison to the beginning of the year, and I learned more about topics that I enjoyed. Many of my ocean blogs I knew things about the subject but I still had to look up facts and specifics. I also improved my skills of thinking over books like I mentioned above. Overall, I think this blog was helpful to me as I tried to improve my writing skills and is a great way to look back and see how much I have improved over this year.

Sense and Sensibility

I have finished reading Sense and Sensibility and that means I am done with my reading of Jane Austen’s work. I have read Sense and Sensibility once before, but I hadn’t read it in a while so I thought I should read it again. It doesn’t compare to Pride and Prejudice in my opinion but it is probably a second or a third. One of the things that I liked and was different about this book in comparison to Austen’s others works was the portrayal of Willoughby. In past books it seemed that once a character was shown to be bad they transformed into awful people. Mr. Elton from Emma shows this perfectly. When he was liked by Emma he was a nice and agreeable man, but once he upset her he became a proud, conceited, person. Willoughby on the other hand deserved to be thought of as an evil person once his background became known but in the end he was still portrayed as an okay guy. When he apologized to Elinor and explained himself Elinor felt bad for him and he was no longer the completely awful guy that he was thought of as before. What was also nice about this book was that the parents, in this case the mother, was not portrayed as a stupid as in most of the other books.  She wasn’t thought of as clever or anything like that but she had common sense which some of the other book parents seemed to be missing.

One thing I disliked in this book and which seems to be common in several of Austen’s works is the girls being treated as a prize or something to be molded into a perfect wife. In this case it was Colonel Brandon who “the reward of her sister was due”. Brandon was a nice man and deeply in love with Marianne (the sister) but Marianne did not have any want of marrying him. Marianne basically wanted the opposite of Brandon in her future husband and to have them end up together, which they eventually do, seems wrong. The love story between Elinor and Mr. Ferrars was also lacking. Ferrars came off as an indecisive man who had no ambition and was content with not doing anything to change the course of his life. He was in love with Elinor but instead of ending things with Lucy he did nothing. I don’t think Elinor would have been happy with Ferrars for long and would regret her decision to marry him eventually. The love story part of the book was lacking but for the most part I liked the book.

Summer Reading

Summer is almost here and that means lots of free time. This year I will have less than usual because I have a summer job but that still leaves plenty of free time for reading. Most years before summer starts I make a list of the books that I want to read. I usually fail to read as much as I wanted to because I get distracted by other things and think I have plenty of time left and next thing I know it’s August and school is starting. This year I will hopefully make it through my list. There are a lot of books I want to read. This summer I am sticking with classics like what I have been doing most of this trimester. But, I’m almost done with Austen’s major works and will have to start on a new author soon. I haven’t made my list yet but I am starting it. So far I want to read the Bronte sisters works. I have already read Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights but there are a couple more left to read that I think will be interesting. I got a ebook that has all of Jane Austen’s and the Bronte sisters’ works which makes finding and reading them much easier. I hadn’t even known about a couple of Ausen’s works and most of the sister’s works until I found this book. It’s also nice because the book was cheap (only like three dollars). That would be five stories to read and they are pretty good lengths each so I’m not sure if I would be able to finish all of those but if I do I might re-read some of Dickens because I don’t remember them very well and in general I liked them. If I decide not to do that I might go more recent. I liked Of Mice and Men and The Great Gatsby so I might read more of Steinbeck and Fitzgerald. One of the things that makes me want to keep with the older books of Bronte and Dickens is that I can actually understand the books. When I first started reading them it was hard to understand the writing because of the difference in language and style and now they are, for the most part, easily understandable. I still want to stick with reading entire authors at a time because doing it with Austen made understanding her work easier and I was better able to understand her style and focuses. Hopefully this summer I will keep up with my goals and follow through.

Snorkeling

Awhile ago I went snorkeling and it was an amazing experience. There were two spots that I snorkeled at, one was along the hotel’s beach and the other was an actual excursion to a reef. The one along the beach was a little annoying at first. The waves were choppy and the water was cloudy so it was hard to see anything for the first couple of days. Towards the end of the trip the water cleared up and I was able to see a lot. The majority of the area was a seaweed forest that had a crazy amount of urchins. No matter where you looked there was an urchin or urchin skeleton. I was able to collect a couple of the urchin skeletons and kept one of them. They reminded me of jack-o-lanterns. They were hollow on the inside and had a hole on the top and bottom. The picture below shows a couple of different types of skeletons. The ones that I saw were most similar to the green ones and were about the size of a baseball or a little smaller.

 I was able to see the live urchins in their natural habitat and see them try to camouflage them self. They had seaweed all over them and sometimes had the skeleton of another urchin. The urchins made it a little scary to swim over the area because I was afraid to set my foot down in case I stepped on one. I also saw some small gobies and even saw a boxfish. Along the side of the beach was was a section with a bunch of rocks and more life. There wasn’t a lot of coral, only really one type, and I couldn’t figure out the name of it. There was a lot of cool fish though. I saw a lionfish which was really exciting, it wan’t big but it was cool to watch. There were also hermit crabs and snails and other fish. One rock was completely covered in hermit crabs. I’m guessing something had died and they had eaten it but I didn’t see anything on the rock but hermit crabs.

The other place I snorkeled at was an excursion that took you on a boat to see a reef. The reef was full of life and there was a lot of fish and coral to be seen. I saw a lot of angelfish and a bunch of other fish I didn’t know the name of. There were giant rocks that were completely covered in coral and sponges. It was a little sad too because other people in the group would step on the coral rocks which could damage them. It was sad to see the harm that humans did to coral reefs but it was also really exciting to see all the different organisms.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde Play

DA while ago I wrote about reading Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and I mentioned that my school was going to do the play. The play was a while ago but I thought I would do a post comparing the play version to the book version. The two were very different and besides the basic story plot were not similar at all. In the play Dr. Jekyll is a young man about to be married while in the book he is old and unwed. Hyde in the book only killed one person while the play version of Hyde went on a killing spree and killed at least five people. In the play there was also a love triangle with Jekyll, Hyde, and a prostitute (if you can even call that a love triangle). The play was much more gory and dark than the book. It was what I had expected the book to be like. I liked the play version more overall and thought my school did a great job with it, but I liked the book ending better by far. There was something so tragic about Hyde writing about the end of his life to an end. It also really tied the book together since most of it was seen through letters or the accounts of someone besides Hyde so ending it with a letter instead of Hyde’s thoughts worked well. Both stories were good and I enjoyed both of them and I wish I could put the book ending on the play.

Nora Ephron

I read several books by Nora Ephron for a project in my language arts class. I really enjoyed them and wanted to share my thoughts. I read Wallflower at the Orgy, I Feel Bad about my Neck, and part of Crazy Salad and Scribble Scribble.

Wallflower at the Orgy was written in the 1970s. It talks a lot about famous people of the time, current books, and celebrity drama. Since I didn’t know many of these people or events some parts of the book was hard to follow or understand at first. Ephron gives a lot of background information about the people so I was able to get what was going on for the most part. It also was less humorous than her other works that I read. This was probably do to it being written originally as magazine articles for magazines. Because of these points I didn’t enjoy Wallflower at Orgy as much as some of her other works.

My favorite of her works that I read was I Feel Bad about my Neck. I thought this book was much funnier than Wallflower at Orgy and her personality came through much better. It was also written recently, in 2006 or so. The book starts out talking about trivial things like purses and the time it takes her to look the way she does and as the book progresses it becomes more serious. Near the end it transitions into almost something sad that still has humor in it. She talks about what she wished she had known and death. Somehow the last section called Considering the Alternatives which was about her friends dying but somehow it still seems light in some parts. She ends it by getting completely off subject and talking about bath oil.

Comparing her old work versus her new work was very interesting. Both have her distinct style in them but the older works had a more serious tone spread evenly about it while her newer work was light at times and dark at others. In her older work she seems to almost brush off the seriousness at times but it is sill there. I think her older works are this way because she realizes she is old now and has cancer and might die soon.

Overall, I like her newer works better because I feel like with them you get to know her as an author. She talks a lot about her personal life in them, like with her section about being gone, and her personality really comes through.

 

Betas

Betas are commonly thought of as an easy fish to keep. There is the misconception that betas don’t need a heater or filter and can live happily in just a bowl of water. I use to think this too and it was so commonly known that I didn’t question it. The truth is that while betas can live without a heater or filter they should really shouldn’t. Now that I have said all the things that a beta shouldn’t be kept in I will explain what you can do to make a beta happy. Betas, in the wild, come from shallow rice paddies. The low flow in the rice paddies account for why betas are able to breath air and survive without aeration. A filter for a beta should not have a strong flow in order to best recreate their habitat but there should be one in order to keep the tank cleaner. Betas can survive in room temperature water but the best thing for there health is to have a temperature in high 70’s or low 80’s. Most places can not keep water at this temperature steadily all year around so a heater is needed.  They also should be kept in at least a gallon aquarium and not in small bowls because they need plenty of room to swim around. The tank should not be tall. A tall tank will tire the beta out when it goes to the surface to breathe. When a beta is happy in its tank it will blow an air bubble nest and you will know that your beta is happy with it’s home.

Betas like to be alone. They don’t need a friend and often do not want a friend. Two male betas should never be kept together because they will fight (which is why they also go by the name fighting fish). A male and female can be kept together in a big enough aquarium but that depends on the individual beta’s temperament and can cause stress in the betas. In a large tank with many hiding spots several females can be kept together. There should be more than three females because they will develop a pecking order and you don’t want one beta constantly picking on another. By having more than three it spreads the aggressiveness out. Other fish species can be kept with betas as long as they don’t look like betas. Colorful fish with flowing tales might be mistaken for a beta and will be picked on. This is less important for females by commoner in male betas. If you want a beta as a pet it is best to get a single one, it will be less stressful for the beta and easier tank to take care off and set up. Betas need a tank that other fish need and if you want to get a beta research should be done on how best to keep them.

I have one last thing to add about betas. There are fish tanks circulating around stores that advertise never needing to feed or clean your beta tank. They have plants in them that they say clean the tank and the beta will eat the plants. While these tanks can make good homes for betas if properly set up the betas should still be fed. The plants dont provide all the nutrients the beta needs and the beta should be still be fed. The tank should also still be cleaned because the plant will not be able to clean all the water properly.