Thursday, December 18, 2008

Deck the Halls

We were walking out of a nursing home and had just finished singing our set of Christmas carols and other songs meant to spread some holiday cheer. A worker at the nursing home had told us that our performance had probably made their whole holiday season. And although I felt good about being able to brighten up someones day, I couldn't help but wonder why seeing our performance alone would make up their whole year. Why were we the ones making their holiday season instead of their family? Why were they sitting in that room by themselves, watching us perform, instead of being at home?

I know that many people are unable to care for their aging parents due to medical issues that are too difficult to monitor, and money issues. And I know that putting your parents into nursing homes isn't uncommon in America. But personally, I don't think its a proper way to care for the ones you love. Parents are they ones who raise you, ones who care for you when your sick, who feed you when your hungry, and always love you. So why do we find it okay to just throw them into a nursing home to become someone else's business when they grow old? Why can't we show them the same kind of support they showed us?
I understand that some people don't have any choice but to put their parents in a nursing home. But for those who don't have to, I think that they should find a way to take care for their parents themselves. Don't leave the responsibility of brightening up your parents' days to total strangers.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pirates of....Somalia?

When people hear the word pirate, I'm pretty sure the same goes through everyone's mind. It reminds them of sword fighting, hooked hands, cannons going off, and buried treasure. They are the image of people who existed long ago. But now their back, wreaking havoc out on the open sea.  Piracy is growing because of the lack of protection  in the waters; they can easily seize a boat, obtain all the ships goods, and get off scot free. Just this year there have been 39 ships hijacked, mostly in the Gulf of Aden. But now different countries are trying to help. The Indian Navy recently sank a suspected Somalian mother ship in the Gulf of Aden, a ship that is used as a mobile base for these bands of pirates out at sea.
At first I was just surprised of the fact that there were still pirates out there. But now I just find it interesting not that they are still around, but how they have evolved. If all the movies that have represented piracy in the past are in the least bit accurate, then piracy has really changed. The firing of cannons, the glorious sword fights, and the image of pirates swinging on ropes to hop on board their opposing ship have been replaced. The sword fighting and the need for close up combat have been diminished due to the advancement in ammunition. Now people battling it out at sea will no longer see an iron cannon ball flying their way, but they will see grenades and other explosives being thrown their way. This advancement in weapons has also had the same effect on the evolution of land wars too. What used to be courageous and glorifying face to face combat of the past has now turned into the a cowardly fight where all one has to do is pull a trigger to ruin a life.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Would you like some more juice sir? "No, but I sure would like a home."

Poverty is indeed a global issue, but it is also a problem that hits close to home. I live in an area in which almost everyone knows they have a warm bed to sleep in every night, and a roof to cover their heads. We don't have to worry about the harshness of the cold winters because we can just switch on the eat. And the only hunger we experience is during math class because its already been 3 whole hours since breakfast and lunch is next period. To us, the issue of poverty barely even crosses our minds. We basically all live in a bubble, closed off to all the problems in the world. But every once in a while, an experience comes along and brings us back down to the real world.
In junior high, every year during the holidays, my choir would go down to the local soup kitchen to serve up food and some holiday spirit through song. The first year I went, I was in complete shock. We all took a bus over to the soup kitchen and helped set up the tables and help the food ready to be served. Pretty soon, people started filing in, some alone, and some with their entire family. They all looked like they were freezing, but also grateful to finally be indoors. Eventually, all 20 of the long wooden tables were filled with people looking cold, hungry, and eager for food. As we began to sing, I looked out at the tables, I was so surprised by the vast amount of people that had showed up. All these people. Homeless. With no place to go, no food to eat most of the time. I just couldn't believed that by my home, in the area with the big houses and the fancy cars, there were people who could barely manage to get food into their stomach every day. My first trip to the soup kitchen really was an eye opener to see what the world was like. Every other year that I went back with my choir, I went back with more and more enthusiasm, trying my best to brighten up their day. By doing so, I hope that for just one moment, they will be able to smile and forget all of their worries.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dropping Gas Prices

My brother texted me this weekend informing me that gas in over in Indiana was $2.99 a gallon! I knew that Illinois was known for having a higher price in gas, but compared to the $4.35 a gallon prices that we had to pay this summer, there really was a drop. Yesterday, the gas prices dropped 4.4 cents, making the total drop from the day before 10.3 cents. Though most gas prices are only 25 cents away from the $3 mark, the prices are still are about %20 above what they used to be years before. So what is the cause for this drop?
First of all, the gasoline prices were raised during the summer naturally because all of the traveling and vacationing that occurs. The higher the demand for gas, the higher the price. Also, the oil refineries were ruined by the various hurricanes that rolled over the Gulf of Mexico this summer. But now, the hurricanes are gone, and and the economy crisis has come on to play, so the prices are beginning to drop. People are becoming very worried about the economy and trying to save their money, which involves not driving around their cars as much and having to worry about the high prices just to fill up their tank. The low demand for gasoline has caused the prices to drop, just like how the high demand for gasoline in the summer caused the price to rise. 
As the weeks go on, there will probably be a continued drop in the gas prices. But will they rise once again when people begin to take advantage of the lowered prices? Only time will tell.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

One Survivor

Unfortunately, we all remember the Columbia space shuttle disaster that happened on February 1, 2003. All seven crew members died when the space shuttle exploded while re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The tragedy occurred because during the pre-launch inspection process, inspectors did not notice imperfections in the shuttles foam insulation. During launch, a piece of the foam broke off and chipped off the shuttle's left leading wing. This lead to the damage of the system's Thermal Protection System. As the shuttle was finally about to finish its 28th journey into space, damaging, heat gases destroyed the wing. The broken wing eventually lead to the demise of the whole shuttle.
I recently read in an article that from this disaster, somethings did survive. 37 pages of a diary written by Ilan Ramon, one of the astronauts on the mission, were found in a field just outside of Palestine, Texas. I find it so unbelievable that these pages survived that whole crash. The diary endured the intense heat of the explosion its self, and also the coldness from the atmosphere. They were also just sitting in a field for two months before they were found. They gave the diary pages to Ramon's wife, who brought it to Israeli forensics to decipher. About 80 percent of the diary could be restored. The diary will be on display in Jerusalem, along with other important documents at the country's 60th anniversary celebration. The diary being the one survivor of this tragedy shows that words really do last forever.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Paradise in Illinois

This summer, my cousin, who has a strange obsession with tropical plants, decided to go out and buy a banana tree, a pineapple plant, and a palm tree. I thought he was crazy. If we lived in Hawaii or California, I would totally be fine with it, because those plants are all over the place there. But when it snows for half the year where you live, tropical plants aren't exactly the most common garden plant. We live in the temperate deciduous forest biome, where when it gets colder, leaves start to lose their color and fall off. So how would a plant that generally lives in warm weather be able to survive these harsh winters? 

They need to have the right amount of light intensity, duration and quality. You can control this by a mixture of an artificial UV light and natural light. Tropical plants still need the same amount of sunlight to photosynthesize inside in the winter, as they do outside during the summer to survive. So light is a very important factor. Temperature is also an important factor. The plants will grow best between 70 and 80 degrees. And it is better if the the temperature is lowered at night, a lower temperature lets the flower recover from too much water lose, intensifies flower color, and makes the flower's life longer The plant also needs to be in a humidified area. Ways to achieve this are having humidifiers near by the plant. You can also put various plants near each other to boost humidity.
Caring for a tropical plant takes a lot of TLC. The perfect balance of nature must be simulated in your own home. But in the end, I guess it is worth it in the end. You can make an escape to a tropical paradise when everyone else is stuck out in the cold.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stressing Out!

So in health class, we are learning about stress and stress management. I think its a smart topic to talk about because as high school students, we stress out a lot. We have to juggle our precious time between homework, sports, dance, work, and whatever else that we have. Sometimes we put too much on our plate than we can actually handle. Learning about how to cope with stress is important because it not only makes you mentally stressed, it also takes a toll on your physical health. If someone is too stressed, they may experience sleep problems, trouble eating, headaches, muscle tension and become very irritable. Now all of these things make it that much harder to focus on schooling and work. So here are somethings you can do to cope with your stress:
-Make a to-do list and manage your time. Don't procrastinate.
-Go for a run, or do some kind of physical activity. When you do physical activity, your body releases endorphins that will make you feel better.
-Stay positive. Negative thinking will only make you feel worse.
-Talk about how you feel to someone. Don't bottle up your emotions.
Different people have their own ways of coping with stress. Some people might relieve their stress by taking a nap, reading, blasting music, and doing anything that they enjoy. Personally, when I feel stressed out, I like to just let loose and just sing as loudly and obnoxiously as I can, at the top of my lungs. Singing really helps me get out all the emotion and frustration that is built up inside me. Its my version of writing in a diary, or confiding in a friend. So basically, stress is around everyday of our lives, like a little brother who just will not leave us alone. But all we have to do is stay positive and be happy! 

Wednesday, August 27, 2008