Overall Learning Reflection



Here’s the video in its written format:

Throughout this English course, I’ve written a lot of blog posts. From the beginning to the end, I can see significant improvement in my writing. Therefore, most of the posts that I will addressing will be towards the second-half or latter part of the year. The first blog post I wrote was about muslims and their portrayal in the real world. This was a diagnostic post as it showed my teacher how I wrote. I went all over the place with this post, and it wasn’t unorganized. I appreciated being assigned to do a redux (and create it into an essay format) because I was able to make it into a better, create a more polished product where everything flowed. This is because it was structured and I used the point, proof, explain method. Another blog post that I found showed my growth as a writer/competence as a reader was the making connections post for literature circles for the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. This is because I was able to make 3 solid connections after reading the chapters for that week. I made a text-to-text comparing the Radley house to Monster House (film,) a text-to-self connection with Jean when she said she wanted to quit school but Atticus informs her that education is the way to success in life and I could relate to that, and a text-to-world with the use of the n word and comparing that to society today. This was significant because I could better understand the novel and its context. Furthermore, I used these connections to predict what would happen next in the novel. For example, I predicted that there would be a major conflict with racism, and there was one with the Tom Robinson case. Furthermore, other posts that showed my growth as a writer was the post I did on the highest grossing movies of all time. This is because I had written a lot of informative posts on my blog, but this was the first time that I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried something new, therefore, I showed some diversity in my writing. Another time when I did this was when I wrote a short story because it showed my creativity, proved that I knew the elements of a short story, and yet again showed my diversity in writing. Also, my creative blog post showed that I could convince/persuade audiences without large amounts of text, and showed that I am able to step out of my comfort zone and create a good product. Finally, the “What is True Love” post showed my growth as a writer because I was effectively able to relate two songs (and videos) to the story of Romeo and Juliet and ultimately determine which was suited it best.

Some strategies I used before writing was I made a web or planned out what I was going to write about. This helped me to plan out everything effectively so that when I went to actually write, everything flowed and I knew what I was writing. During writing, I would constantly read it over to see if everything made sense, and checked punctuation and other errors. After writing I would continue to check it over several times to see if I didn’t make any errors (spelling, punctuation, etc) and sometimes asked a friend if they could edit it before submitting it. The most helpful part of the writing process is definitely the planning stage because this is where you figure out everything that you’re writing. Some steps that I need to take to become a better writing is I need to condense my writing when it is necessary. For example, I often find it hard to meet word limits/things of that nature. Somethings I could do to achieve this goal is taking out any unnecessary information or “fluff” in any type of work.

Strategies I used before reading was I did a quick summary in my head before I read so that I could be sure that I understood the previous events of the novel. Before starting the novel, I usually read the summary at the back to get a good idea of what I’m going to be reading about. While reading, I tried visualizing scenarios so I better understood what was going on in the book. Furthermore, making connections throughout the book allowed me to connect with the characters, and reflect while thinking about my life and how I would react in a given scenario. Also, I re-read sections if I didn’t understand it so I could better understand it. After reading I recapped what I just read to make sure that I could identify the major parts of the chapters that I just finished. Re-reading parts of the book that I didn’t understand was the most helpful because I was able to understand all parts of the book and made sure that I didn’t miss any of the crucial/important information. I could improve as a reader by trying to understand the context of the book. For example, if a historical event was brought up and I didn’t know what it was, I could go and research it to receive a better understanding of how it related to it.

Some strategies I used when interpreting/creating media texts were I looked at any clues I got other than the text. For example, in Romeo and Juliet they had definitions at the side. Since it is a little difficult to understand, using the definitions at the side helped me to get a better understanding of the plot of the story and broadened my vocabulary. Also, if it was a comic or movie I tried to look at the images or body language of the characters and by analyzing this, I could understand different parts of the story. For example, Romeo and Juliet were always close when they spoke to each other, or tried so in the balcony scene for example, which showed their true love. I could improve as an interpreter by looking for other clues or analyzing other things such as position of characters in movies. In written text, I could search up the definition of a word if I didn’t understand it and if it wasn’t given which it isn’t in regular novels. I could use all of these strategies to effectively create a good scene/video on a particular scene of Romeo and Juliet for example. This is because I now know the elements of how to, and some other things to consider. 

Using videos or audio aids does indeed clarify ideas. When I did my blogger of the week presentation, I used my blog to assist me in the presentation. This is because that’s what it was there for, some people didn’t, and consequently had short and ineffective presentations. I went through the entire post, and as I was doing so I addressed each point to make sure that everything I included was mentioned to the class. In the dramatic presentations, using costumes and other props not only enhances the act, but it makes it easier to understand. For example, using costumes helps the audience identify who is who, for example, a servant may be wearing old looking clothes, while a king could be wearing luxurious pieces of clothing or a crown. In our presentation we put emphasis on Juliet’s speech played by Aisha and used a light to put the spotlight on her to show the significance. All of these were effective strategies. Sometimes, what can make you nervous about oral presentations is that all of the attention is on you. Something that you could practice is saying it in front of a small group of people/family or friends before going up so you’re used to it. Also, if you’re not comfortable with it, you could always give the students the option to only present to you (as the teacher.)

In group oral presentations/discussions it is important to let everyone have their say. Having a discussion leader to help guide the conversation did help, and got everyone back on track when the topic changed/drifted. You should listen to what everyone has to say, and keep an open mind. This is when you can hear what they’re actually saying and reply back politely. Finally, you could arrange some sort of schedule for each person (i.e. in the literature circles 5-7 minutes for each role.)

Because of all of these strategies I know where I am as a reader, writer, communicator, and interpreter. I know where I stand and know the steps for improvement. I know my strengths and weaknesses and by taking all of the steps/improving where I said I should I can not only become better in all of those categories mentioned, but I can excel and become fully prepared for not only grade 11, but for the rest of my life and further years. 

Here are all of the posts mentioned in the posts that showed my growth as a writer:

https://sadli5478.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/02/17/are-all-muslims-terrorists/

https://sadli5478.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/06/13/are-all-muslims-terrorists-culminating-task-redux/

http://aegorov5534.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/05/07/to-kill-a-mockingbird-week-1-making-connections/

https://sadli5478.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/05/10/top-10-highest-grossing-movies-of-all-time/

https://sadli5478.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/05/24/a-change-of-heart-short-story-part-1/

https://sadli5478.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/05/26/a-change-of-heart-short-story-part-22/

https://sadli5478.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/03/08/the-complicated-thing-we-call-love/

https://sadli5478.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/06/13/your-next-travel-destination-paris-france/

Blogger of the week Reflection

 

Thompkins-Jones, Relando, “13 Compelling Social Work Blogs,” January 4, 2013. Retrieved June 14, 2015 from http://www.relandothompkins.com/2013/01/04/13-compelling-social-work-blogs/

How often did you participate: I commented 36 times on other people’s blogs/their post for their blogger of the week. Also, I replied to all of the comments on all of my blog posts, including my blogger of the week which had a total of 25 comments (13 of which were mine.)

Discussion blog title(s) and author(s): I have commented on every single blogger of the week post which includes:

  1. Child Vaccination – Do or Don’t?  By Trent A.
  2. Online vs. Offline By Clarissa D.
  3. The Ekati Diamond Mine By Glafki C.
  4. Human’s the Economy, and a Whole Lot of Inquiring By Jeremy W. 
  5. Existentialism By Katherine B. 
  6. The water and sanitation crisis By Kissmuth K.
  7. Should 16 years olds be able to Vote in Canada? By Najib H.
  8. Nuclear Throne, and what makes a video game fun By Thomas P.
  9. The Armenian Genocide By Abiha H.
  10. Is School Stressing You Out? By Adam S.
  11. Male infertility vs. Female infertility By Aisha T. 
  12. In A New World By Brianna G.
  13. Extremophiles and How They Can Help By Cameron H.
  14. Space Colonization: Mars and Venus By Elliot I.
  15. Importance of Sleep for Teens By Emily R.
  16. Sinkholes By Esther Y.
  17. Is Organic Farming Really Better? By Jaimee P.
  18. Freedom? To An Extent… By Liam M.
  19. Concussions in Contact Sports By Nilsu E.
  20. What is a Search Engine? By Mohammed M.
  21. Global Warming: Causes, Effects, And The Highly Motivated High School Solution By Sebastian M.
  22. Why You Should Start Reading By Alex E.
  23. Robots or Kids? By Rauwn S.
  24. The Positive Impacts of Technology on Healthcare By Mahruf K.

Please provide a rating for YOUR overall contributions to discussions [ 1 (poor) – 5 (excellent) ] 

I give myself a 4.5/5. This is because I commented on everyone’s blogger of the week post. Furthermore, I answered any of the questions that they had asked, and if they didn’t ask any questions, I left a rather lengthy paragraph or few describing my thoughts on the topic. Even if the post didn’t interest me, I still read through all of the post and got to the end. This is because I wanted to learn, and help my fellow classmates improve on their writing and ultimately enhance their post. Also, I wanted to reply back to the people who commented on my own posts so that I could help them dig deeper into their topics and really stretch their thinking. Additionally, I always checked back a day or two after posting a comment to see if the person had replied. Furthermore, I asked the authors of the post some questions if I wasn’t sure about something, and told them to fix common errors like punctuation and improper formatting. Finally, I also read other blog posts separate from blogger of the week ones, but unfortunately did not comment on them (because it’s a lengthy process.) For those reasons, I chose to give myself a 4.5/5.

CONTENT

1. Is there some aspect of the topic, results, conclusions, or concepts for which you gained a deeper understanding of through the blog discussion? Was there some aspect of the posts you explored that you had not thought of or that you ‘learned’ about from the discussion? In other words, what aspect of the post was clarified or illuminated as a result of the blog discussion?

Most definitely, reading through the blog comments which eventually turned into a discussion really did bring up points that the author had to address. This is because everyone has their own ideas, and contributed their share to the conversation which was really exciting! For example, on Trent’s post on child vaccination, a parent added her own struggles with the issue. It’s easy to say to take the vaccine or not to when you’re not the parent. It’s completely different when you’re actually put into that position because as she said, “there is emotional angst that develops in parents as you never want to do something that potentially causes your child irrefutable damage.” This really opened my eyes and allowed me to understand the topic from someone else’s point of view/perspective. Comments where people added their own personal experiences helped the discussion continue which was great!

2. Were there aspects of the discussions that led to more confusion for you compared to when you read the blog post alone? Was the confusion resolved through discussion? Please explain (make specific reference to the blogs involved ­ direct quotations may be appropriate ­reference the author).

No, I never felt more confused after reading the comments after finishing the blog post. If someone was confused about something, they would ask a question and the author would reply with the answer or would clarify something. For example, on Esther’s blogger of the week post for sinkholes, Brianna asked if the number she had stated for the total amount of deaths as a result of sinkholes was an accurate number or just an approximation. Esther replied by saying that it was just an approximation, because death by falling into sinkholes is rare, therefore, it is hard to determine. People replied to the author’s questions, found an interesting article, video, or something else and shared it for everyone to see which allowed us to answer any questions that introduced our peers to new information on the topic. Therefore, the comments never led to confusion, only to enrichment!

DISCUSSION SKILLS

3. Evaluate your role in the Blogger of the Week discussions, in particular please answer the following two questions: What did you do that was effective at contributing to the discussion(s)? Be specific (adding screenshots of your contributing or copying to your blog may be appropriate). What areas do you need improvement in?

As mentioned before, I commented 13/25 comments on my blogger of the week post. Therefore, I replied back to everyone and even added a little bit more information/extended my reply. If any of my peers had questions, I replied to it. Furthermore, if they were confused, I clarified what needed to be made more clear. I made sure to answer every part of their question/their comment. I guaranteed that there would be a good discussion on my post because I typed out five thinking questions that really got my peers to think about my post and its impact on the world. These were the questions:

  1. Will you continue to buy clothing made from companies who use sweatshops? Why or why not?
  2. What do you think are some other alternatives to using sweatshops?
  3. Do you think this is a worthy cause to support? Why or why not?
  4. Has this post changed your perspective on the priorities of large companies?
  5. What was the most interesting/shocking fact that you have learned from reading this post?

I could have improved by asking my peers question backs after replying to their comment, this would had helped the conversation to continue. Lastly, I could have researched some more information, or found a video that helped answer some questions/clarify some points.

4. Can you think of a contribution from another student that stood out in your mind that helped move the discussion along or help the class to move to a deeper understanding of the material? What did the student do? (no need to mention names, just describe what the students did or said).

I found that adding a link or a video to the discussion page really enhanced the conversation. On my own blog, Sebastian really contributed well to the conversation. Not only did he answer my question, he found a video that explained the influence of brand names on the general public, and the followed with a question for me. This was impactful because I was able to reply to his comment, learn more about sweatshops from the video, and go out and research to answer his question. This significantly improved the learning process for all who contributed. 

5. Do you have any recommendations to the class as a whole to improve class discussions? How are discussions different in an online space versus those held face­-to­-face? How are they similar?

I would encourage the class to try to comment on everyone’s blog, especially if they commented on yours. Adding videos or external links, as I said, improves discussions. Furthermore, researching the topic a little and asking the author a question can really stretch their thinking. This is a lot of work, but hey, it’s worth it! You don’t have to do this all the time, but if a topic interests you, why not? Discussions are different online versus those held face-to-face in many ways. For one, when you comment online, you have to wait until the other person replies, well, that’s if you get one. Furthermore, you don’t know the tone of the person’s voice talking/replying to you. A pro to commenting online is that you get to research the topic and reply with a good amount of detail. In real life, the conversation can still be good, and could even lead to a debate which extends thinking and inquiry. 

6. What are your overall thoughts of the Blogger of the Week assignment? Do you have any suggestions for me moving forward to either: a) improve the assignment; or b) revise the structure, delivery, or scheduling of the assignment itself? Be specific as your opinions will be very helpful for me as I plan for future classes.

I enjoyed the blogger of the week assignment. I liked how we got to pick our own topic to explore, and teach/inform others on it! You could improve the assignment by setting strict deadlines. I felt you were a bit too lenient with people who didn’t post their blogger of the week on time. This lead to multiple, even up to 5 “blogger of the weekers” I guess you could call them, in one week which was overwhelming. This was especially the case when we had to comment on them, and was a part of our mark. I liked how it was for the full year, but I did find that people did tend to get lazy towards the end of the year and even the people who were blogger of the week that week didn’t reply back. Therefore, you could put more emphasis on commenting on blogs and possibly make it worth more (count more for their mark for the post.) 

Are All Muslims Terrorists? Culminating Task Redux

Link to the original post: https://sadli5478.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/02/17/are-all-muslims-terrorists/

There are many misconceptions about Muslims and Islam in general. There is an idea that Muslims are extremely violent, and are terrorists, but is this necessarily true? A common belief is that religious Muslims who worship the teachings of the Quran are an immediate threat because of the negative connotations placed on Islam by society. Prominent religious groups such as Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda, and Islamic State (ISIS), have displayed a negative portrayal of the Muslim people, the media’s influence and selected broadcasting has also tarnished the image of the people who believe in Islam, and the lack of knowledge on different religions and cultures also contributes to this ignorant ideology and further ruins their image.

A major reason why Islam is looked down upon is because of prominent terrorist groups who wreak havoc in any territory that they visit or are located in. Terrorist groups such as ISIS crave power and commit acts of crime based on their political agenda as opposed to their faith. Therefore, they are misguided by their religion and do not follow the rules of the Quran (Islam’s holy book), as other Muslims in the world do. Also, the terrorist groups’ actions don’t reflect the actions and behaviours of the 1.7 billion other Muslims in the world. Furthermore, because these groups have been in existence and are still active in the world, it causes people to continue to have the wrong idea about other Muslims. These groups’ actions are reflected/connected upon other Muslims solely based on religion. This causes people to become scared of them and think that they indeed a threat to society. These terrorist groups are dangerous because they’re active in areas of the world that have no government, or are living in corrupt countries. Such countries include Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq.  There are limited resources to stop these groups from continuing to commit heinous acts. The more power they have, the higher the influence they have on others in their country and other countries all around the world. Finally, countries such as the U.S have invaded Iraq and Afghanistan for oil and other resources. People who believe that all Muslims are terrorists are blind to the real events in the world. In fact, 9/11 plays a huge role in this where Muslim terrorists were to blame, but only 3000 people died in this tragic event. In comparison, 500,000 civilians in Iraq have been wounded or killed since the U.S. invasion. Therefore, these terrorist groups inaccurately portray Muslims all around the world, and act the way that they do because they’re power-hungry which causes them to act violently and cause disaster so that they can instill fear into people. Finally, people need to open their eyes and understand the world around them and become aware of other terrorist groups.

The media also plays a significant role in portraying Muslims all over the world. News broadcasting companies such as Fox News, MSNBC, and others report Muslim terrorism more frequently than other groups. These companies focus on Muslim terrorist groups because that is what the world is used to seeing. It is rare to see other terrorist groups such as the FARC, and the New People’s Army being reported on. This is because it is easy to, many people are heavily influenced by the news and it makes Muslims look worse each time it is broadcasted. Therefore, there needs to be equal broadcasting of each major terrorist groups and their activity. Furthermore, all terrorist groups do horrible things such as abduct, rape, violate human rights, and murder. Other groups like Christian terrorist groups do not get reported on a lot in the mainstream media because news companies/anchors will hesitate to do so. This is because in the mainstream media, reputation and image is everything. For example, in the United States, the majority religion is Christianity and if a Christian terrorist group commits a certain act of terrorism, they would choose to focus on Muslim terrorists instead if given the chance. The inaccurate portrayal of Muslims is seen in media because people believe the majority of terrorism acts are committed by Muslims. However, in the United States since 1995, 56% of attacks were committed by Ring-Wing extremists, 30% by Eco terrorists, and only 12% by Islamic extremists! Some broadcasting companies/online news channels such as TYT are unbiased. TYT or “The Young Turks,” is one of the few news outlets that report on several events from all over the world and news companies should use them as an example. However, the majority of the mainstream media will do anything to protect their image, and hide the truth from the general public. This all negatively impacts the Muslim people and needs to change.

People are not educated on other religions or cultures all around in the world which also contributes to the problem. Most people are not informed on Islam in general. The Quran does not condone violence or murder. It strongly advocates kindness, forbids cheating, false accusations, and jealousy, and it advises all Muslims to be righteous and promote peace and tolerance. This is proven have a significant effect on people because UC Berkeley Political Science M. Steven Fish reported, “Muslim countries average 2.4 murders per annum per 100,000 people compared to non-Muslim countries that have 7.5 murders per annum per 100,000 people.” Therefore, countries with proper functioning governments with a majority of Muslim population are in fact, less violent. Not being educated on other cultures is also a problem because people are judged for things such as wearing religious clothing such as hijabs, burkas, or niqabs in the Muslim community. Marco Perolini, Amnesty International’s expert on discrimination says, “Muslim women are being denied jobs and girls prevented from attending regular classes just because they wear traditional forms of dress, such as the headscarf.” This shows that Muslim women are being discriminated against for being religious. The reason why they wear these types of clothes that cover their hair, skin, or part of their face is because they want to show modesty and want people to judge them on whom they are as a person as opposed to their outer appearance. Therefore, education is extremely important. Once people become open to other religions and cultures, then there will be more acceptance in the world. In today’s world, this just isn’t the case and it’s unfortunate.

A terrorist can be anyone; however, society has given the world, “terrorist” a religion, colour, and characteristics that relate to Islam. Because of prominent Islamic terrorist groups such as ISIS being active in the world and repetitively reported on in the news, the media’s portrayal of Muslims, and the lack of knowledge on other religions and cultures, the world has perceived the wrong idea about Muslims and who they really are as human beings. There are other terrorist groups in the world, there is less violence in Muslim countries, and the Quran promotes peace and tolerance. Not only is it not fair to judge people before knowing them, it’s even worse to do it to over a billion people in the world. Therefore, when one hears the word, “terrorist” a Muslim shouldn’t be the first person to come to mind.

Your Next Travel Destination: Paris, France.

France is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and Paris is one of the most visited cities. This city has a lot to offer including many attractions as seen, excellent cuisine and has an amazing vibe. You will be exposed to the vivid French culture and lifestyle of the French. Paris is also the perfect place for your next honeymoon, or romantic getaway. With the iconic Eiffel Tower in the heart of the city, you will be sure to fall in love all over again! If this isn’t for you, come take a trip to Paris to see the museums, the historic city centre, and enjoy a good meal with perfect ambiance at the world class restaurants. People in France are extremely friendly, and if you don’t know French, you don’t have to worry! Most of your interactions will be with people in the service industry. Most of them are perfectly used to dealing with English speakers; after all, tourism is a major industry in France. Furthermore, Paris has great shopping malls, and is an iconic city for fashion and even has its own fashion show! If you’re going with kids, try going to Disneyland Paris where the whole family can have fun, and enjoy different rides and other attractions. This is an excellent way to bond with your family, and friends! Therefore, you can’t go wrong with Paris, the weather is great, there’s a lot of culture to explore, many different attractions that are iconic all over the world, and there are amazing people to interact with!

Reasons for including this post in the culminating task:

I chose to include this specific blog post for many reasons. For one, it was the first one that wasn’t typed. I made a glogster and I would say that it was truly an enjoyable experience. This was my creative post, therefore, it was necessary to include it. I chose a topic that would interest a lot of people. Everyone loves to travel, and Paris seems to be a popular destination. Therefore, I made this “advertisement” that showed all that Paris offers. This post shows my growth as a writer because I am able to effectively communicate a message through several types of mediums. If I were to make this glog again, I would keep all of the images/videos because it truly shows how amazing Paris is. Finally, something that I would do different is I would have less text and just focus on the main attractions, because the history portion takes up a lot of space.

Governance in Canada & the World: Canada vs. United States of America (Civics Culminating)

 

Bickford, Gaven, “World Junior Championships Preview: USA versus Canada,” December 31, 2014. Retrieved June 9, 2015 from http://twopadstack.net/world-junior-championships-preview-usa-versus-canada/

Forms of Government:

Canada has a democracy which means that the citizens have individual rights and freedoms and there is an orderly system of transferring power in a democracy usually through elections where the citizens can vote. Canada also has a parliamentary government, and a constitutional monarchy. This means that Canada has a form of government in which a king or queen acts as head of state. However, the ability to make and  pass legislation resides with an elected parliament as opposed to with the monarch. Currently, Stephen Harper is the Prime Minister of Canada and the Head of State is Queen Elizabeth II. The United States of America has a slightly different form of government. They have a presidential system, a federal republic and a constitutional republic. A presidential system is a system of government in which the president is constitutionally independent of the legislature. Also, a federal republic is a federation of states with a republican form of government, and a constitutional republic is a state in which the head of state and other officials are representatives of the people. These representatives must govern to the existing constitution. Furthermore, in a constitutional republic, executive, legislative, and judicial powers can be separated into distinct branches. In comparison, our governments have their similarities and their differences, one major difference being we have a prime minister and they have Barack Obama as their president. 

No Author, “Contact an Elected Official,” n.d. Retrieved June 9, 2015 from http://county.milwaukee.gov/ContactanElectedOffi7730.htm

Electoral Processes:

In Canada, the process of how power is shifted/formed is through elections. In a democracy, elections ensure that citizens have a right to choose who will govern them. A riding or constituency is a geographical area in which one member of parliament (MP) sits in the House of Commons (308 seats total.) Each political party nominates one candidate to run in each of the ridings. The candidate with the most votes wins the election and the party with the most elected candidates form the government, the leader of that party then becomes the prime minister. Some rules apply that allow you to vote including: you have to be 18 years of age and be a Canadian citizen. Votes are counted using a secret ballot that ensures that there is no cheating. To get ready for the elections, political parties create campaigns that advertise the political leaders and show the general public a good first impression of them. A final rule is that a new vote must be taken every 4 years or if the prime minister loses votes in the House of Commons. In the United States of America, you also have to be 18 years of age. Presidential elections are held every 4 years, the individual running must be at least 35 years of age, and be a native-born citizen of the United States. A key difference between the two processes if that when citizens mark their ballot, they’re actually voting for electors who will ultimately decide who becomes the president. The only choice the citizens have is the candidate who they’re voting for to become an elector which collectively make the “Electoral College.” The national presidential election consists of a separate election in each of the 50 states and each state has the same number of electors as it has senators and representatives. In most states, the election is a winner-take-all and whichever ballot receives the most votes gets all of the electors. The Electoral College then votes for the president and vice-president called “electoral votes.” Normally, one of the candidates for president receives the majority vote (most number of votes,) and the vice-president will earn the second most. In rare circumstances, if no one candidate receives majority vote, the House of Representatives chooses the president from the top three presidential candidates (by number of votes.) 

Coleman, Rebecca, “A Comparison of the Four Major Political Parties’ Arts Platforms,” April 20, 2011. Retrieved June 9, 2015 from http://canadaartsconnect.com/magazine/2011/04/a-comparison-of-the-four-major-political-parties-arts-platforms/

Political Parties:

The major political parties in Canada are: the Liberals, Conservatives, New Democratic Party (NDP,) Green Party, and Bloc Quebecois. The leader of the Liberal party is Justin Trudeau, the leader of the Green Party is Elizabeth May, Thomas Mulcair is the leader of the NDP, Jim Wilson is the leader of the Conservatives, and Mario Beaulieu is the leader of the Bloc Quebecois. The United States of America has two major leading parties as well as many smaller ones, but for now, let’s focus on the two main political parties. The Democratic party is lead by Nancy Pelosi (House leader) and Harry Reid (Senate leader) and the Republican party is lead by Kevin McCarthy (House leader) and Mitchell McConnell (Senate leader.) 

The Political Spectrum:

The NDP, Bloc Quebecois, Green party, Liberal party, and US’s Democratic party are all on the left-wing side. In contrast, the Conservative and Republican parties are both more on the right-wing side. These left-wing parties believe in government involvement in people’s lives, think that social change is inevitable, that there should be higher taxation to guarantee social services, and that the right of individuals are the highest priority. However, the right-wing parties believe that there should be minimal government involvement/participation in people’s lives, that individuals should be responsible for themselves, have traditional values, think taxes should be lowered to encourage more spending, and think that the law and order are the highest priority. In general, the fundamental differences between left-wing and right-wing ideologies center around the rights of individuals vs. the power of the government. Lastly, these beliefs result in differences in opinion on several topics such as gun control, taxes, health care, education, immigration, abortion, and many other issues. 

Biorseth, Vic, “A No Party America?” November 2, 2013. Retrieved June 9, 2015 from http://www.catholicamericanthinker.com/no-Party-America.html

Core Beliefs of the Political Parties:

Today, the Liberal party strongly support abortion rights, gay marriage, and ample immigration. This party opposes the right-wingers who call for the scaling back of cherished social programs such as universal health care and old age pensions. The NDP believes that the government should regulate but not necessarily rule. This party should be given credit for the availability and creation of the social programs mentioned, want to raise taxes on large corporations, and believed in organized labour in working sectors such as nursing, teaching, and others. The Conservative party favours low taxes, a less active government, a strong military force, and have traditional values. They are neutral on some issues such as gay rights, and abortion but have strong beliefs on other issues such as health care. The Bloc Quebecois is a Canadian separatist political party, and generally support similar causes to the NDP, but are focused on the Quebec government more than anything else. The Green Party started out as a party that was devoted to raising aware about the environment, but now have become a political party who tries to find solutions to complex issues seen in the country. In the United States of America, the Democratic party believe in an active government, and the promotion of social and community responsibility. Finally, the Republican party believe in limited government, with the promotion of individual rights and justice.

A4BFAE850F0EC153D809B896A8E32A9C-main-article-6474.jpg

Parker, Chuck, “Ensuring that Payers Get the Best Treatment from Healthcare Technology,” January 29, 2014. Retrieved June 9, 2015 from http://www.corporatewellnessmagazine.com/technology/ensuring-best-treatment-from-healthcare-technology/

Their Opinions on an Issue of Importance:

Now that we know more about the political parties and where they stand, let’s talk about an issue of importance: health care. The Liberals want $20 million dollars to improve access to primary care physicians, increase the wage of workers, give access to dental care for low-income families and provide them with more health benefits, and want to expand and improve hospitals. The Conservatives want to create chronic care centres, expand home care and long-term disability availability, give people more choices on the health services they receive under OHIP, and increase physical activity. The NDP wants to cut emergency room waiting times, open 24 hour health clinics, hire more nurses, and forgive student debt for doctors so that they can work in underserved areas. The Green Party wants to reduce the cost of Pharmacare, make better health programs, promote sport, fitness, and healthy active living, reduce drug addiction, and prevent the spread of harmful diseases such as HIV/AIDS. The Bloc Quebecois plan to create a health care system that is independent and run by Quebec while maintaining universal health care, and want $250 million for tax credit for caregivers. The Democrats support more federally funded health care programs, universal health care, government involvement in health care including Medicare and Medicaid and generally support Obamacare. Finally, the Republican party wants to keep health care private, support reformed Medicare for seniors, think that companies can provide more efficient programs regarding health care than the government, and oppose some Obamacare requirements such as individuals having to buy health insurance or pay a fine.

Reflection:

In Canada, I like how we get to vote for who we want to win/run our country (democracy) like the United States. This is important because having a say in our country is extremely beneficial because we, as the citizens, can shape our country. Also, how we have a lot of rights and freedoms, are living in a safe and peaceful country, are multiculturally diverse, have a low crime rate and have social programs such as health care, and pension plans. Furthermore, I like how anyone can find a political party to support because there are a lot of them that cater to everyone’s needs (we’re all represented.) Additionally, I like how we’re protected under many laws and the Constitution that includes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that allows us to take action if our rights were ever violated. Some aspects of the Canadian government that I don’t like is the monarch. Without the monarch, Canada would be fully autonomous and we could manage better independently. Also, even though is it a part of a democracy, federal regulation, law, and infrastructure takes a lot of time to implement. Moreover, some people in Canada feel as though they have too many rights, and aren’t active citizens in their country, therefore, being an active citizen should be encouraged. In comparison with the United States of America, I like how we have two official languages and that learning both English and French is encouraged by the government (bilingualism,) and they only have one. One aspect of the American government that I prefer is that the head of state and the head of government are both equal (in Canada, the Queen has the final say on a lot of things.) In Canada I like how there is no limit to the length of time the prime minister can stay in office, meanwhile, in the United States you’re only allowed to serve 2 terms (8 years maximum.) This is because if a prime minister is exceptional (i.e. William Lyon Mackenzie King) they can continue to run the country and let it prosper. Furthermore, in Canada there is a sense of unity (excluding Quebec) as opposed to the United States where the 50 states are easily divided on many issues. Although America does have a higher crime rate and poorly controlled illegal immigration, I prefer the lower taxes in America. Overall, there are many pros and cons to each country but Canada is superior to the United States, and we should all be very grateful that we live in such an amazing country and realize that we’re extremely fortunate. 

References: 

Royal.gov.uk,. N.p., 2015. Web. 9 June 2015.

Merriam-webster.com,. ‘Dictionary And Thesaurus | Merriam-Webster’. N.p., 2015. Web. 9 June 2015.

Loc.gov,. ‘Election Process – Electoral Votes – Elections The American Way- Classroom Presentation | Teacher Resources – Library Of Congress’. N.p., 2015. Web. 9 June 2015.

Enchantedlearning.com,. ‘How The President Of The U.S. Is Elected’. N.p., 2015. Web. 9 June 2015.

Diffen.com,. ‘Democrat Vs Republican – Difference And Comparison | Diffen’. N.p., 2015. Web. 9 June 2015.

Thecanadaguide.com,. ‘Political Parties Of Canada » J.J.’S Complete Guide To Canada’. N.p., 2015. Web. 9 June 2015.

Us-political-parties.insidegov.com,. ‘U.S. Political Parties – Comparison And Facts’. N.p., 2015. Web. 9 June 2015.

Greenparty.ca,. ‘4.7 Healthier People – Healthier Health Care | Green Party Of Canada’. N.p., 2015. Web. 9 June 2015.

Cbc.ca,. ‘CBC.Ca Ontario Votes 2014’. N.p., 2015. Web. 9 June 2015.

Parl.gc.ca,. ‘Parliament Of Canada Web Site – Site Web Du Parlement Du Canada’. N.p., 2015. Web. 9 June 2015.

The Restaurant Industry: Exposed

As humans one of the essential resources we need to live is food. It helps us function by allowing us to have energy to function throughout the day, feeds our bodies with important nutrients, and significantly impacts our health. This can be a positive or negative impact, which leads into the main topic of discussion – fast food. We all love to eat in fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s, Subway, Wendy’s, Boston Pizza, The Keg, etc. Most people are aware that eating foods that contain excessive amounts of fat, sodium, and sugar can’t possibly be good for our bodies, but nonetheless, people continue to eat at these restaurants because their food tastes good and it’s convenient to do so. However, some things that people aren’t aware of are what goes into their food, the negative consequences of eating at fast food restaurants, and some disturbing secrets of the restaurant industry including how little they actually care about the cleanliness of the restaurant and the uncomfortable truth concerning animal abuse and cruelty seen in animal factory farms. 

Now, what’s actually inside of your food you may ask? First off, fast food restaurants purposely make their foods addictive and they cause you to overeat. Whole foods contain a mix of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, fibre, and water that allow the consumer to feel full as opposed to foods that restaurants serve you which stimulate dopamine – a neurotransmitter that makes you feel good and ultimately leads to food cravings and overeating. Some of the additives in these foods are MSG, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and others. Processed foods often contain genetically modified (GM) ingredients, which are also linked to reproductive problems [1]. These types of foods also can last a long time on shelves because they contain many additives and preservatives. Large fast food chains want their food to last a while, and do not care about the negative health affects their products have on their consumers. Companies also lie about the actual contents in their products such as “100% beef ” in their meat. Finally, you may enjoy the taste of products with added sugars, fats, and sodium because they taste good. However, it is important to have a healthy diet because these items, in actuality, are harming your body.

This video shows you a little bit more insight into the restaurant industry and specially some of the ingredients used in our favourite fast food items. 

As stated previously, eating regularly at restaurants leads to many health problems. First off, obesity is a problem which is caused from overeating and food addiction. Becoming overweight has many negative impacts on your life such as being judged by others, and is unhealthy. Furthermore, mood swings, memory problems and even depression are often the result of a heavily processed-food diet [1]. Serotonin, an essential part of your body’s central nervous system, and a regulator of your brain’s activity allows it to function properly. This neurotransmitter is located in the intestines, and your gut and brain influence each other and this is why your intestinal health can have such a profound influence on your mental health, and vice versa [1]. Digestive problems are caused by eating too many processed foods and can lead to other problems such as illnesses and chronic diseases. Lastly, you could also get diabetes, and irritability, restlessness, and sleep disturbance is related to overeating to eating at fast food restaurants. It is important to think about our own health and be aware of the potential dangers of constantly eating at fast food restaurants, especially on a daily basis. 

This video shows how long foods such as burgers and fries from companies that we all love to eat from last, the results are shocking and after seeing the outcome of the experiment you will wonder how these types of foods affect your body. 

The following is a list of shocking facts that the restaurant industry (low-mid end) has kept hidden from you: [4]

  • The average fast food visit can result in consuming anywhere between 800 to 1,100 calories, and in some cases, double that, exceeding the recommended daily caloric intake for adults and children in a given day
  • Credit the caloric increase with larger portion sizes (USA)
  • Fast food chains spent more than $4.2 billion dollars in 2009 on advertising, despite pledges to decrease ads seen by children
  • Fast food packaging is second only to cigarette butts in public litter
  • Fast food items contain a lot of bacteria in them
  • Notorious for low wages and high turnover, fast food chains like McDonald’s have other labor issues like the Socially Accountable Farm Employer program criticized for lacking overtime pay and freedom of association

The following is a list of secrets that the restaurant industry (high-end) has kept hidden from you: [2]

  • Staff, ingredients and prep time have to be factored into the cost of a dish, with a pizza the quickest way to get ripped off with a huge mark up
  • Restaurants love side dishes as much as they love a vegetarian option or a bowl of soup as they cost pennies and can be sold for several dollars
  • Sometimes the ‘specials’ are only ‘special’ because restaurants are desperate to get rid of them
  • Nobody ever checks their bill properly, and the restaurant could, and sometimes do, add extra items
  • Menus are designed for women, who are much more likely to book the lunch or night, and whose partners will follow
  • Seating the clientele is an art form, with VIPs and the pretty girls at the front, and couples put at the back close to the others and “less attractive” people
  • All restaurant food will contain the chef’s saliva, as the same spoon is used to sample dishes. When presenting food they also use the “lick and stick” method to keep things in place
  • Drugs use is rife amongst workers, mainly cocaine

It doesn’t matter if the restaurant is trying to cater to a low-class, middle-class, or high-glass group of people, all of them try to increase their profit, find a way to make the most money possible without taking into account how it will impact their customers, and play many tricks on them to believe one thing even if it may not be true such as the ‘special’ item as listed above. Wherever you go out to and dine, be cautious of all of this. 

Have you ever heard of secret menu items? Many of these “secret” menu items first began as items concocted by restaurant employees or customers. Others are discontinued former menu items that are still available for those in the know [3]. These are used by restaurants to try to attract customers who feel like “insiders” and is an effective marketing tool. An example of one of these items is the monster mac at McDonald’s, yet another fast food chain secret.

This video will help aid me in further exposing the restaurant industry:

Watching this video really opened my eyes, it’s one thing to read about restaurants and how they aren’t clean, but to actually see it is life changing. It was clear that some restaurant owners didn’t care about whether or not the dishes, and utensils were dirty, they just wanted the food to get on the plate, it’s no surprise that almost 2 million people get sick from eating out every year. On top of that, 60% of workers attended work while being sick. It was shocking to learn that almost 1/4 (25%) of restaurants inspected had a health and safety violation in Canada! This is because in some restaurants, staff members aren’t always trained properly, and some owners focus on attractiveness and physical appeal as opposed to health and safety procedures. I was appalled by the list of restaurants who had the most violations for every 100 inspections, the list is as follows from least to most violations: Starbucks (11,) KFC (13,) A&W (17,) Subway (18,) Pizza Hut (20,) Tim Horton’s (21,) Swiss Chalet (29,) Wendy’s (30,) McDonald’s (33,) Boston Pizza and The Keg (36,) Second Cup (40,)and Moxie’s Grill & Bar (49, a restaurant with locations in Regina, Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto, and Calgary takes the #1 spot with most health violations/100 inspections.) Some of the most common violations include: not washing hands, contaminated cloths and other supplies, not properly cleaned cups/dishes, and transferred bacteria. This is a major problem because many people get sick including the 200 from the Harvey’s/Swiss Chalet who got sick from E.coli in the kitchen and faced severe health consequences. Restaurants also don’t store foods in the right temperature which can cause food poisoning. Another problem is that there is a lot of management, and even if you spot an issue it’s intimidating and is unpredictable whether or not your voice will be heard/any changes will be made. Finally, restaurants might be selling rotten meat, add extra sugar to your food, their buffets contain a lot of bacteria, their trays are filthy, some water pitchers don’t get washed, and restaurant lemons are almost as filthy as the floor.

Finally, the last topic is animal abuse and cruelty. Let’s first take a look at animal factory farm and the conditions the animals face from a couple companies:

It is absolutely disgusting and these videos do a great job at showing how large companies such as KFC and McDonalds treat the animals that they use for their meat and ultimately serve the general public. Furthermore, it shows how badly people act when they think that they aren’t under surveillance and how little they care about the animals. This further solidifies that companies are run by greedy CEO’s who want a higher profit and will do anything in order to get the most amount of money in their pocket after each working day. 

If you want to learn more about animal cruelty please visit this website: http://www.rollingstone.com/feature/belly-beast-meat-factory-farms-animal-activists

How you can determine if a restaurant is safe to eat at/what to do if you have concerns:

  • You can search up the restaurant’s last inspection report
  • If you’ve had a bad experience somewhere, speak out and spread awareness on that particular restaurant
  • Check out the washroom
  • If you have concerns, speak to the manager
  • Call your public health office

How you can help end animal cruelty/fight against animal factory farms: [5]

  • Learn about the issue and spread the word
  • Do some research about the meat you’re buying, and investigate if the animal was raised in an appropriate environment
  • You can choose to buy products from farms with high standards of animal welfare, or to limit the amount of animal products you purchase, also look for the animal welfare certification symbol on the product/packaging
  • Ask local grocers and restaurants to offer foods that are more humanely raised 
  • Fight for food safety by voicing your opinion to an organization that supports this cause
  • Start your own organization, start a club, or a petition

Now, I’m not saying to completely stop eating at fast food restaurants. Everything is good in moderation. I am recommending eating healthier foods and choosing a healthy lifestyle that adds years to your life, gives you a lot of energy, and helps you avoid diseases such as cancer and diabetes. Also, I am confident that you’re more aware of the ingredients in many foods, the impacts they have on your body, the reality of the business/industry, some of its secrets, how little restaurants actually care about their customers, and the upsetting truth about animals in factory farms. Through this post, I am hoping that you take the initiative and spread the word to others so that we can educate others, raise awareness, and help create change to make a difference in the world. 

References:

[1] Gates, Donna, “10 Things the Processed Food Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know,” July 15, 2013. Retrieved June 6, 2015 from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/07/15/processed-food-secrets.aspx

[2] Dixon, Haley, “The 20 shocking secrets every diner should know,” July 14, 2013. Retrieved June 6, 2015 from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/restaurants/10178623/The-20-shocking-secrets-every-diner-should-know.html

[3] Little, Katie, “Secret’s Out! Hidden restaurant menu items for insiders,” April 8, 2013. Retrieved June 6, 2015 from http://www.cnbc.com/id/100620137

[4] Ettinger, Jill, “7 Dirty Secrets Fast Food Chains Don’t Want You To Know,” January 22, 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2015 from http://www.organicauthority.com/foodie-buzz/dirty-secrets-fast-food-chains-dont-want-you-to-know.html

[5] No Author, “10 Ways You Can Fight Factory Farms,” n.d. Retrieved June 6, 2015 from https://www.aspca.org/fight-cruelty/farm-animal-cruelty/10-ways-you-can-fight-factory-farms

Reasons for including this post in the culminating task:

I was always curious about the restaurant industry and have heard a lot about it. I was eager to research into it, and find out the truth. What I found was astonishing, and I wanted to create a blog post on it to expose the industry and raise awareness on some of the tactics restaurants use to trick their consumers, and the truth behind it all. Furthermore, I wanted to educate people on the topic and one of the main points of having a blog is to spread knowledge and wisdom. Educating people is not enough, therefore, I took the extra step of informing people on what they could do to help. I also spent a lot of time on this post as there was a lot of content and research needed. This post really shows my growth in writing because I was able to engage the audience well with a strong lead. If I were to write this post again, I would keep all of the videos because it enhances the post, and I would break up the content into sub-headings. Finally, what I would do differently is I would put the most important information first, as that was something I didn’t keep in mind when creating this post. 

A Change of Heart – Short Story Part 2/2

He now had no intentions to kill or to harm anyone whatsoever. Everything would start from scratch, a fresh new, clean beginning. As the days went on, and as they spent more time together, Olaf started to slowly forget his past memories about Robert and the other scientists. But, he could never forget the terrible things he made him do and how he convinced them that those things that he was doing were right. Finally, for making him into the person that he never wanted to be—a true monster. Drake started noticing the changes in Olaf’s behaviour. It was a positive change. He started to transform in front of his eyes. However, deep down in Olaf’s now glowing heart he sought out revenge. Deep down Olaf wanted to kill Robert, ultimately stopping him from creating more monsters. This would also let the citizens of Grimsby finally witness peace. He did not want any more chaos in the city where he was made and raised. Meanwhile, Robert was wondering where his creation was and why he had not returned to his master. Soon he realized that his creation had failed the ultimate test, he accepted this with great disappointment. This was because Robert was capable of creating humans, he created Drake using him he tested Olaf to see if he was truly the creature he was trying to make his entire life. He sighed and thought “ugh, another creation gone to waste, how despicable.” Robert now wanted to set out in search of Olaf, there once he had found him he would thank Drake for assisting him and would crush Olaf’s soft heart, making him face the hard truth that the only friend that he’s ever made is actually on his enemy’s side.

Olaf had no idea if Robert was going to come after him but he prayed he came sooner rather than later. Olaf would usually think about the other scientists and was usually disgusted by the mere sight of them. However, there was an exception. That one scientist’s name was Victor. Olaf realized he treated him very poorly, as did the other scientists. He had now realized that Victor was different less on the mad, evil side and more on the good. Although, he couldn’t understand why he would spend his time with people who treated him like dirt, he thought that maybe he was waiting for someone like him to come along. During the night, Robert had contacted Drake and told him to kick Olaf of out his house. Secretly, he woke up his aunt and made up the fake story that the “beast had returned” and that he was scared for his own life and that he wanted him to leave right away. His aunt went to the attic and screamed ferociously and told him to get out. Olaf did not do anything but he did see the half smirk on Drake’s face. He was utterly disgusted, “Humans cannot be trusted,” he thought. He went back to the streets with constant tears dripping down his face for the first time in his life. He now knew that no one was to be trusted. He felt his emotions build up to the point where he was enraged to the point where he went back to his old self—into the demon state. Back at the laboratory, Victor had overheard Robert when he contacted Drake; it was now Victor’s time to leave. He went out in search for Olaf; hoping never to return. He searched far and wide for what seemed like an eternity, and then it hit him.

He thought that Olaf probably went to the laboratory in hopes of ending Robert’s life but he had to stop that from happening at once. He quickly picked up the pace and soon found Olaf and saw that he was dangerously close to the laboratory; he quickly ceased him in his tracks. Olaf turned around and looked at Victor with a look filled with malice. “Who could be trusted anymore? Why should I believe or listen to this scientist if he is going to stab me in the back in the end?” He thought. All these thoughts were squirming in Olaf’s head. Olaf had trust issues; he quickly ran away in the opposite direction and shouted a loud sound almost like a cry that could be heard at the other end of the city. Victor was frantically on the search for him once again, finally after looking even more this time around, he begged for Olaf to listen to what he had to say. Olaf heard how kindly the tone of his voice sounded and how it reminded him of how Drake talked in the same exact way, he didn’t want to listen to any of it, not at all. Victor talked anyway and knew it would get through Olaf’s head he had said how Robert was behind everything! He explained how Robert manipulated Drake and told him how he could get him his parent’s love if he did whatever he told him to do. Olaf knew that was the one thing Drake desired; the love of his family, it would be something he would cherish forever if received. Everything was clear, Robert was the real enemy. Drake felt horrible for kicking Olaf out of his house and needed to do what felt right for him, he left in search for his friend. He thought, “How could I do that to my own friend?” He was disgusted with himself. He found Olaf and explained everything he said; how he was naive for thinking that Robert could ever give him his family’s love. Olaf was reluctant to accept his apology but alas, he did he couldn’t ignore the fact that Drake yearned for his parent’s love and knew exactly where he was coming from. Soon, they both realized that they both really want to same exact thing. They both want to feel accepted and to be loved, and now it was tangible. After all, they had each other.

They now realized that they were all on the same side, it was now time to act. Meanwhile at the laboratory Robert tried to contact Drake to get Olaf’s whereabouts but there was no response on the other end, he was baffled. “Where did the young boy go?” He thought. After, he came to a conclusion and laughed, “damn kid probably fell asleep.” Unable to seek out Olaf, all he could do now was wait and prepare for what was going to happen, it was inevitable; blood was going to be shed. Victor, Olaf and Drake had to be very cautious and had to think long and hard about their strategy to attack the scientists. One proposed that they just wait for the scientists to come with Robert as their leader to attack them first, however they were so eager to end them and to stop their wrong-doings they had no patience whatsoever. Robert could not sleep, he was too busy awake thinking of ways to kill Olaf, what to say, what to do and things of that nature. He informed all the other scientists that they were going to be under attack very soon and who they were going to be attacked by and they all giggled. One scientist whispered, “we finally get to end his life, eh?” She was referring to Victor. A couple of days passed and Robert finally dozed off and was going to be unconscious for quite some time. Luckily for the others, this was the day they were going to attack they knew about Robert’s strange behaviours and what type of person he really was; a crazy psychopath. They remembered how he would rarely get sleep because he was always too busy plotting the next attack or creature that he would create. They all agreed and it was now settled, “DEATH TO ROBERT!” They all shouted this out loud collectively three times.

They decided to attack in the late night, they quickly reached the laboratory. Victor was prepared with stolen equipment that included weapons that Robert created as well as special guns and grenades and other explosive items. They all charged in the building and finally the ultimate battle had begun. They took separate paths, Victor and Drake went in from the back side and Olaf from the front side which lead into Robert’s chamber. Olaf ran upstairs and saw Robert; they stared at each other for quite a while. Robert said things such as: “you’re such a disappointment” and “how could you point a gun at your creator?” Olaf did not pay any attention to any of the words that came out of his mouth; he did not care about him anymore. Robert sensed that he was not getting through the Olaf and finally said “do you really want to kill your OWN father?” That was it for Olaf he could not take it anymore, he screamed “YOU’RE NOT MY FATHER!” Then proceeded and shouted “YOU’RE A DEMON!” They took shots at each other but they both missed all of their shots. Meanwhile, Victor and Drake were having some trouble against the other scientists, some did fall for some of the traps they put up but there were just too many of them to count, they were definitely outnumbered. Quickly they realized that there was no way out, now they were trapped; they were surrounded from every corner. Robert took a shot at Olaf and it hit him in the chest, he went down. However, while Robert was laughing hysterically Olaf shot him right in the heart. His own arrogance was ultimately the reason of his death. Victor and Drake were ready to say their goodbyes. Then, suddenly all of the mad scientists and Robert vanished; disappeared into thin air. Olaf went down to see what happened and was completely perplexed. Then something strange happened to Olaf, he started to transform into a human. He wondered why Victor did not disappear along with the other scientists. Victor had all the answers. He explained how Robert was capable of also creating humans. He also explained how Robert actually created all of the scientists but not in the form they were right at that moment. Robert actually created his scientists as creatures first but then transformed them into humans because he knew that none of them had any good in them and they would be more useful to him when conducting certain experiments. Robert was ultimately using the scientists as his puppets. Victor said to Olaf how he was once a creature just like him in more ways than one, he explained how he wanted to be different; he wanted to be good just like him. This is how he turned into a human because he turned out good and was not a product of his environment. He admitted to disguising himself as an evil scientist to learn all about Robert’s evil plans. It was now clear to Olaf, Robert wanted to create evil scientists to rule the city and to completely annihilate everything, he also created Victor to be the lead monster but after going against his master and being good he carved his own destiny, and this is why he was ridiculed by the others. The world was no place for monsters. Olaf had now realized that Victor was indeed just like him.

Reasons for including this post in the culminating task:

I chose this post for many reasons. For one, I enjoy writing short stories. I enjoy developing characters, creating a plot, and all the other creative steps in creating a story. The reason why I chose to write this post is because I felt like I needed to start trying to make new types of blog posts. I made a lot of informative posts, and even a list, but a story is something that I didn’t try. Also, I put a lot of work into writing the story and it took a lot of time and effort. If I were to write it again, I would keep the characters the same, and I would keep it split into two parts so that when people read the first one, they’re eager to read the second. Finally, what I would change to improve this story is adding on to the conclusion and explaining everything with more clarity as opposed to rushing it. 

A Change of Heart – Short Story Part 1/2

A scientist had created a monster whose destruction had no bounds. A monster that was so horrific, so frightening the sight of him gave you the chills. The scientist had created this monster so that he could accomplish a truly evil task; to annihilate every human being in the city. Also, to fill the gap that was made in its creator’s heart, the gap that was created by true loneliness. The scientist’s name was Robert and filling the void in his heart was not an easy task, for he was a person who had always felt like he needed something more and after creating creature after creature he had great disappointment for he could never make the right one, however he had a good feeling about Olaf. Robert had worked with many other mad scientists; he created Olaf in the small city of Grimsby. It was a city where there wasn’t a lot of citizens, but was a place of many murders and a place that never witnessed peace or even had the knowledge of it. Olaf was born with sharp piercing red eyes filled with hate and was the complete opposite of the word, “innocent.” Olaf would spend his time roaming the streets, obeying his master’s wishes and completing gruesome tasks. These tasks consisted of things such as; stealing money, holding people hostage, stealing weapons, and terrorizing the city of Grimsby. Once time passed Robert’s feeling about Olaf strengthened and he truly thought that he was the most evil creature that he had ever created. Robert thought that he would never turn his back against him and would always obey his commands and would even go as far as risking his own life to do so. However, on one strange day, something happened which was going to change everything forever.

It was a gloomy Sunday evening and Olaf was told by Robert to bring him three human beings that were alive for some torture tests. Olaf went along with it as usual; he remembered the terrible things that Robert had done during to some past experiment subjects. He remembered the time he burned somebody to death as well as froze somebody to their demise; also another time where he hung three people upside down by their heads waiting for their blood to gush down to their heads, ultimately killing them. Olaf had memories of witnessing the pain of other people and the deaths of countless amounts of citizens. This is what he loved to see so he didn’t mind; he loved seeing the fear in a person’s eyes once he approached them. Olaf finally remembered how Robert killed all but one of his other creations because they were all a waste of his time; they all perished at the hands of their creator. Olaf felt powerful, and all these memories made his heart even more stone cold, he was ready to fulfill another task. Olaf went out into the streets to pick out some victims with that had great misfortune. He saw a young lady, walking down the street minding her own business. Olaf dashed towards her and stopped her before she could move another step. Standing at 10 feet tall he completely scared the young lady who barely reached 5 feet. She looked up and saw what she thought was a hideous beast.

She tried to run, but was trembling in her brown fur boots. She saw the drool dripping down from Olaf’s chin. After being stared at for quite some time the young lady started shivering and shaking frantically with tears dripping down her soft pale skin. Olaf then proceeded to snatch her and then taped her mouth shut. He was waiting patiently for the second person wearing a little grin of his face that seemed almost permanent. He saw an older looking man appearing to be in his 70’s. He was wearing a trench coat, a furry hat and an old pair of ripped blue jeans. The old man was heading for his apartment; Olaf quickly hid in a corner and then proceeded to follow him. Olaf arrived at his apartment and barged right in. It was a fairly empty building with very few residents. Once the old man saw Olaf he was startled, Olaf was so tall that he could barely fit through the door. He had never seen a creature so disgusting before; he tried not to pay much attention to him hoping that he would just turn away and go on about his business. Also he had hoped to forget the illusion that he was not scared. However, Olaf could see the fear in the old man’s eyes; he wasn’t fooling anyone. It was what he loved seeing—absolute fear. The old man gave in, he willingly agreed to follow the monster wherever he was taking him and he did not have any concern with living anymore after dealing with depression for over 20 years after his wife passed away. He saw the young lady up on his shoulder screaming silently but knew he could not do anything; he was just waiting, waiting for the absolute end. It was inevitable he thought it was now time for him to move on to the other side to finally see his wife.

Finally, Olaf was seeking the third and final unfortunate soul. It was then when he saw a young boy who couldn’t have been older than 7 years old roaming the streets in the late night. He laughed and thought he was stupid for not having his parents with him. He knew it wouldn’t of mattered anyways they would have all died right then and there anyways. He snuck up and pressed the shoulder of the young boy with a surprising amount of force. The little boy turned around, it was then when he saw Olaf. However, he was not scared, he just reminded him of one of his old monster toys, the scariest one of course. Olaf then thought, “how does one not tremble in fear in the presence of a creature such as me?” The young boy’s name was Drake Fraser. He looked into the eyes of a creature that he seemed to be fascinated with, Olaf did not sense any fear whatsoever. He was confused and this confusion increased when Drake surprisingly hugged his leg. Olaf had never felt such a strong presence. Drake then asked Olaf, “why are you holding two people up on your shoulders and why are their mouths shut closed with tape?” Olaf then responded and said, “we’re just going out to play; you know to have some fun.” Drake asked if he could play with them too and Olaf agreed knowing that he lied. Olaf did not talk to the young child; the old man had his head pointed directly towards the ground. Drake was confused. “Why was everybody so quiet?” He thought. Suddenly, out of nowhere Olaf screamed at the top of his lungs: “STOP!!”

He looked into the young boy’s eyes and released the young lady as well as the old man, telling them to leave right away and go home. The young lady left quickly however the old man reluctantly headed home afterwards. Later, they thanked the creature for letting them go even though they thought that he had a heart as black as ebony. Drake stayed however and Olaf started feeling emotions he had never felt before. “What is this strange emotion I’m feeling?” He thought. All he ever felt was the pain of others, and he always fed off of other people’s misery. This was not anything like what he was feeling at that moment right then and there. He soon felt like an empty space in his heart was filling up almost like a void that he never thought could be filled. He sat down on the wide open street having a casual conversation with Drake. Drake then started speaking with him telling him how his parents abandoned him very soon after he had been born. Also how his aunt had to take him in after they left. He expressed how he never felt true love from his parents. Olaf stopped him and asked “…love? What is this love you speak of?” It was now clear to Drake, he recognized that Olaf was a truly lonely soul and never really had anyone that loved him. Drake later said how once his aunt took him in he felt some sort of love which he enjoyed having. He later described how much he could really trust her and described in great detail the connection between himself and his aunt. Olaf then proceeded to ask why he was roaming the streets in the late night, Drake then responded, “I’m looking for my aunt.” Subsequently, he had asked, “Where did she go?” Drake did not know where his aunt went, he was too young to realize that his aunt had to work long hours to support themselves. Drake would roam the streets every night in search of his beloved aunt, later to return back to their house to see her there.

His aunt would remind him every day not to worry about her and would constantly remind him that everything would be okay once she leaves for her job. However, Drake did not want to feel lonely ever—a pain he’s felt and known for far too long. He had continued to talk to Olaf but he was too busy pondering why he was created, was his only purpose on earth to kill? He knew those were Robert’s true intentions and hopes for him, but he wanted to carve his own destiny, he quickly realized Robert never cared about him all the things that he’s ever said to him such as “please don’t ever leave me, I’ll be lonely if you leave,” were all lies. Olaf realized that he was being used by Robert for his selfish reasons. Olaf wanted to start a journey to find himself, to find his purpose. Very quickly he realized he had no place to stay, he asked Drake if he could stay at his place. Drake did not know if his aunt would allow it but he thought it was worth a try anyways. He directed Olaf as well as himself to his house, once Drake had walked into his house his aunt’s face looked happy and she sighed and made a face of great relief. Once Olaf walked in she screamed, “WHO IS THAT!?” as well as “WHERE DID IT COME FROM!?” and “WHY IS IT HERE!?” Drake tried to explain but even when he begged his aunt for Olaf to stay, she did not accept it, she just couldn’t. Drake had asked to say his final words to Olaf and she did grant him that request. He had a plan, their house was acceptably large so he proposed the idea that he could stay in the attic where nobody ever went. He knew it was risky, but it was a risk he was willing the take for someone that he now considered a friend. Olaf reluctantly said yes in fear of getting caught but ultimately he agreed politely and was ready to start a whole new life with a new companion.

An Emotional Reflection

On YouTube where there’s that one video that is bigger than the rest because it has received a lot of views or has gone viral is usually a funny video put out by a famous youtuber or a new music video released by a prominent music artist. However, I didn’t expect to see a video on the homepage that would impact me the way that it did. Today I watched a video that changed my perspective on life, and the world. 

Watch it first:

This video shows the amazing transformation of Kristie and Tavis, a couple who are about to get married, age throughout the years from their 20’s to their 90’s. At the beginning, Kristie jokingly says that this video is a treat for her mom because she won’t be able to see how she would look like because she would have passed away by that point. There is a deep meaning to this because it shows how short life really is, and how depressing it can be when you think about your own parents dying. Furthermore, I can relate to this because one day I will have to deal with the fact that my parents won’t be with me anymore. 

The first transformation is at age 50 and this is where you start to hear them talking about their futures such as having kids, and being married for many years. Also, they say how they want a normal life, and that they already have a pitbull and a subaru. It is also very realistic because they dread the thought of having teenagers because those are usually children’s “rebellious years.” Finally, another point that hit me was when Kristie said “I’m going to look like my mother one day.” This is because it shows how fast life moves, and that eventually everything will come around. I get told a lot that I looked just like my dad when he was younger, and it is a very philosophical aspect of life to think about, that maybe one day I will look exactly like him.

The next transformation is at age 70, and this is where I started to see how fragile life can really be. A lot of years can pass and you won’t even know where the time went. I have heard this in my real life when my parents, uncles, and other family members say, “I remember when I was young, how fast time flies.” Tavis then reflects on what the last 50 years could have been, and it shows their love for each other and shows how marriage can really have a positive impact on your life. By that point, you would have had so many experiences, and will start forgetting certain memories of your life which is a consequence of aging. It was very emotional to hear Kristie say, “we’ll have to take care of each other” this is because when you make your vows and agree to stay together with the person you love for the rest of your life, you have to be there with each other until the end of time. 

The last transformation is at age 90, and this is where it got intense. At this age, you’re lucky to even be alive, and you’re close to death. This video addresses the natural consequences of getting older such as losing sex drive, and getting tired which is seen when the interviewer asks them questions. Afterwards, when the couple gets asked what their final words to each other would be, they respond by saying that they would want each other to know that they loved them. It shows how marriage changes you as a person, and makes you not only a better person, but helps you to improve each other’s lives. Finally, the video ends off by Kristie saying that she is comforted to see Tavis when he is in his late 90’s because it gives her a sense of security and that she is making the right choice by marrying him and solidifies her decision. 

Final thoughts:

This video has impacted me in a lot of ways. It has taught me a lot about life, how fast it moves, how fragile it is, and what to expect. It has made me aware that in life there are many challenges and obstacles that you have to face. However, it has also taught me that there are many things that you should be grateful for such as your parents, your spouse, and that the little things matter too. Finally, it has got me thinking about my own life and destiny. I am interested to see how my life will be in the future, and when I get older I will enjoy pondering about my old memories, and reflecting on the events that have impacted me as an individual as well as others, and letting the cycle of life naturally come to an end just to restart once again. 

Reasons for including this post in the culminating task:

I chose this post because it was the only one that I wrote after I truly felt inspired. This video reflection was my most personal blog post yet, and I felt the need to include it to show how much of an impact one single piece of footage can really change your perspective on life. This reflects me as a writer because I state what happens in the video and then I relate it to my own life. This shows that I can make solid connections to different types of media. If I were to write it again, I would keep the introduction because it gets the reader interested in the post, and I would still break it up into different sections (by age group.) Finally, what I would do differently is I would encourage people to watch the video and comment their thoughts on it.

Top 10 Highest Grossing Movies of All Time

This is a list of the top 10 highest-grossing movies of all time. Which means that these films have met, or surpassed the expectations of the viewers and/or the directors. This list acknowledges some of the best movies that have been released in history, and as a result have made hundreds of millions, or even billions of dollars worldwide. Without further ado here’s the list:

No Author, “Skyfall”, November 9, 2012. Retrieved May 10, 2015 from http://adventureamigos.net/movie-review-skyfall-2012/skyfall-movie-poster-james-bond-daniel-craig-2012/

10. Skyfall  

Budget: $150-200 million

Earnings: $1.108.6 billion

The director of this film was Sam Mendes, and it was first released in London on October 23, 2012. It received a 7.8/10 on IMDb, a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, and an 81% on Metacritic respectively. This film was a hit with viewers because the series has been around for a long time. Just forty days after its release, it became the highest-grossing film in UK box office history. Furthermore, it was supported with an excellent soundtrack featuring a song by Adele. “Skyfall” by Adele won an Academy Award for “Best Original Song.” The film also won another Academy Award for “Best Sound Editing,” and was nominated for others such as “Best Cinematography,” and “Best Sound Mixing.”

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No Author, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”, n.d. Retrieved May 10, 2015 from http://kleberly.com/381647-the-lord-of-the-rings-the-return-of-the-king.html

9. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Budget: $94 million

Earnings: $1.120 billion

The director of this film was Peter Jackson, and it was first released in New Zealand on December 1, 2001. It received an 8.9/10 on IMDb, a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 94% on Metacritic respectively. This film was the sequel to the successful film “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.” This movie also made the most in the entire franchise which was because of the great cast including Orlando Bloom and Ian McKellen. It also won all 11 Academy Awards that it was nominated for! This is the most amount of Academy Awards won by a single film! Lastly, this is the only fantasy film to have won an Academy Award for “Best Picture.” 

Litten, Matt, “Review: Transformers: Dark of the Moon”, July 8, 2011. Retrieved May 10, 2015 from http://www.vgblogger.com/review-transformers-dark-of-the-moon/10370/

8. Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Budget: $196 million

Earnings: $1.124 billion

The director of this film was Michael Bay, and it was first released in Russia on July 23, 2011. It received fairly low ratings: a 6.3/10 on IMDb, a 36% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 42% on Metacritic. Michael Bay is legendary, on top of that this movie was supported by a large marketing budget. Furthermore, the series was previously successful with movies such as “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.” Moreover, it was nominated for several Academy Awards in 2012 such as “Best Visual Editing,” and “Best Sound Mixing.” Finally, this movie was supported with a great cast including actors like Shia LaBeouf, and Leonard Nimoy.                                                       

Hale, Josh, “Review: Iron Man 3”, April 9, 2015. Retrieved May 10, 2015 from http://www.geeksundergrace.com/movies/review-iron-man-3/

7. Iron Man 3

Budget: $200 million  

Earnings: $1.215 billion

The director of this film was Shane Black, and it was first released in Paris on April 13, 2014. It received a 7.3/10 on IMDb, a 79% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 62% on Metacritic. If Marvel has made the movie, chances are it will become a worldwide hit. Iron Man 3 became the second Marvel film to pass the $1 billion dollar mark. This was the third installment in the series after “Iron Man,” in 2008 and “Iron Man 2” in 2010. It was nominated for an Academy Award in 2012 for “Best Visual Editing.” Finally, Robert Downey is an amazing actor and the movie was also hilarious!

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No Author, “Frozen”, n.d. Retrieved May 10, 2015 from http://hdw.eweb4.com/out/1206937.html

6. Frozen                

Budget: $150 million  

Earnings: $1.274 billion

The directors of this film were Jennifer Lee, and Chris Buck, and it was first released in California on November 19, 2013. It received a 7.7/10 on IMDb, a 89% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 74% on Metacritic. This was all the craze in late 2013 and all of 2014. I heard so much about it that I was convinced that I should watch it, and I did. “Frozen” is the highest-grossing animated film of all time! It was very successful because it had loveable characters such as Olaf, the snowman. To this date, it has sold over $1 billion dollars worth of merchandise! Not to mention that it took 600 people to make, and over 2 and 1/2 years! Let’s not forget about the soundtrack and the leading single “Let it Go.” No one could get the Frozen soundtrack out of their heads. It was no surprise that “Let it Go” won an Academy Award for “Best Original Song,” and the film got “Best Animated Feature.”

Cool Harry Potter Windows 7 Themes

No Author, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2”, n.d. Retrieved May 10, 2015 from http://windows7themes.net/en-us/cool-harry-potter-and-the-deathly-hallows-part-2-windows-7-themes/

5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

Budget: $250 million (shared with the first movie)

Earnings: $1.342 billion

This movie was directed by David Yates, and it was first released in London on July 7, 2011. It received an 8.1/10 on IMDb, a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, and an 87% on Metacritic respectively. As a fan of the Harry Potter series, I was excited to see the epic ending. It was the final battle between Harry and Voldemort and the movie did not disappoint! This film as well as the previous installments were all backed up by an incredibly successful series of books written by J.K. Rowling. It received three nominations at the Academy Awards for “Best Art Direction,” “Best Visual Effects,” and “Best Makeup and Hairstyling.” Finally, we all had a certain connection with one of the main characters whether it was with Harry himself, Hermione Granger, or Ron Weasley which kept us interested in the series all the way until the end.

4. Furious 7

Budget: $190 million        

Earnings: $1.433 billion

This movie was directed by David Wanes, and it was first released in Croatia on March 26, 2015. It received a 7.8/10 on IMDb, an 82% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 67% on Metacritic. This film wasn’t just highest rated film in the series, it was also the highest earning. Not only was this movie supported with a great cast, it had an amazing soundtrack, and was a movie that everyone was eager to see. After Paul Walker’s death in 2013, loyal fans of the series wanted to see how the story would progress without him. Finally, hit singles from the soundtrack such as “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Ruth helped increase sales.

No Author, “Marvel’s Avengers”, July 2, 2013. Retrieved May 10, 2015 from http://www.gadgetreview.com/2013/07/marvels-avengers-is-now-streaming-on-netflix

3. Marvel’s The Avengers

Budget: $220 million

Earnings: $1.518 billion

This film was directed by James Whedon, and it was first released in California on April 11, 2012. It received an 8.2/10 on IMDb, a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 67% on Metacritic respectively. The Avengers was the first Marvel film to generate over $1 billion dollars. Making a movie containing all of the superheroes we love to see such as: Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor was a clever idea. Marvel knew that if it could combine all of these heroes, make a movie where the plot was engaging, and include elements of each of the previous films, they would have an extremely successful film. They pulled it off, and that is why it is #3 on this list. To top it all off, it was nominated for Academy Awards, and had the highest weekend opening in North America. Other records include making $200 million in just three days, and becoming the highest-grossing comic-book film ever.

No Author, “Titanic Film”, n.d. Retrieved May 10, 2015 from http://onlinemovies.pro/titanic-1997/

2. Titanic  

Budget: $200 million    

Earnings: $2.187 billion

This film was directed by James Cameron, and it was first released in London on November 18, 1997. It received a 7.7/10 on IMDb, an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 74% on Metacritic. Firstly, this film had well-known actors/actresses such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. Additionally, the legendary James Cameron was the director. This movie was based off of the actual Titanic ship which tragically crashed in April of 1912. This movie was one of the best I have ever seen, and it had a lot of emotional elements too. Interestingly, the the length of the scenes in the movie (equalling 2h 40 minutes) is the exact amount of time it took for the titanic to sink. Furthermore, the actual ship is reported to have cost upwards to $150 million. Lastly, this film won 11 oscars out of a record-breaking 14 which explains why it made as much as it did.

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Edwards, Jerry, “Avatar”, April 26, 2015. Retrieved May 10, 2015 from http://kentucky.forums.rivals.com/threads/avatar-pics.94287/

1. Avatar    

Budget: $237 million + $9 million (re-release) = $246 million      

Earnings: $2.788 billion

This film was directed by James Cameron, and it was first released in London, on December 10, 2009. It received a 7.9/10 on IMDb, an 83% on Rotten Tomatoes, and an 83% on Metacritic respectively. This movie was directed by the legendary James Cameron, that has to be emphasized. This movie’s graphics was absolutely gorgeous! It had an incredible plot, and the concept of the film was out of this world! It was released with options to watch it in Real D 3D, Dolby 3D, XpanD 3D, and Imax 3D Formats, there was also an option for 4D in select countries in the world. Finally, this film received 9 Academy Award nominations earning 3. This was a movie that I knew that I had to watch in theatres, and when I did, I could truly say that it was like something that I had never experienced before.

What do you think about this list, and which movies have you seen?