Vaccine for the World

posted Mar 23, 2014, 6:50 PM by Golden Knight   [ updated Apr 23, 2014, 5:04 PM by Golden Knight ]

by  Joseph Nofal



We see them everywhere: on the television, in the newspaper, and even on the streets on the way to work. Philanthropy suggests that impoverished people’s problems will all vanish with generous donations of a few dollars or even millions, but this is naïve and will not solve anything. Philanthropy needs to be based on instruction because people who are living in poverty must be self reliant to survive, need to learn how to produce on their own, and will learn how to contribute to society.

    According to The New York Times, 49% of people living in sub-Saharan Africa are living in absolute poverty and are in desperate need of help. The Wall Street Journal says that in the last 60 years at least $1 trillion dollars of development related aid has been given to Africa from rich countries. 


    Unfortunately, The Wall Street Journal also says that more than 50% of the population, a percentage that has almost doubled in the last 20 years, is living on less than a dollar a day. The money that is being given to them is not helping at all, and this is because of the corruption in the government. The African Union, an organization of African Countries, estimated in 2002 that this corruption is costing the continent 150 billion dollars a year. The money that is being given to them is not even reaching the people so it is not helping. Part of the aid can go to food, water, medicine, etc., while the other part can go to sending teachers to educate people in different trades so that the people will learn about fields such as agriculture, plumbing, construction, computers, etc. and be able to increase the standard of living themselves. Being denied of their intrinsic and basic human necessities, Africa’s people are in need of help, and it is essential that they are receiving more than just money.   


    Habitat for Humanity is a non- profit organization that not only builds, renovates, and repairs affordable homes for people with a lower income, but also assists them contribute to their community. A large value that they hold by is that they give hand ups and not handouts. This means that Habitat does not just build houses for people who need them, but they have the possible homeowners go through a very in depth application process. If they are chosen they have to put in 500 hours of work on their house and prove that they can afford the low cost mortgage, which teaches and ensures the values of hard work and dedication. Southern Methodist University conducted a study of the effects of Habitat on the economy in Dallas and found that the 770 households that they built generate $29.1 million dollars in economic activity as well as 200 additional jobs every year. Each household generates about $38,000 in additional economic activity and this has a huge effect on their community. Habitat for Humanity not only aids people with lower income, but through this they have influenced the whole region. 

    My family and I are very involved in our church and we participate in these two events every year; one which is around Thanksgiving and the other which is around Christmas. During Thanksgiving, all of the local less fortunate people come and we give them baskets full of your typical Thanksgiving meal: turkey, corn, stuffing, etc., so that they may enjoy their holiday. We do the same thing at Christmas, but instead of food baskets we give all of the kid’s toys and a chance to meet “Santa” as well as a hot meal. This has been a tradition in my family but as the years went on I began to notice that the same people were coming back every year. This got me thinking and I asked my parents one day, “Why do the same people need this stuff if we gave it to them last year?” and they replied with a small lecture about how they never got a proper education or training so they have limited job opportunities and it hard for them to move up in their field. It made me sad to think that these people’s lives will always be limited just because they were deprived of proper instruction. That is why I feel passionate about this topic and think that if they were given that instruction, they wouldn’t need to rely on us for that Thanksgiving meal and Christmas gift.

    The Los Angeles Almanac estimates 254,000 men, woman, and children experience homelessness in the Los Angeles County at some point during the year, a number that has gone up 16% in the last two years. The general thought is that the government is going to help them and that it is not their problem, but according to Michael Arnold, the executive director of LAHSA, there has been a significant reduction in federal resources available for the homeless. The government is supporting less and less so someone else has to try to accommodate the 6,678 families that are living on the streets. Donating a few dollars will not have the impact necessary to make a difference in these people’s lives. The reason for this is that the Los Angeles Almanac also says that 33- 66% of the impoverished have substance abuse problems and another 25% have some kind of mental illness. Money will do no good in these cases. There are solutions that well exceed the effects of cash. “Housing First” is a program that has aided thousands of families, primarily ones with a single mother, in rebuilding their lives in permanent housing. It is also just a small fraction of the organizations that do more than donate money, but help set up their whole lives. The 254,000 people of Los Angeles that are living without a place that they can call their own need help, and money alone will not do the job

    Poverty is a plague that spreads quickly throughout the world, and the cure is not money. It is not something that can be paid off, for that is just a temporary solution because eventually that money will be exhausted and the disease will return. The world needs a vaccine, and it comes in the form of education. 

Insidious Chapters 1 & 2: Film Review

posted Mar 23, 2014, 6:43 PM by Golden Knight   [ updated Apr 23, 2014, 5:05 PM by Golden Knight ]

by  Joshua Fredette

We don’t often buy a ticket to a horror movie expecting to have our perspectives on life changed. We certainly don’t want to be inspired to make some change in the way we do things, or how we look at one another. Even the plot and the characters don’t have to be so unique and special. So long as there’s an antagonist chasing a frightened girl through a forest with a knife, we’ll be happy. 

As someone who doesn’t often watch horror films, (in fact after some recollection it wasmy first horror movie at a theatre), I was pleasantly surprised with Insidious. In this movie depicting the joining of two realities, we get a glimpse into the motives of spirits, demons, and why these entities haunt not only houses, but people. The story revolves around our world, and a spiritual realm called The Further; the plane where the departed reside before passing onto (hopefully) better realms. 

Although the first movie appears to be a somewhat average horror film with a unique touch concerning The Further, the sequel goes far beyond the boundaries of normal. Even though I was pleased with the first chapter, I was pleasantly shocked by the second. Not only is chapter two more frightening, it twists and contorts your mind until you’re waiting to get through the scary parts just to see how the plot wraps up. In the theatre, I found myself cringing in my seat through the worst of the scenes, all the while trying to predict the inner workings of the film. 

Going into the two realms a little deeper, I found the filmography fascinating. The regular world is shot, more or less, honestly. (Besides a few tints of darkness added to the normal color scheme). But in The Further, it is a dark realm where the characters can hardly see past their arm. Fog pervades the ground every step of the way, and there are horrific spirits constantly wandering the darkness. In the first chapter, The Further is shot in such a way that you don’t want to look at it. It makes you yearn for another moment in a scene set back on earth. What was delightful in the second chapter was a juxtaposition of these two realms. In the second chapter the worlds collide so well that, near the end of the film, the viewer actually feels more comfortable watching scenes set in The Further than those on earth. The monsters switch realms, and most of the humanity and moments of heroism are witnessed amongst the dead in The Further. I thought this effect to be completely purposeful, and simply brilliant.

The main characters range from children to adult, and all of which have some great progressions from victim to hero. The plot they all dance around is shaped with wonderful twists. I won’t spoil anything, but some elements of time travel are eventually involved. Of course, these are always a welcome sight in plot machinations.

As I said before, this is one of the first horror films I decided to watch. And I must say, I think it will be hard for any other series to top it.

Insidious Chapters 1 & 2 contain all the normal scares of a high-grade horror flick, and enough mind-boggling plot turns to make you question your own reality and interactions with time.

NBC Gambles on Soccer

posted Nov 18, 2013, 12:33 AM by Golden Knight   [ updated Apr 23, 2014, 5:05 PM by Golden Knight ]

by  Sean Arrieta-Kenna

 The English Premier League is the most watched sports league in the world.  However, it has only now been made easy to watch in the United States.  In my lifetime, coverage of this league has grown immensely.  I remember waking up early on Saturday and Sunday mornings, while my father ordered a Pay-Per-View game by phone.  Then followed a few years of different channels that bought the rights to show some of the games.  These channels were available to buy for a steep price and only from a few providers.  Finally, FOX decided to take control of the soccer situation in America and created FOX Soccer Channel, a channel devoted to showing games from around the world, news, and special features on soccer.  This channel was a part of many providers’ extra sports package.  And FOX Soccer Plus, an add-on channel that showed even more of the games would cost an additional fee.  ESPN also paid into the game, already owning the rights to the international games of the World Cup and Euros.  ESPN bought the rights to show one game every weekend.  The Premier League has steadily been gaining a larger audience, but it was still relatively limited.

The three-year licensing deal that FOX had bought to televise the games, of which they sub-licensed one game to ESPN, was worth about $80 million.  This year, NBC paid a staggering $250 million for the television licensing rights to the league.  "The Barclays Premier League is the pre-eminent soccer league in the world, and is on the cusp of exponential popularity growth here in the U.S.," NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus said.  NBC promised that they would be very committed to delivering the league to the United States.  This gamble they made, however, has a huge potential for reward.  Although, $250 million may be more than it is worth currently, NBC are hoping that with their coverage the audience will grow and the rights to show the games will be worth much more.  In England—where to many people the English Premier League is like a religion—broadcasting rights were bought from the EPL for $4.86 billion.

NBC has also heavily promoted the league. During the summer, there were several billboards in New York City.  They hired comedian actor, Jason Sudeikis to do a video promotion where he is acting as manager of one of the teams.  In addition to this, in television advertisements, they made many promises assuring the quality of their coverage


NBC’s coverage began in August, and so far, they have lived up to their promises.  FOX had done a good job, but many people complained about their attempt to “Americanize” the coverage.  A few of the analysts and commentators were brought in that did not have a good familiarity with the league and sport.  NBC imported all of their commentators and analysts from English channels.  The commentators go to every game from where they are reporting.  Also, NBC created a magnificent studio to analyze the games in.  Another enticing promotion is NBC’s creation of their own Match of the Day program.  MOTD began on the BBC in August 1964 and is one of the longest running television shows in Britain.  It is a highlights show for the EPL on Saturday evenings.  It has become a part of British culture throughout the years.  NBC decided that in addition to showing all of the games, they would also implement an American edition of MOTD on their NBC Sports Network channel.

NBC shows six of the ten games each week on television, and all ten of the games are available to stream online for free.  Most of the games are shown on their cable channel, NBC Sports Network.  One game is even shown on their primary network every Saturday.  They are hoping that college football fans that tune in early to watch will see the most exciting league and become hooked.

NBC was rewarded with the highest ever ratings in America for the league-opening game.  They have sustained the audience well, with 9 million viewers watching the first five weeks of action, and the most watched game of the season so far garnered more than 1 million viewers.  This is 200,000 more viewers than this fixture had been averaging in the previous years.  Hopefully, NBC’s plans work.  We will have to wait and see.  I am confident that the more people that the league is available to watch, the more popular it will become.  The league action is exciting on its own, it has only needed promotion, and finally NBC are taking the reins.  With the World Cup this summer, soccer’s popularity will most definitely be on the rise in the coming years.

Saint Francis Coding Club Interview

posted Nov 17, 2013, 11:56 PM by Golden Knight   [ updated Apr 23, 2014, 5:06 PM by Golden Knight ]

 by  Sean Silva

  Me: Albert, you’re the head of the coding club at Saint Francis, right?

Albert: Yes I am, along with Arthur Ter-Zakarian.

Me: Why did you decide to make a programming club?

Albert: Well it came about as a whimsical thought. I practiced programming on my own and Arthur saw that and came up with the idea of a club. From there, we thought it would be great to make a friendly place in which people interested in programming could learn from more experienced people. Through a team we thought perhaps programing would be more productive.

Me: What are some of the goals of the club, in terms of programming?

Albert: We hope throughout the first semester that we finalize on learning one programming language and if we're feeling adventurous even two. So far in our few meetings, the consensus has been to learn programming languages geared more towards the web. We plan to have many more meetings in the future in which more people are likely to join due to scheduling to achieve this. When we do and head on over to second semester, we plan to create a respectable project.

Me: How has the general interest level in the club been?

Albert: To be honest it hasn't been as high as we would have liked. I think it's mainly due to the fact that we haven't been exactly very clear in our meetings dates. Also we know that not everyone on campus is entirely aware of our club's existence. Towards the end of October, we will strive to do a better job and hopefully set our work in motion. Next week our meetings resume and we will have an announcement on KNIT.

Me: Hopefully this interview will help out with that. Tell me about the benefits of knowing how to program and why you think it's important.

Albert: Programming is highly important today. It's very applicable as a part of nearly any field particularly in science and entertainment. It's one of those underlying technologies that we don't ever see but we certainly do experience. It really covers everything from a computer's OS or really any devices' OS, to applications we use daily such as Office, the Adobe Suite, and of course hundreds of games. Every page on the web has been coded or at least created using an application that was coded. As you can see programming is truly diverse and it's now extremely important even in fields such as medical science where stem cells maybe actually programmed to perform a certain function. Programmers usually find jobs quickly particularly in entertainment industries where good programming is essential. If you don't necessarily want these jobs, you'll certainly learn a new way of thinking. Programming is very logically based and it's certainly fascinating to learn what's under the hood in technology you experience daily.

Me: Thank you, Albert and good luck!

Album of the Year Material

posted Oct 28, 2013, 10:33 PM by Golden Knight   [ updated Oct 28, 2013, 10:34 PM ]

Posted in Music

By Sean Silva


Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City is an incredibly elegant and enchanting collection of songs that shows off their usual intelligence while managing to be fresh and discernible from their two previous albums.

It is their second consecutive album to reach the number one place in the U.S. Billboard 200 and has earned them dazzling acclaim on all fronts. But why?

Vampire Weekend is at the top of their game with smart, thoughtful lyrics and a musical precision that could only be theirs. This album is riddled with religious themes and ideas of mortality. This give it a unique character not present Contra or Vampire Weekend (two other albums). Along with the aforementioned motifs, their historical references are present. Their sound has changed but has paradoxically remained similar so that anyone familiar with the band would know it is them.

Notable tracks on the album include: Unbelievers, a poignant piece about the realities of the world through the eyes of a couple who are the eponymous “unbelievers”; Step, a lyrical masterpiece that is also incredibly catchy; Diane Young, a fast-paced hit released as a single before the album was out, with a great story and a clever play on “dyin’ young”; Hannah Hunt, a powerful look at an up-and-down relationship with a seamless connection to The Great Gatsby; Finger Back, an energetic hit with blistering lyrics and pace; Worship You and Ya Hey, two songs that prominently feature religious themes and symbols; and Hudson, a haunting  piece that makes the listener uneasy (as is intended) and is chock-full of references that feel natural with the chorus.

Each song in the album is a piece of art in of itself. And when put together they form a cohesive picture of Vampire Weekend’s personality. Some have praised their transformation from Ivy League-esque indie-pop to what they are now, citing earlier pieces to be more shallow and less profound, but the truth is they have been consistently excellent. From Vampire Weekend to now, they have been closer to a parody of the purported WASP, old-money lifestyle than actual representatives of it. They are, upon closer inspection, just four guys who enjoy making music. In any case, Modern Vampires of the City solidifies their image as sharp, intelligent musicians with a talent for thought-provoking and relevant lyrics. Modern Vampires of the City is absolutely worthy of a nomination for the title of Album of the Year, even this early in the year.

Foxygen Album Review

posted May 21, 2013, 4:10 PM by Golden Knight

Posted in Music 

By Tomas Gulbinas 


With the release of their second studio album, Foxygen have finally found their own unique sound. “We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic” blends elements of 60’s psychedelic and dreamy lyrics to create an album that captures the essence and free-spirited nature of the early American counter culture movements. The two sole band members, Jonathan Rado and Sam France, who met in high school, grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles and started becoming multi-instrumentalists, after being influenced by “The Brian Jamestown Massacre”. After a series of EP’s and a first album, Foxygen finally gained wide recognition with the release of this second album.

The lyrics echo the feelings and sounds of another generation, but still have the wit and insight of growing up in a modern city. The album opens up with “In the Darkness”, which self- introduces the album with lyrics such as “So without further ado/We'd like to introduce you to/The darkness”, followed by an audience applauding, taking direct influence from the opening track of the classic ,“The Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album. Followed by that is the folky Bob Dylan-esque “No Destruction”, which is overflowing with reminiscent and nostalgic lyrics like “You politely say, "I miss you"/But we know you don't mean that anymore”. The tone becomes more vague and hazy as they divulge deeper into their psychedelic influences with the songs “On Blue Mountain” and the closing track “Oh No” describing hallucinogenic scenes such as, “I was standing on the bed/Birds were landing on my head/Even though it's just a dream/I still don't know what it means”. In “San Francisco”, a city that they continually reference throughout the album, is described with witty mixed feelings as France confesses, “I left my love in the room/ (that's okay, I was born in L.A.)”. The album’s first single “Shuggie”, begins with France’s sleepy voice singing, “I met your daughter the other day, well that was weird/She had rhinoceros shaped earrings in her ears, with a tired sadness behind his voice.  Perhaps the most experimental of all the songs, “Bowling Trophies”, features a loud and noise filled instrumental, the only song on the album of its sort.

The last three songs on the album, which include Oh Yea, the title track, and Oh No, seem like homage to their favorite classic rock bands. “Oh Yeah” starts out with Mick Jagger like howling, and suddenly wanders into a reggae sound in the line of Led Zeppelin’s “D'yer Mak'er”. The title track however, goes in a different direction entirely, sounding like it had come straight from a “The Doors” album. The last song “Oh No”, ties the album together and with its contemplative melody and lyrics such as, “If you believe in love/everything you see is love”. The album has a completes feel to it after it’s over, and with all the different sampling of Foxygen’s influences, the album is not only diverse and truly eclectic, it shows just how well versed the two band members are. 

Down the block

posted May 21, 2013, 4:05 PM by Golden Knight

Posted in Uncategorized 

By Robert Farewell

Here I am, back at the corner of Glenoaks and Grandview. It is the spot adjacent to the park where I played little league baseball and across the street from that old, empty lot. I come here often, and by here, I mean Carl’s Jr. The fast food joint I call my library; the restaurant I call my second home.

A lot has changed since I first brought my homework to Carl’s Jr. It was a refuge for me in the beginning, maybe an escape. My sister’s psychiatric issues have not made life easy on my family. Carl’s Jr. was somewhere I could go to leave the hectic situation at home, and hopefully, get some homework done. That was what it meant to me then, at least. Of course, the coffee was cold and tasteless, the chicken was undercooked, and the country music was rather unimpressive. I dreaded going, but knew I needed to. So I kept going back.

 It gradually became a constant. I was seldom absent. Over time, I began to feel more comfortable. The workers were no longer faceless, and familiar smiles began to greet me at the door. Beyond the neon lights and repetitive commercials, I found something legitimate. I discovered that the waitress, Minerva, serving me coffee had two kids. I heard the cook, Angel, say he wanted to go back to college. These people opened up to me, and I opened up to them. I was the young man who needed help conjugating the Spanish verb destituir in the subjunctive. I was a high school studenth who showed them the respect that made their day just a bit better. After several months, I realized that I was no longer running away from home, but I was running towards these people.

 Things have certainly changed during my high school career. I now drive, I now stress over Hamlet, and I just voted for the first time. What has changed the most is my perspective. I once held the belief that Carl’s Jr. was only a cheap breakfast place, or a pit stop on the road to something better. Until a few months ago, it was just an outlet for me to study. It was just a place I could escape to. Not anymore. I have come to understand and learn from people I thought I would never talk with. Although my family is only three blocks away, I have created an additional family. I have found another home, away from home.
I have concluded that nameless faces do not work here.  Rather, I have learned that genuine people do. As I go away to college, some things will not change. The front door will still bep opened by pushing rather than pulling, and Carrie Underwood will continue to blare over the radio. I am excited about the continuation of my education because as I have learned, growth is omnipresent; it germinates in classrooms, locker rooms, and even near the cash register of Carl’s Jr.

If My Home Could Talk

posted May 21, 2013, 4:00 PM by Golden Knight   [ updated Apr 25, 2014, 11:56 AM by Golden Knight ]

Posted  in Uncategorized

By Robert Farewell


Our conversation would be in front of the fireplace. We would wear our robes, and eat meatballs with plastic utensils. There would be no music, just the sound of our conversation. It would be a lot like my own home. It would say several things, some positive, others rather negative. It would probably speak in Spanish; it is an adobe home after all. Our conversation is genuine, easy. I don’t think it would give a diatribe on the latest political movement or pretend to like vinyl. I wouldn't expect it to praise H.L. Mencken.  We converse easily, agreeing that we dislike the torn-out front lawn. It would poke fun at my car. I see it grumbling about the lack of nudity. I see it speaking carefully in front of my mother, and questioning the rationale behind her Anne Coulter book. I see it being bold enough to ask my dad why he wears his sweatpants so high, something I cannot understand myself. Despite all its criticism, I would forgive its harsh demeanor. After all, what if you weren't able to speak for over 60 years?

 In light of all the disparagement there would be moments of seriousness. It would tell my mom that three weeks after Christmas is the most ideal time to sing “jingle bells”. It would thank us sarcastically for stepping all over the broken tiles on the roof. It would imitate my father’s touchdown celebration. It would compliment my sister on her growing taste in music, especially “One Direction”.  It would speak earnestly. That’s all I could ask for from a house. After the smoke has cleared from our pipes, after the meatballs have been taken away, and even after the last tear has run down my cheek, I’m confident I would have learned something. If my home could talk, I would translate. 

Lucid Dreaming Article Part 2: How to Induce a Lucid Dream and the Perpetuation of Consciousness Within One

posted May 21, 2013, 3:54 PM by Golden Knight   [ updated May 21, 2013, 3:55 PM ]

Posted in Uncategorized 

By Josh Fredette 


There are dreams, then there are lucid dreams. Some people don't even believe they have dreams to begin with. They fall asleep, and they wake up. Everything between is merely darkness. This is ludicrous. Everyone dreams, but not everyone remembers their dreams. Then, there is a higher level, and that is being able to induce lucid dreams. Dreams in which the dreamer has complete control over his actions, and thoughts within the dream. This opens up a world where there are no rules, boundaries, or physical limits. Suddenly everything is possible, and your common nights of sleep become much more exciting.Lucid dreams are ones in which the dreamer is fully aware that he is dreaming and is able to manipulate his body as he would in the real world. Not many people have lucid dreams frequently. (Most of the population reports experiencing them only once in their lifetime while only a small percentage has less than three monthly.) Of course, unexperienced dreamers do not remember most of their dreams, lucid or not; therefore there is no true way of knowing. Those who are fortunate enough to induce them regularly are the ones who practice consistently, and with consistent practice, it becomes second nature. Some people have misconceptions about lucid dreams. They believe that the state can be attained during waking life, but this is not so. Lucid dreams occur during the usual time one - when you fall asleep. It is merely what you do with the opportunity that changes its significance. Lucid dreaming is a simple art of determination. Luckily, the bulk of the work required is done directly before, after, and during your sleep. Thus it is not a time-consuming practice. The more creative and invested you are in the methods of inducing lucid dreams, the higher success rate you will have.

The following techniques have been compiled after nearly two years of studying and steady practice.



 If you journal regularly, you are in luck. But if not, rest assured, this process is one of the easiest. Using a journal is a healthy habit that improves memory of both your waking life and your dreams. Keeping a dream journal is incredibly simple and will at most take three minutes of your morning. Keep this journal along with a pen close to your bed. Whenever you wake up and remember one of your dreams, write it down from start to finish. Do not delay this process even minutes after you wake up; your mind can forget significant parts of the dream within that short span of time. I can still distinctly recall one morning when I opened my journal, excited that I recalled a dream so perfectly. As I wrote it, it seemed more parts of the dream dissipated with each completed sentence. Needles to say I was bemused. By the time the entry was completed at least a third of my dream was lost. Still, what little I remembered was still an improvement. The trick to this exercise is writing with detail, and consistency. And if you happen to remember something about the previous night's dream randomly throughout the day, hold onto it and jot it down later. Anything helps. You will find that steady journal usage will greatly increase the number of dreams you remember as well as improve the vividness of your recollections.Studies show that memory of dreams is a direct correlation to the consciousness of a dreamer within his dream. Eventually, you may induce a lucid dream just by having the intent to remember it. Understand that the consciousness within a dream is inconsequential without the ability to remember the event itself. What is the point of practicing methods for becoming lucid within dreams if you won't remember the experience when you wake up?

Reality Check

Have you ever been in a dream and experienced the sensation that 'something is just not right'? This sensation is what lucid dreamers have learned to utilize in order to become conscious that one is in a dream. Being able to differentiate between reality and the dream is crucial to the art of lucid dreaming. One would think these two are distinctions like night and day. Quite the opposite, in fact, our brain is wired to replicate reality in dreams. Being able to spot the details that make dreams strange are what make lucidity attainable. The act of becoming aware of these details are what made reality checks a popular technique.Reality checks are a popular method with lucid dreamers. They even made an appearance in "Inception" with the spinning tops. In reality, the top eventually stops spinning, but within the dream it doesn't. For once Hollywood is correct. Reality checks are actions with particular results in reality that differ in the dreamscape. These actions can be unique to the person. Like the exercise of using your journal, consistency is key. When doing a reality check, ask yourself, "Am I dreaming? When you do this during your waking life, do not ask the question expecting the answer. Seriously consider the fact that you may be dreaming. If you do not consider the question during a normal day, what makes you think you will in the dream? Your dreams are more realistic than you think. Our brains are wired to replicate reality in dreams as much as possible. Scientists believe we adapted to having dreams in order to better prepare ourselves for our environment when 'survival of the fittest' meant hiding from predators, finding water, and hunting animals of prey. It's a learning tool A common reality check is looking at your reflection. Your reflection in a dream is always distorted. No matter the person. So when you are near an object that can show your reflection, look at it, and ask yourself, "Am I dreaming?" Examine your facial expression, the way your body is shaped, and if there is anything there that usually isn't, e.g. extra limbs, snakes in your hair, wings, a girlfriend.

Here is a list of reality checks. Choose only one or two, (or make your own), and them hourly:

   Look into a mirror and examine your reflection. Is it contorted?

   Look at your hands. Are they talons, claws, webbed, or having a strange number of fingers?

   Ask a stranger if you are dreaming, at least three times. During a dream it is common for characters to deny the fact you are dreaming until the second or third time you ask. If you've ever wondered if you are a pathological liar - here's your chance to find out!

   Jump in the air with the intent of flying. Note: those who are shy/unconfident often are unable to fly within dreams.

   Look at a trinket, bracelet, watch, or necklace you wear throughout the day. More often than not the item will not be there within the dream, or it will be dramatically disfigured.

   Put your hand against a hard surface and see if you can push through it or not. In a dream, you can normally walk through solid objects.

   Can you read a sentence without it changing?

   Observe a clock. Does it look normal?

 Remember, every reality check should be preceded by the question, "Am I dreaming?".  After a stark conclusion is made, state it to yourself. It is vital to make reality checks a regular habit. If they are not habit, and merely scattered throughout your day, this method will prove ineffective. Inability to regularly question your surroundings during waking life will have a similar result in dreams, too. Fortunately, a typical reality check is less than thirty seconds.The moment a reality check is successful, you will notice it immediately. It's as if you flicked a switch. Suddenly you are on a different planet, suddenly you have wings, and suddenly nothing is impossible; lucidity within the dream is yours. After this epiphany occurs, you can expect total control of your little universe.

 The Mantra of the Dreamer

The trick to this method is repetition. It involves continuously repeating a declaration to yourself minutes before you fall asleep. It may not work the first or second time, but with more practice comes higher chances of success. As you lay in bed and prepare to rest, simply repeat, "I will remember my dreams when I wake up." Or, "When I fall asleep I will be conscious during my dreams." These statements, when repeated like a mantra for meditation, are essentially tricking your brain into believing them. This will greatly benefit the chances of remembering your dreams or being conscious during them.


The Early Riser

Typically not recommended for St. Francis students, this technique involves tinkering with your sleep cycle. If you are a studious scholar, this method does not require that you make it a regular habit. Therefore you can attempt it during the weekends with ease. For those that generally catch eight or more hours of sleep each night, this is a favorable approach. For this method you must wake yourself up at least an hour earlier than you normally do. After you awake, spend no more than one hour on a quiet activity such as reading or meditating. (Do not look at screens or any form of live media, as it will stimulate your mind too much). After this time is spent, return to sleep. It is almost guaranteed to induce a lucid dream. If you ever have the opportunity to combine this technique with all the previous mentioned for several weeks without fail, you will, without a doubt, become adept at lucid dreaming.


Perpetuating Consciousness Within the Dream

There are many who have tried the previous methods and succeeded. Each time they are ecstatic that it worked, but disappointed at how little time they were able to spend in the dream while being lucid. Oftentimes the dreamer becomes excited that he has attained lucidity and, ironically, wakes himself up. The trick is to remain calm once this realization occurs. If you feel yourself becoming too excited, stop yourself. A typical lucid dream for a beginner lasts less than five minutes. As you become more adept they can be thirty minutes to an hour. Eventually, time becomes almost as measurable in the dream as it is in the waking world. Those who have mastered the craft can be in a dream for hours.

 And of course, if there are techniques to induce a lucid dream, there are ways to perpetuate them as well. These methods generally consist of focusing on small details within the dream in order to ground oneself in the dreamscape. They may sound ludicrous, but they work.

 If you feel yourself being pulled back to reality....

   spin in circles. This will not only prevent premature awakening, but it will renew the environment in the dream.

   focus intently at an object or your hands.

   fall backwards.

   rub your hands together.

 These methods have all been professionally tested and deemed effective by scientists observing test subjects. Through one way or another, these certain actions stimulate a part of your mind that allows you to stay within the dream despite the sensation that feels as if you are coming back to reality. Being able to recall these methods once in the dream is a wonderful skill, as it allows the dreamer to prolong the dream. 


Concluding Thoughts and Suggestions

   If you took the time to read this lengthy article, it is likely that you will have a lucid or at least vivid dream tonight. Simply by giving your mind a chance to ponder these techniques it will increase your awareness within your sleep. Lucid dreaming has been an inspiring part of my life because it has taught me to not only be more aware of my actions in dreams, but also in reality. I've become a more considerate and conscious person because of it. Within dreams, I've seen parts of myself reflected in the characters and the environment.. For example, those who are generally unconfident or have shy personalities cannot fly in their dreams, even if they are in a world where everything is possible. Being able to recognize these symbols are what shine light on the innermost sides of myself, the sides I can appreciate, and the ones I cannot. It is with hope that I can successfully pass on several of my techniques so others can better understand themselves, too.

Canaan Review

posted May 21, 2013, 3:41 PM by Golden Knight   [ updated May 21, 2013, 3:57 PM ]


Posted in Television 

By Alex Sy 


 Canaan is an anime television series conceptualized by Type-Moon co-founders Kinoko Nasu, and Takashi Takeuchi. The was animated by P.A. Works. The television series was inspired by a scenario from the visual graphic novel 428: Fūsa Sareta Shibuya de. Canaan spans thirteen episodes each being twenty-five minutes long.

The story centers around the title character, Canaan, who is a female mercenary stationed in Shanghai, China. The story also includes her friend Maria Ōsawa, whom she had previously met. Maria is visiting Shanghai to report the anti-terrorist convention with her friend Minoru “Mino” Minorikawa. During her free time at a festival, Maria is attacked by a group of gunman but is rescued, in heroic fashion, by Canaan. Their reunion sparks the story of the series which leads to the question of why she was attacked. They later realize that the altercation was a terrorist attack to infect people with the Ua Virus and it was up to them to stop the plan orchestrated by the terrorist organization, Snake.

Canaan was produced in 2009. The animation was fluid, concentrated, and enjoyable to watch. The actions scenes never skipped a detailed motion. The battle scenes are also impressively angled and choreographed. The music seems slightly above average but fits the story and played at the correct time. The timing of the music makes the fight scenes more and more eye-catching. The things that very few anime series fail to look at are the dubbed translations. Canaan features dialogue that actually makes sense. The character statements aren’t awkward or unusual, in fact, characters give the impression like they actually are from America. It should be said, however, that some statements aren’t as impressive as the previous. The story of Canaan feels uninteresting initially and at times feels confusing but the creators helps clarify with nice flashbacks that adds another dynamic to the story. However, the idea of Canaan still feels a little uninteresting. It just doesn’t pop out like an interesting topic to be interested about. Even so, it still finds a way to keep you watching.

 The characters of Canaan are abundant in personality and are lovable from start to finish. Canaan is a white-haired, female mercenary who was trained since childhood. She displays physical prowess, as well as combat intuition. Canaan also has the ability of a special kind of synaesthesia which allows her to spot people’s inner feelings by color whether it be fear (green), murderous (blue), or even hunger (grey). The activation of synaesthesia is characterized by powerful red eyes. And red eyes never looked so cool on a protagonist. This helps in identifying enemy combatants. What I also liked was the fact that Canaan was of Arab decent. It’s unique, original, and a fresh-taste instead of the usual and norm. Canaan’s friend, Maria, is an enthusiastic girl who finds a way to make you like her and hate her at the same time. Maria has so much life that it gets on your nerves but her happiness and gullibility find a way to like the character. Her innocence greatly contributes to why she makes such an interesting character. Characters like Mino, Hakko, and Santana provided scenes, funny or emotional, that make the series even more likable then it already is. Even antagonist like Alphard, a female assassin and leader of the terrorist group, Snake, find a way to impress. Alphard is just a unique character to watch. But my favorite character, Yunyun, provides the comedic part of the show. Yunyun is the main source for comic relief in the show and she is definitely the one character to pay attention too. She holds numerous part-time jobs in Shanghai and resolves in “semi-orthodox” methods of attracting customers. That “semi-orthodox” statement probably means you should watch the series if your not already interested.

 The cons about this series are minimal but annoying to have. The biggest con is the character Liang Qi who finds a way to ruin not only segments of the show, but a whole episode. Her demands for “love” get repetitive and annoying. Her slow drive to madness gets harder and harder to watch. Her insanity is dedicated to Episode 11. I highly recommend that if you watch this series and enjoy it, that you, at the most, don’t watch and, at the least, skim past episode 11 if you want to keep your ideal feelings about this series intact. Episode 11 starts off weird and it eventually becomes disturbing. Beware Episode 11. Another con is the somewhat repetitive and unrealistic dialogue that drags on excessively. At first it’s really compassionate but it gets somewhat annoying to watch. I really didn’t like the plot-holes in the show as well. There were many instances where I wonder, “How did that happen?”, “How does that happen?”, and “Why does that happen?” And as good as the flashbacks are, we never really get a sense of who Siam, trainer and mentor of Canaan, really is. A very small con, probably not noticeable, is the decline in quality. The decline is minuscule but at a span of 13 episodes, it really should be unnoticeable. I saw animation not as good as the previous. Dialogue never really seemed as good as it was before, and the story declines in interest toward the final three episodes. Actions scenes were not as spectacular as the ones before. Other than that its still a very good series to watch.  In review, Canaan is nicely, impressively, and amazingly animated. What would have initially become a boring idea was made into an interesting story. If you can get past the weird and disturbing parts, which is very difficult to do, then you will enjoy this anime series. For a mature and violent show, it gets somewhat childish in a equally good and bad way. Even though we never really get a full understanding of synaesthesia, I’m confident that many of us would conclude it to be awesome. Canaan offers a funny, suspenseful, action-packed, creative, original , to an extent, emotional and romantic, and entertaining animated series that keeps you at the edge of your seat. It’s flaws hold it back though, as many of the cons keep you at the back of your seat. Still, Canaan upbringing impresses me and a loyal fan-base. I hope they come out with a second season, the series is set up for one. B+


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