Uncategorized

 

Down the Block

posted May 21, 2013, 4:06 PM by Golden Knight

By Robert Farewell

5/21/13 
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, 4:01 PM by Golden Knight

By Robert Farewell

5/21/13 

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 tell be nothing if not candid and earnest. 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, 3:53 PM by Golden Knight


By Josh Fredette 

5/21/13

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.

 

Dream-Journals

 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.

On the Road-San Quentin

posted Mar 7, 2013, 10:48 PM by Golden Knight   [ updated Mar 16, 2013, 10:43 AM by Golden Knight ]

Posted in Uncategorized  

By Ricardo De la Torre    

3/8/13


On February 19
th, a Tuesday, I set out for Sacramento, and, ultimately, for the Bay. I was on the road, alone; for freedom, liberty, and experience. I wanted a break from the routine of school, it was a “school week” after all. I was to be in Sacramento, Oakland, and San Francisco for the next five days.

Was my journey for the Ultimate Destination or was it about staying in between the white lines of the road? If I aimed for the Ultimate, it was a long and tiring journey, a journey in which I squandered the present for the prospect of a non-existent future. If I maintained myself in between the lines, I was to make sure the lines kept me on the right path, or have wasted my journey in a meaningless direction. I raced across 400 miles toward Sacramento; I drove. I passed the hills, the mountains, the green, the dry, the dead; flying by at sixty-five, seventy, eighty, ninety, 101 miles per hour. On the road I felt an endless present, I felt like nothing existed prior to the moment at hand – this is it, I thought. It felt wonderful moving along the road with endless possibilities in front of me and nothing to look back on.

            I became wrapped up; nice, warm, cozy, and safe in my bubble of reality that served as a car. I was comfortable in between the drawn lines, but then I realized that the lines meant nothing. I crossed them, went from one end to the other of the highway in a steady diagonal cut. I wove in and out of the traffic. The lines did not mean a single thing, they did not exist. The only thing that kept me in those lines, the only thing that gave them their fabricated presence, was the mind; the mind that creates reality, that perceives. The mind that keeps a little set of clean cut rules and things to live by, but reality is greater than the little four door car in between two white lines that I was in.

Regardless of truth, the lines served as manmade walls. They were the law, yet I could cross them at will. They were merely figments of the imagination, yet carried the utmost importance. They served no other purpose, but to keep me moving along their road, in their lines, at their pace. They were the impenetrable walls that came into view as I crossed the Richmond Bridge. I saw the great walls of humankind, perfectly and Divinely constructed, the walls of absolute truth that man lives and dies for across the bridge at San Quentin. 

Lucid Dreaming Article Part 1: Dreaming and the Subconscious

posted Mar 7, 2013, 10:42 PM by Golden Knight   [ updated Mar 16, 2013, 10:43 AM by Golden Knight ]

Posted in Uncategorized 

By Josh Fredette     

3/8/13

   Are you curious about your dreams? Do you wake up at least once a month with a look on your face that just says, "What was that?!" Of course you do. You're human. Of all the odd things that the human body does, dreaming ranks up pretty high.

            Before we delve into your wacky nightmares and fantasies, let's take a look at your brain. In an extremely broad nutshell, you analyze everything in two ways: subconsciously and consciously. Because of your unique ideas and values, the way you perceive reality is much different than the way reality really is. (Or than the reality that someone else experiences)

         In any given day, your brain will reject many topics of conversation that it considers to be unimportant and will consider the topics it feels are more important. (I say "it", but really "it" is you). An excellent example of this is when you are strongly bias on a personal matter. Your brain, to protect the ego, will most likely consider the side of the subject that you agree with. The other side that you do not agree with, or are strongly against, will not be as considered than the opinion that you agree with most. In essence, your brain filters out what it does and does not want to hear. 

            Your daily life is considered your conscious, or waking state. When you are asleep it is considered to be the subconscious, or dream state. Although your brain processes many things subconsciously throughout the day, you are more or less conscious of your actions while you are awake. Anything that is not noted consciously while you're awake will be examined while you dream. Likewise, anything that is specifically noted by you will also be examined in your dreams. All the grey area in between is not of as much value. As a result you might not see it reflected in your dreams.

            So how does your brain choose the events to evaluate while you are dreaming? Well like any decent supercomputer your brain will file away any actions or thoughts that went unevaluated while you were awake. Or, any actions and thoughts that were unexpectedly interrupted. It will get your attention by putting on a very bizarre performance in your dreams that will surely make you consider your actions or thoughts for a second time. This is why your dreams are so strange and horrifying; it is the subconscious brain screaming at the conscious brain trying to get it to examine something it believes to be important. By consciously pondering the event or thought that went unexamined, we can grow mentally and emotionally.

            The subconscious you and the conscious you are two very different things. The conscious you often lies and deceives itself to make a better reality. The subconscious on the other hand is often the stone-cold truth. It is the ugly truths and problems of our lives that we choose to consciously ignore. Indeed, your brain will be dreaming about this later tonight to think this through!

            So do yourself a favor and listen to your dreams more, they're trying to tell you something! The hours of sleep are not just for aimless musings. No! Your brain is still very hard at work while you sleep. It is going over all those details that you never really had a chance to consider throughout all the daily hustle of your life. Dreams can tell us things about ourselves that we normally would not consider. Your mind is more clever than you think    

          Now we move into the phenomena of lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is the act of being lucid while you dream. A dream is considered lucid when you can experience the dream in the same way you experience daily life. This means you can consciously choose your actions and thoughts during the dream. Note that being able to remember your dreams and being able to control your dreams are two very different things. Lucid dreaming is the clash of the subconscious and the conscious brain, this is what makes lucid dreaming so special. You can view the subconscious hard at work, while processing it with a more conscious attitude. Through this, you can gain insight to your daily life through a spiritual guru that sits inside your head. This guru is truly your inner you.

            Sadly, this experience isn't a common one. But with much dedicated practice, one can attain lucidity in dreams at will. Experienced lucid dreamers will have at least one lucid dream a night, or every other night; a very profound and freeing spiritual experience. It's an experience that is in a world with infinite possibilities. It is a playground for your mind. It is an experience when you can literally walk up to a character in the dream, and talk with yourself. To put it in vague, simple terms, it makes you question things.

            Not only are your dreams potentially 30-45 minutes long, but on average you have nearly 4-10 of them every night. Why don't we remember our dreams? The answer is simple. Just like any other hobby, you don't become efficient unless you practice. Indeed, lucid dreaming is a hobby; a strange adventure within your inner brain every night.

            Many people report having at least one lucid dream every 1-3 months. It is also important to note most of these incidents are also reported to be very brief; lucidity lasting less than a few minutes. This brief taste of lucidity truly does not do the whole phenomena of lucid dreaming justice. It makes the individual underestimate it's power; having tasted the fruit but not completely eaten it. In my many conversations on this topic, those that dare let me ramble on about it are suspicious that I am exaggerating lucid dreaming's potential and fantastical experiences; I can assure you I am not.

            To describe a lucid dream with it's full potential unlocked, simply look around you. When you are experienced in the art of lucid dreaming, the 'dreamscape' around often feels nearly identical to reality; besides, of course, that eerie feeling that something is off.

            When I had my first successfully induced lucid dream I literally could not tell if I was dreaming. I woke up in my bed, did my normal morning routine, then felt a sudden and very strange feeling as I descended the stairs for breakfast. It was as if I had amnesia and was trying to remember the night before. It occurred to me that something was very off about the world. The way it looked, felt, and sounded was exactly the same as reality. But something was just . . . off! After asking my mother if I was dreaming and getting a response like, "Are you crazy? No!." I walked over to my neighbor's house who then clarified, "Yes you are dreaming." It was that moment when I truly realized the powerful nature of our dreams.


Ideas of Equilibrium in Chaos

posted Oct 17, 2012, 12:01 AM by Golden Knight

By Josh Fredette 

 10/15/12
 Advocates for social justice are motivated by many passions and opinions that differ greatly on many levels. Much like the term, "fairness" the word "social justice" conveys different and unique images for everyone. What might seem morally and politically just to one individual may seem completely outrageous to the other. Despite its ambiguous nature, this term does have its purpose. It shows society the common goals that different political sides may desire. We may argue what social justice is, but we do not argue the need for a just society.

    Two groups of politicians will think of unique scenarios and various ways of fixing society when presented with the word "social justice." What can be certainly gained from this is the middle-ground of ideas and doctrines that each side may share. For example, some libertarians may want society to be independent of any rulers or supreme commanders. Similarly, some conservatives, although not as radical as libertarian views, may want less power to rest in the hands of the government. From this we can take the less extreme of the two opinions in an attempt to make everyone happy. The result being less power to government officials and more in the people, less censorship of the press and media and more freedom in expression. Possibly, if we are really lucky, the news will even become objective one day.

    Most importantly, the social justice gets the average individual thinking. The term helps foster critical thinking and assists in the opening of the mind and the reflection of the heart. The questions that can be asked through the term help society decide what decisions will help make everyone content and what will help us evolve our own scattered society. Unfortunately, however, the concept of social justice seems impossible in a world when we cannot even agree on what the term precisely means! How can society attain equilibrium in a world that cannot decide what equilibrium is?

Doing and Not Avoiding

posted Oct 16, 2012, 11:55 PM by Golden Knight   [ updated Oct 16, 2012, 11:56 PM ]



By Josh Fredette 

 10/15/12
      We live in a world of mediocrity;  few speak out and the ones who do fail to inspire the ones hearing their words to spread the same spur to others. We, the “normal” ones, find ourselves saying we will do things tomorrow or “later”. The goals we find ourselves yearning to accomplish are ignored and left to rust. I've found myself saying phrases similar to these:

      "Maybe I'll start that daily meditation exercise tomorrow."

      "I've always wanted to start doing [insert hobby here], but I doubt I'll have the time."

      "I really want to write a novel, I'm not really feeling up to it, and really I'm young and . . ."

      I think these what-if's and constant questioning of one's ability are what keeps us from unlocking our full potential. We get tangled in a world where we do not suspect that we can make a difference or major impact even on our own lives, when, in reality, we can affect many people in positive ways. In essence, a world where laziness reigns king while productivity of the mind and body is hindered.

Simple solutions to self-imposed  problems of laziness: 

1. Listen to music that gets you active and  inspires you to do something. Make a playlist full of music that truly speaks to you and encourages you to be that individual that DOES things that he wants to do.

2. Take many deep breaths. You. Are. Alive. You are incredibly unique, your doubts and fears are simply obstacles to overcome to strengthen you. Wake up and realize your potential. Take a moment of meditation to truly acknowledge all the opportunities in your life. The ones you and others have created.

3. Become more organized and take advantage of time. Clean your living-space, make a list, get supplies. Just get  the correct environment that supports a lifestyle of inspired productivity. 

_______________________________

      Whatever it is you want to do, the new activity or idea that will improve yourself, put it into action right now! We have so many chances to positively change ourselves, so many moments to use, yet we turn our blindsides to them. We are alive, but sometimes we tend to drift into a slumber.

      "What do you mean, slumber?" Consciousness. The way you live and perceive reality. The analysis of each moment, the appreciation of mundane things, a new attitude towards existing, a new outlook that will make each moment a breath of fresh air. A fully conscious person will take advantage of moments of inspiration and will use them to be the person they set out to be. 

      Do you like drawing? Start drawing, many artists I love, (and partially for this reason) were the 'I can't draw stick-figures' guys. Maybe you'd like to get into a new routine of things but you feel laziness overcome the better side of you, the productive and willing side. Put pen to paper, fingertips to keyboards, ears to music. Whatever you must DO; do it. There is only one decision to make, but infinite possibilities and magnificent results that can come from it. The brand Nike has become so popular and overused we do not realize how meaningful their motto is, “Just do it.”

     It is there in you and it does not matter how long you have  been putting it off. Every second and every breath is a new chance to do what you want to do and to inspire others around you to accomplish the same lifestyle with a driven attitude. The productivity comes out in many ways; we have seen it and constantly continue to. We all have talents for particular things.

      But the real challenge is to harness this attitude and to make it a daily part of you. This attitude is something powerful that drives us to accomplish the goals we have always put off. Make it a habit, throw out the old and replace it with the new and improved you. Always be improving, always be developing good habits. In turn, this will inspire others to do the same, and a mind blowing cascade will erupt, a cascade that can collectively effect hundreds of people.

     So, you've read this and now what? Whatever action, hobby, or habit you've wanted to start (the one you've avoided without good reason), whatever thought that stemmed from this writing, now is the time to do it. . . it always has been!

 

Some Thoughts: Independence

posted Jun 9, 2012, 11:29 PM by Golden Knight   [ updated Jun 10, 2012, 12:58 PM ]

By Robert Farewell

6/9/12

In all honesty, most of us don’t really understand computers. Unless one has the technological savvy of Chris Sercel or Mrs. Saxena, the intricacies and complexities of softwares are far too complicated or time consuming to toil over. Although such advanced technology has made life easier and faster, it has more importantly widened the gap between man and his craft. Technology has taken over the reigns; man is just giving directions. The former directness has dissipated and has become less and less tangible. The days are shortening where pen meets paper, paint fills canvases, and finger strikes key. Man may have the brain, but the computer has the brawn.

This notion was the primary reason why type writers have become so appealing to me. I spent nearly all summer collecting and finding antique type writers. They were so foreign to me, so simple, and this simplicity was what made me so attracted to them. I actually understood how they worked; I struck a key, and the letter stamped the page. It was something I could see, do, and feel. No longer was I pressing a key on a Dell keyboard and hoping a letter would pop up, but it was rather my effort and my dexterity that determined the appearance. I was the reason the letters were showing up, they were real; they were in front of me. The writing became so much more personal; each letter mattered, I could no longer just press delete; indeed, if I wished to scrap a letter, word or an idea, I had to start over. Although I was not writing it out on paper, I was guiding the keys and crafting the sentence. I had the ideas, and I had finally become both the brain and brawn.

I am by no means saying that type- writing is easier or should be taken up by anyone, but its distance from everyday distractions certainly has its advantages. I contend that such advantages include the germination of more original thoughts. One cannot simply open up a web page and browse Facebook or YouTube on a typewriter; it is separated from the internet and all its amenities. The typewriter is meant for writing and writing alone. In a world where technology has made us more dependent on computers, doing something without them has never been so liberating.

A Mind Game

posted Jun 9, 2012, 11:26 PM by Golden Knight   [ updated Jun 10, 2012, 1:01 PM ]

By Delfin Acosta

6/9/12

Imagine yourself in the midst of an enormous crowd, a crowd that consists of people from all walks of life, from virtually every nation on earth, all of vastly different opinions, yet every one of them singularly focused upon the days that lie ahead. Does this seem to be unimaginable reality, a unity unheard of in a world plagued by division? Would you imagine that this must be some catastrophic event that affects the entire world? Hardly. Rather you find yourself in the opening ceremony of the Olympics, virtually the only event or organization that can bring so many people together. The Olympics are the pinnacle of human achievement in all things physical, ranging from track and field to swimming. Yet, despite the apparently vast range of activities that qualify as an Olympic sport, one cannot count among them a single purely intellectual sport. Although the Olympic tradition of excluding such events may make it seem like an almost silly idea of introducing one, it is in fact quite an admirable possibility.

Some say that such a game as Chess, could never muster the interest necessary to truly be worthy of the Olympics and may even go against all that the Olympics represent. Yet, these games have always been dominated by a few events that attract the most attention; nonetheless they also include a variety of other far less recognized sports that have their own equally fervent enthusiasts. Also, competition in chess or other mental challenges already exist and have gained considerable popularity. Moreover, the Olympics are defined by one distinctly human trait; perseverance. They are simply another manifestation of the human quest for near-perfection.

In preparation for the Olympics, an athlete will hone his skills and his body to the extreme, reaching unprecedented echelons of strength, endurance, speed, and skill. Such an athlete goes to the event with the intention of breaking every record ever set, of reaching new heights and limits that will awe the present era and inspire future generations to do the same. It is for this reason that an intellectual sport should be included in the Olympics, so that those who have mental endurance and skill may be able to share their talents with the world. In addition, the Greeks originally designed the Olympics around their concept of the ideal person. This represented one who was physically yet also mentally fit. Thus, the addition of such an event would be the fulfillment of the original goals of the Greeks, making the Olympics truly a competition for all of the aspects of a human being. It would bring the sometimes underappreciated intellectual aspect of all sports into a sharper focus, since strategy is often the key to victory in many events, especially those involving a team. Perhaps it may even encourage people to engage in such mental exercises just as they are encouraged by the Olympics to partake in sports.

And now, I must ask, what do the following people have in common: Lavar Errington, Linebacker for the Washington Redskins, Boris Becker, 6-time Grand Slam Winner, Ron Guidry, 1978 Cy Young Award Winner. Is it that they excel as athletes and have been considered the best in their respective sports; most people would answer with a resounding, “Yes” However, I humbly submit to you that being masters of competition and athleticism do not tie them together. Let us be mused to know that all three of these acrobats of athleticism, share in common, the game of chess. These conquering heroes hone their minds in the fashion of military commanders, politicians, and philosophers. And so, including a mental event would in fact fit right into the ancient Greeks hopes of human self improvement, and it may even be a benefit for schools and other educational institutions, as people learn to embrace the intellectual side of life and not merely the physical. One day perhaps the most popular event in the Olympics may turn out to be a battle, not of brawn, but wits with its field being a chessboard.

Changing the Education Paradigm for the Sake of Creativity

posted Jun 9, 2012, 11:26 PM by Golden Knight   [ updated Jun 10, 2012, 6:34 PM ]

By David Yoo

6/9/12

There is a major crisis occurring in this world, and it involves the most vulnerable people on the planet.
 The people I’m speaking about are children, and the urgent matter I’m speaking about is our education system in most Western developed countries, but specifically the United States. This is no laughing matter and we are the cause of this problem: the problem of actively minimizing creativity from our schools and from our society, the problem with believing that small-scale adjustments can fix our broken education system, and the problem of strangling creativity at its inception. 

The problem is that some people’s full potential are being strangled because their interests and priorities are being downsized. Schools nationwide have prioritized subjects which they deemed are most important for our children to learn. Consequently we now have a pyramid of the subjects, an education pyramid that resembles our food pyramid. The wheats and grains that fill the bottom tier of the food pyramid are subjects such as the humanities, sciences, and mathematics. On the other hand, the fruits and vegetables categories whose importance are not emphasized enough are the subjects that deal with creativity. Subjects such as theater, acting, art, music, dance, and so on.

In all the grains and wheats subjects there is always going to be a right and wrong answer. We make our students and children sensitive to being wrong and stigmatize them when they are. In fact, our entire grading system is based on how many right answers our students can give us. But when students are afraid of being wrong and of interpreting something differently, we essentially negate their desire to be imaginative and creative; we destroy their abilities and desires to think on the spot, to envision, and conceptualize when we downsize the subjects that exercise those very abilities.

We need to consider the thousands of students who do not find joy in being forced to take upon the pyramid subjects with limited access to the creative subjects. These students are sitting in classrooms and every minute feels like an hour, but education ought to make every hour feel like a minute. 

In our society we have fast-food restaurants and restaurants that tailor their food according to our tastes, whether we seek certain types of foods or are into the kosher, vegetarian, or raw diet. We would like to have our education system to be like the latter, but unfortunately we have a system that resembles the fast-food restaurants’. We group kids by batches, by what year they were born and try to deliver them into a university as fast as we can. I advance the assertion that education is supposed to be organic and animate. It’s supposed to capture, shape, tailor and mold our students, not create robotic, mechanical, or automated ones, but unfortunately that’s what our current system is doing. 

Therefore, what we need to do is not continually reinforce the beaten idea that the four pyramid subjects are important, but to enforce the same mentality for the subjects that are currently being ignored or not given the equal attention it deserves. We absolutely need creativity, innovation, and inventiveness in every single field and we are denying the possibility of those for millions when we deny those subjects at the threshold. So let us work towards an education system that can hold all of the subjects in an equal playing field and perhaps advocate for creative subjects to be required courses for all four years of high school, or seek more opportunities for our students to explore this arena which is yet to be tapped into. And just as we need to change our diet that depends on the fast food restaurants, so too should we change the way we give our students education; let us give them education not on a cafeteria tray but on a silver platter.

1-10 of 19