April 2008 Archives

A Powerful Opening

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"I have been asked 'How are you feeling today?' while I was throwing up into a plastic washbasin. I have been asked as I was emerging from as four hour operation with a tube in every orfice, 'How are you feeling today?'
I am waiting for the moment when someone asks me this question and I am dead. I'm a little sorry I'll miss that." (Edson 5)

This was a really powerful beginning. Vivian took a simple greeting and showed how her doctors offered it without hesitation or thought to her situation. I wonder how often this really happens to people who are in Vivian's situation. I especially thought the last two lines of this quote were very powerful because they not only showed some sarcasm but also Vivian's disgust with how the doctors' and other hospital workers ask inappropriate questions when her feelings about the situation are obvious.

This part reminded me of when I was helping to make cards for a friend that had cancer at school. We were told we couldn't write anything like "Hope you feel better soon" or "Get well soon" because she was terminally ill. She wasn't going to feel better or get well soon. All we could write about was how we supported and cared about her. I think this is similar to Vivian's complaint about the "How are you feeling today?". Its obvious that at the moments she is being asked this she is in pain or sick, so why would the doctors even bother asking her that? Even simple phrases such as "Get well soon" or "How are you feeling" can be harmful when used in the wrong situation.

When Pretending Becomes Reality

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"Perhaps it's impossible to wear an identity without becoming what you pretend to be." (Card 231)

This section where Valentine is trying to determine how she feels about Demosthenes is really interesting. I thought it was funny when Valentine's father would read her column and then talk about it to his family. Little did he know his own daughter was writing it. Or how at school her teacher assigned her class to compare Demosthenes and Locke. Obviously Valentine's column was very successful.

Despite the success Valetine was enjoying, she was stirring up trouble around her too. I think part of it was she was beginning to be unable to distance herself from Demosthenes. She was starting to combine the two together, which is not what she had originally intended to happen. In my opinion, this can be dangerous. Even if the person you are pretending has a similar personality, there are some differences. After all, if they were exactly the same, it wouldn't be pretending. Because of these differences, pretending to be someone you're not for a long period of time can have an affect on your own character. In Valetine's situation, she caught herself starting to write and think more like Demosthenes in school.

A few pages after the quote I have stated above, Valetine has another thought on the same subject. "She also stopped being frightened about the idea of becoming, to a degree, Demosthenes. He's smarter than Peter and I ever gave him credit for, she thought." (Card 231). I think this statement shows that Valentine didn't mind letting herself and Demosthenes personality combine. It may have had to deal with the fact that Demosthenes was becoming so popular and respected. Who wouldn't want to be? After all, it was Demosthenes who people were writing to and talking about, not Valentine Wiggin. 

Free Verse vs. Blank Verse

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"Free verse (from the French "vers libre"), also called open form verse, is distinguished from traditional versification in that its rhythms are not organized into the regularity of meter; most free verse also lacks rhyme. The term should not be confused with blank verse, unrhymed iambic pentameter. What distinguished free verse from prose? One of its main features is its deliberate division of the lines, which may consist of very long units or of single words, and which may be divided in mid-sentence or even mid-word." (Hamilton 239)

I used to think that free verse and blank verse were the same (and from my other blog you know what my opinion about blank verse writers used to be). Free verse was another form that I used to think was just an easy way out for writing poetry. It just seemed that it was too easy to throw a bunch of random words or thoughts together and call it free verse because you couldn't give it rhyme or rhythm. I used to hate writing free verse more than any other form of poetry (that was before I was introduced to the idea of writing a sonnet this year :) ). Now, as I said about blank verse, I have a greater appreciation for free verse because it can still create a powerful message or image with out rhyming. I think my distaste for free verse was caused by students in high school who would write a bunch of random sentences right before a poem for English class was due and call it free verse.

Just a Sad Excuse for a Poet

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"Blank verse is unrhymed iambic pentameter; that is, it containis five feet per line, each foot consisting of an unstressed followed by a stress syllable." (Hamilton 234)

I used to think that blank verse was just an excuse for a poet who couldn't rhyme. How could you call it poetry if it didn't rhyme and have that sing-song flow to it? Finally, in my senior year of high school, I was able to appreciate how powerful blank verse could be. Although it doesn't rhyme, it still has a flow to it and has just as much meaning (and sometimes even more) than a poem that does rhyme. I still tend to favor poems that rhyme, but I don't look down upon blank verse as a product of an untalented poet anymore.

An Unlikely Bridge

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"The launch was no longer divided into Bernard's in-group and Ender's outcasts. Alai was the bridge." (Card 62)

Alai was an unexpected "bridge" for Ender to find and use to unite the launch group. Although Alai was the one who stopped the fighting between the two groups, I thought Ender was very mature when he recognized the importance of becoming friends with Alai and worked to build the friendship. Had Ender just avoided Alai and refused to become friends with him because of the feud, the two groups wouldn't have bonded together. It made it easy for others to follow Alai's example of making friends with Ender because he was talented in the Battle Room and most of the boys respected him. He also became a greate neutralizing force for Bernard because even though Bernard would get jealous of Alai's successes and popularity, he couldn't deny the fact that he was friends with him. Ender found a way  to fix his problem through a very unlikely solution. The fact that he worked to form and gain an unlikely resource to gain his enemies over is probably just another step in his journey to become a great leader.


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de-: to do the opposite of

lazy: a decline to an activity or exertion


delazy: to make someone not lazy


The teacher worked all year to try to delazy the student by enouraging him to complete his homework and participate in class instead of sleeping.

Lessons from Ender

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"'So? What will you do about it? Crawl into a corner? Start kissing their little backsides so they'll love you again? There's only one thing that will make them stop hating you. And that's being so good at what you do that they can't ignore you. I told them you were the best. Now you dam well better be.'" (Ender's Game 35)

I have never read a science fiction book before or been a fan of sci-fi movies. When I bought this book and glanced it over, I was a little uneasy about the whole idea. Not only is it a science fiction book, but it is a long science fiction book. I figured the entire 324 or so pages would be filled with aliens, nuclear wars, and whatever else nonsense that tends to pop up in science fiction. But so far, I have to admit Ender's Game isn't so bad. Infact, I might admit I even like it. Might.

I think I'm starting to like it because I find Ender's character and situation so interesting. Yes, the story does have some science fiction elements in it, but I love how most of the focus has been placed on Ender's internal feelings, a very human connection. These feelings and thoughts that we as readers are allowed to know help us to understand how mature and bright Ender is for his age. His thoughts, such as realizing he is the only one who can help himself at the Battle School, can be difficult for even adults to accept. Ender has to depend on only his own mind and abilities to get him out of difficult and challenging situations. No one else can save him; he will succeed as long as he refuses to break down and stop taking responsibility to take care of himself.

The situation Ender has been placed in will mold him into a leader. I think his situation is great for others to compare their own actions to. I know when I read this section, I thought about all the times I have taken the easy way out, all the times when I have depended on others to get me out of my situation. But then, I also thought about the times when I relied only on myself to work my way through. When I compared the results of the two, I realized that in the situations where I depended only on myself I became stronger and advanced farther into what I was trying to accomplish. On the other hand, when I gave in and dpended on others, I failed to let my character grow and to push myself to the best of my ability. I'll never know how successful I could have been in those weaker situations because I wouldn't let myself be challeneged, I wouldn't face what was hard. These beginning chapters I think were a great eye opener to reflect on my own decisions and actions.  

"You probably won't get an A, because you're still subkitting two pages of fluff;  but you will get credit for recognizing whatever you actually did accomlish." (Short Research Papers)

This is the exact opposite of what I was taught in high school (which I knew was incorrect but was required to do anyways). An English teacher I had taught and required us to do all the "fluffy" stuff that is totally unnecessary and pointless: the long block quotes, lots of summarizing, and pretty much anything else to waste space. It was his way out of actually having to read the papers to grade them. Instead, he would skim through the papers, occasionally reading and checking to make sure our block quotes were there, and then give an "A" to a paper that looked completed. It was kind of frustrating because I had spent time researching and developing a paper that received the same grade as other students who had practically plagerized their paper by putting as many long block quotes in as possible. I think what was even more frustrating was I knew I wasn't learning how to write a research paper correctly.

In my first semester STW class, my last assignment was to write a research paper. Although I received more guidance and far more feedback on my revisions, I never had the chance to see the grade on my final copy. I would have liked to seen what improvements I could have made to my final paper. I hope through this small research paper we will be doing in class that I will able to finally learn and receive feedback on a full process of writing a research paper.

Seton Hill University: a Catholic university rooted in Judeo-Christian values. In the tradition of Elizabeth Ann Seton we educate students to think and act critically, creatively, and ethically as productive members of society committed to transforming the world. (Seton Hill University Website)


Urban Dictionary Definitions

Seton :A seton is seen as a male bitch. Similar to son of a bitch.


local slang for marajuana. originally a term used amongst a close circle of friends as code. named for a friend that got busted by the cops


Once a mechanism whereby smart people could raise themselves above humble beginnings and obtain a worthwhile qualification indicating a high probability of being employable. Now a complete con to get kids with high hopes into insurmountable amounts of debt before they even think about buying a house.. then they discover that the job they trained for was entirely fictitious, and they'll have to take any job they can get. At this point, they realise they should have gone into benefit fraud and drug dealing like all their "stupid" friends, who now have houses, cars and big screen TVs.


This workbook made my day. Especially urban dictionary's definition of a university because it is so true. To find out that Seton Hill University on urban dictionary stands for male bitch, marajuana and the biggest con to put kids into debt is hilarious. I actually had fun with this assignment. I'm not sure how else to describe what I found except that the definitions were hilarious and that we should have assignments like this more often. 

Meters, Stressed Syllables, Etc.

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"Meter is the recurring pattern of sounds that give poems wirtten in verse their distinctive rhythms." (Hamilton 198)

As Dr. Jerz can probably tell, I'm horrible when it comes to meter, stressed and unstressed syllables, and of course sonnets. I just never can seem to stress the right syllables or have the correct rhyme scheme. And, usually when I try to replace fillers, I end up just replacing them with more fillers. However, after reading these few sections in Hamilton, I have a little bit of a better understanding. I was happy to find all the sections on meter, scanning a meter, and rhyme. I just felt like I had really been struggling with this and needed a reference to have so I could practice and become more familiar with what I need to do. I still have two sonnets I need to catch up on, but I think I can finally tackle them after reading this section without feeling that they are going to turn out as total disasters.

Orange Ribbon

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Orange ribbons decorated our high school,

And every house in our community.

Declaring the need for hope and for faith.

They fluttered in the air all winter long,

And by a miracle made it to spring.

But then that miracle began to fade,

The orange ribbon faded to a dead gray.

The time for hope had finally run out,

Instead of a symbol for hope and prayer,

Our orange ribbon became a memory.

Sorry, I Just Had To

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Sorry I couldn't help but write this one after a very long, frustrating day.


I hate Seton Hill University.

I am always pissed off here all the time.

I get charged fifty bucks for just breathing.

Now they tell me they don't have my major.

It somehow just disappeared over night.

Now I can't teach special education,

Unless I stay here the rest of my life.

Had I known this I would not have come here.

Playing two sports and having two jobs here

Is not worth the trouble this place gives me.

Subplots: Twisted and Complicated

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"The drama of the English Renaissance, for example, is full of subplots, secondary stories that parallel or contrast with the main action." (Hamilton 175)

I love subplots in stories and plays. It makes the story so much more twisted and complicated. Shakespeare usually has several subplots taking place throughout his plays and manages to round them up together for the finish. I think subplots keep the audience more alert and interested in what is taking place. Having just one plot can make the story boring and sometimes predictable, but having several always keeps the action going and suspense building. I noticed, especially in Shakespeare, that dramatic irony is usually caused by the subplots taking place. The characters involved in the main plot of the story are unaware of how the characters involved in the subplots are affecting them.

Sometimes though, if a story has too many subplots it becomes too difficult to keep track of everything and everyone envolved. Too many can lead too far away from the main plot and lose the focus and purpose of the story.

A Little Better

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                                                              A Little Better

      In the last blogging portfolio I created, I made it very obvious that I wasn't happy with what I had accomjplished or how the class was going. Since then, I have tried harder to keep up in class and have tried to put more effort into my blogs. Although some of them still came up a little short, I spent alot more time on many of them and tried to meet the 24 hour deadline as best as I could. I still don't know if I like this kind of assignment because I feel like I can't learn as much as I should from it. Hopefully by the end of the semester my blogs will improven even more. For now, this portfolio is to demonstrate how I have tried to give a little more effort on my blogs.







A New System?

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"The future of books is a large subject and perhaps this is not a suitable place to pursue it. We hear every day that the book is dead and that even the dimmest child can find 'anything' on the internet." (Truss 178)

At the end of last summer, while I was gathering up all my supplies for school, I bought a dictionary and a thesaurus. They have remained unused and uopen on one of my shelves in my room for the entire year. Every time I need to look up a word, I refer to the internet. I can't even remember the last time I opened an encyclopedia. Almost all of the research I complete is online.

Even though I still research mostly online, most of the sources I use I have to print out. I can't read long pages of information from the screen. I still like having a hard copy to read, highlight, and make notes on. Even though through the internet I am able to find much more information in a much shorter period of time, I still believe the printed word is the best final form of a source to use.

Although I agree that the internet, emails, and text messages have done and will continue to damage our language system (especially punctuation), I think it's just another change that is adapting our language to our environments. For example, Truss mentions the Egyptians hieroglyphics and how they faded out as being the common form of written language. I'm sure the Egyptians felt the same way we do know when this change happened. We're worried that our punctuation and grammar system is falling apart. Maybe it is, but it may not be for the worst. It could only be leading up to a new system we may have someday due to our technology. Language changed when the printing press was invented, now its changing again because of new technology. Despite this possibility, I still hate to see punctuation and grammar being abused simply because people are so used to shortcuts from emails and text messages. 

"...the exclamation mark is the big attention-deficit brother who gets over-excited and breaks things and laughs too loudly." (Truss 138)

I thought this description of the exclamation mark was hilarious. I instantly thought of the sixty preschool kids I work with at the child development center. Each of them are an exclamation mark, constantly exploding with strong emotions. I also laughed when I read Juliana's blog because she compared herself to an exclamation point. I think this description made everyone think of someone they see as a living example of an explanation mark.

Although the rules for using an exclamation mark are very simple, I remember revising several papers in high school where other students had gone over board with these points. Sometimes every other sentence would end with an exclamation point. I think these students were writing as if they were reading their work out load instead of punctuating according to what was nescessary for readers. It actually made their work hard to read because usually I had to go back over a paragraph and try to figure out what the correct meaning and feeling the writer was trying to get across. These experiences always remind me to not let my sentences get emotionally out of control! All the time! Because it gets annoying! And seems like you're yelling in your writing! Ahhh!

I Rarely Use Colons and Semicolons

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"Naturally, therefore, this is where the colon and semicolon waltz in together, to a big cheer from writers in the audience." (Truss 105)

I rarely every use a colon and I never use a semicolon. I never use them because I didn't know how to use them. Only once did I have a semicolon explained to me. After reading this section, I am going to try to use these punctuation marks more often. I still wish there was a clear cut, right and wrong way to use the semocolon and the colon. I don't like adding them as I see fit because someone else, as I explained with the English teachers in my last blog, will have a different opinion of where they should be placed.

Someone Make Up Their Mind

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"No wonder feelings run high about the comma. When it comes to improving the clarity of a sentence, you can nearly always argue that one should go in; you can nearly always argue that one should come out." (Truss 80)

I remember in English classes how frustrated I used to get when one teacher would mark certain punctuation useage wrong while another believed the useage was okay. It was hard to try to determine, especially with the comma, what use was correct or incorrect because each teacher had a different opinion. Although after reading this sections on commas I feel I understand the correct useage a little more clearly, I still believe that I will have many more situations where the correct useage is going to be debatable.

Recent Comments

Itohan on Free Verse vs. Blank Verse: free verse need to be be known
Dennis G. Jerz on Almost Done: Katie, thanks for your feedbac
Maddie Gillespie on A Powerful Opening: You were right about a powerfu
Maddie Gillespie on A Powerful Opening: Katie made an interesting comm
Angela Palumbo on An Unlikely Bridge: Ender, in this selection, remi
Ally Hall on Free Verse vs. Blank Verse: You know, I used to think free
Jessie Farine on Lessons from Ender: I think 324 pages is moderatel
Kaitlin Monier on Lessons from Ender: I agree. It makes me reflect
Greta Carroll on Lessons from Ender: You make some good points Kati
Maddie Gillespie on More Fluff = A+ : A Bad High School Experience: I hear ya loud and clear, and
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