Friday, April 16, 2010


He lies in bed wondering,
What is the purpose?
What is the answer?
At sixteen how can he respond to that,
or even comprehend the question?
and yet he continually strives to,
Like the pendulum of his grandfathers old clock.

The clock that struck his wanting;
religion, reason, messiah, mind
Which is right, correct?
The everlasting debate
for the great thinkers of the world.
The ideas intertwined in a rope as long as time.
And yet they are light years apart,
like opposite magnets battling for position,
each, in turn pushing the other away.

How can he, at sixteen,
be expected to comprehend, no,
make up his mind on the matter.
Lying in bed he waits
until the two clouds
create the relieving spark of realization.
But until then he must

Thursday, March 11, 2010


In today's society we face many struggles everyday. It may be a relatively small struggle to make a decision such as whether you are going to get out of bed this morning, or as big as deciding what college to go to. Then there are physical struggles such as getting in shape for a sport. Either way, the end result is one of three outcomes; you put the decision off, you fight through it and "survive," or you give up and are defeated. In The Old Man in the Sea Santiago face many struggles. Some of those struggles include his physical limitations, his lack of sleep, and lack of proper equipment, and outside factors such as sharks.

Throughout The Old Man and the Sea Santiago is referred to as an old man and Hemingway even goes to the extent of having Santiago call himself an old man. When an person gets older it's common knowledge that physical limitations come with that ripeness. Santiago knows that: " 'I am too old to club sharks to death" (112). This means that even though he found just enough strength to pull the gargantuan fish from the depths of the Gulf of Mexico, doesn't mean he has enough left in him to fight off sharks while paddling back to Havana, Cuba. Santiago recognized this when he said that. He doesn't just simply mean that he is too old. He is explaining that his old age gives him physical limitations which includes the inability to fend off sharks in the dead of night.

Not only did his physical abilities prevent that, but he hadn't had sleep in two days either. Santiago knew that, because he recognized that he had to get some sleep to provide him energy for what ever was ahead. For example he needs just those couple hours of rest to pull the marlin onto its back: "Now let me get through the eating of this dolphin and get some rest and a little sleep (79). There are steps to realizing this too, and he follows them exactly. He sub-consciously knows he is tired and starts to feel its affect. Then he realizes he is tired consciously and knows he has to do something about it such as getting some shut-eye (represented by the quote above.

He didn't only have those restricted abilities and a lack of much needed sleep though. he also didn't have all the necessary supplies for going on a three day fishing expedition. He had lack of water, a somewhat decent fishing pole, or food and water. Thus he had to resort to eating raw fish (as stated in the above quote from page 79) and rationing his water. The result: “He was thirsty too and he got down on his knees and, being careful not to jerk on the line, moved as far into the bow as he could get and reached the water bottle with one hand" (78). For a while he was able to withstand the lack of water, but after a while it got to much for him and he had to take a sip. While doing that he couldn't move the line either though so he couldn't just relax for a minute while taking that little swig.

Through all of this Santiago faced another problem too though; one that was out side of his control: sharks. He had been fishing for three days fighting a 1500 pound mountain without proper equipment, sleep or strength. So you would think that maybe he would get a somewhat peaceful paddle back to Havana, but no. When a marlin, or any fish for that matter, gets a harpoon through the heart they are going to start to bleed. So when you drag that fish through the water the oceans meat-lovers, sharks, are going to jump at the opportunity to take a chunk for themselves, especially form a fish of that caliber. Santiago knew this would happen too and his beliefs came true: "When the old man saw him coming he knew that this was a shark that had no fear at all and would do exactly what he wished” (101). So not only did he know the shark was coming, but he knew the shark would do what he pleased, which was to rip a huge hunk of meat from the award winning marlin which had been so generously prepared for them. Santiago knew this would happen though and was prepare with a weapon. He had met them before, knew their ways, and could counter, but only for so long. At about the tenth shark Santiago finally had to give up.

So even though Santiago was faced with many adversities during his trip out at sea, he struggled and fought his way through them. That is just what we should do too. In our everyday lives we are face with many obstacles as well; they may not be as extreme, but that doesn't make them less important. In fact it is all the more important that we should fight our way through them just as Santiago did. So whether it be a matter deciding for college, or getting in shape for a sport, take a lesson from The Old Man and the Sea and give it your all to succeed, even if you don't. Just make sure you are better prepared!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Third Quarter Outside Reading Book Review

The Prometheus Deception By Robert Ludlum. St. Martins Press, 2000. Genre:Realistic Fiction

This engaging novel is about Nick Bryson who got fired by an unknown intelligence agency known as the Directorate. He gets a new identity, and a relatively satisfying life as a professor at a college near Washington D.C. That is until the assistant director of the C.I.A. contacts him and informing him that the agency he had worked for is now planning world domination. The twist is that the assistant director actually works for the Directorate. Now Bryson must find out who's on his side, and what to do about it amongst the numerous assassination attempts.

"Ludlum delivers again another top-notch international thriller sure to please..." reviews Library Journal "...[there are] heart-pounding chase scenes, devastating double-crosses, gut-wrenching twists, fast paced action, fierce confrontations, pressure that ratchets up to an explosive conclusion, and, as always, authentic international locales, high-tech gadgetry, and sophisticated spycraft."

This book is a down to earth thriller it has all the components from the detail to the action. The book keeps you captivated from the moment you enter it. No page is left without every minute detail of every punch and hit. Themes such as persistence and hard work are told from a prospective that leaves the reader wondering how much more action can be packed into such a small book. The introduction grabs you with an event that leaves you wondering what's about to happen, and from there it just gets better with every conversation revealing a little more to the plot right up until the bang ending leaving you sure that all the detail worked specifically to get to this point.

"He seemed to hesitate for an instant; Bryson could feel the grinding pressure of the pistol barrel momentarily let up. It was all the opportunity he needed, this second or two of genuine indecision on the part of his intended assassin. Quietly, he slipped his left hand off the steering wheel and slithered it down around to his back. He had the Glock!"

This being the second of two books I have read by Ludlum, I have to say that by far he is my new favorite author (just from two books!). His books have a way of capturing me from the very beginning and making introductions intertwined with the rising action. This is really important to me because if a book doesn't capture me withing the first couple pages, then I get bored and stop reading it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fight in the Mountains

It was six o'clock and it was starting to get dark, but they kept on riding. Matt and his friend Ryan loved mountain biking. Every Friday and Saturday they went riding at the local trails. Sometimes during the summer they would take day or two day trips out to West Virginia and ride some of the more technical trails. That Friday in June was no different. They were deep in the trails and like usual Ryan had started to pull ahead letting Matt know that he was getting tired and they should head back soon. Ryan was the one who knew the trails though, and he had pulled was just out of sight cutting a corner tight enough cause his back tire to slip the edge a little bit, while the rear derailleur of his Santa Cruz Nomad was rattling away as he tore down the mountain. This recklessness scared Matt as he couldn't yell out to him above the rattling so as to express his concerns about getting home. So Matt figured he would just have to tap into his tanacious side and gut things out until he cought up. But they were going downhill at the time being and that had always been Ryan's strong point. As these thoughts raced through his head, he was falling farther and further behind. At one point he was so desperate to catch up that he pedaled as hard as he could, with no regard for his safety never mind the well being of others, while yelling at the top of his lungs. Surely Ryan will hear that thought Matt. But contrary to his beliefs Ryan pressed on.

Little did Matt know, but Ryan was actually trying to lose Matt. Recently he had grown sick of Matt tagging along, and had been isolating himself in other aspects of his life as well. He knew exactly where to lose him too: along the down hill section toward the end their ride when it was getting dark and he was getting tired. to make sure his plan would work, he had paced himself on the way up and made sure to let Matt go first and let him burn out. But Matt was keeping up well, even if it did cause him difficulty. They were getting toward the bottom too, so he would have to go back up at some point. His plan was falling to pieces behind him, however he had a backup. Then suddenly as he pulled out of another tight corner he hit a log that hadn't been cleared yet. The light was almost gone now which caused the log to escape his sight. Luckily he received relatively minor injuries unlike his $4000 bike. I could use to my advantage he thought. Now instead of the log being just beyond, it would be in the middle of the cut back which would cause Matt to go flying down the other side of the banked corner and on down the mountain. It might be slightly more malicious; however it will be well worth it thought Ryan. So he hid in the bushes in wait of the soon to be beneficiary of a friend gone awry.

Soon thereafter Matt came ripping through the woods furious at Ryan. However Matt had always been better at preparing for rides than his friend-no-longer was. That precaution had paid off.  So when he did approach the log he saw it and avoided what Ryan thought would be inevitable death. Immediately after Matt knew it was him. Instead of walking around it and riding on down the mountain to go home and tell Carrie about the incident he let his anger take over him and went out in search of Ryan. He wasn’t all that hard to find. He left tracks in the mud leading strait to his bush. Their following argument was one they would never forget. Ryan was no match for Matt who had served a stint in the National Guard. However just before Matt could get there Ryan sensed there was something wrong and turned around only to find a loathing Matt behind him creating a very effective impasse.

" What are you doing!?" exclaimed Matt in a concise manner, who at this time was far deviated from his elated state he got while riding.

Normally Ryan was had a very voluble persona, however he didn't want to talk in this scenario. This was probably caused by his sudden lethargy caused by the sudden lack of adrenaline and suddenly realized the situation he had created for himself, the be thing he thought he could do was hedge as best an answer as he could.

" I...I just...I don't know," replied Ryan finally, "I just I feel like I needed my space. I don't know what 's been happening, but I needed to get away from you along with everyone else."

Matt wasn't falling for it though. He had had too many experiance similar to this, so he juxtaposed himself against a tree with a hardened expression on his face demanding more. At this point Ryan was starting to get anxious for two reasons. First the moon was nearly at the apex of its daily path making the woods earily dark. Second, he had a growing suspicion that Matt knew what was going on. So Ryan thought the best way to continue on their way was to quell the situation and move the conversation quickly to the topic of the necessary action of ascending the trails.
"Come on," he said, continuing his evasiveness, "we have to get back to the lot before it gets too dark. Don't worry I'll explain it to you on the way home," he quickly continued as a result of Matt's objection. As a sign that that was the correct plan of action Matt gave him helmet light to Ryan and they made their way quickly back to the base of the mountain.
As they converged to the lot, however, as before Ryan started pulling ahead again. Before Matt could confirm his suspicions of Ryan's motives though, he found Ryan  alruisticly waiting up ahead. Ryan had finally found it in him to let Matt catch up so he wouldn't get lost due to his depleted knowlege of the trails compared to himself. So they continued down withough further incident. When they reached the bottom they loaded their bikes in as quick and quiet manner as they could then briskly left.
Instead of their usual ritual of listening to music after the ride they were silent for a spell then, without warning Ryan spoke up.
"Look man sorry for earlier, I don't know what I was doing I just completely lost my mind. Lately I've been trying to seclude myself in as inconspicuous a manner as possible. I don't know why it's been happening..."
"Save it. It happens to all of us. Just think of it as a very early midlife crisis. Just try to keep it off the trails. I mean, Jesus, you could have gotten us killed," Matt interupted in an attempt to leave the morose feelings back at the lot. Ryan let it go because he knew there would be no use arguing. So they continued home in an attempt to normalize their routine as possible, forgeting the event ever happened.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Second Quarter Outside Reading Book Review

Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden. Mark Bowden, 1999
Genre: Nonfiction

Black Hawk Down is a stimulating account of the events that occurred in Mogadishu, Somalia on October 3, 1993. Bowden depicts that fateful day in full including all of the unfortunate events in an extremely graphic manner. When a simple snatch and grab goes awry no one knows what is going to happen in Bakara Market.

“I did not ‘read’ Mark Bowden’s Black Hawk Down…I devoured it. It is a compelling tale of noble endeavor gone awry, written with such clarity and insight that the reader quivers as if trapped in the desperate, close-quarters firefight Bowden’s gifted narrative brings to life.”

Bowden truly spoke to me in this book. I have watched many war movies and books overflowing with violence of bloody battles, but by far Black Hawk Down is the best. One of the main reasons this holds true is because it really happened. Because of this he can not twist or bend the truth in any way. Not only this, but he chooses not to omit any part of the battle. Instead of omitting all the bloody scenes and creating a fairy tale out of it he gives you the raw, uncut footage of what really happened.
Another reason this book is a paragon for me is that instead of sticking to one persons account of that day which could have warped the actual events, he uses an array of sources (123interviews, nine books, nine articles and an extensive collection of notes can be found at the end of the book), to paint a picture of each and every scene in your head leaving you with the feeling of actual having fought the bloody battle.

“Word spread wildly over the radio, voices overlapping with the bad news. There was no pretense now of the deadpan military cool, that mandatory monotone that everything is under control. Voices rose with surprise and fear…” (78).

After reading this book I am extremely anxious to read as many of Bowden’s other ten as I can. Because of this book I am an avid fan of any war novel, nonfiction or not. Bowden has truly touched the depths of my soul with the reality this book imposed on me. Juxtaposed to Wolcott’s crash site, I feel as though war is too much a reality in our lives today. That is why I enjoyed this book so much. Black Hawk Down takes war and makes it a reality, not just some fictitious virtual reality only seen on TV, in video games and on the computer. If everyone read this book I believe the world would be a better place because of the reality this book imposes.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Musical Journey to Vermont

     These days many people don't put thought into what they value. Instead of choosing something special, much less a memory, they choose things that have the highest material value, even if they never use it or it means nothing to them. If what you value is something more, then what must a material object possess in order to be a value to you? These days people are willing to spend a good chunk of money, even it is on something that isn't valuable as opposed to putting a lot of thought into buying something that will become a prized possession. So what is valuable? Does it even have to be a material object for that matter? For me the things I truly value in my life either connect to me in some emotional way, is a tradition, or provides me with an aspect of life that helps me concentrate or has a deeper meaning and helps me with something.

     A couple years ago my ipod went through the wash. However, I told my parents that I lost it. Either way I no longer had an ipod. My friend, Ashleigh, gave me an mp3 player, but it didn't work that well. Also, I couldn't put any songs on it either so I had to rely on her to put the songs on that I want. Not only that, but after we went to Cape Cod one year, my brother lost his ipod and was really upset, and got a new one that Christmas. That one however got water damage so he wanted a new ipod as well. My mp3 player worked for a couple of years, but like all things, it had to end right? So, last Christmas I asked for a new ipod. The one I wanted was the ipod nano. It was on sale at the apple website and holds one thousand songs, can hold four hours of video and 3500 pictures. I told my parents that it was a great deal, but they seemed skeptical. Every day I pleaded with them to get me it, but still they said nothing.
     So, on Christmas day, Evan, my brother, and Lauren, my sister, got me up at seven thirty like always. They are morning risers to begin with, and now that it is Christmas, they not only got up a little earlier, but they insisted on getting me up. Part of the reason they got me up though was the fact that they weren't allowed to go downstairs until I was was up to find out what they got in their stockings. So as opposed to sitting in their rooms stewing, they decided to get me up and walk around making a lot of noise so that mom and dad would get up too and we could finally see what we got. As we went downstairs we noticed that there were three white boxes sitting on the trunk. They were about the size a phone would come in. However, as we got closer, we realized that the AppleTM apple was in a light gray on the box. Slowly we started to realize that they were ipods, and it was my sister who shouted it out first.
     We got down and assumed our usual positions: me on the chair by the stockings, waiting for every one else to be seated, so I could pass the stockings out, Evan in the other chair by the TV, Lauren on the carpet, and my parents on the couch. Naturally, we open the "mysterious" white boxes first. To our content, inside each of the boxes, were brand new silver rectangles of music. Finally, I had been waiting for this moment forever: I now had my own ipod, brand new, strait from the case. I was so excited I didn't even want to hold it because I was afraid I would get it dirty.
     Now, for as long as the ipod would last I could control what I wanted to listen to without commercials. This item was the holy grail of listening to music for me. Now, whenever I was bored or feeling down, I could just pop in the ear buds and listen to what ever song I wanted to get me in whatever mood I feel like. If I'm down in the dumps and have the blues I just listen to an upbeat, spirited, happy song to lift me right up. If I want to get pumped for say, a soccer match, something with a fast beat will do just that. As far as I was concerned as of that moment my world was complete.

     The sound of boat's wakes lapped at the shore greeted me a soon as I stepped out of the car. We were here again, my favorite place to be: Wilmington Vermont. Every year my family, my grandparents and I go up to the property that my grandparents own. Usually we will all meet up at Harriman Reservoir and have some lunch. While we are there Evan, Lauren and I usually take a swim, provided the water isn't too cold. Grammy and Grandpa will talk to mom and dad while we are swimming. If the water is low enough we will sometimes build sand castles too. This is a great way to start the day. All of us together having fun and enjoying each other's company. After that we travel about four miles to the site.
     The site is homely: with a log on two stumps for a gate, no paved driveway, and a camper that dates back to before I was born. There is also a fire pit which provides loads of fun. When we get there, and after the water is hooked up, we all rush to use the bathroom, and unpack the food and drinks to put in the fridge. At this time we (my siblings and I) have a fair amount of free time until supper. Usually we bring bikes, a Frisbee, a football, and a ball and mitt. Because I am so into mountain biking, and the terrain around the site is hilly to say the least, I usually hop strait on my bike and go for a spin. I get bored quickly though so I'll head back. By then my sister will have gotten antsy, so when I ask Evan if he wants to play catch, I usually end up having to play with her first.
     By then supper is ready. It usually consists of hamburger, hot dogs, and grilled check, or any combination thereof. Grammy also brings one of her famous fruit salads. I will scarf all this food down in a matter of minutes because of the calories I've burned with all this physical activity. I will then want to get up and start looking for kindling, because I know I'm going to have to. So, I wait as little as possible and start out into the woods looking for the fire starter. After my siblings grab at least two handfuls each, we wait for dad to start the fire.
     This is the best part of the trip:the fire. My dad is very methodical in his fire making methods. After the fire pit is cleared, he crumples up a few sections of The Republican and then piles the kindling around it. Finally, the anticipated moment: he starts the fire. After all the wood has caught and one log has been thrown on, we go and get the marshmallows. We all roast marshmallows for at least an hour, and bask in the small heat source amidst the surrounding black. Finally, it is time to put the fire out, pack up and head home only to start building the anticipation until we can come up again next year.

     These values are completely different, yet one in the same. They both take me on a trip, whether it is real or completely metaphorical. My ipod gives me peace of mind in rough times, while my Vermont excursion provides me with a knowing that tradition continues as well as giving me a chance to relax and catch up with family. My silver piece of music takes me on a journey to a far away land where only the two of us exist. My trip to Vermont however is relatively close, and there is much more than just me and what I want and like. So, through all this, what is valuable? For me valuable is something you love and enjoy. In this case music and tradition.

Monday, October 12, 2009

First Quarter Outside Reading Book Review

First Quarter Outside Reading Book Review
The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum. Richard Marek Publishers, 1980
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Mystery

The Bourne Identity, the first of seven books in the Bourne series, is a classic story of a man, Jason Bourne, with amnesia trying to figure out who he is. The twist is that he is an undercover operative for the United States Government posing as a fake assassin. However, the branch of government, Treadstone 71, believes that Jason went rogue after six months of inactivity. So, throughout the book Jason travels through Germany and France trying to figure out who he is and why someone wants him dead.

"Mr. Ludlum stuffs more surprises into his novels than any other six-pack of thriller writers combines," writes The New York Times.

Although I have not read any other of Robert Ludlum's books, the book is comparable to the movies. In this book Jason Bourne is portrayed as a ruthless assassin who shows his good side because of his amnesia, however, his former self breaks out in some fight scenes where kills just as easily as he did before. This is similar to the way Tony Gilroy and William Blake Herron present Bourne in the movie, however because the public started wanting more action, Jason had to be shown killing and escaping assassins a lot more than in his hotel room with Marie trying to piece together who he was and what was happening as well as what to do next. Robert Ludlum also knows how to keep the book interesting with thoughts, and not just description and dialogue helping the reader to put him/her self in Jason Bourne’s shoes as well as giving us more information to help understand what is going on.

"He [Jason] felt rushing cold water envelop him, swallowing him, sucking him under, and twisting him in circles, then propelling him up to the surface-only to gasp a single breath of air."

Although I am not familiar with any of Ludlum’s novel other than this, I was deeply intrigued by the movies and this provided greater insight into some of the things I didn't understand, as well as twisted the setting and some of the details as to what happened and was caused to happen. Because of this wonderful novel I was able to really connect with what it must be like to have amnesia, feeling helpless all the time as well as how brutal the government can be.