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The Vox Box

Archive for January 2009

Parts of Part 5

The Floating Book (Part I)

  • This is the section where we learn that Rudy finally gets his long-awaited kiss.  What irony does this hold in the fact surrounding his situation?

Rudy’s Youth

  • Death paints a ‘portrait’ of Rudy Steiner in July of 1941, Do you think this is the description he should be remembered for? What do you think his most distinguishing characteristic is?
  • The Hitler Youth is collectively told that the Fuhrer is always listening, What do you think this makes them feel? Inspired? Motivated? Scared? Intimidated?

Three Acts of Stupidity by Rudy Steiner

  • We are, as the title implies, shown three of Rudy’s biggest mistakes; What would you list as your ‘three acts of stupidity’?
  • Does learning about a character’s mistakes make you somewhat ‘bond’ with them? Does it humanize them, in some way?

The Floating Book (Part II)

  • How does Victor Chemmel represent the hatred that all classes of people are experiencing? Does he provide some sort of a portal to the inside of the war to Rudy and Liesel?
  • Is this Rudy’s one heroic moment?, or does his life consist of many moments strung together?

The Book Theif - Part Five

The Gamblers (A Seven-Sided Die)

-On the fourth side of the die, we are introduced to Max’s fantasies about boxing Hitler. -What do you make of these dreams? Why doesn’t Max imagine himself triumphing over Hitler? Why does he tell Liesel that he wins?
-Do you find anything ironic or significant about Max’s plans to write a book called The Word Shaker on the pages of Mein Kampf?

The Losers

-In this section, the apple-stealing gang gets back together, minus their former leader, Arthur Berg. His replacement is a rich boy named Viktor who has it all but wants more. -What is Viktor’s motivation? Is it simple greed, or does it have something to do with Hitler, as he argues?
-
A synecdoche (as in New York, for those who have seen the movie) is a linguistic term meaning “a part is used to refer to the whole.” In other words, a small group, event, or situation is used to represent a much larger group, event, or situation. -Is there any evidence that this gang of theives is a synecdoche? If so, what would it represent?

Sketches

-Simple question for this one. -What do you make of Max’s drawings?

The Whistler and the Shoes

-In this section, we see Liesel “truly [become] the book theif” after she steals The Whistler from the mayor’s house. -Why did Liesel steal the book? Was it just to get back at the mayor’s wife for firing her mother, or for some other reason?

Warning: Zombies ahead!

I just stole this post from the Huckleberries blog…

In this photo provided by Chris Nakashima-Brown, an electronic road sign is seen in Austin, Texas on Monday. Two electronic signs intended to warn motorists of construction near the intersection of Lamar and Martin Luther King boulevards were changed yesterday by hackers. (AP Photo/Chris Nakashima-Brown)

Whatta Hoot: Crafty hackers in Austin, Texas, changed some construction signs that typically read things like “merge right” to “Zombies in area! Run for your lives!” Austin Public Works is pretty upset about the ordeal. They said it endangered the public and are planning to press  charges if they can figure out who did it. But I say kudos to the hackers — despite how I might have crushed anything or anyone in my path while frantically escaping the zombies, in retrospect, I think it’s hilarious/Syndey, UI Argonaut. More Off The Cuff here.

Question: Do you consider this prank humorous? Or dangerous?

The Band is still together…and still alive

“A high energy halftime show,” : That’s the promise made by Bruce Springsteen,  the ‘chosen  one’ for this Sunday’s big game.

The Boss himself is leading the E Street Band through the famous mid-game 15-minute time slot, boots filled in previous years by other high-profile musicians such as U2, The Rolling Stones, Prince, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and even Paul McCartney.

Do you think these guys will be some good entertainment for the Super Bowl? Who has been your favorite performer in past years?

 

Now That’s Ironic…

Get this: While a group of Tokyo firefighters were out on a call, one of their colleagues was back at the station making Dinner for everyone. Well, the guy also got called out shortly after his buddies left, and in the process, he forgot to turn off the stove. Yup. The Station burned to the ground. Read this Yahoo Article here.

I don’t really have a question for this one, other than: Does anyone besides me think this is rather ironic?

Da Big Game won’t be so Big…

What weekend are we coming up on? … SUPER BOWL Weekend! The weekend usually brings so many parties and hotels and businesses around the selected location for the game receive huge increases in sales and reservations. Not so this year. Well, lets just say there have been a lot of “cutbacks” in regards to the Super Bowl this year. Many say the economy is to blame.

What do you think? Does it seem like everyone’s cutting back on Super Bowl expenditures? Anyone else hear that the NFL and Sports Illustrated Parties are cancelled?

Obscure World News of the Week: Buffalo Wing Sauce Spill in Connecticut, Forebodes Nuclear Holocaust

Typically this involves a foreign nation, but I figured that Fairfield Street’s obscure enough and that America is Gaian enough for this to qualify as obscure world news. 

A travesty, isn’t it?  And an inconvenient one, I might add, considering we’re currently undergoing a record-breaking shortage of the chicken wings which we would normally use to accompany this unexpected influx of wing sauce. The irony is painful; our streets are overflowing with sauce and we’ve nothing edible and flavor-appropriate to clean them with.

The Countdown to Atomic Disaster has begun.


Video of the Week

Albi the Racist Dragon by Flight of the Conchords

 

My take on the recent controversy concerning “The Daily” and an argument against Fay’s viewpoint

This post is in regard to an article that Erin just posted, seen here. It’s been a while since I’ve been active and it seems it’s been a while since much editoralism has occured on the blog, so I’m going stray from all of the news posting a bit and take the advice Alec gave me early on in my blog training that involved expressing my opinion.

“Too Fit to be President”

A year ago, Barack Obama reassured the crowd that he wouldn’t give in to Republican tactics to throw his then-candidacy off track.

“Listen, I’m skinny but I’m tough,” Sen. Obama said, to a nation where 66% of the voting-age population is overweight and 32% is obese. In his candidancy Obama was criticized by opponents for appearing elitist or out of touch with average Americans. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll conducted in July shows Sen. Obama lagged behind John McCain among white men and suburban women who say they can’t relate to his background or perceived values.

“He’s too new … and he needs to put some meat on his bones,” said Diana Koenig, 42, a housewife in Corpus Christi, Texas, who says she voted for Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary.

“I won’t vote for any beanpole guy,” another Clinton supporter wrote on a Yahoo politics message board.

Weird and Wacky Traffic Laws

The thought that someone actually took the time, energy, and money to make some of these actual laws is a bit pathetic, but funny nonetheless. Being cynical and sarcastic, I just couldn’t help adding some comments of my own. Here are some of the funniest automotive laws, according to Holly Rizzo.

Little Rock, Arkansas: It is illegal to honk the horn anywhere near a place that serves cold drinks or sandwiches after 9pm.

University City, Missouri: Honk your own horn all you like, but it’s illegal to honk someone else’s. It’s unclear whether rented vehicles count.

Mount Vernon, Iowa: It is illegal to shoot arrows or throw bricks onto highways or freeways without consent from the City Council. Was there a lot of this going on somewhere?

San Francisco, California: Wiping your car with used underwear is a big no-no, as is piling horse manure more than six feet high on any street corner. Who wipes their car with used underwear? Who has to smell it to figure out if it’s used? What about cow manure?

Palm Springs, California: People who want to walk their pet camels should be careful, walking a camel down Palm Canyon Drive between 4 and 6pm is against the law. Does this mean Yorkshire Terriers are out of style?

Chico, California: You cannot sow a vegetable garden in any public street, but flower gardens aren’t illegal. Life would be good if I could just get my neighbors to stop running over my celery stalks.

Eureka, California: Sleeping in the middle of the street can get you a ticket, at the very least. Was this not obvious?

Reno, Nevada: Sitting in the middle of the road in a chair or bench is illegal. What about hooking up a TV?

Connecticut and Tennessee: Hunting from moving vehicles is illegal, unless you are whale hunting. Are there a lot of whales running down the road in Connecticut? Who wants to write the lawmakers from Tennessee and let them know that they’re an inland state?

Destin, Florida: Changing clothes in your car while at the beach is no longer allowed. I don’t blame the lawmakers for this one, I blame the naked people.

Dublin, Georgia: It is no longer legal to drive through playgrounds. A game of chicken gone wrong, or extreme tag?

Which of these laws is the stupidest? Do you agree with any?

  

U of W senate demands apology from student paper for gay marriage columns

The Daily at the University of Washington printed these columns on Nov. 25 as part of a head to head piece by the two different authors.  The topics:  “Gay marriage? Let’s stop and think about this” & “Proposition 8 disappointing.”

The two cartoons that you see at the top of each column ran in the paper next to them.

As you can see from the record 651 comments on the negative gay marriage column, it stirred some controversy.  (And some of the comments on both sides are just darned funny!)

Much of the controversy is about the cartoons that ran with the pieces. The following Friday, the Daily ran 8 full pages of letters to the editor about the columns.

The GPSS (graduate and professional student senate) just passed a resolution calling for an apology from the Daily and the resignation of at least some members of its editorial board. The ASUW undergrad student senate is currently considering a similar resolution.

On January 14, the Daily editor ran this “letter from the editor.”  She says there will be no apology.

QUESTION:  What do you think?  Should the paper apologize?

“Scallaboosh, Scallaboosh, will you do the banned tango…”

A lot of work has been put into this site…  “Kiss this guy,” an archive of misheard lyrics.

It’s priceless.  You can see the real lyrics, and even hear them. 

My personal favorite is the Robert Palmer lyric currently listed as “funniest of the year” on the home page.

Last week, my daughter was singing, “Dancing queen…  fresh and clean on the tramp-o-line…”  But she’s three. 

QUESTION:  What is your favorite misheard lyric?

A poem for Obama, and how to pronounce “Al-Arabiya”

QUESTION: How do you feel about Obama skipping the American media and going to the Arab media for his first interview?

Girls… how far are you willing to go to truly be “green?”

Ok, I’m going to do this one carefully…

Some will cringe, but this is a legit topic and concern.  (Boys without sisters, I don’t suggest reading further…)

I was sent this link yesterday.  An exerpt:

“There are 85 million women of menstruating age in North America. Conservative estimates are that the average woman disposes of between 10,000 and 15,000 tampons, pads and applicators in her lifetime. That’s about 250 to 300 pounds of waste per woman.

Waste consultant Franklin Associates reports that 13.5 billion pads and 6.5 billion tampons, plus their packaging, ended up in landfills or sewage systems in 1998. In the United States and Canada alone, more than 12 billion pads and tampons are tossed annually.”

Whoa.

So, I will spare you the details here, but click on the link to read his suggestions for us, ladies, on how to “menstruate green.”  Among them are reusable pads and the use of a “wet bag” to keep the used ones in until you can get them home to wash them.  (Yes, he is serious.)

As my colleague said, “How would you explain that to airport security?”

QUESTION:  Ladies, are you willing to follow thru with his suggestions to be green?  Do you think one day there won’t be an option?



 

Toilet Insurance?…

Insurance is usually pretty dang boring - but every once in a while a true jem of a claim crosses the insurance adjuster’s desk. Msn.com gives some great examples…

Dog Stories…
The holidays are full of great food and good times - the pooch involved in this case would probably have to agree. After locking itself in the refrigerator, the family dog went on to eat the entire Thanksgiving ham.  The dog suffered from a ‘mild case of hypothermia’, but no other serious injuries. VPI, Veterinary Pet Insurance, (the largest provider of pet insurance in the US), footed the bill.

A Brain Worth Keeping…
Yep - a real brain. The insurance was asked to replace a human brain. The brain had been a family heirloom, (kept in a jar). After being stolen, the owner turned to the insurance company for help. 

“Well, it was illegal for us to purchase a (human) brain,” an agent said. “So we were able to replace it with a plastic brain instead, and he was happy with it.”

A Really Artistic Toilet…
Jackson Pollock - one of the generation’s most revered artists has work that sells for over $1 million…but what do you do when the work is on a toilet seat? A friend of Pollocks’ had a true Jackson-painted toilet seat, which was later damaged in a house fire. 

What do you insure that for? “We had to come to some sort of average between a $1 million painting and a $20 toilet seat,” the same agent commented. The man settled for $820 cash.

What’s the weirdest insured item that you’ve heard of? Would you insure any of these items?

Crowning Miss America

Katie Stam, Miss Indiana, shakily took her fist steps as the inspirational Miss America 2009 this past week.

As soon as Miss America 2008 placed the crown upon her head, Miss America 2009 swiftly graced the stage before uniting with her parents to thank them.

The event was hosted by Mario Lopez, who asked Katie Stam, the newly crowned young lady, what her first steps would be as Miss America 2009.  Still stunned and surprised, the woman replied that she would first like to thank the girls, her parents, and those who have supported her thus far in her journey to become Miss America.

Miss Indiana’s talent was a song, which Katie both sang and emoted beautifully.

Miss America 2009 will represent the United States for an entire year while pursuing her dreams, benefiting charities, and speaking out in America’s own backyard on boiling issues of debate.

Do you feel that pageants such as Miss America rightly display the talents and brains of women today in America?  What would your response be to the political questions that were asked?  Which scored portions do not contribute to the idea of female empowerment?  Is the swimsuit competition truly necessary?  Where do obligation and modesty collide in such pageants, contests, and scholarship programs?  Justify your thoughts!  Let your voice be heard! 

Stuffed… girls?

Does anyone else think that making President Obama’s little girls into Beanie Babies is a little messed up? Maybe the girls are supposed to be the new “role models” but it just seems weird that they’re already being marketed!

What do you guys think?

Quotes of the Week

Quote 1:

Life wouldn’t be worth living if I worried over the future as well as the present.

W. Somerset Maugham

Are you a worrywart? What are the things you worry about most?

Quote is here.

Quote 2:

Health food makes me sick.

Calvin Trillin, US columnist

What health foods do you enjoy? Anything you hate? What’s your favorite healthy meal?

Quote is here.

Quote 3:

I didn’t even buy a dress. I am really, really shocked.

Meryl Streep, while accepting the Screen Actors Guild award for best actress for her role in Doubt

Did you see Doubt? Did you watch the awards show?

Quote is here.

 

Recipes of the Week

Chloe, you have inspired me. :) This week’s recipes are all about chocolate.

Recipe 1: Mexican Chocolate Icebox Cake

Recipe is here. Looks good, but cold- maybe not the best cake for a 7 degree day.

Recipe 2: Chocolate Chip Scones

Recipe is here. Scones=amazing.

Recipe 3: Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe is here. I had to do it. I mean, what kind of a blogger would I be if I didn’t post a classic chocolate recipe?

Food News of the Week!

Three days of complete awesome.

Those are the only words I can think of to describe Mexico City’s newest festival: “The Chocolate Experience.”

Launched January 23, chocolate makers aim to make and display every kind and possible use for the addictive stuff.  Reuters.com reports that the festival will run for three days, allowing visitors to “taste different kinds of chocolate, learn how to cook with it, and use it in several gourmet dishes and desserts.”

That’ definitely not all - the Expo promises chocolate sculptures, chocolate spa treatments and even clothes made of chocolate. (Don’t wear on a hot day, right?…)

Organizers hope to see over twenty thousand visitors at the Expo, thus hoping to up the amount of chocolate consumed by the Mexican people.  Reuters reports that “Mexicans lag in consumption of chocolate products”, consuming only 500 grams of the sweet stuff annually compared to the average Swiss who consumes over 11 kilograms a year.

Have you ever been to a food festival such as this? What kind of food would YOU want to celebrate in an Expo?

Payment for A Wrong?

In AP US History last week, we were discussing whether or not reparations should be made for slavery. Opinions were varied, and different things came up. Who would pay? Who would be given reparations? Should it be monetary reparations? Or would actions be better for the US? How would you know who should get the money?

Here’s an LA Times story about the unpopularity of the concept.

What are your opinions on this topic? What are your opinions on the questions above?

Foreign Languages

I made this video for my Japanese class to help students learn Japanese easier, although I’m not sure if I was successful in making it “easier”. Nevertheless, making this video made me wonder about what other language programs students were involved in and what was the most “popular” language to take nowadays. Most of my friends took Spanish as their elective but I’m not sure if this is the trend for every high school.


What foreign languages are you taking? Are there any languages you want to learn that aren’t available at your school?

Facebook News


Interesting stuff…

The internet has opened up a whole new can of worms for criminals in the last few decades. Social networking sites are easy gateways for hackers and criminals (such as sexual predators) to do their dirty deed. There have already been several malware attacks on the popular social networking site Facebook. A while ago, there was a malicious worm that was spreading through Facebook and its primary goal was installing Trojan Software on your computer. As of mid December, the worm remained active. Whether it still is or not, I’m not sure. Read this Tech Crunch article here. This is essentially how the virus/worm worked:

The worm spreads when a compromised user’s account is used to send message to others with a title such as “LOL. You’ve been catched on hidden cam, yo:” and a link to a random URL. The linked website is a YouTube-like page that shows a video player along with what looks like a standard browser message to update your Flash installation. Clicking on the button begins a malware installation of a file called “codecsetup.exe.” We didn’t go so far as to install the software, but our guess is that it zombies your computer, installs a keylogger, and other fun stuff.

Fun stuff indeed…

But wait! There’s more…

A Different Kind of Courtside View…

A male streaker was the cause of an interruption of a doubles match in the Australian Open - and the William’s sisters got the full view.

Venus and Serena Williams were pitted against doubles team Ayumi Morita and Martina Mueller.  The match was soon forced to take a quick pause after a male streaker defied courtside security personel.  According to Australian officials the man was on the court for just 14 seconds.

Reuters.com has the full story…(and pictures…)

Has a streaker ever interrupted a sports even that YOU’VE witnessed?  What would YOU do if you were Security?

Video of the Week

Due to the bungling of the presidential oath during the inauguration, there have been some who question whether or not Obama is in fact president. Colbert’s solution? Whoever was on camera at noon on inauguration day. Thus, please welcome President Yo-Yo Ma.

 

No more WASL!

Congratulations, Washington State students between the grades of 3 and 12! Straight from Olympia comes the news that this year will be our very last WASLing year ever. Here’s one of many articles about it from the Seattle Times.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that it will be replaced with a new test, which we will also need to graduate called the Measurements of Student Progress. It would would be given twice a year in grades three through eight. High school students would have multiple chances to pass the new “High School Proficiency Exams.”

 

We can thank our new Washington State superindentant, who just took the oath of office last week.

Under state law, the superintendent can, in consultation with the state Board of Education, develop and revise a statewide test. Leaders of the education committees in the House and Senate may ask to review any changes.

Palin Bites Back…

Gossip, rumors, and false stories, o my! - But not for Gov. Sarah Palin, former Republican VP candidate. She’s started a new campaign; a personal war against the press.

Rumors are surrounding many aspects of the Palin family, spanning from her daughter’s pregnancy and high school diploma to even the Gov.’s own possible intentions to run for president in 2012.  Msn. com reports that Palin is “going on the offensive against news organizations and bloggers that…are perpetuating malicious gossip about her and her children.”

Can she have the best of both worlds? Political observers say that Palin is trying win both sides of the situation; those groups caring for her family’s values, and those supporting her wish to protect them from the scrutiny imposed by the press.

“I think she’s positioning herself.  She’s attacking the media as a way to generate support among a base she hopes will support her,” says Leonard Steinhorn, a prof. of communications at American University in Washington and an expert on the presidency.

Whether her fights againts the press and her efforts to protect her loved ones prove futile, no one can be sure, but we do know that she’s trying; “It’s all about the family,” Palin said. “I’m wired in a way that I can take the criticism. I can take the shots. But any mother would want to protect their children from lies and scandalous reporting.”

Do you think the press and media ‘has it out’ for Palin? Do you see this so-called ‘sensitivity’ as a plot to gain support, as Steinhorn says?

Casey made it out okay!

I had a few loyal readers email and ask today if Casey made it out of D.C. okay.  Yup!  She is back at school safe and sound.  They had to take refuge at a post office when Union Square closed down, but she made it out.

(Casey helped us blog the ceremonies yesterday as she texted me live from D.C.)

Here she poses with a cheesy Obama t-shirt.

Incidentally, I took Casey to Washington D.C. when she was a sophomore for a high school journalism convention with 24 other teenagers several years ago.  If I remember right, she was well-behaved.  Unlike the following year when we were in Atlanta for another convention and she stuck her head through two rungs in the railing on the balcony of her hotel room.  I think she must have been stuck there for several minutes, about 13 floors up, squawking at all below.  I think it was fellow classmate Yarrow who lubed her head up with hotel conditioner to slide it back out.  (Guess her neck swelled once she got it thru there.)

I just wanted to have this story out here for those who are reviewing her application to Yale graduate school this year.  

Love ya, Casey!  Glad you are home safe. 

The Full Text of President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address

Text of President Barack Obama‘s inaugural address on Tuesday, as delivered.  Written by Jon Favreau. 

I just read this after hearing it yesterday morning.  I thought it to be an excellent speech that was appropriately unifying if not as outlandishly extravagant and historical as anticipated.  I think that Obama recognizes his challenges, as well as his mortality, something that the romanticizing populous has forgotten just a bit.  I think his speech, a rather humble one, subtly acnknowledged this. 

Here it is, verbatim and voiceless. 

OBAMA: My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we the people have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.



Freedom of Speech or Something Else?

Photo from weblogs.newsday.com

I came across an interesting topic in government class today, and since it has the potential to become controversial I just knew I had to post it (okay, I wanted to see what your responses were to it as well).

The big topic? Should the burning or desecration of the US flag be illegal? Arguments from both sides can be very convincing.

Those against the idea of making it against the law to desecrate the law argue that, although it is deplorable, it is an act of political speech and that outlawing it would be against the first amendment and would make us no better than countries like China and Cuba, which do not allow citizens to speak out at all. One woman (on the website listed below) says that the law gives Congress too much power: where does the law draw the line? At something you fly from a flag pole, at a flag on a tee shirt? Underwear?

Those supporting making flag desecration illegal say that the flag is a symbol of our country, something that millions of men and women have died fighting for, and that the desecration of it is a dishonor to them and a threat to America.

Click here for the website I was on. It’s very informational and offers great arguments for both sides. (Note: it is the first link, labelled “How a Member Decides to Vote”, and it is interactive). 

Should desecration of the flag fall under freedom of speech, or should it be illegal?

The Daily Show’s Inauguration summary


I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time. Especially the part about Cheney… Enjoy!

Remembering Cheney sophomore Lorissa Green

Get Adobe Flash player

S-R photographer Colin Mulvany covered the candlelight vigil honoring Cheney High School student Lorissa Green who died Friday Jan. 16, 2009 in a two-vehicle accident in the intersection of highway 195 and Cheney- Spokane road.

We wanted to post the video here, also, because we assume some of you may have known Lorissa and want to remember her.

It is an awfully somber topic on a Wednesday, but a real one.  Please drive safely today, everyone.

Does anyone have a memory for Lorissa they want to post here?

It’s the Most Depressing time of the Year!

Someone has done the math (it even has a formula, on paper, it looks like this: W + (D-d) x TQ)and found that the saddest day of the year was the 19th, the third monday of January.

And November 27th, 2008, was the happiest of the year. Studies showed 67 percent of Americans reporting they had a ”lot of happiness/enjoyment without a lot of stress/worry” on that day.

The Gallup Daily records the “well-being index” of America since January 2008.

One day that didn’t show any unusual movement in the national mood: election day, Nov. 4.

 

What’s in a name?

4,050 dollars, apparently.

From the looks of the eBay page, someone sold the naming rights for her unborn baby — and two pairs of Nike Air baby booties — for $4,050.

She doesn’t care what name the bidder chooses, but hopes it’s not one that will get her child’s “butt kicked.”

The seller did it because after having three kids, “the novelty of ‘naming the baby’ has worn off.”

But wait! She adds another reason:

I have a huge pile of unpaid bills, medical expenses from this pregnancy, I don’t have maternity coverage … If I have to stop working before the day I go into labor, then I’m probably gonna lose my house and my car. So what’s a girl to do?

Is there some other hidden benefit to naming a child that’s worth paying $4,050 for? The chosen name will be revealed on her blog soon.

2009 Inaugurations sets video-streaming record

According to Akami technologies, Obama’s inauguration yesterday failed to surpass all-time internet traffic records, what it did do was mark the most simultaneous streaming-video viewers in the Web’s history.

About 7.7 million video streams, primarily live, were being viewed at peak time on Tuesday. Demand was unprecedented: CNN.com, one of the most popular viewing destinations, had to cut off viewers and establish a wait list.

“The Prom of Politics”

That is what my friend Lisa calls the ball tonight.  Personally, I don’t “get” the “first dance” thing.  It reminds me of a wedding, and I find that odd…

But they all look so pretty.  If they want to live it up, I’m ok with that.

QUESTION:  Who is watching the ball(s) tonight?  What are you thinking?

One more from Rael…

Rael may have meant this just for me, but I’m posting it because I love her observations…

“I am having left overs of the best pad thai I’ve ever had, but the experience is bittersweet if Casey is still freezing her derriere at Union Station with thousands of other spectators. Any new
developments?

I spoke to an individual who was on the Mall, who felt the multiple jumbotrons set up at regular intervals was a little “Big Brother,” George Orwell style.

A young woman at the grocery store circumvented the Obama merchandise (“Obamerchandise?”)  for less expensive mementos by collecting newspaper front page coverage of the inauguration, though the Washington Times was still an unobtained holy grail. I offered my suggestions of stores within walking distance, and she continued on
her quest.

You may have noticed something odd along the parade route: empty seats. Given the crowds, security could not screen ticket holders fast enough, and some lost their opportunity to see President Obama despite purchasing tickets. The same tickets which sold out in seconds at $25
a pop. To call that a bummer is an utter understatement. I wonder how they’ll reconcile those costs?

A friend texted to say that train delays may lead her to stay in the District overnight, with wine pouring and people watching galore.  I am happy for her, but I also want her to be safe…and because I am acting like a total mom, I hope she’s warm.

According to reports, the Obamas will attend 10 inaugural balls tonight. If they are not the human representations of the Energizer Bunny, I don’t know what is.”

A Day of Nonpartisanship?

Despite the generally festive and nonpartisan mood in Washington today, one Texas senator is in a business-as-usual mood. Hillary Clinton will not be sworn in as Obama’s Secretary of State because one Republican senator, John Cornyn, has indicated that he plans block a move to confirm Clinton’s nomination. A spokesperson for Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, predicted that Clinton will be nearly-unanimously confirmed one day late, on Wednesday.

Neither Cornyn nor his office have commented thus far on the move. Story here.

Petty politics, or do you agree with Cornyn’s objection?

 

 

Random Obama Fact…

Obama is Left-handed. Just thought I’d throw that in there. I discovered this while I was reading a CNN Article a little bit ago. The article discussed the three proclamations that Obama will sign today. (that’s really why I’m posting this…)

  • a proclamation declaring today a day of national renewal and reconciliation. The last three presidents have signed similar proclamations in this same time and venue).
  • cabinet nominations
  • sub-cabinet nominations

“I’m a lefty. Get used to it,” Obama quipped as he signed his name. “I was told not to swipe the pen.”

Senate staffers say the nominations will be presented to the Senate when it convenes at 3 pm today, and are necessary for those nominees to be confirmed by the full Senate.

For more info on Cabinet Nominees, click here.

What’s your view on Obama’s picks for the Cabinet?

They are shutting down Union Station

No details.  All Casey writes is, “Union Station shut down!  Thousands trying to get in!”

She sent this pic from her cell phone.

Rael waves good bye…

Another update from Rael…

“George W. Bush’s helicopter circled the National Mall before departing
for Andrews Air Force Base, and as I watched news footage of his
departure, I asked myself, “Could I make it?”

As luck (and geography) would have it, the rooftop deck of my
apartment has views of both with National Mall and the the general
area around Andrews, details I learned after donning a coat and
hauling it faster than I’ve ever hauled it to the 17th story rooftop
deck.

How very “Apocalypse Now” the helicopters appeared (let’s not forget
security escort) flying over the river. But there they were, heading
towards me.

So I did what any good red blooded American would do.

I waved.

Then I did what any North Idaho kid influenced by aging hippies and a
love of yoga would do.

I flashed the peace sign and sang, “Na na na na, hey hey, good bye”
(thanks for the tip, Casey :-) as the winter winds whipped my hair and
numbed my fingers.

I chuckled because commercial planes were landing at Reagan National
Airport as the choppers approached from the distance. Could you
imagine eating the peanuts and reading the Sky Mall catalogue and you
have no idea that thing in the distance is transporting George and
Laura to a life as private citizens?”

QUESTION:  If you were leaving the White House, what do you think your first act as a new private citizen would be?

The White House has updated their website

The White House has officially updated its site.  Remember:  It’s www.whitehouse.GOV… 

QUESTION:  How do you feel about the president’s “change” slogan?

Use of the word “I”

The commentators have begun.  They are noting Obama used the word “I” only three times in his acceptance speech—An acceptance speech record.

QUESTION:  Does this matter to you?  Why?

Party with a Cost…

Record-breaking, (wallet-breaking), monumental, (exponential): All describing the cost of President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration gala.

“Unemployment is up. The stock market is down. Let’s party,” describes Associated Press. The cost of the even is expected to break records, some estimating it’s price to reach as high as $150 million.

The new President’s inaugural committee has aided the expense with the collection of nearly $41 million - this amount to be used to cover “events ranging from a Philadelphia-to-Washington train ride to a megastar concert with Beyonce, U2, and Bruce Springsteen.”

Transportation is sucking up the majority of the cash, (that and security), costs of both reportedly being ‘absorbed by U.S. taxpayers’.

Inauguration celebrations have come a long way: Roosevelt’s having held his in 1945 at the White House with a simple speech and plain pound cake.  During World War I, President Wilson had no parties, “saying such festivities would be undignified.”

Is this blowout inauguration par-TAY ‘undignified’?  What other options could  future President’s employ to celebrate their coming into office?

More musings from Rael…

“Interested in public service? Study Obama’s inaugural address. Listento it on Youtube.  Read a transcript on LexusNexus. Ignore your political preferences and your biases and just listen to how he addresses uncertainly and foreshadows pending policies in his own voice and with what I believe is a refreshing honesty.”

Rael, incidentally, works for the state department.  Her title:  “Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Office of Afghanistan, Iraq and Jordan Support.”  Impressed?  Well, I am…

Everyone is leaving… Where’s Waldo?

From Casey:

“Everyone is leaving.  Some guy lost his friend and said, ‘Where is he?’  It’s like a big ‘Where’s Waldo?’”

God bless the megatron—”We thought we were under attack”

A message from Casey as the president was sworn in:

“They’re shooting Canons to celebrate Obama’s oath!  We all thought we were under attack under they showed us on the megatron…”

Got Facebook? Check the updates…

From Rael:

The musical composition of John Williams is incredibly beautiful, and
sums up the occasion in ways better than a blog post or news report
ever could. Fabulous with a capitol F in my book.

If you want an interesting take on the inauguration, check out your
Facebook profile updates. I’m getting an interesting cross section,
with comments on everything from Obama’s age and bearing to Sarah
Palin.

Here we go…Chief Justice Roberts and Obama…

Wrapping Up the Prayer…

Rick Warren, leading nearly two million people for the prayer prior to President Elect Barack Obama’s inaguration,  just uttered a very controversial word…”Amen.”

Warren, ‘Orange County mega-pastor and bestselling author’, (as described by The LA Times), was an interesting choice for this job.  Proposition 8, California’s ban on gay marriage, was strongly supported by Warren, having compared “same-sex nuptials to approving polygamy and pedophilia.”

Democratic political consultant Chad Griffin, (the Person of the Year for ‘Advocate’, America’s leading gay publication) thinks that Obama’s choice of Warren to lead the prayer was possibly a statement about his feelings toward the gay and lesbian community, saying “it’s up to Warren to let Obama off the hook and withdraw.”

“Rick Warren needs to realize that he is further dividing us at a time when the country needs to come together,” Griffin said. “I think he needs to gracefully step aside.” 

What did you think as Rick Warren completed his prayer? Do you find it ironic that we had an open prayer at the President’s inaguration, yet couldn’t have a Christmas tree in the Capital Building?

Here’s an update I haven’t seen covered on ABC yet…

According to Casey:

“Everyone is singing, ‘Na na na, hey, hey, hey…  good bye to Bush.” 

As the presidents prepare to speak, it is just “ridiculously cold.”

There are no other words to describe it. It’s just ridiculously cold.
I took the elevator to the roof top deck of my apartment building to
hear if maybe, just maybe, the sound of millions cheering on the Mall
will carry over the Potomac River and to my ears. No luck. Reported
temperatures of 14 with wind chill. Winds strong enough on the roof
top for me to feel like I’ll fall on my feet if I stay too long.

Coast Guard boats silently sulk through the waters of the Potomac and
a police car speeds by.

I return just in time for the first daughters to show on screen,
rocking some cool colored scarves, and decide I’ll check out the
parade from Alexandria’s simulcast. But before that, the warmth of the
apartment tempts me. My fingers are still cold though I’ve been down
from the roof for at least 10 minutes.

I wonder how the crowd is reacting to live shots of President Bush right now?

And I wonder how crazy tonight’s parties will be?

And two million people laughed…

From Casey: “They just asked everyone to please be seated. The elites at the capital and two million people laughed!”

Casey also reports seeing Oprah, Dustin Hoffman, Beyonce, P Diddy and Barry Bonds.

Here we go…

From Rael as things begin…

“Keep your eyes peeled for news coverage of the Swearing-In: VIPs said
to attend include Steven Speilberg, John Cusack and the “Governator”
himself.

You may have seen coverage of a star studded concert on the Lincoln
Memorial this weekend that featured Beyonce, Bruce Springstein, Jay-Z
and Stevie Wonder. HBO may have obtained airing rights if I’m not
mistaken.

In her last live stand up before the inauguration ceremony, Ann Curry
stands among spectators who wave as we Americans have a tendency to do
when on live television. A man holds an “Arrest Bush” protest sign as
the camera man subtly moves to get him out of frame.

The clouds are high and wispy, and planes are flying low over the
Potomac, in preparation for landing at Reagan National Airport. Two
days ago, when driving through Virginia a helicopter gracefully moved
overhead, flying low enough for my eyes to see the text, “The United
States of America” on its green side. My fellow adventurer and I joked
it was President Bush taking one last joy ride, speculating the big,
hovering “bird” was Marine One.

Marine One’s occasional presence in the District is a welcome one, and
for me it never gets old. Washington DC has areas of restricted
airspace, meaning there’s a high likelihood you’re dealing with a VIP
when you look up to spy a chopper above you downtown.

Ooohhh, the motorcade is now passing down the road, and if you watch
the footage, the first road they turn on is where I’ll take lunch
walks (as mentioned previously in earlier blogs). How exciting to put
a place and a time to such a historic event.”

Another update, this time from Casey

Nothing deep, but amusing: “It’s so fricking cold and everyone is cheering and booing when people come on the megatron—politicians and celebrities.”

It’s awfully sunny-looking in D.C… Awfully grey, here.

Another update from Rael:

“Barrack Obama is stepping into the White House. They show it live on
TV and, I believe, on the National Mall as I write.

I have the good fortune of working two blocks from the White House,
and over the past three weeks I made it a lunch time ritual to walk to
the White House’s North Lawn and observe the progress of construction
teams as they complete parade route bleachers and parade stands for
our soon-to-be 44th president. The clear plastic located around the
presidential seating area appeared 5 inches thick, and the police
watched sauntering tourists with piercing eyes. A Today Show reporter
now does a standup report on the same location.

The streets around my apartment are dead. Not a dog walker or
pedestrian outside. Perhaps I’ll later see fellow locals in Old Town
Alexandria, or maybe the streets will be bare a la “I Am Legend” when
I notice I am the only person in 30 miles who isn’t on the National
Mall right now.

I learn this morning that President Obama, like me, drinks neither
alcohol nor coffee. I am still uncertain as to whether Spiderman is my
favorite superhero, as he is Obama’s. According to the Today Show he
collects comic books. How cool is that?

This weekend I visited Fort Myer and walked the stables housing the
horses who have ceremoniously pulled the coffins of presidents passed
away. The equines take place in state ceremonies such as
inaugurations, but according to two men feeding them they will not
take place in today’s festivities. So while the Percherons at Fort
Myer have a chill day today…the millions of people on the National
Mall and the hundreds of parade acts are warming up in a different
sense.

The National Mall is packed from what I see in the footage. The parade
goers wave American flags and cheer as camera footage shows Michelle
and Barack leaving St. John’s Church within the last hour. NBC reports
this footage is broadcast over large screens on the National Mall.
Amazing that spectators can watch this in real time as I can at home.”

We are an awful long way from the festivities here in Spokane…

I just saw Dustin Hoffman at the big event…  But here is more from Rael:

“The city of Alexandria, Virginia, a suburb located southwest of the
District, will simulcast today’s inauguration and Swearing-In from
picturesque Market Square on a large outdoor screen. The Square is
located on a riverside historic district called Old Town Alexandria,
and will also feature live entertainment for part of the day.

Old Town’s local, independently owned movie theatre will also
broadcast the inauguration and Swearing-In from their screens.

Other cultural centers around the country, such as New York City’s
Rockerfeller Plaza, will also show today’s festivities and Swearing-In
on a large outdoor screen.

I’m only human. Alexandria’s Market Square offers a less
claustrophobic viewing option than the National Mall, is within
walking distance to my apartment and stands in close proximity to at
least two Starbucks. Yeah, you heard me.

Because one cannot live on patriotic fervor and historic pathos alone,
and because nothing takes the edge off 20 degree mornings like a tall
sugar free hazelnut soy steamer. “

Cheney has a boo-boo

From Rael:

“NBC News 4 reports Vice President Dick Cheney strained his back moving
boxes recently and will appear at today’s inauguration in a wheel
 chair.”

Let the inauguration begin… Live with Rael from Wash DC

I’ll be writing updates from two former students of mine today—Rael and Casey—who are in Washington DC.  Casey is there to watch, Rael lives and works there.  This morning from Rael:

s not even five in the morning. Nestled under a down blanket, I
mindlessly turn on Washington DC’s NBC affiliate and wait. Two well
groomed anchors stand in front of the cool morning shadow of the
Capitol and tell us what we already know: we all are witnessing
history.

Traffic is already backed up on Northbound I-95 as people make their
way into the city. Some have camped out overnight by leaning against
concrete construction barriers in freezing temperatures. No snow. Just
bone cutting cold and a desire for many to witness history first hand.

Yesterday, while visiting the Marine Base in Quantico, VA, a warm
hearted gas station clerk commented on the unprecedented security
presence in the District. Thousands of military and law enforcement.
She said she saw the subtle strain on the faces of the well groomed
Marines who have already worked long shifts on the Mall and have
stopped to gas up their cars at her store. But they are strong and
proud to be part of this.



 

Weird News

Here are two stories from one of my new favorite websites, NEWS of the WEIRD

As the British government was poised in November to re-classify lap-dancing clubs from “entertainment” to “sexual encounter establishments” (thus imposing tougher licensing standards), the industry’s trade association insisted to a Parliamentary committee that the clubs are not sexual. “(T)he entertainment may be in the form of nude … performers, but it’s not sexually stimulating,” said the chairman of the Lap Dancing Association. That would be “contrary to our business plan.” [The Guardian, 11-26-08]

Bruce George, 20, admitted to police that he had molested a 6-year-old girl in Anchorage, Alaska, in October but said he needed to do it to acquire the courage to kill himself. He said he needed motivation for suicide by doing something that totally disgusted him. [Anchorage Daily News, 10-8-08]

Here Comes the Bride…War?

My mom, my sister, and I went to see Bride Wars yesterday at the theaters, and the cute comedy totally lived up to its hilarious “preview reputation.” 

The two main characters, Liv and Emma, have been best friends ever since childhood, when the pair began to plan their dream weddings at the Plaza Hotel.  Little did they know how their weddings would actually turn out…

Years later, the women get engaged within a week of each other, and the wedding mania begins.  Marion Saint Claire, the legendary wedding planner, appears promising.  However, the two weddings are booked on the same day at the girls’ dream venue: the Plaza Hotel.

An insane, funny, and out of control fight breaks out between the brides as each attempts to sabotage the other’s big day.

Who will win?  Does one cave in before the other?  Can the lifelong friendship be salvaged?

Check out this great movie in a theater near you soon!   

Final-ly!

Students all over the United States are experiencing the stress of the upcoming (or dwindling) week of final exams.

It’s hard to say which is more prominent in finals week: studying or stress.  Having to cram in every spare second of spare time a student has is tough enough, but when the semester exams include every minute detail of every chapter, the stress explodes.

At Post Falls High School, six different final exams take place in two days only.  Wednesday and Thursday (of this week) will have three final exams each for every student in every class because the teachers are required to initiate some sort of final, whether it be an essay, a test, a project, or whatever.  Students have three ninety minute classes and three twenty-five minute classes each day.

Other schools, such as the Charter Academy in Coeur d’ Alene, divide the school year into trimesters instead.  This means that there are finals occur three times per year, but the study loads and tests are smaller.

What kind of final exam week does your school have?  How has it gone or is it going?  Would you prefer trimesters over semesters if you were given the choice?

No matter what kind of extreme week is ahead of you or behind you with final exams, you can count on the Vox Box to ease the stress.  So set down your backpack, take a load off, and chill out here for some crazy Blog-a-thon fun.

A Case for Security

As Mariah mentioned earlier, Security for tomorrow is going to be pretty heavy in DC. Like I said, I’m not surprised and here’s why: Some idiot from Wisconsin made threats to assassinate Obama via posts made on a website (www.alien-earth.org). He’s been arrested.

From the Reuter’s Article:

Steven Joseph Christopher, in three postings to www.alien-earth.org, said he planned to assassinate Obama in Washington “as a sacrificial lamb,” the department said in a statement.

“It’s really nothing personal about the man. He speaks well… But I know it’s for the country’s own good that I do this,” Christopher reportedly wrote.

“It’s not because I’m racist that I will kill Barack, it’s because I can no longer allow the Jewish parasites to bully their way into making the American people submit to their evil ways.”

Case in point.

Twilight: all it’s cracked up to be?

Over the past year or two, Twilight mania has gradually taken over the lives of millions of teenage girls across the world. Stephenie Meyer is hailed as the new J.K. Rowling. Sparkly is the new standard for vampires. Middle-aged mothers are squealing at Robert Pattinson along with their young daughters. Friendships are torn asunder over Team Edward and Team Jacob differences. (Okay, maybe not that last one, but it could happen.) But is Twilight really the “classic” many would have it be? Should girls really be idolizing one such as Edward Cullen?

One blogger doesn’t think so, and she’s not alone. Going well against the norm, “Masala Skeptic” writes protagonist Bella Swan off as a weak female who can’t do anything for herself, declares Edward an emotionally abusive creeper, and shuns the story overall. Read it for yourself here: http://skepchick.org/blog/?p=4507

Question: What is your opinion of the series? Is Twilight as bad for young minds as she says?

Nine of the Weirdest Websites

Webupon.com shares ten (one link isn’t working) of the weirdest, wackiest and most disturbing websites found on the web:

 

  1. Wildrecipes.com

This includes chocolate-dipped hotdogs, scrambled eggs and calves brains, and cheddar coffee.

 

  1. The Dialectizer

Type any sentence into this webpage and pick the dialect you’d like to come out! Dialects include Redneck, Elmer Fudd, and Moron.

 

  1. The Official Beanie Basher Website

From the author of the Official Beanie Basher Handbook, who seems to have major issues with beanie babies. This includes a Beanie autopsy, how to make fake beanies, and 15 alternative uses for Beanie babies.

 

  1. Name Generator for Guys

Type in your name and…out comes a newer, better one.

 

  1. Who Are You? Quiz

A simple quiz with easy questions tells you information about you and your life.

 

  1. Pet E-mails

Ever wish you could send your pet an e-mail? Now you can. Type in his or her e-mail address and a quick message, and the website not only sends the message, but translates it into your pet’s native tongue.

 

  1. God Hates Figs

According to this website figs are the source of all evil in the world, excerpts from the bible are included to prove the point.

 

  1. Psychic Ant Pharm

Even better than an 8 ball. Type in a yes or no question, and this “pharm” of ants will give you an answer.

 

  1. Stop Alien Abductions

If you’ve been trying with no success to find instructions for a Thought Screen Helmet, look no farther! This website gives step-by-step instructions (along with photos) for helmet making. Apparently if the aliens can’t hack into your brain, they’re not interested in you.

Arrest Reminiscent of Hide-and-Seek

A 22-year-old Florida woman was arrested on Friday after a 4-year-old girl revealed to police officers that she was hiding under the bed. The woman was arrested for “assault, harassing phone calls and violation probation carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.”

Police arrived at the woman’s home but were told by three adults there that the woman had left. Then the little girl approached the officers. “Officers found the woman exactly where the child said she would be.”

Read more here: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090119/ap_on_fe_st/odd_child_tells;_ylt=Ap3qQ38Ietj0bubgeE7ead3tiBIF

Question: Have you ever had a game of hide-and-seek go awry?

Yum!…My Personality is Delicious…

While browsing the mall yesterday I took one quick glance toward Hallmark and was struck by one thought: Holy attack of the Valentine’s Day….

Yup - stores everywhere have started displaying the crazy number of candy-filled boxes and the hundreds of lovey-dovey huggable stuffed animals, leaving those witnessing the event to get slapped by the obvious: Valentine’s Day is coming.

So What’s Your Personality’s Valetine’s Day Candy? Candy heart? Chocolate truffle? Take this quiz from Quizilla to find out! (Then comment your results, of course. :D )

I was a Luv Pop! (mmm…that explains why I’m officially addicted to those things…what’s better than that sweet red confection on a stick?!)

Horseplay…

Jen’s post tickled my funny bone, and as I was browsing through You Tube I found this (Thanks Jen for the inspiration! *wink, wink*):

*Please note: This is NOT an endorsement of alcohol. I post this merely for entertainment purposes only.

Have you participated in any good snowball fights lately? What’s the most memorable snowball fight you’ve ever had?

Awesome Websites 101

Sometimes, you just find a website you love. Maybe it’s a news site. Maybe it’s a blog. Maybe it’s a social site. Maybe it’s an academic site. But it’s a site you always go to. You might even have it linked for 1-click visiting.

This Time article tells you their opinions of the  50 best websites of 2008.

What are your favorite websites to visit? (Other than the Vox Box, of course.)

 

The Truth About High Fructose Corn Syrup

With all of the ads either for or against high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) many people are wondering where to stand on the topic. So I looked up the truth about HFCS, and found some upsetting information.

According to Linda Joyce Forristal, HFCS is cheaper than sugar and easy to transport.

To get from corn to fructose corn syrup requires three steps (all described on the link), which involves “vats of murky fermenting liquid, fungus and chemical tweaking, all of which take place in one of 16 chemical plants located in the Corn Belt.” Not exactly appetizing.

 

Even more concerning is the study conducted on rats to determine whether fructose and glucose had an impact on their health. The rats given glucose were fine, unfortunately the same could not be said for the rats given fructose. The male rats were effected the most: they were anemic, they did not reach adulthood, and they suffered from high cholesterol and heart hypertrophy (their hearts enlarged until they exploded). The females were unable to produce live young. The rats effected the most were copper-deficient (a common occurrence in America), which interferes with the production of collagen in a growing body.

Don’t be confused by the commercials from the Corn Refiners Association. High Fructose Corn Syrup is not the same as regular cane or beet sugar, and it is not completely safe. It is made from corn, but the corn is often genetically modified.

Do you try to avoid products with ingredients like High Fructose Corn syrup? Does the fact that you might be eating large amounts of HFCS bother you?

The Sleeper

Here’s the back half of Part 4 for discussion of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak! Enjoy throughout the Big Bad Blog-A-Thon…..

The Sleeper

  • In this first section Liesel realizes that a) Max shares her nightmares, and b) It has become somewhat of an ‘obsession’ to watch and look over him - to care for him. Do you think these shared nightmares are the reason for the strong bond between Liesel and Max?
  • There is truth in Liesel’s reply to Mama’s tear soaked words; “Everything was good. But it was awful, too.”  Do these words apply to your life, or to the collective life of our generation vs. ‘the times’ we grow up in?

The Swapping of Nightmares

  • Max is appalled at his own allowence having slept in Liesel’s room, saying “he was a Jew, and if there was one place he was destined to exist, it was a basement.“  How does this show how the inner relationship Max has with himself? Has the Furher gotten into his head?
  • What do you think about Death’s description of how it feels to hide a Jew?; “Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it 24 hours a day.”

Pages from the Basement

  • This chapter consists mainly of The Standover Man. Which page, or part of Max’s work had the greatest effect on you? Which was your favorite?
  • How would you feel about this book if you were Liesel?




 

The Drug of Choice?

Move over meth; make room for OxyContin. Yup. That’s right oxycodone and hydrocodone. Spokane and Kootenai Counties have recently seen a surprising number of Pharmacy robberies involving the drug. Read the Spokesman Story here. OxyContin (brand name for oxycodone) is a prescription painkiller. Its somewhat easily obtained, and in theory is “legal.” I think what really surprised me was the “users.” Sure the typical druggies turn to it, but police have arrested doctors, even lawyers for abusing the prescription drug.

Security is Tight.

If you have ever been to Washington DC, you have seen the incredibly tight security. There are security cameras everywhere. Snipers on the roof of the White House, and a motorcade that the President is protected by wherever he goes.

That’s small stuff, compared to the inaguration. 25,000 military troops, law enforcement officials and security agents wil be on hand tomorrow to make sure the inaguration runs smoothly. The city is all but shut down tomorrow, with a hundred and fifty blocks closed to traffic. Bomb-sniffing dogs are going to be in the crowds. The Pontomac is shut down tomorrow. The MSNBC story is here.

I just thought this was interesting. It is the most security ever for a Presidential inaguration. Do you find this interesting?

The Horse: A Graceful, Majestic Animal. Most of the Time.

Jason Harschbarger from Pullman, West Virginia, was walking through his neighborhood when he came upon one of the weirdest sights he will probably ever see.

Gracie, a filly owned by Harschbarger’s neighbor, had (for an unknown reason) stuck her head in between two parts of a tree trunk and was unable to get out.

Harschbarger ran home and grabbed his tools. He was successful in cutting the horse loose by sawing through the wood surrounding her neck, but not before getting some pictures.

Click here to see the article

<small>Photo from telegraph.co.uk</small>

The Standover Man

The Accordionist (The Secret Life of Hans Hubermann)

-Death notes early on in this section: “I’ve seen so many young men over the years who think they’re running at other young men. They are not. They’re running at me.” -If this scene has repeated itself as often as Death insinuates, why do you think these young men never notice that they are running straight at Death?
-Hans makes two main mistakes in his life, both of which are detailed in this section. -Why does he take such reckless measures to make his views known? What does he learn from these mistakes?

“I Have a Dream”

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Famous speech.

Sure does make you think… I do have a question though. Do you think segregation and racism are still problems today?

How Often Do You Text?

How often do you text? A few a day? All day every day? None? What about 14,000 a month? In this Insider Edition story, Reina Hardesty is said to have texted more than 14,000 texts in one month. I know a ton of girls who are constantly texting, but 14,000 is a lot of texts.

How often do you text?

Here’s a poll about how often you text.

Slumdog

Taking a “little” study break yesterday from finals I went and saw Slumdog Millionaire. I had heard great reviews about it but I have to say it was one of the most incredibly moving films I’ve ever seen. Its all based around “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” and how a lower class Indian boy knows the answers to all the questions. This film is a MUST SEE.

BLOG-A-THON!!!

So, today we’re all going to blog our brains out! Today we are having a blog-a-thon! We’ll be posting stuff on this blog pretty consistently throughout the day. All we ask is that you participate simply by commenting on our posts. Come on. Its Martin Luther King Day. You don’t have school… why not spend all day on the Computer mouthing off, joking around, laughing your head off and giving your opinion? ;) Just saying…

Enjoy!

Now: Ready… set… BLOG!!!

No Whoppers for You…

Last week we tore down the wall built around doing mindless tasks for free food - (and what desperate lengths the fast food companies will go to advertise such…).  Two words: Whopper Sacrifice.

Ok, a few more words: Whopper Sacrifice = lame offer. (Completely non-existant offer, if you will…)

The FaceBook program, once installed, rewarded you for ditching, or ‘sacrificing’, 10 friends. The fast food chain promised that your all-expenses paid ‘Whopper experience’ would be delivered in the form of a certificate only 24 hours after your sacrificing was complete.

That certificate has yet to see the light of day - just as the roughly 82,771 people (having dumped a collective 233,906 friends) havn’t been rewarded.

“I think I’ll send an angry-gram to Facebook,” said a ‘grassroots BK-inspired Facebook group-ee’ from the ”Whopper Sacrifice Network.” Even whoppersacrifice.com (the Sacrifice homepage), is recognizing defeat by running the title “Whopper Sacrifice has been sacrificed…”

So according to the big cheeses behind Facebook, the ‘Whopper Sacrifice’ application was an invasion of privacy, and they made their decision to modify the application’s ‘behavior’  ”after extensive discussions with the developer…assuring that users’ expectations of privacy are maintained.”

In other words…your acts of jerk-osity in the name of the Whopper were totally fruitless. Now doesn’t that make you feel good.

PETA Shows Support for Hairless Cats

 

In a new effort to protect fish, animal “rights” group PETA is launching a new campaign to try and stop people from eating fish. Part of the new campaign includes dropping the name “fish” and re-naming them “sea kittens.” I am so not joking. Ashley Byrne, the campaign co-ordinator, says that fish are thinking, feeling creatures. The reason for the new name becomes clear when she states that “knowing that the fish sticks in the school cafeteria are really made out of tortured sea kittens makes most kids want to lose their lunch.”

Read the article here

That last statement makes me want to lose my lunch. Does this seem a little bit pointless to anyone else? What do you think about PETA and their attemps to give animals rights? Is it wrong for them to target children like this?

Photo link here

Financial Success by the ring finger

I first thought this was just a joke when I read it, but it’s true: You can measure a man’s ring finger to determine his success as a financial trader.

Msn.com reports that The University of Cambridge in England employed researchers to find whether finger length could be considered a determining factor of male worker’s success in the financial field.

Lo and behold! - This crazy fact was true! Researchers report that “men with longer ring fingers, compared to their index fingers, tended to be more successful…in the financial district.”  The same proved to be true for male athletes, especially those who compete in soccer and basketball.

‘But what determines finger lengths?’; Researchers next investigated this question. They found the ratio between the first and ring fingers to be dependent on the amount of exposure to the male hormone androgen.  This exposure to androgen can also supposedly lead to “increased confidence, risk preferences, search persistence, heightened vigilance, and quickened reaction times.”

What do YOU think? Do you believe that finger length can predict your money-making future? 

Jon Stewart Goodness


QUESTION: How do you react when you hear sirens?

It’s time to say goodbye… But thanks for the memories & Bushisms…

I just stumbled across this tidbit. I laughed so hard at the opening line people stared at me. I’m used to that, but here you go, nonetheless… QUESTION: What is your favorite “Bushism?”

Eek! Ack! It’s a Suicidal Bunny!

Suicide. It’s horrible, It’s tragic. It’s…awesomely hilarious, if you are reading Andy Riley’s Book of Bunny Suicides. It’s filled with various ways the bunny kills himself. A bunny with the toaster in the kitchen, anyone?

Really, the book is funny. But I guess it didn’t meet the passing grade of an Oregon mom, as she demanded it be removed from her son’s high school library. In this Seattle Times story, the angry mom says “It is a comic book, but that’s not funny. Not at all.”

Have you read the book? Do you find it offensive? Would your parents find it offensive?

 

All eyes on the Obama girls…

I just heard a reporter on TV say the words, “All eyes will be on the Obama girls inauguration night and what they are wearing.” 

QUESTION:  Does that make anyone else throw up a little in their mouth?

 

Video of the Week


Tired of the incessantly-depressing news about Israel, Hamas, and the attacks on the Gaza Strip, but want to keep up with your current events all the same? Informed commentary on what’s being done and what could be done concerning Middle Eastern relations, all set to the antics of a cute, fuzzy puppy. All of the news, none of the depression!”

Bill Maher’s New Movie

Bill Maher must be trying to beat out Michael Moore for most controversial film, because his new one’s a doozy. Maher’s new film, Religulous, is a documentary on the world’s religions and those who follow them. The footage in the film’s trailer brings up some good questions about our beliefs. The movie is out in theatres now.

Watch the trailer on youtube here

Would you watch Religulous, or is Maher going to far? Does he bring up some good points?

Grading the President?

The inaguration is fast-approaching, meaning the end of a long eight-year journey for President George W. Bush.

Opinions are inevitable when it comes to the leader of the Free World, yet is it right to ‘grade’ the President?

Msnbc.msn.com now gives viewers the opportunity to play ‘Teacher’ and participate in a Live Vote grading former President George W. Bush’s performance in the White House. 

Do you guys think it’s right to sum up his past eight years with a simple report card?; The choice of ‘A, B, C, D, or F?’   What grade would you give him?

24 YEARS!

I was horrified a few nights ago watching a show on MSNBC about a man named Josef Fritzl. Fritzl lives in Austria, and for 24 YEARS (yes, more than two decades) he kept his daughter held prisoner in his basement and fathered 7 children, 3 of which he held captive as well. His wife even lived in the house and didn’t know! This makes my heart break! How could someone go 24 years in a windowless basement without anyone knowing!

 

Did any of you hear about this story?

“Marry Me”

This is about 7 mins, but totally worth it to watch until the end.  A description from the short film’s makers:

“Directed by Michelle Lehman, last year’s Tropfest Australia winning film, Marry Me, tells a little love story about “a little girl who likes a little boy and a little boy who likes his BMX bike”. The film was inspired by a true story when director, Michelle, at 5 years of age, would chase Jason Mahooney around the school in a pretend wedding dress (her mother’s nightie).”


QUESTION: Who was your first crush? Did you do anything crazy to get their attention?

Prom Dress Rugby. Yes. You read that correctly…

This. Rocks.

Girls: Would you do this in your prom gown?

Mein Kampf

The Way Home

-Though he knows the Nazi Party will never approve his application, Hans still seems strangely cheerful on his way home from the Nazi office in Molching. Why do you think this is?

The Mayor’s Library

-In this section, we see far more of Ilsa Hermann, the mayor’s wife. What do you make of her thus far? Do you think she is mad, like the rest of the town seems to think?
-Liesel’s time in the library is nothing short of euphoric. Why do you think books mean so much to a girl who can barely read? Is there anything that gives you this same sense of euphoria?
-Why does Ilsa Hermann show Liesel the library? Why doesn’t she tell anyone about the book Liesel stole?

The Attributes of Summer

-In this section, we discover that Ilsa Hermann’s son froze to death during World War I and that she now torments herself by keeping her home ice cold. What do you make of this form of grief? Why do you think she tortures herself this way?
-Death states that it was “fitting that [Liesel] was discovering the power of words.” Considering the states of things, how is this fitting?
-Also in this section, Rudy and Liesel join up with a gang of apple thieves. What effect do you think this thievery will have on either (or both) of them later on?

The Aryan Shopkeeper

-This section finishes up with the line “The day had been a great one, and Nazi Germany was a wonderous place.” What irony, if any, do you find in this statement?

Tricksters

-Arthur Berg’s brief appearance in this novel comes to an end in this chapter. What did you make of him? How do you think he will influence Rudy and Liesel later on in the book? What did you think of Death’s small tribute to him?
-At the end of this section, Rudy and Liesel buy mixed candy from Frau Diller for a second time, only this time they have far more money. Death comments that “the framed Fuhrer looked proud of them.” Again, is there any irony in this statement?

Butthead update: Hilter children removed from home

Ok, they aren’t the “Hitler children” but I knew that would grab the attention of those who have followed the story.  Remember the blog post about Adolf Hilter Campbell and his equally unfortunate sisters named JoyceLynn Aryan Nation and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell?  Their rocket scientist parents decided it was a GOOD idea to “honor” their hero and impose his legacy upon their toddlers.  They made the news all over the world when a local supermarket wouldn’t even put Hitler’s name on his birthday cake. 

Well, the children have all been taken from the home.  See here for article

According to their town’s chief of police, a hearing has been set to to decide whether the state can temporarily place the children in another home. 

Obviously, they didn’t take the kids from the home due to their names—there must have been something else going on.  (Go figure…)  But what do you think?  Are their names, alone, a reason for the kids to be taken?

 

 

Man Demands Kidney in Divorce

Now let this be a lesson to all you kids; only accept organs from those true friends who won’t want them back…

Friendship isn’t the conflict with Long Island surgeon, Dr. Richard Batista, and wife Dawnell Batista. Findingulcinea.com reports that Dr. Batista is demanding through divorce proceedings that his wife “return the kidney he donated to her or pay him $1.5 million in compensation.” 

The case, as ‘unique’ as it may be, is described as a “nonstarter” and having “virtually no chance of succeeding,” by Georgetown University medical ethicists,  (people who decide what’s ethical in the medical world…),  based on the fact that it’s illegal in the United States to trade bodily organs with anything of value. 

“In theory, we are asking for the return of the kidney,” Dr. Batista’s lawyer clarified.  “Of course, he wouldn’t really ask for that, but the value of it.”

What do you think about this? What would you say to the requested return of a donated body part?

The Accounts of the ‘Struggler’

In Part Three of our adventure through The Book Theif we are introduced to a significant and forever-changing character; the ‘Struggler’.

Enter the Struggler

  • Our narrrator first introduces us to the Struggler’s surroundings, using strong descriptives such as; ‘He is scum. He is starving. He is afraid. Please - try not to look away.”  Did any of Death’s descriptions of these feelings and emotions disturb you?  What situations of today that are similar that of Max’s?
  • As Max eats the food found for him he is sure “the Fuhrer himself could hear the sound of the orange crush in his mouth.”  Does he seem paranoid, or is he experencing guilt?
  • What were your first thoughts as you read about Hans Hubermann’s potential future concerning Max?

The Struggler, Continued

  • Max is presented with a copy of Mein Kampf to aid his journey.  How is it ironic that he is calling the book ‘his savior’?  Does he soon begin to trust his life to this book?
  • Panic grips Max as he is potentially asked for his papers - Have you found yourself in a situation such as this? How did you deal with the impending pressures?

The Struggler, Concluded

  • Max had his journey take on significant meaning, knowing that ‘he was nearly there - the most dangerous place to be.” How often has the most important place in lyou ife also been the most dangerous or painful to be?
  • Last but not least; How fitting is the name and significance behind ’The Struggler’? Can you think of any other possible names?

 

 


 

 

 

I Love Ice Cream, but Seriously

I love ice cream, but apparantly not as much as 50 year old Dragan Djuric. On New Years Eve Djuric and his wife were walking along a Laguna Beach boardwalk with their ice cream cones when a flock of birds, including a rare breed of sea gull, attacked them. The birds pooped on Djuric’s head and attempted to grab his wife’s ice cream. The couple dropped their ice cream, and Djuric grabbed a stick and began beating one of the birds, a rare Heerman’s gull. The gull suffered a broken wing and was later put to sleep, while Djuric was arrested for animal cruelty.

Read the story here

Did Djuric overreact, or was he justified in beating the bird with a stick? What kind of ice cream is worth beating a bird over?

Not Your Average Cider…

I know Mariah already posted the Recipes of the Week, but I thought I’d share one more. If you’re tired of the same old hot chocolate/apple cider routine during the winter, here’s a new warm drink to try…

Some Kind of Sight Seeing…

Words that come to mind when thinking of London: quirky, red phone booths, strong accents, fish and chips, the phrase ‘bloody hell’, the cast of Harry Potter….and…o ya, and toilets.

Located on one of London’s most popular sight-seeing routes is a brand new public toilet; a ‘john’ that is both art exhibit and creepy rectangular container.

Staying true to it’s name, “Don’t Miss A Sec,” the exhibit uses unique one-way mirrored glass to allow the user a full view out to take in the sights and catch every beat of uptown London.  “I think there’d be a twinge of not believing that people outside couldn’t see you,” said Jeff Boloten, British employee.

Many question Italian-born artist Monica Bonvicini’s work, including Boloten, saying that “Playing with the idea of the most private bodily function and having to sit on a street corner is just bizarre.”

How about that “Loo with a view?”

Would you use this somewhat ‘see-through’ toilet? Do you see it as true art?

Websites of the Week


You can go to http://wordsmith.org/anagram/ and enter your name, someone else’s name (or any word for that matter) in to the search box to find anagrams derived from the name/word. Its really fun to see what comes up.

After typing in your name/word, did any of the anagrams that came up catch your eye?

Sacrifice for the Whopper?

Sacrifice your friends for food.

No - there’s no spears, cavemen, or giant people-roasting fires involved: Just one popular website and an equally famous hamburger.

Burger King has now launched a new customer-seeking iniative through users of FaceBook, (a popular ‘teen networking’ site ranking more than 150 million users.)  The resturant is currently advertising this fast-food movement using phrases such as; “You like your friends, but you love the Whopper.”  Now we ask, what would you do for a free Whopper?

Through the powerful Burger King-Facebook collaboration, all you have to do is sacrifice…your friends, that is.  Whoppersacrifice.com puts the directions in simple terms; Just “install WHOPPER SACRIFICE on your Facebook profile, and [they’ll] reward you with a free flame-broiled Whopper when you sacrifice 10 of your friends.”

The Whopper is a worthy prize; as of today 189425 friends have been officially sacrificed in the burger’s name.

Are you going to join the “Whopper Sacrifice” revolution? What WOULD you sacrifice your Facebook friends for? (waffles, anyone?) :D

Is this the Next Big Thing?…

One of my favorite sites for teens is Channel One News. (Some of you may get the broadcast at school.) They have a poll on their homepage entitled “The Next Big Thing.” Well, this could be one of the next big things:

From Channel One:

Straight from Paris comes Tektonik, a new dance craze. The dance looks like a hybrid of the robot and popping and requires crazy arm movements, coordination and a LOT of energy. Teens across France are bouncing to electro and techno beats trying to learn this dance. Take a look and tell us if you think Tektonik will make its way over the pond.

What do you think? Would you learn this new and funky dance? Do you think it’ll catch on amongst teens in our culture?

Recipes of the Week

Recipe 1:

Homemade Dog Food. Video is here.

Does anybody make dog food for their dogs? I could totally tell stories about what my grandma makes for her dog. It involves pumpkin, cottage cheese, bacon, and kibble.

Recipe 2:

Homemade Donuts. Video is here.

Have you ever made donuts? What’s your favorite kind of donut?

Recipe 3:

Taco Salad. Video is here.

What kind of tacos do you like? Any favorite Mexican foods?

Quotes of the Week

Quote 1:

I have never taken any exercise except sleeping and resting.
Mark Twain

What exercise do you like to do? Any favorites?

Quote found here.

Quote 2:

Wear the old coat and buy the new book.
Austin Phelps

I know that’s true for me. When you have extra money, what do you do with it?

Quote found here.

Quote 3:

I felt humiliated, betrayed, disrespected and disregarded.

Richard Batista, a Long Island, New York, man currently divorcing his wife, explaining his demand that she return the kidney he donated to her or pay him $1.5 million in compensation

Does anybody else find this hilariously stupid? Because I totally do.  

Quote and explanation found here.

New Semester, New TV

As I’m sure everyone knows the time has come for the all-new television premieres. In addition to new seasons, some shows are being aired for the first time. Here are some you might be interested in (blurbs about shows were taken from the show’s official website, listed below):

Dollhouse (FOX)- ECHO (Dushku) is an “Active,” a member of a highly illegal and underground group of individuals who have had their personalities wiped clean so they can be imprinted with any number of new personas. Hired by the wealthy, powerful and connected, the Actives don’t just perform their hired roles, they wholly become - with mind, personality and physiology - whomever the client wants or needs them to be. Whether imprinted to be a lover, an assassin, a corporate negotiator or a best friend, the Actives know no other life than the specific engagements they are in at that time. 

http://www.fox.com/dollhouse/

Lie to Me (FOX)- Stars Tim Roth as DR. CAL LIGHTMAN, the world’s leading deception expert who studies facial expressions and involuntary body language to discover not only if someone is lying, but why. Based on the real-life scientific discoveries of Paul Ekman, the series follows Lightman and his team of deception experts as they assist law enforcement and government agencies to expose the truth behind the lies.

http://www.fox.com/lietome/

Sit Down, Shut Up (FOX)-  An animated comedy that focuses on the lives of staff members at a high school in a small Florida fishing town (Go Baiters!) who never lose sight of the fact that the children must ALWAYS come second. We watch them grapple with their own egos, needs and personal agendas, their petty insecurities and prejudices, unrequited loves and ruthless battles for power - and that’s just at the staff meeting.

http://www.fox.com/sitdownshutup/

Better Off Ted (ABC)- “Better Off Ted” is a satirical office comedy featuring a successful but morally conscious man, Ted, who runs a research and development department at a morally questionable corporation, Veridian Technologies. No achievement is too far fetched and no invention too unorthodox for Veridian. Need a suicidal turkey? Done. Need a metal that is hard as steel but bounces - and is edible? Done and done. Ted loves his seemingly perfect job; he loves his superhuman boss, Veronica, and colleagues Lem, Phil and Linda, but he’s starting to take a closer look at the company’s extremely questionable practices… especially when they try to cryogenically freeze one of Ted’s scientists for testing purposes.

http://abc.go.com/primetime/betteroffted/index?pn=index

Cupid (ABC)- “Cupid” is a romantic dramedy about Trevor, a larger than life character who may or may not be the Roman god of love, Cupid, sent to earth to bring couples together. As fate would have it, Trevor is under the care of famous psychologist and self-help author Dr. Claire Allen, who is also dedicated to helping lonely hearts find their soul mates. While she agrees with his cause, she questions whether he’s crazy or really is Cupid.

http://abc.go.com/primetime/cupid/index?pn=index

Castle (ABC)- Wildly famous mystery novelist Richard Castle is bored with his own success. Then he learns that a real-world copycat killer has started staging murder scenes depicted in his novels. Castle is questioned by NYPD Detective Kate Beckett, a bright and aggressive detective who keeps her investigations under tight rein. Though they instantly clash, sparks of another sort also begin to fly, leading both to danger and a hint of romance as Castle steps in to help find the killer. And once that case is solved, he and Beckett build on their new relationship as they look to solve more strange homicides in New York - as much fun as one can have with death and murder.

http://abc.go.com/primetime/castle/index?pn=index

The Goode Family (ABC)- A new animated series from Mike Judge, creator of “King of the Hill.” “The Goode Family” is obsessed with doing the “right” thing whether it’s environmentally, politically or socially. Unfortunately their efforts often have unintended comic consequences.

http://abc.go.com/primetime/goodefamily/index?pn=index

The Unusuals (ABC)- Like a modern-day M*A*S*H, The Unusuals explores both the grounded drama and comic insanity of the world of New York City police detectives, where every cop has a secret. It also helps to have a twisted sense of humor, since every day could be your last.
Detective Casey Shraeger (Amber Tamblyn) has just been transferred to the NYPD’s Homicide unit from Vice and is instantly thrown into a setting of bullets and bodies. As she begins her new assignment, Casey finds that the force is full of secrets, which serves her well, since she’s keeping a few of her own. But her first case is not an easy one, as she’s assigned to investigate the death of one of the department’s own, the former partner of Detective Jason Walsh, who is now her new partner. 
As the duo seeks out the cop killer, the secrets and eccentricities of the rest of the department begin to emerge. Prank-magnet and social climber Detective Eddie Alvarez has no qualms about stealing cases, as long as he can turn them into front-page stories; partners Eric Delahoy, who is trying to get himself killed in the line of duty, and Leo Banks, an overly cautious officer who refuses to remove his bulletproof vest, are polar opposites; and the very religious Detective Henry Cole is trying to keep his secret past from both his streetwise partner, Alison Beaumont, and Sgt. Brown, who is struggling to rid the 2nd precinct of corruption.

http://abc.go.com/primetime/theunusuals/index?pn=index

What are your favorite shows? Do any of these have potential? Which ones will be cancelled after the first season?

A Healthy Personality…

With the incoming of 2009 we’re hit with lots of those good ol’ Resolutions; to eat more healthfully is often one of them.  So when you’re reaching into the fridge for that next healthy snack, consider what it could about you and your characteristics! Here at PersonalityQuiz.net, you can find your personality match all based on your favorite fruit. Snack away!

Here are your choices: (Results are below…)

1.  Orange
2. Apple
3. Banana
4. Coconut
5. Pineapple
6. Papaya
7. Mango
8. Cherry
9. Black Grapes
10. Peach
11. Custard Apple
12. Pear

 

Video of the Week


An intriguing, student-made video based on the experiences of children who have grown up in war zones. Set to “The Night Sky” by Keane.

Top Pet Names for 2008

Well, here we go. The list of the most popular (and unusual) Pet Names of 2008. There are some pretty interesting names in the “unusual” names category and of course, you have some classic/traditional names in the “most popular” lists. I found it interesting that some names showed up more than once within the lists. The original article from MSNBC can be found here.

Book of Fire

In this final section of Part Two, Liesel commits her first act of book thievery by stealing a novel that miraculously escaped the flames of the bonfire. -It is obvious that she knew such an action was absolutely unacceptable in the eyes of Nazi Germany. What do you think led her to still commit this “crime?”

We end this part of the book with the comment that “a book was eating [Liesel] up.” -Though this is statement is literal, since a smoldering book is pressed against her bare skin, is there more to it than that? Foreshadow? Symbolism? Anything at all?

Any final comments on Part Two?

The Gates of Thievery

At the very beginning of this section, we find that the bonfire has burned itself out and that “most of the crowd [has] vanished.” -Despite being so eager for the burning, most of the viewers left very quickly, judging by Zusak’s diction. Why do you think this is?

Liesel declares on the street half-way through this chapter that she hates Hitler, and Hans uncharacteristically slaps her for this statement. -Do you think this will have any effect on what has otherwise been a wonderful relationship between the two?

Any other thoughts?

100 Percent Pure German Sweat

I’m going to try something a bit different for this section. Three quotes (posted below) stood out to me in this section. My question is this: How are these quotes related to each other, to the setting of the novel, and to the current state of the world?

“[Humans’] great skill is their capacity to escalate.”

“There was no swaying [the crowd], squeezing it, or reasoning with it. You breathed with it, and you sang its songs. You waited for its fire.”

“[Ludwig] was just an animal, hurt among the melee of his own kind, soon to be trampled by it.”

Hitler’s Birthday, 1940

On to Part 5!

In celebration of both Hitler’s birthday and Germany’s triumph in the war thus far, the city of Molching holds a book burning. Death notes that it “would have come as no surprise if certain members of the party had…published a thousand or so books or posters of poisonous material simply to incinerate them.” -What is the appeal of burning books? Why is this action considered celebratory?

Death describes Hans Jr.’s eyes as being “Führered.” -What does this adjective mean? Is it significant that his eyes are “Führered” rather than another trait or body part?

Death also describes Hans Sr. painting over Jewish slurs as being “bad for Germany.” -How is such an action “bad for Germany?” Bad for one’s reputation, yes, but bad for the country?

A question is posed towards the end of this section, a question that greatly troubles Hans Sr.: “Is there cowardice in being glad that you lived?” -What are your thoughts on this question?

As always, any other thoughts, comments, or questions are more than welcome.

“Squirrelly” Dining: Cruel or Charitable?

British farmers’ markets, butcher shops, village pubs, and elegant restaurants have become more creative with their cuisine.  Along with the traditional roast beef and chicken, squirrel has graced the menu.  Don’t get Great Britain wrong, though.  This is a proactive approach to maintaining the balance between two squirrel species.

Like the fight between the Trojans and the Spartans in ancient history, the gray squirrels and the red squirrels are competing for superiority and dominance (not to mention survival).  The squirrel species’ ”Trojan War” is alive and competitive all throughout Britain.

Because of the treasured and beloved tales of Beatrix Potter, the red squirrels are cherished by Britain more than the gray squirrels are.  The gray squirrels have the abilities to invade the red squirrels’ habitats and to pass on a deadly virus (parapox) to the reds that does not affect the grays.

Gamekeepers, hunters, and trappers are glad to help in any way posseble.  In fact, they encourage people to eat the squirrel meat so that it is not wasted.

“Save Our Squirrels” is campaign that began in 2006 to protect the red squirrels from their North American cousins.  By eating gray squirrels, the Britains hope to control their squirrel population and help the environment out, too.

The rallying motto for “Save Our Squirrels” goes, “Save a red, eat a gray!”

Do you agree with eating squirrels, even if it appears to be for an environmental cause?

I wouldn’t want to be them…

Right now this is what many of the area school districts are up against.

Dead Letters

Chapter 4 - Section 2.

  • Begining with the title of the chapter, Dead Letters, What does this lead us to think about the future of Liesel’s letters?


  • Liserl exemplifies a unique level of understanding concerning her family’s struggles, saying “They were only victims of circumstance.” What are these circumstances? Does this concept apply to those suffering today?


  • Liserl takes heed of the darkness around her; of how the inky black is now  being found throughout her life. Does this darker theme continue throughout the book? What feeling is being expressed through her loss of the light? Innocence? Her emotions toward the future?

The Town Walker

Here’s Chapter 3 of Section 2. Enjoy!

  • The rot. That’s the name given to the economic ‘rough times.’ Do you think we’re in the midst of ‘a rot’?  How do many of the Huberman’s financial struggles parallel those of today?

  • As Lisel writes the letter to her mother, many questions arise. How do these questions relate to both the past of her brother and that of her mother?

    Next section is comin’ right up!




The Joy of Cigarettes

Section 2 - Chapter 2: Some definite good reading.

  • Right from the starting gate, Death show us the “Keys to Happiness,” and also introduces the concept of “Being Happy”. What are YOUR keys to happiness?

    Death later says, “It’s not hard to like a man who not only notices the colors, but speaks them,” when commenting on the way Hans Huberman begins to notice his surroundings.

  • Do  you think Death feels that can relate to Hans and his sensitivity to the ‘colors’?
  • Have you started to take  notice of the colors surrounding you upon reading this book?

  • The next book stolen by Liesel, The Lighthouse, was written by a woman. Do you think this had an effect on Liesel?
  • Has any particular author had an effect on you in this way?

    The next post for the next section is comin’ up in a jiffy!



A Girl Made of Darkness

Alright! - Get our your smarty-pants thinking caps; We’ll now resume discussion of The Book Thief - Part 2.

“One opportunity leads directly to another,
just as risk leads to more risk, life to more life,
and death to more death.”

  • Does this statement, made by Death, ring true for what we’ve seen thus far in Liserl’s life?
  • Based on this passage, how do you think Death feels about his job?

  • Death, our Narrator, puts heavy emphasis on the German’s love to burn; How does this represent or carry the theme of the book?

“Like most misery, it started with apparent happiness.”

  • Has this phrase seen truth in YOUR life?




Stubborn? Or Something else?

I’ve heard a lot of people claiming that they will never accept President-elect Obama as their President, but after hearing a neighbor mention that officials have not proved whether Obama is actually a US citizen (he is), I started wondering. Is this unwillingness to accept a new President simply a bunch of people who are mad a McCains loss? I certainly don’t remember this much protest after Bush was elected, and I have to wonder if part of the protest is because of Obama’s skin color.

Are some people simply bitter at McCains loss, or is racism fueling some of the animosity towards Obama?

“Bruised Ego” Prevention

For those who can’t stand the torture of figuring out what they should have said or what they should have done, planning ahead pays off more than procrastination…or does it?

“Something came up.”  “My cell phone broke.”  “I had to take Jimmy to the doctor.”  “What?! Nobody told me that!”

Ah, yes.  The deceptive crafts of excuse making and comeback preparing have become much more witty and clever, but studies have shown these acts to be “self-sabotage” in one of its purest forms.

Psychologists have found that people who have habits of making excuses set themselves up for failure, hamper their own success by lowering others’ expectations for them, and form everlasting webs of lies.

Excuses are the perfect, yet unhealthy ”handicaps” blinding people from their full potentials.

 

Car Accident Connection

Schools official in Lexington, Kentucky, favor a later start to the average school day, just like the students!

Experimentally, the school officials pushed back the beginning of the school day by only one hour for middle and high school students, and they found less teen-related car accidents, a benefit caused by more rested and alert student drivers in the community.

Through school-wide surveys, the officials were able to prove that the normal teen rested more once the starting school times changed.  Only 38 percent of the students in the community received eight or more hours of sleep before the survey, and 50 percent received this much sleep afterwards.

Student car accidents decreased by 16 percent two years after the initial time change for 17- and 19-year-olds in Fayette County, where Lexington is located.  Throughout the rest of the state, teen car crashes were reduced by eight percent.

Smokin’ Hot (Not!)

In the same way the smell of smoke from someone’s hair, clothes, house, or car upsets the senses, the brain is affected by this invisible residue, recently labeled third-hand smoke, as well.

Loads of heavy metal (and we’re not talkin’ music!), carcinogens, hazardous chemicals, and radioactive materials cling onto people and their possessions.  This invisible residue is a recipe for disaster because it can be easily ingested to cause damage. 

Children are especially at risk.  Parents might smoke while their children are away and out of the house, and they don’t witness any visible damage in doing so.  By playing in a space where someone has smoked, kids are exposed to third-hand smoke.

Be sure to visit the article, “A New Cigarette Hazard: ‘Third-Hand Smoke,’” from the New York Times. 

Road to the Doghouse - Puppedential Debate


From the Daily Show….


QUESTION: “Who’s a good boy?”

If Only Webster Were Here…

Like finding a needle (or several) in a haystack, the New York Times has discovered and released the brand-new buzzwords of 2008.  Here are the official words from lexicographer Grant Barret.

  • Fail is now used in the phrase, “A bucket of fail!” It is considered an antonym of win or victory.
  • A malus is a salary cut or penalty made by a suffering business or company.
  • The word change is considered to be the number one buzzword of 2008 (according to KHQ News), but the New York Times call it more “political wallpaper” than an actual buzzword.
  • “Caribou Barbie” is also known as the former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
  • The word Obamanation is a positive reference to our future president and all that he stands for.  Visit the above link to see other words from the dictionary “Obamafied,” including Bamelot. 
  • A frugalista is someone who is frugal and fashionable at the same time. 
  • Taking a staycation involves taking time off from work without traveling.
  • Digital cliff - the effect of attempting to use an analog TV signal after February 18, 2009.
  • Skadoosh I love this one! Skadoosh was made popular by Jack Black’s adorable panda bear character in the movie “Kung Fu Panda”.
  • Phelpsian This one speaks for itself. Phelpsian is an adjective used to describe anything honoring the excellent achievements of Michael Phelps during this past Olympic Games. All in all, he earned eight medals and set seven world records!
  • Gas-sipper is an antonym to the word gas-guzzler.
  • Joe  As made popular by Joe Six-Pack, Joe the Biden, Joe the Plumber, and Amtrak Joe, this word refers to any everyday average man.
  • Greyjing is a nickname for the smoggy and gray city of Beijing
  • A fish pedicure is unlike any other pedicure because small fish eat the dead skin off someone’s feet.  Lovely!
  • Sister wife refers to a woman who shares her husband with another woman.
  • “Lipstick on a pig” is a phrase that both Obama and Sarah Palin used during campaigning. 
  • Photobombing is what happens when someone inserts him- or herself into a picture without permission or welcome.
  • DWT (driving while texting) is the unafe behavior of sending text messages via a cellular device while operating an automobile.

Check out these other 2008 buzzwords on the site linked above for more hilarious and silly definitions!

  • Age-doping
  • Pregorexia
  • Throwie
  • Hockey mom
  • Twitt-
  • Plutoid
  • Futarchy
  • Maverick
  • Quake lake
  • Recessionista
  • TBTF (too big to fail)
  • In the tank
  • Twi-hard (Twilight rocks!)
  • Naked short selling
  • Nuke the fridge
  • Edupunk
  • Stag-deflation
  • Longphoto
  • Burrowing
  • Terrorist fist jab

Have your or your friends ever made up awesome new words?  If so, what are they?  How are they used in conversation? 

My friends and I love to do this! We actually started our own dictionary so that we could keep track of all our outrageously funny new words.

Okay, I’m Growing Old of This

Central Valley, West Valley, East Valley, and Mead school districts are closed tomorrow. Spokane Public is not. Here’s the ESD 101 site to check for more closures.

2009 Winter Myth Fayre

It’s time to put some myths to bed, thanks to the British Medical Journal. Sorry moms, but reading in the dark won’t earn us permanent blindness, plucking a gray hair will not cause 10 more to grow in its place, and wearing a hat will not save us from freezing to death.

Not only this, but the BMJ says we do not have to drink 8 glasses of water a day unless we are eating the full amount of recommended calories, turkey will not make us sleepy, and sugar doesn’t cause hyperactivity in children.

Please take interest in part one and part two of BMJ‘s project.

Of course, moms, a Google search would’ve snuffed those myths out quickly. Then again, WebMD will tell you that turkey might give you imaginary restless leg syndrome.

Hope you all have a good snow day and feel free to leave your favorite medical myths above.

Have a death wish and need a hobby?


Try this…
wingsuit base jumping from Ali on Vimeo.

QUESTION: Would you do it?

Another one?

Its relieving for a lot of students in the Spokane area to have another snowday and relax before going back to school, but since these days are being added on to holiday break students might start forgetting more information. With finals coming up for a lot of highschools, how are you feeling about missing more school days for snow?

Food News of the Week!…

So marks the return of my weekly post - informing you about some odd-crazy-or just interesting food news! This week we’re bringin’ in the New Year with a lil’ investigation on the traditional Chinese cuisine.

February 7th is the start of the “rodent’s 12-month reign as the Year of the Rat,” meaning celebration for this southern Cantonese family intervied for an article on steamykitchen.com.

There is deep symbolism in the time of New Year, all ranging from the noodles served to the portraits hung in the kitchen. Here are just a few of the details woven into this family’s traditions.

Eating Chicken…or Fish? Representing good health, a chicken (head and all) is served simply steamed to guests. Fish (including the eyeballs) is served to ensure abundance throughout the year. This branched off of the Chinese word for fish, “yu”, very close in meaning to the Chinese word for “every year our family has something leftover and we always have enough.”

Go for the Noodles: A constant staple in Chinese dining, noodles play an important role in the celebration of the New Year.  Representing a long life, lengthy noodles arn’t cut before serving.  Snipping those noodles is to to cut your life short.

The Kitchen God: (and no, we’re not talking about Emeril or Bobby Flay…) A portrait of the Kitchen God is hung on the wall to watch over the family throughout the year. On the Chinese New Year, “he goes back to the heavens and reports to the other Gods of [the family’s] prosperity, fortune, and health.”  An elaborate buffet-style ‘offering’ is given to the Kitchen God to hopefully grant a good report.

“Basically, we bribed the Kitchen God to say nice things about us,” the Cantonese family says.

Luck of the Citrus: Displaying tangerines, “preferably big fat ones with leaves still attatched,” is a great source of luck. (mmmmm!…eating them is equally swell!)

Do YOU have any New Year’s food traditions? What is done for good luck through the year in your household?

2 weeks, 3 days?

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich may very well cancel school tomorrow. He’s holding a press conference this afternoon. I’ll post after he’s done (I think the press conference is at 4:30, so I’ll try to post soon after that.) Here’s the Spokesman blurb about it. 

Central Valley, West Valley, Nine Mile Falls, Medical Lake, Liberty, Mead, East Valley, Freeman, Great Northern, Orchard Prairie and Spokane districts will comply. Cheney and Riverside districts already had made the decision to close for the day. In Lincoln County, the Reardan-Edwall School District will be closed.  

Update: He has ‘strongly recommended’ the closure of all schools in Sookane County for tomorrow, and officials are checking if he can order the schools closed.  The link above is still good, and the grey box above shows school closures as told in that Spokesman story. Prep and St. Georges are closed, also.

 

Hailey’s New Year’s Resolution How-To Guide

Dreamers all over the globe have awaken to the New Year and several New Year’s resolutions.  Who will succeed?

I’ve compiled a list of tips, ideas, and quotes for goal-setting success.  Good luck at tackling you latest resolutions!

  • Goals should be SMART:

          S = specific

          M = measurable

          A = assignable (who does what)

          R = realistic

          T = time-related

  • “Ninety-nine percent of failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.” -George Washington Carver  Make a plan and stick with it!  Include others in your resolutions.  You’ll be less likely to quit your goals if it means you’ll be letting others down, too.
  • Don’t confuse routine with commitment.  Your goals have to a top priority if they are going to get accomplished.  Write down your goals, your plan, and your motivations down on a piece of paper or on your phone, and keep these notes with you at all times!  By keeping your goals with you, you’ll be constantly reminded of your commitment to yourself.
  • “Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.” -Anonymous  This idea is pretty self-explanatory, but it is key to remember that dreams will not come true if you keep taking “shortcuts”.  To prevent yourself from “cheating” on your goals, include weekly rewards that are worthwhile.  If your goal is strictly long-term, you may lose interest, regardless of how much your goal means to you.  Be sure to make yourself earn these goals to ensure progress as opposed to setbacks.
  • “High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation.” -Jack Kinder  Keep yourself on track while having fun!
  • “It’s not where your dreams take you.  It’s where you take your dreams.” This is one of my faves!
  • “Organize your life around your dreams - and watch them come true.” I’ll leave you with this parting thought!

In Your Future…

Sometimes, if I’m bored, I read my horoscope in magazines or the paper. And most of the time, a former flame doesn’t consult me on the 23rd of the month. Actually, almost never does anything in the horoscope come true. That doesn’t stop me from reading them, though. So when I found Yahoo’s 2009 horoscope, here, I looked at my sign, Scorpio. Low and behold, there is quite the prediction for my life in 2009.

As you articulate your beliefs, you will move your life — and the planet — toward a more spiritual and thoughtful reality. Positively express yourself and your vision, and you will be a source of great inspiration.

Groovy, dude. What is your horoscope for 2009? Any wacky predictions? Do you read your horoscopes every day?

Part 2, Here We Come!

So. The Official VOX Book Club has officially concluded discussion of Part 1 of The Book Thief. …..officially.

The assigned reading and discussion have both been moving along quite well; - Therefore we’ve got a proposition for you!

Many of you are ahem…”advanced” in your reading. (You know it’s true, you awesome book-nerds!) So the idea of discussing full ‘Parts’ of the book, rather than chapters, was put on the table. (Thanks, Rae! :D) We think we’ll give it a try, test the waters, maybe move through the book a bit faster.

So…Coming this Tuesday, January 6!: Discussion of ALL of Part 2 - The Shoulder Shrug.

Like this schedule better? Any other ideas about assignments or discussion posts? Comment up!

The Heavyweight Champion of the School-Yard

The last section of Part 1 of The Book Thief…here we go.

  • Death gives us an overview of the past year: (as follows)

“***SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER 1939***
1. World War I begins.
2. Liesel Meminger becomes heavyweight champion.”

How would YOU sum up 2008? What events would make it on the list in your life?

  • Later on, our narrator gives his opinion on man’s common view of ‘Death’. (He “likes the scythe, it amuses [him].”) How does Death’s temporary step out of the narrating role shape our view of him? What does it add to the story?
  • We also find out the identities of two of our main characters; Rudy - “the crazy one who painted himself black and defeated the world,” and Liesel - “the book thief without the words.”  How do you think their identity will affect their lives in the future? Does this seem somewhat ironic, seeing that these life identities were given by Death?

A Solution to Drunk Driving?

As of January 1, Washington is requiring people convicted of drunk driving to install ignition locks on their cars. For the car to start, the driver must blow into the ignition lock, which reads their blood alcohol level. If the level is too high, the car won’t start. The ignition lock requires periodic re-testing while the car is on as well.

Users are required to pay for the devices themselves, which run at about $80, but installing one allows the driver to avoid license suspension. Several other states adopting this bill made the ignition lock mandatory after a license suspension, but Rep. Roger Goodman, the law’s author, explained that they are trying to lower the number of people driving on suspended licenses.

If the drivers are caught using someone elses car or having someone else blow into the ignition lock, they face jail time.

Read more about the law here 

Do you agree with this law? Do you think that the ignition lock will stop drivers from getting behind the wheel drunk? Should driver’s licenses be suspended before installing the lock?

The Other Side of Sandpaper

So here we are my fellow Book Thief readers - we’re advancing on the final chapters of Part 1.

  • The first line of this chapter is a slammer; it really got me. “People have defining moments…especially when they’re children.” What has been YOUR defining moment thus far in your life? Does it, (or do they), compare to Rudy’s ‘Jesse Owens’ experience or Liesel’s moments of hysteria?
  • Hans soon finds ‘The Gravedigger’s Handbook’ hidden in Liesel’s sheets; How do you think Hans felt upon finding such a book in Liesel’s possesion?
  • How would YOU feel if a secret of yours was discovered in such a way?

The Smell of Friendship

In this section, we follow Liesel and Hans on their reading lessons. In good weather, they study along the Amper River. Two bits of information are given to us about this river: it is where Hans used to practice the accordion, and it winds its way in the direction of Dachau. -Is there anything significant in either of these bits of information?

We also learn that “Hans Hubermann’s accordion [is] a story.” Though we won’t know about this story until later on in the book, we know that part of it will arrive “wearing ruffled shoulders and a shivering jacket…[carrying] a suitcase, two questions, and a book.” -Any predictions about what this story might be?

Any other thoughts or comments?

The Jesse Owens Incident

In this section, we really get our first definite taste of how Hitler’s policies affect the people, specifically the convoluted views of Alex Steiner. -What do you make of these “contradictory politics?” How do these views reflect on Alex Steiner? On the German people overall?

“On the way home, Mr. Steiner decided to talk politics with the boy as best he could. Only in the years ahead would Rudy understand it all - when it was too late to bother understanding anything.” -What do you make of this quote? Why is it eventually “too late to bother understanding anything?”

Rudy shows great devotion to a black American Olympian in this section, going so far as to paint himself black with charcoal and run pretend Olympic races in the middle of the night. -Is there any significance in his pretending to be someone else, or is it simply a child’s fantasy?

As always, any other comments are welcome.

Happy New Year!!!

2009
Graphics & Myspace layouts

Well, we made it! It is now officially 2009!!! *does a happy dance* *sets off firecrackers* I’m so excited!!!… *yawns* Okay, time for bed…

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About this blog

In 2006, then-editor Steve Smith of The Spokesman-Review had the idea of starting a publication for an often forgotten audience: teenagers. The Vox Box was a continuation of the Vox, an all-student staffed newspaper published by The Spokesman-Review. High school student journalists who staffed the Vox made all content decisions as they learn about the trade of journalism. This blog's mission was to give students an opportunity to publish their voices. The Vox Box and the Vox wrapped up in June 2009, but you can follow former staffers' new blog at http://voxxiez.blogspot.com.

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