Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"How Ya Like Them Apples?"

- is the title for my latest oil painting. This is the largest work I've ever done; the canvas is 2x3 feet, and I covered every part of that sucker with paint!

The assignment was to choose any kind of noun or thing as a figure and paint it 16 times - differently. My choice was an apple, because I was eating an apple while trying to figure out what my figure should be. (I'm really good at critical thinking).

In each of the 16 sections, the figure should be painted according to certain guidelines from the assignment sheet, but you can paint in any order as you wish. For example: number 7 on the assignment sheet tells you to paint one section with the figure with one color, and then the background a complementary color; my number 7 section is on the bottom left. Another example would be number 8 on the assignment sheet; you're supposed to use texture in the section. In my number 8 section (top left), I used an actual popsicle stick and painted over it.

For my second oil painting ever, I'm satisfied with it. I could've done better as far as cleaning up the edges a bit, and some of the backgrounds could've had a bit more thought put into them.

Btw, I'm sick 'n tired of apples.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Friday, March 14, 2008

Cut Back

"Stop balancing the budget on our children's backs," is a popular quote going around among district officials in California. Because of Swarzchenegger's budget project, the layoff process of many faculty members statewide is becoming more of a reality. Vital members, like teachers, principals, counselors, school nurses and other non-teacher positions are dreading these soon realistic cutbacks. Those with non-teaching jobs have already faced the effects from the Governator's cuts. Yes, it's unfair for the essential team players to be laid off, but I feel like we've overlooked a department that does not play a significant role in academics: the athletic department.

With a relatively small population among all schools, the athletic department has somehow dodged the priority list of branches that need to be totally cut, if not restricted. I don't understand why I'm not hearing the word "coaches" or "physical educator" mentioned as I hear far more important faculty members being listed down as if they didn't make it on the varsity basketball team; "Sorry Geometry Teacher, but we have some high standards on this team to reach our goals. Take some tips from P.E. Instructor and observe what it takes to be a high priority on the team." The news has mentioned nothing related to athletics, so the department must be doing it's job of students reaching the general ideal goal: graduate from high school with a full-ride scholarship to a distinguished 4-year university.

I'm raising my left hand up and using the other to point at the school coaches. You're damn right I'm tattling on you guys. The only coaches that were addressed as being laid off were writing and math coaches, and from what I've heard, the brain needs more of a workout than the biceps and glutes. I appreciate that these teachers are advocates of health, but let's be real: these P.E. classes aren't making an impact on the malnutritioned and obese kids, especially in this day of age when kids are turned into passive learners because of the internet. OK, you can argue* that there are other classes post-graduate students won't reminisce, but I'm a firm believer that any history, math, english, or science class and the teachers that indoctrinate them prompt students to genuinely think about possible careers to research; it's not often for a student to say, "Coach McCloud really inspired me to become a kinestheologist."

"Academics over athletics," is what you'd hear from my former Honors Intermediate Algebra teacher, who is also a Cross Country and Track & Field coach. I've never heard anyone say anything so true, asides from my former basketball coach: "Your priorities should be listed from least to most important: basketball, then school, then your religion." He didn't like fags, though, so that kinda invalidates the last part of his inspiring words. Nonetheless, strengthening the brain is more important than the body, and that's the message that should be taken out of this. It kills me to hear that former wrestling teammates still struggle in classes because they've been focused and stressed about the sport; and not to mention cutting pounds of water weight, which makes concentration in school difficult. So, let's face the fact that not every student is a star athlete with an above average grade point average, though it is highly doable, but I don't doubt that a high GPA is put into more consideration by universities than a perfect touchdown record; besides, you would need a minimum of a 2.0 GPA with no Fs in order to play.

I don't know for sure how California's budget cut is going to seriously effect schools statewide; I actually just heard on the news that the probability of teachers actually getting laid off is low, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't take this whole deal ardently. Maybe only a few teachers will be laid off, and the biggest problem would be oversized classrooms -- which is still a significant deal. I'm sure students will still get the chance to check out books at their school libraries, but librarians won't supervise those buildings. Restrooms will still be used, but custodians aren't going to clean the graffiti off the walls and stalls.

In school, you are a student to learn and find out what kind of career you want to pursue, not to train to win the basketball state championship. In school, you are a student to move on to a higher level of education, not become a professional football player. In school, you are a student, but being an athlete is an option.

*thanks Sue!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Getting My Name Out

It's been over a month into the Spring semester 'n I feel like I've been on top of things as far as homework 'n studying goes (a lot of credit goes to the b/f for keeping me focused in the books rather than the computer screen). I feel that I'm making a subtle impression on most of my instructors; it's important to me that I get to know them by raising my hand 'n adding on to the lecture, especially if the instructor demands a lot of participation (it's just too awkward for the whole class to say nothing when a professor asks a question 'n expects feedback).

English 110 (college composition) and English 217 (sci-fi & fantasy lit.) are still my favorite yet most challenging classes, 'n I really try hard to keep up w/ some outstanding classmates. There are quite a lot of smart students, 'n I feel behind the class knowing a lot of them have read a bajillion novels (I feel proud just finishing Ender's Game!). One of the instructors remembered my name only b/c I was late, 'n said: "You're late. You delay, just like your last name." It's irritating to have my last name remembered b/c I wasn't punctual for one day. I did, however, put in a lot of effort towards studying 'n work for the first essay 'n book exam; I hope they remember my name b/c I aced both of them.

I thought blogging would reinforce my writing skills in Engl110, but I still feel like I'm starting from square one, reviewing 'n learning all of this paragraph structure; content; thesis statements; topic sentences; central ideas; comma splices; sentences that are too awkward to read when read aloud b/c it's just too wordy that it doesn't really make sense 'n also b/c it's too long for the reader to comprehend as an understandable sentence; avoiding repetition 'n long, awkward, run-on sentences; when to stop using semicolons - this class is helping me a lot.

I love lectures about authors/storytellers like Mark Twain, J. R. R. Tolkien, Homer, 'n others who would've made great bloggers if they had computers 'n the internets. I never really took the time to study great writers 'n their work. When I do analyze, I notice a lot of their writing skills that I've always overlooked. When I carefully read passages from Meditations on Middle-Earth, I think to myself: "Wow, he knows how to use semicolons flawlessly!" 'n, "Hey, I noticed none of these writers use ''n' as a variant of the word 'and'. I should start doing that." 'n that's where the real learning begins

Psychology is another challenging class, but I love the content 'n the proffesuh. I had dropped the class last semester partly b/c I wasn't focused, 'n I looked at the instructor w/ disdain. I can't stand a teacher who gets irked for people not participating but gets frustrated when someone asks a question ('n not necessarily a dumb question!). My current psych instructor, on the other hand, encourages us to participate so she can know our names - plus she gives participation points. Acing the first exam (see where I'm going w/ this ego thing?) was a big self-esteem booster, 'n encourages me to keep on doing what I've been doing: not procrastinating. 'n it's working fairly well.

Of course, my psych instructor will remember me, as I didn't remember her name in the beginning of the semester - well, I knew her name, but I didn't pronounce it correctly. She is a person who wants to have her last name w/ the Hispanic pronunciation, which I understand. One time, I had had raised my hand to ask a question, 'n called "Dr. Ramos, I have a question." She replied back, "It's pronounced Rah-mose," as the tip of her tongue hit the roof of her mouth at a speed of 200 intervals per nanosecond. I have great difficulty rolling my tongue; I wouldn't make a good Latino if I can't do that. In all seriousness, she added, "Remember in the beginning of the semester I told you that you can address me w/ my first name or last, but not pronounced 'Ray-mose.' So I'll answer your question if you say my name right" I apologized, but I knew she was just kidding around - I think.

I've heard lots about my art instructor before taking his painting class - but they weren't exactly positive things. Word amongst students who have had him is that he's a grumpy, middle-aged guy 'n he does favorites, 'n those favorites were usually girls. So I asked myself how the hell will a gay guy like will ever has his name remembered? It turns out that he's actually a nice, affable guy. Ask him a question 'n he's there to give an answer along w/ his life story. He's already gotten to know us by our individual styles when we paint; "Whose is that? The one w/ the crazy brush strokes? Kathy, right? She should be an impressionist," or "I like the use of darks of that apple 'n dramatic shading on the doll face. Isn't Doug the one that hates creepy dolls 'n clowns?" Things are looking positive in this class 'n I enjoy being surrounded by artists, both young and older (not OLD!).

Intermediate Algebra is easy, 'n my instructor's a goofy guy that likes to cuss a lot. I remember after class I had him check my work for a question I got wrong, 'n he goes, "Shit! That's a lot of denominators you need to get rid of! Fuckin' hairy mess you got into, huh?" Eff yeah! He has my name down b/c I look like a student he had before, and he was a good student, so he says; I guess I gotta live up to that.

W/ all of that said, this semester's looking great, 'n I'm up for the challenges my great instructors give me. I will also practice rolling my tongue 'n perfect it by the end of the semester.