Friday, January 27, 2012

Update on life

Hi, I've been around. Just busy with everything that's been going on.

I have a new devotional called Jesus Calling, and it's really good. It reminds me to live above my circumstances and keep my eyes on God. But I keep falling back into being overwhelmed by the actually-small stresses of life. The highest order in my life should be God, but instead it's a to-do list.

Stress factors:
-School. The very first assignment this semester in Honors AmLit is a research paper. Why....And I have a debate project in Biology.

-The Lakehouse-My pet, my baby, and sometimes the bane of my existence.

-Piano. Recital in a week, and a test two weeks after that. I practice two hours a day.

-Dance. I now have a biology lab on Fridays, so I had to quit one ballet class. And I'm screwed with only one ballet class a week, so I've taken to making up in other ballet classes, but I've yet to find one that works for my schedule. And even with three, it's not enough to get to the level that I want to.

-Mission trip. I'm supposed to go to Costa Rica with my dad and my brothers over the summer, but I'm sadly out of the loop on that. I've missed one info meeting, haven't turned in my application, and money is starting to be due already. And watching I watched a blimeycow video about mission trips that has me questioning my motivation to go. I mean, I wanna go, and I wanna help people, but I also want to have fun and travel, because trips like these have lately been my only chances to leave the country.

-editing my NaNoNovel

-And Girl Scout cookies come tomorrow. I always put myself under a lot of pressure to sell a lot, and it's hard because I have to carry them around and beg people to buy them. And people ALWAYS buy them from the cute little younger girl scouts and not us. 

I think that, once this is over and this is done and I've checked off my to-do list, I can relax, but the truth is once something is off the stress list, something else comes and takes its place. That's why I have to put my peace and joy in something that DOESN'T change. I know that's God, but it's so hard with everything staring me in the face. Even though I know that it's all trivial and everything seems much more important than it is. God has to help me keep my perspective on things. Most of the time, I feel like I'm going to go crazy.

Here is some stuff which I turn to(instead of God) to temporarily deal with feeling stress-

-Drawing-I find drawing very therapeutic. I love to draw people, even though I'm no good at it.

-Dance Moms-this is a bit pathetic. But seriously, I live for those weekly 45 minutes of drama.

-Reading-This is the biggest one. I love to just get in a book and lose myself in it. It puts my problems back in perspective,  calms me down, and puts me in a good mood.

-Food- <-This is bad for you. Do not try it. But I love me some homemade brownies and nian gao.

Pray for me! I love you tons. I've been feeling bad because I haven't had a chance to talk to any of my non-TLF online friends recently. I miss talking to Abby and Qui, especially. We've got to chat sometime!


Monday, January 23, 2012

Luke 6:27-36

"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

 "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full.But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Splits tutorial: how to do the splits

Splits Tutorial: How to do the Splits

This post is kind of self explanatory. A few disclaimers:

-This post is split into different sections for the very, very beginners, and the people who are stuck in “split limbo” and are almost-all-the-way-down-but-not-quite.

-There are many different ways to learn and get flexible. This is my way, and may not have the same results for everybody.

-It’s never too late. I started when I was 13 and I know people who have successfully started later.

-You should be at least a little bit flexible before starting this. Like, at least be able to touch your toes.

Okay, splits. These will distinguish you from the average beginner. One way more advanced dancers can tell if you’re going to be serious or not, is by your splits. Even if you don’t consider yourself flexible, anyone who works hard can get them. It’s not difficult, and people can tell when you practice and make progress and when you don’t.

The most important preface to this post is stretch everyday. Every day you don’t practice is a day you get worse. In general, the gap is two days in a row you can get away with without stretching, and not lose progress.

You should always start with some sort of warm up. Stretching cold is one of the worst ways you can hurt your body. Do some jumping jacks, run, or learn some fun hip hop routine  from Youtube. 

Warm Up
  Be aware that splits need a lot of different muscles in your body, besides hamstrings. So here are some stretches you should do every time before attempting your split.

Put your knees apart, put your hands on your knees, and take turns pressing them back. It gives your muscles a nice stretch. Then press both knees back at once.

Straighten your legs and reach down, looking back between your legs, then go ahead and take it to the side. Try to keep a flat back and touch the floor(and if you can do that, try to get your nose on your knee).
Then take it to a lunge.

When your lunge is all warmed up, try to put your elbows on the floor.
Repeat for your left side.
Side split-Beginner
1.  How should you start out your split? People start in all sorts of funky positions, but the best way to start without hurting yourself is to keep your weight evenly distributed on both feet. It's alright if it starts out something like this:

Stretch like this everyday. Do push yourself past your comfort zone a bit, but don't overdo it. You should feel discomfort, but not sharp pain. If you feel sharp pain, stop.

2. As you get lower, use your hands to help yourself. Be in control of how your weight is distributed. For side splits, your hands should always be on either side of your leg. Leaning from side to side to help you get lower is called cheating.

This is a "cheating" split, with the legs not straight and the hips tilted to one side.

This is the same split in the proper position. 

Always practice both your right and left the same amount.

Middle Split

One thing that will really help your side splits is to work on your middle(or straddle split). Your legs need to be stretched in all directions to be really flexible, so plan on working your middle split. There are many different was to do this. This is the warmup:

1.) First of all, just sit your butt down on the floor and open your legs as wide as you can. 

2.) Then, stretch to both sides while pointing your feet. stretch side to side as low as you can. Try to put your nose on your knee.,

3.) After that-this is the hard part-slooowlly roll it forward. This stretch can be difficult for beginners but just stretch as far as  you can. 

4.) The most important thing is to try and keep a flat back. The goal of the stretch is to get your chest and stomach on the floor, not your head. 

5.) After you've stretched this out, you can try your actual straddle split. Just spread your legs apart while keeping your feet either to the side or forward. 

6. ) As you get lower, use your hands to support you, and eventually, your elbows. As in your side split, always stay in control of how much weight is on your legs. You don't want to pull muscles.

7.) Another stretch that's a lot more comfortable is to just find a wall and scoot up to it, then open your legs toward the ceiling. You can do this while reading, or listening to music, just try to push your knees closer to the ground with your hands. This doesn't stretch you as much, so don't use it as a replacement for the other stuff.

Splits-Tips for people who are stuck in split limbo OR people who already have splits and want to go to over-splits and leg holds.

-Some more stretches that really help your legs are:

-Over splits-Put your front leg on a stair or pile of pillows and go into your split. The goal is to get your hips on the floor.

-Lie down on the floor and, while keeping your entire hips on the floor, try to extend your leg and pull it up to your face. Most of you(even those who are very close in the splits), will only get to ninety degrees at first. This is okay. Don't cheat and bend your leg, or lie on your side instead of your back.
-Leg holds. You can hold onto something for balance and grab your ankle and extend. You want to eventually get your leg all the way up to your head. Also, keep your hips square and don't lean to the side. I'm bad at these, but here are my pictures.

-This is a front one. For a front leg hold, you should always be holding onto your leg with both hands. 

-You can also put your leg up on a barre-or in a door way-and stretch that way.

-Or against the wall. This helps with your six-o-clock too. (My six-o-clock still isn't all the way, so I don't have a picture of it here.)

You can also try more fun stuff. I don't have the back flexibility required for a scorpion yet, but I'm working on it. 

This is my pathetic back bend.  This is from push-up(not standing) although I can do standing too.

I hope this helps, and at the very least, you learn some new stretches. Sorry this took so long.

Friday, January 13, 2012

(fangirl flapping of arms and running around in circles) (eee) (ignore this)(spoilers for Son of Neptune)

my fangirl obsessions go in cycles...this week, it's totally Heroes of Olympus/Percy Jackson(again)

There's this amazing artist on deviantart...burdge-bug...who does AMAZING Percy Jackson, Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Maximum Ride, and even HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE fanart. Now, we need to get her to read Artemis Fowl...XD.

Anyways, here are some of my favorites of hers.

I kind of want to pull a Ms. Black and blast Jason right off the tapestry. There's some speculation to whether or not Annabeth will be on the Argo II. I kind of don't want her to be, so Nico can join instead. Then again, if Nico is already in Rome(as speculated at the end of Neptune) there's still room.  GAH RR WHY MUST YOU TORMENT US SO

love this scene...Senatus Populusque Romanus FTW.

Which do you think is cooler? Camp Half Blood or Camp Jupiter? Camp Jupiter definitely has a more efficient way of doing things(separating by cohort instead of parentage, sending large groups instead of quests) and is more epic, being war camp like instead of summer camp like. But we all love Camp Half Blood, plus, there are no prats like Octavian and Reyna. It totally ticked me off to see Percy join the Twelfth Legion, even AFTER remembering Camp Half Blood. I love New Rome, but I felt so betrayed (sniff).

Germanmissles , another fantastic artist(who loves Artemis Fowl!) did these:


older one of Nico^

other fanart:

If you haven't read Howl's Moving Castle, do so. Good therapy XD. I finished Castle in the Air a couple days ago.

And if you haven't read Percy Jackson. Go. Now.

And if you're stuck waiting for Son of Neptune, even if you hated The Lost Hero, go and get the book at. all. costs. Even if you have to buy it. It's worth it. Go XD.

If you're wondering, the fandoms I regularly cycle between are: Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, The Kane Chronicles, Percy Jackson, Maximum Ride, and Howl's Moving Castle.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ender's Game Book Analysis and Review

Ender’s Game Book Review and Analysis

I read a lot of books a year. Like I mentioned a couple posts ago, I read eighty something books last year. However, I only have a couple reviews. There are several reasons: First, because the reviews are a lot of work and take a while to write. They’re not just reviews: I take the books apart bit by bit and exhaust all my thoughts, feelings, and reactions to different parts of the books. But mostly, it’s because most books, while good, aren’t thought-provoking enough to NEED analysis. But once in a while I come onto a book which bounces around in my head and takes up all my thinking room, UNLESS I get those thoughts out onto paper somehow. I’ve been thinking and thinking how to organize this review, and I apologize if it seems a bit rambly.

First of

Glad we got that out of the way. Now, for the summary, straight from the back of the book.

Andrew “Ender” Wiggin thinks he is playing computer simulated war games at the Battle School; hie is, in fact, engaged in something far more desperate. Ender is the result of decades of genetic experimentation, Earth’s attempt to make the military genius that the planet needs in its all -out war with an alien enemy.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? The only way to find out is to throw the child into ever harsher training, to chip away and find the diamond inside, or destroy him utterly. Ender Wiggin is six years old when it begins. He will grow up fast.

But Ender is not the only result of the experiment. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings, Peter and Valentine, are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways.

Between the three of them lie the ability to remake the world, if, that is, the world survives.

It sounds a bit like the typical science fiction summary, and while a bit of it does hark back to the early science fiction days, the majority of the novel could take place at any training school on earth. The closest I can approximate it to is sort of a mash up between a military training school novel, The Hunger Games, and the Mysterious Benedict Society.

The government, in it’s quest to find a great commander, implant monitors in all children of a certain age to check for signs of brilliance and tenacity, in order to pick out the best children to send to the Battle School, a training school where children learn to be soldiers. After the government passed over Ender’s two older siblings, “too compassionate” Valentine and sociopathic, cruel Peter, they order Ender’s parents to have a third child(very rare), Ender. After a violent encounter with a bully, he is chosen to go to the Battle School. There, many years younger than the average recruit, his training includes a nightmarish, problem-solving fantasy video game, and the Battle Room, a zero-g chamber where different teams “armies”, battle with laser stun guns, all the while training in tactics, cooperation, and command. Ender discovers he surpasses all the other recruits in terms of brilliance and creativity, but every time he gets used to something or does well, the trainers, determined to produce a factory-perfect commander with “a killing edge”, throw him a loop. They force him to fight extremely unfair battles, exhausting Ender and his team, and driving Ender nearly insane. Despite problems with violent bullies, his ever changing atmosphere, and the random and frightening nature of the fantasy videogame, he manages to come out on top. But, as he discovers, the manipulation and hard times are only beginning.

Here’s what make the novel unique:


Ender’s Game is an adult novel. While this is in part because of the language and behavior l of the characters, it is also because of the narration. The style of Ender’s Game is heartless, cold and unmerciful, to match the story. The pitch barely scratches the surface. Ender’s Game, unlike most YA and children’s books, has a million different facets and interpretations. Like The Hunger Games, I chose to read it as a boy’s quest to keep his soul, humanity, and sanity when he is thrust into a hellhole where everything is unfair and stacked against him, adults watch coldly, he is pushed to his physical and mental limit, and he manages to succeed and excel for a short while, at great cost to himself.

The chapters are often preceeded by a behind-the-scenes snippets of conversations between the Battle Room commanders, as they mercilessly plot out new obstacles for Ender(who is still 6-10 years old). Occasionally one remarks that Ender is way too young for all of this, but they press on.

The novel is so harsh(not violent or disturbing, but harsh) in some places that I had to remind myself that an actual person wrote this novel. Ender’s Game takes itself extremely seriously. While it is about children, it is not lighthearted or humorous. There are zero pleasant, happy parts to the novel. All the parts which could be positive(Ender’s vacation on a lake, the times when Ender trains his team to succeed) are darkly shadowed.


The three protagonists(?) of Ender’s Game are child geniuses, but(and this is a oft-criticized aspect of the novel) they don’t act or think like children at all. If it weren’t for the fact that their ages are sometimes mentioned, it could easily be a novel about teenagers or adults. I’m not exaggerating in the slightest. While the geniuses in Artemis Fowl and The Mysterious Benedict Society sometimes let their ages show in their emotions, thoughts, and actions, every child in Ender’s Game is cold, jaded and hard.

I didn’t think it was possible to have a novel where I despise every single character. Ender’s Game is also about distortion of reality(more on that later) and the characters in Ender’s Game are so warped by the war and the new way of thinking, it is hard to remember that they are human. Even Ender keeps a mental list of “human” people, and there are times when he doesn’t qualify for the list himself.

Valentine(Ender’s sister) the kindest, nicest, most sympathetic character in the novel, would be labeled troubled and disturbed in today’s culture. She is smart, driven, empathetic to a fault, and loves Ender, but she is also manipulative and weak. The government uses her to manipulate Ender...twice(since she is the only person Ender cares about) Peter uses her skills to help him control. She represents the “good” side of humanity, which is far from perfect and the best she can do. Valentine is ten.

Peter(Ender’s sister) is a cruel, psychopathic boy. He never loses himself in his anger, but expresses himself in careful plots which are somehow worse. He represents the evil, depraved side of human nature. He is not cruel for cruelty’s sake, but has the disposition of Napoleon or Alexander the Great. He tortures animals, and often tells Valentine and Ender the plans he has to kill Valentine and Ender. Sometimes it seems like he will kill them, but only Valentine’s manipulation saves them. She understands that Peter will only kill her when her detractors outweigh her benefits, and continually works to make sure she is valuable to him. In one scene, Peter displays remorse at how cruel and awful he is, and confesses that he loves Valentine and Ender, but no one knows if he means it or if its an attempt to manipulate Valentine(which works). Peter is twelve.

Ender himself is sometimes sympathetic, sometimes despicable. Ender, true to his name, has a tendency to finish things thoroughly. When a bully attacks him, Ender retaliates and continues to assault the (older, taller) boy after he’s down. This happens more than once. The adults at the Battle School continually try to break him, to shape him, to find the balance between a human being and a killer, and he struggles against them. He occasionally breaks down and confides to whoever’s close to him at the time, and readers sympathise with the smart, talented boy, even though he treats others coldly. He treats them coldly because he cannot let them become soft, but then again, that’s what the instructors of the Battle School said to him. He doesn’t care about any of his family, except Valentine, and he quite lets them know it. Sorry, Abby, for saying this, but Ender comes off mostly as unsympathetic and desperate. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just heartbreaking.

What’s more prominent are not the characters that are in the book, but the characters that are missing. Ender’s Game lacks any innocent, kindhearted, characters, despite being mostly children. That’s where Katniss has an advantage over Ender. There are no Rues in this book, no Peetas, no Finnicks, no Cinnas. It’s like that saying “There are no innocents in war”. There are some that come close to being compassionate, but they don’t hang around long enough for us to find out.

For four fifths of the novel, there are no respected authority figures at all. (the one that appears later can hardly be called such). Both Ender’s parents are alive and functional, but they don’t care for Ender much and they’re hardly mentioned. When the adults start to weigh the games against Ender to try and push him to his limits, he declares he will never trust adults again.

The Battle School authorities intentionally isolate Ender, making the other kids resent him, which he helps along by winning everything. Ender rarely has any “friend” for more than a short while, on purpose. Katniss had to work to figure out who her enemies were. In Ender’s case, it’s easy -everybody.


A large theme of the novel is bending and warping reality, or challenging assumptions of reality. From the start, Ender’s Game challenges reality. Can people really act this way? Are kids capable of this? You betcha. Ender plays a arbitrary and frightening fantasy videogame which warps reality. At first there are clear problems and obstacles, but as Ender goes farther and farther into it(farther than anyone has ever gotten) it starts becoming stranger until it somehow “learns” around Ender and takes reality from his mind and warps it. The Battle School itself creates a new reality for the children within, alienating them from the “real” world purposely.

Another theme is enemies. The International Fleet and the Battle School are supposedly fighting alien invaders, but they are only mentioned and little described. The “buggers” seem far off and abstract, and Ender’s real enemies are all around him. After particularly disturbing or violent actions, Ender constantly compares himself to Peter, which represents the evil and dark. He worries that he’s becoming just as evil and cruel as the world around him, and the fantasy game reinforces this by showing Ender a mirror, in which Peter appears. So Ender’s greatest enemy is perhaps himself and the madness around him.

The third theme, a common theme in books like this, is the line between right and wrong and when the ends cease to justify the means. The Battle School is putting Ender through this to supposedly save millions of lives, but its destroying Ender, making him less than human, in the process.


Up until the last chapter, there were none. But at the end it takes a weird spiritual bent that throws the message off the book a bit. But that’s all.


I wish I could tell you the conclusion of the book, but that would ruin my purportedly-spoiler-free purpose. So without telling you whether Ender is happy or dead at the end, I want to ask you is it possible for Ender’s Game to have a happy ending? Ender was always isolated, despairing, and pained for most of the book. What he sees and goes through should affect him too much for any measure of happiness for him or his siblings. His childhood was not taken away-it is obvious from the other children in the book that he never had a chance at one in the first place.

Ender’s Game is an extremely well written, perfectly paced, thought provoking book. However, it unsettled me and I will not read it again or any of its sequels.

I probably will go to see the movie, but it will most likely not stay true to the book. I mean, they’ll probably make Ender and co. much nicer. No one wants to see a movie with a bunch of ruthless desperate six year olds XD. Ender’s Game is very good, but not marketable in its current standings, which is why it’s not as famous as THG. XD There’s no humor, the characters are not likeable, and the world is cruel. And honestly, it wouldn’t be Ender’s Game if it were any different.

Ender’s Game is unique as a sci fi novel because it is more about despair than victory, manipulation than discovery. It’s not a book of friendship or coming of age, but a child-yet-not-a-child’s struggle in a hopeless world.

Like The Hunger Games, the war and worlds are not the subject of the book, rather a backdrop for the events that unfold.

Ender’s Game and The Hunger Games are unsettling for the same reasons. They both address the same issues: In a world without God or any other moral direction, where is the line between right and wrong? Is there one? When do the ends justify the means? Where do we look for guidance when the world is cruel and hopeless? How can we defeat the enemy without becoming the enemy ourselves? What the books do not do is give us a way to solve these problems. Because in these worlds without God, nothing makes sense. And the people who get the most out of these books will understand that.

Some cynical people will choose to believe that there is no moral direction. Right and wrong are all relative and circumstantial. Human beings must trust their utterly confused, deceptive, and sinful hearts. The world is crushed and brutal, and there is no way out and no way to find healing without tremendous sacrifices. People are accidents, and there is no plan. They believe that we’re alone in a desperate world and whatever love and kindness and happiness we find, we must scavenge for it ourselves.

And quite honestly, compared to those people, Ender and Katniss had it good.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Brian Head, Utah!

So today I got back from the first day of skiing in Brian Head, Utah. It's really awesome! We got here after listening to The Titan's Curse in the car for 8 hours=awesome. So we get here, and the condo is really nice! Much nicer than last time! We get this super awesome king size bed in a really huge upstairs room. Also, I turned to the TV and they had a Dance Moms marathon! Heaven!

Skiing was really cool too. I went on some intermediate trails. There isn't a ton of snow but there's enough. Write more later!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

this illustrates my previous point exactly

funny facebook fails - Perceptions
(originally posted by my brother, Jro)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

How to Develop A Reputation for Awesomeness on the Internet

As you guys know, I've been active on the internet over the past couple years, maintaining this blog and also serving as a moderator/maid of all work on The Lakehouse Forums. And I've seen quite a bit to make me write this blog post. There are certain people on the internet you like, and certain people who you annoy you sometimes, yes? Well, for me it goes up and down. Sometimes I'll love one member, the next day I'll be frustrated with her. But there are members that stand out from others, that we just adore and ask their advice and some sort of things. So based on my observations, here is my contribution to helping you develop a credible, positive online reputation.

1. Use good grammar and spelling
Everybody makes mistakes, and it's true that good grammar is getting less and less common, and there are perfectly good bloggers who have terrible grammar and spelling. But you can never go wrong, right? It makes you look smarter and calmer. And with Spellcheck everywhere, good spelling is only a couple clicks away!

2. Try to avoid emoticons, text talk and ALL CAPS 
I excuse this with our girls on The Lakehouse because we're all sisters there and go hyperactive at the drop of the hat. But when you're just commenting or posting on a non-TLF forum, sounding like a hyperactive 11-year-old is usually not a good thing.

3. Be smart and check your information before you spread it
I cannot tell you the amount of times I"ve had crazy and not so crazy rumors spread to me, that sounded stupid, and the person didn't do any fact checking before telling me. It's not just "don't sleep with your hair wet you'll go blind" stuff, it's things like the addresses and personal lives of celebrities, and random news stories and new laws. Most of the time, these people's "credible sources" are anything but. Sometimes mistakes are made, and that's okay.

4. Please read up before you ask questions, and read instructions carefully
Wanna know what's really annoying? People who ask the same questions over and over and over and over even though you answer it in your FAQ page and half a dozen blog posts. Do some reading up! Use the search bar! Check to make sure the information isn't anywhere else on the site before bothering with a question. Also, if there are instructions to do something, please read them through CAREFULLY. It's really frustrating when people leave out steps or do the complete opposite. Not only do you fail to do whatever, it makes you look dumb.

5. Try to use google to look up how to do things yourself
There are tons of foolproof, user friendly tutorials and videos that can teach you how to edit pictures, use Blogger, and use photoshop better than we can. 

6. When in doubt, be nice and courteous
You can never go wrong. Avoid polite sounding insults and the arrogant "I'm so much smarter and better than you and I'm done with you" tone I always hear from disgruntled noobs/trolls.

7. Stay out of internet troll wars/political debates/arguments/"discussions"
Nothing says "I don't know what I'm getting myself into" like when people engage in wars/flaming on sites like YouTube and "civil discussion forums"(really, there are no such things).The savvy know not to waste time and satisfy the other person with a response. Unfortunately, this is a lesson that is nearly always learned by experience(myself included). No snappy remarks, no comebacks, no dignified retreat. Just get outta there and do something else. Now if a discussion pops up on a site you already frequent and you want to get into it, go right ahead but be aware that your sanity, reputation, and friendships are going on the line.

8. If you've inadvertently offended someone, apologize and be done with it
No backhanded "it was partly your fault". Don't try to salvage the friendship or anything. Tell them you didn't mean to offend them, and you harbor no hard feelings. And you usually don't owe anything other than an apology.

9. Have a legit blog
Do real posts. Keep your sidebar elements to a minimum. If there's a picture on your design, there shouldn't be a picture on your header. Black and white are best for nearly ALL text.  Please no autoplay music.The more minimal the better.

10. As a first rule, don't preface things with "this is just my opinion"
Of course this is your opinion. Everything you say is your opinion. Chances are we never took what you said as absolute fact in the first place. Try "I believe" or "For me"

11. When we tell you to drop the subject or not ask questions about something, listen to us! 
No "I know you said not to discuss this or ask questions, but...." But what? But you think you're above listening to us and are deciding to ask anyway? Because maybe we didn't really mean it? Because prefacing your comment with an apology suddenly makes it all right? I sound upset because this isn't a small issue, it is blatant disobedience wearing a smiley face mask.

12. Be careful when you credit pictures
You may as well wear a sign that says "Throw paint at me, I'm new" if you regularly credit your pictures to Google Images, weheartit, deviantART, Pintrest, or some other sharing site. If you think a little about what those sites ARE(search engines and sharing/uploading sites), you might realize crediting to sites like those is perfectly worthless. You may as well credit "the rest of the internet". Try finding out the original artist or photographer(which you can usually do with a couple mouse clicks and digging) or say that "This isn't mine, I don't know who the creator was, if the creator is you, contact me and I will credit you here".

13. Use common sense, I'm begging you here....
All the above points are summed up into two words. Common. Sense. Please.

Anything else I missed? Any beef to take with me? Comment :P

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 Wrap Up-(100 book-goal, blog stats, overviews, awards/lists, etc.)
This is a cool picture that has nothing to do with this post. (~alexanderborisov on deviantart)
Happy New Year!

Hi guys! Be geared for a long post!

This was intended to be published a lot earlier, but I got sick...and..yeah. I say "this year" later in this post because I originally wrote this on Dec. 30th, but I got sick and now I'm finishing it up on Jan. 1st. When I say "this year" I mean 2011, kay? I'm sure it won't be too hard for you to understand because I'm guessing it's hard for you to remember it's 2012 now, as well.

So my one week family reunion is over! It was a lot of fun. There weren't a lot of planned activities, so it was pretty relaxing. We played games, sang AVPM songs, listened to Percy Jackson books, and talked and talked. This morning we got up and watched HPDHP1, but they had to leave most of the way through it. The movie was good, but pretty dark.

I got back into Percy Jackson. Since I read most of them in the beginning of the year, it had sort of died down, but now with the release of The Son of Neptune I'm all fired up again. The ending of that book still gives me chills of epicness every time I read it. It is ages better than The Lost Hero. One thing I've noticed with these series and The Kane Chronicles is that they are a lot more...I don't know, serious than Percy Jackson. Percy Jackson was intended for middle schoolers, and these two series are aimed for a broader audience. It's not like they're darker or scarier, but the books are longer and the plot is more sophisticated, with more somber characters and more peril.

And I learned how to ride a dirtbike! It was a long lesson, from about 10 in the morning to 3:30 in the afternoon. It's a lot of fun! It sounds hard, but I just have to nail the technique of it. I can ride over obstacles, go on trails, stand up on the bike, and everything!

So, 2011....
 Stuff that happened this year:

-I visited Yosemite and Sequoia
-I learned to sail
-I learned to ride a motorcycle
-I got a year older
-I moved up a grade
-I discovered awesome things like Harry Potter, AVPM, and Artemis Fowl
-I helped found The Lakehouse


This year I had a goal: to read 100 new books.

I didn't quite make this goal, but I made quite a bit of headway on it.Here's the list of all the books I read this year...brace yourself. XD These are all first-time books. Bolded are favorites.

The Mysterious Benedict Society     Trenton Lee StewartRepublic Commando: True Colors    Karen Traviss
Republic Commando: Order 66    Karen Traviss
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief    Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters    Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Titan's Curse    Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Battle of the Labyrinth    Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Last Olympian    Rick Riordan
Dark Nest 1: The Joiner King    Troy Denning
Esperanza Rising    Pam Ryan
Dark Nest 2: The Unseen Queen    Troy Denning
Dark Nest 3: The Swarm War    Troy Denning
The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma    Trenton Lee Stewart
Magyk    Angie Sage
Flyte    Angie Sage
Physik     Angie Sage
Queste    Angie Sage
Vortex    Troy Denning
Frankenstein    Mary Shelley
The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey    Trenton Lee Stewart
Syren    Angie Sage
Every Young Womans Battle    Shannon Etheridge
Journey To The Center of the Earth    Jules Verne
Omen    Christie Golden
Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident    Eoin Colfer
Little Women    Louisa May Alcott(first time reading unabridged version, which is much longer than the abridged
How To Train your Dragon: How to cheat a dragon's curse    cressida Cowell
The Scarlet Pimpernel    Baroness Emma Orczy
Inkheart    Cornelia Funke
Lessons From San Quentin    Bill Dallas
Artemis Fowl    Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code    Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception    Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony    Eoin Colfer
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone    JK Rowling
How To Train Your Dragon: How to twist a Dragon's tale    Cressida cowell
Maximum Ride: The Angel Expiriment    James Patterson
Beauty fades, dumb is forever    Judy Sheindlin
Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox    Eoin Colfer
Leprechauns, Unicorns, and Mark Kurrian    Curtis Cornell
20, 000 Leagues under the Sea    Jules Verne
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets    JK Rowling
The Search for WondLa    Tony Diterlizzi
Maximum Ride-Schools Out-Forever    James Patterson
Maximum Ride-Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports    James Patterson
Maximum Ride-The Final Warning    James Patterson
Maximum Ride-Max    James Patterson
Maximum Ride-Fang    James Patterson
Marry Smart    Christine Whelan
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban    JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire    JK Rowling
The Supernaturalist    Eoin Colfer
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix    JK Rowling
Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex    Eoin Colfer
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince    JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows    JK Rowling
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother    Amy Chua
Radioactive    ?
Recipes from my Mother    ?
The Cardturner    Louis Sachar
Airman    Eoin Colfer
Darke    Angie sage
The Red Pyramid    Rick Riordan
The Throne of Fire    Rick Riordan
The Hunger Games    Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire    Suzanne Collins
Maximum Ride: Angel    James Patterson
The Lost Hero    Rick Riordan
Conviction    Aaron Allston
Dance    Scholastic
En Pointe    ?
The Great Gatsby    F. Scott Fitzgerald
Artemis Fowl The Arctic Incident(graphic novel)    Eoin Colfer
Howl's Moving Castle    Diana Wynn Jones
Ascension    Christie Golden
The Son of Neptune    Rick Riordan
On The Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness    Andrew Peterson
North! Or Be Eaten    Andrew Peterson
The Monster in the Hollows    Andrew Peterson
Helping your Children Survive Divorce    ?
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader    CS Lewis

The numbering got all screwed up, but there are eighty two in all. I don't really know why I didn't make the goal this year...I think I was just too lazy and doing other things XD. I'm pretty proud of myself though. I only ever read one book at a time.

I liked almost all the books I read, but only the bolded ones make it on my all-time favorites list. If you're looking for something to read, you should try them!

Now here are my lists:

Top series:
 1.) Harry Potter  
I know, cliched. But, to paraphrase a reviewer, the reason these books are so popular is simply because they're so good.
2.) Series by Rick Riordan(Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus, The Kane Chronicles)
The reason I'm putting them all together is that they're pretty similar, and besides, they'd take up way too much space on my list if I put them separately.
3.) Artemis Fowl

Honorable mention: Maximum Ride-Funny, clean, lighthearted, and definitely worth reading-but somewhat confusing and directionless.

Top single books:
1. Howl's Moving Castle 
2. The Mysterious Benedict Society(just the first one)
3. En Pointe 

Top Fictional Crushes

1. Artemis Fowl from Artemis Fowl

2. Nico di Angelo from Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus
3. Howl from Howl's Moving Castle
4. Anubis from The Kane Chronicles
5. Fang from Maximum Ride


Blog stats:
I've been lazier this year with the blog-there's a whole ton of posts in draft stage, and I haven't done an inspirational post in FOREVER :P. All these stats exclude my own views.

But readership/viewership has increased, and I'm happy for that.

Top post: not unfortunately a dramatic picture post.with 735 views
Top traffic source: Abby's blog, Castles Quills and Cameras, with 395 unique references. Thanks, Abby!

Top search keywords: "nian gao" (???!!) followed closely by "nico di angelo" (that's much better).

Stuff I'm looking forward to in 2012:
-Working more on this years NaNo novel, and hopefully getting the copies of it
-Those releases I mentioned in an earlier post
-All the opportunities God has in store!

Thank you everybody for helping me grow and learn this year. I could never have envisioned what this year has been like, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm really excited for 2012! Happy New Year!