Sunday, July 31, 2011

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Eragon is the first book in the Inheritance Cycle written by the young author Christopher Paolini. In this book, we're introduced to the main character, Eragon, and the world that he lives in—a magical world with many different races (e.g., dwarfs and elves) and magical creatures (eg., dragons).We learn about Eragon's role as a dragon rider as well as what he can accomplish as a dragon rider (e.g., using magic). We also learn about the evil Empire and Eragon's interactions with it.

Overall, I really liked this book. Every page was full of excitement because I really didn't know what could happen next during Eragon's adventure. Also, it was very interesting to learn about all the magic stuff that existed in the world. I especially liked how Paolini made such sophisticated rules for magic. For example, I liked how in the story, using magic to accomplish a task would require as much as energy as if one were to complete the task without magic. Furthermore, I really looked forward to the end of the book because of some prophecies made during the middle of it—I really liked to know how they would turn out to be true.

Well, to my disappointment, it turned out that the prophecies would only come true in the successive books, as nothing else about the prophecies were mentioned during the rest of the book. Also, I found it hard to follow the story of the book, as new concepts, characters and locations were constantly introduced (and often in Elven language). Furthermore, the story became repetitive at the end—each time Eragon would be brutally attacked, and then rescued by someone else.

Despite these flaws, I still liked this book a lot. I am currently reading the second book in the series, and am probably going to read the other two as well.

University Open Courses

About two or three years ago, I heard about how many American universities were videotaping their lectures and putting the videos online for people in the whole world to see. At the time, however, I was too young and never bothered to check out these videos.

Recently, my parents mentioned these videos to me. They told me that the website had a huge collection of such videos, and that I should try watching some of them. So I decided to check them out. Specifically, I decided to watch the videos of the game theory and computer methodology courses.

Quite surprisingly, I actually enjoyed watching these videos. The lectures were interesting and understandable, and of course educational. And since I have got plenty of time now, I really should finish watching the videos for theses two courses. Also, I am planning on watching the lectures of other courses in the future as well.

So for anyone who just stumbled across this page by accident, I highly recommend you to check out the university open lectures at It's a extremely great way of self-learning, and you should definitely try it!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

My Summer (August) Plan

It has been more than one month since summer vacation started, yet due to summer school and many family affairs, I haven't really been able to do the things that I want to do for summer. Therefore, I now have to squish everything into August, for once school starts I will probably be too busy to do these things.

So here are the things that I want to accomplish before school starts:
  • Read at least 12 novels
  • Finish watching all the videos of the computer methodology course and complete all the assignments
  • Finish watching all the videos of the game theory course
  • Pre-read my grade 11 and grade 12 math text books
  • Study at least 20 vocabularies per day
  • Read the book Algorithms 
  • Practice for the seniors computers contest
  • Practice for the various math contests
  • Gain some general knowledge about Western history
As you can see, this is a very long list. So I must not slack off during the remaining days of summer.

A Reading Log

(Check out my  new Reading Log!)

I have been wanting to have a reading log for a long time now, for it'd be nice if I could keep track of all the books that I have read. However, I have always been reluctant to actually start one because of the enormous energy that I would need to spend to come up with the list of books that I have already read.

Yesterday, however, I finally made up my mind and spent 4-6 hours working on my reading log, which  I made a page for accessibility reasons. So how come it took me so long? Well, the hardest part was definitely the part where I had to come up with all the books I have read. I had to search for their titles, and try to remember the approximate time when I have finished reading them. Also, besides coming up with all the books that I have read, making the actual table was also a difficult task. At first I coded the table manually using HTML. However, at the end it didn't look very nice because the table looked very squished together. I then transferred the table to Google Docs, and magically the layout looked much nicer.

That wasn't the end of the problem, however. I then had to spend about one hour fixing the HTML code of the table from Google Docs. At first it was simply too long (300,000 characters), and it kept causing my browser to lag. Then after I turned it into CSS, it started changing the layout of my whole blog. I had to look through the code and debug it myself.

Fortunately, it's all done now. Not only does it look nice, it is also very easy for me to edit. So in the future, whenever I come up with a new item for the log, I will edit the page. I am sure it will be useful at some time in the future

Friday, July 29, 2011

Looking Back at Grade 10 Careers

Out of all my grade ten classes, careers class was my least favourite. I learned practically nothing from the class, and it had extremely meaningless assignments with incredibly stupid marking schemes. I was so irritated by the assignments that I made the post I Hate Career Studies!

 So what exactly was irritating about the assignments? Well, for each assignment there were requirements that were not relevant to the assignment at all.  For example, we were asked to include cover pages, graphics and page borders for almost all of the assignments. Even more ridiculous, I would lose about 2% on each assignment because "my border wasn't creative enough!"

I really want to talk about the issue with the page borders, for it was simply unacceptable. For the creativity component of the assignments, we had to "include creative things such as page borders and graphics in our work." And that was exactly what I did. For each assignment, I would draw straight, green lines to outline the page(s), and I would include a picture or two. However, each time I would still get only one out of two marks for the creativity section of the rubric. The reason? My page border wasn't creative enough! This was just plain stupid, because the requirement in the section clearly stated "include page border." It never mentioned that our page borders had to be creative! Also, I included a comparison between my page border and one of the creative page borders, just to show how the creative page borders weren't really aesthetically pleasing...

Is the creative border really better?
Now, setting the assignments aside, there were still many things that were dissatisfying about careers class. For example, we watched a bunch of boring movies that weren't related to the class! Also, the teacher really didn't teach us anything, and most of the time we were just wasting time in class.

Fortunately, not all my memories about careers class are negative, for I liked the final project of the class. The final project was basically to research an occupation that we were interested in, and to write a report about it. True, there were still a lot of stupid requirements. However, I really enjoyed learning more about economists and their work. 

Overall, I am just glad that I finished this stupid course with a good mark.

Next up: Looking Back at Grade 10 Civics

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Looking Back at Summer School

Note: In case you didn't read my previous posts, I took the course Sociology, Anthropology and Psychology for summer school.

It's ironic that I am writing this post even though I haven't finished writing the Looking Back at Grade Ten series, which I was supposed to finish a week or two ago. However, I just want to write this post as soon as possible, before my memory of summer school starts fading.

Also, I actually have quite a lot of things to say about summer school. Therefore, in this post I will have many sections,  with each section including a major aspect of summer school that I want to talk about.

Teacher's Misunderstandings
At times I was very irritated because of the teacher's own lack of understanding of the subject matter. She often gave out examples or explanations that clearly didn't apply, and at times it seemed that she really didn't understand the material herself.

As a result, it was very difficult for me to write the tests. I couldn't answer a question based on what I knew, but instead I had to answer it based on what I thought she knew. For example, she once misunderstood the meaning of "quota sampling," so on a test when we were given cases to see whether the sampling method was quota sampling or not, I had to circle the options that she would have circled (which were wrong).

This task could sometimes become even harder

Summer School Final Exam: Done!

Update (Thurs): I got a 96% on the exam, which is acceptable. However, I thought that three of the marks were taken off quite unfairly...

Today afternoon I wrote my summer school exam, which marked the end of summer school! I mean, I still have to go to summer school until Friday, but there is nothing about summer school that I can worry about, except the marks that I will get in the course. This basically means that starting today (or tomorrow, since it's pretty late already), I will finally have my first taste of summer!

But for this post, I want to focus on the exam. Overall, the exam was not difficult. However, many questions were phrased very vaguely and were often ambiguous. As a result, I might have lost some marks in the multiple choice section. Also, for the long answer question, I feel that I should have chosen the other side of the debate simply because it had more strong arguments. So I probably lost some marks in the long-answer question as well (for me weak arguments). Combining all the possible mistakes, I think it's more likely that my mark will stay the same or drop by 1-2% after the exam. It's very scary because one single mistake could mean a decrease in the final mark! Nevertheless, I am still getting my finger crossed that my mark will actually increase by one percent. The chance is slim, but I don't think that it is a flat zero.

I'll get my exam bark tomorrow, and I hope I did well! I'll update the blog again once I get back from school.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Six Culture Types Based on Economy

In this post I am going to describe the six major types of culture types based on economy: foraging, horticultural, agricultural, pastoral, industrial and communication-based cultures.

Foraging Cultures

In a foraging culture, people take from their natural environment. They pick up wild berries and fruits, and hunt for wild animals. Once there isn't enough resources for them to survive, they would move to a new area; they are nomadic. Also, since foraging is hugely dependent on the natural environment, people in old foraging cultures may have suffered starvation during harsh times.

Horticultural Cultures

In a horticultural culture, people farm and domesticate animals, and only move to a new area once the farmland is no longer fertile. In this fashion, people can produce much more food and as a result the population would be able to grow, allowing more complex forms of decision making to develop. Also, since the people are settled, they would have more free time to make pottery and tools.

Agricultural Cultures

Agriculture cultures are similar to horticultural cultures, except that they have better farming techniques that can sustain farmlands (thus people can settle permanently in one place). Agriculture allows populations to grow, which would result in the growth of towns and cities.  Also, political organizations would become more complex, and differences in wealth and power would become more apparent.

Pastoral Cultures

In a pastoral culture, people make their living by domesticating herds of animals. They would move around and find more fertile pastures (they are nomadic), and they would trade products of the animals with nearby farmers.

Industrial Cultures

In an industrial culture, people would live in cities and work in factories, and goods would be produced by machines. This would create more wealth, but also problems such as overcrowding and  inequalities.

Communication-Based Cultures

In a communication based culture, computers and electronics would be a huge part of people's lives. Education, work and data would be transformed by these technologies, and people would be able to communicate with each other much more easily, even if they live far away from each other.

Four Common Characteristics That Cultures Share

There are many characteristics that cultures can sure, and in this post I am going to describe four of them.

Culture is Learned
While we inherit many of our biological traits and behavioural instincts, culture is socially inherited. This means that we must learn our culture from others in the society.

Culture is Shared
Something is only an aspect of the culture if it is shared among almost all the people in the culture. This means that if only one person has a recurring thought or behaviour, that thought or behaviour will not be an aspect of  the culture, but instead a personal habit. On the other hand, if almost everyone in the culture has a similar thought or behaviour, then the thought or behaviour would be an aspect of the culture.

Culture Defines Nature
Culture can influence our biological needs. For example, even though all humans need to eat, people from some cultures may prefer to eat pork, while the others may prefer to eat beef.

Culture Has Patterns
Cultures are not random collections of beliefs or behaviours. In fact, underlying each culture are the the values or world views that almost all the members of the culture share. For example, some Canadian core values are democracy and freedom. Such values define our culture and sets our culture apart from the others.

 Also, as one aspect of a culture changes, so will the others.

Just Two More Days

Summer school has been extremely busy lately, so as a result I haven't posted in three days. In fact, I probably won't be able to spend a lot of time on this blog  for another one or two days because I will be having my final exam on Wednesday (this is unless I decide to type my notes up as a means to study)..

The good news, though, is that after writing my final exam, I will be virtually done with summer school! True, I'll still need to go to school on Thursday and Friday, but I won't have any homework or test to worry about, so I will be able to spend my afternoon and evening however I want.

So hopefully I'll be able to have some more updates after Wednesday. I really have quite a lot of things to make posts about.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Shame, Shame, Rogers

Rogers is the Internet and cable provider of my family, and unfortunately I have a few (well, two) major complaints to make.

The Occasional No Connection
Every time there is some sort of extreme weather, our Rogers Internet connection wouldn't work. It didn't work during the two snow storms last winter, and neither did it work during a recent thunder storm. And obviously it didn't work today, when there was extreme heat in the city.

What's really bad is that when the connection doesn't work, it usually goes on for a really long period of time. For example, today there was no connection for at least thirteen hours, from 8 o'clock in the morning to 9 o'clock at night (and that's why I couldn't make any blog post despite having no homework). This could really cause some inconvenience.

Poor Website
Because of the plan that my family has chosen, there's a 60-gigabyte limit on our Internet usage; and once we exceed the limit, we would have to pay extra money. Therefore, my family frequently go onto our Online profile to check how many gigabytes we have already used.

This is where the problem arises. About a third of the time, Rogers would be "experiencing problems" and we wouldn't be able to see our stats! How are we supposed to monitor our usage if we can't see the stats? And really, this kind of problem coming from an Internet provider?

I have made this post relatively short and have excluded many of the details. However, even from these short descriptions, I think Rogers' problems are clear.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

No Worksheets, Please!

To be honest, most worksheets  that we get in school are not well designed. They can often be tedious and repetitive, contain stupid questions, and even be impossible to complete.

Many worksheets that I have done are very repetitive: they are repetitive to the point that you would literally have to repeat the same line over and over again! For example, once there was a math worksheet about the four different transformations of the graphs of functions. These transformations shall be named as A, B, C and D in this post for convenience. Anyway, the purpose of the worksheet was for us to understand the differences between A, B, C and D, and guess what it asked us to do? Well, I would list the steps in point form for simplicity:
  1.  Investigate A. 
  2.  Investigate B
  3.  Compare A and B. 
  4.  Investigate C
  5.  Compare A, B and C
  6.  Investigate D
  7.  Compare A, B, C and D

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dream Journal

Two days ago I made a post named Dream: Terrible Mark in Summer School, which basically described, in detail, a particular dream that I had. I was going to post an explanation as to why I would suddenly to make a post about my dream, however, I got too busy and was unable to do so until now.

Anyway, recently in summer school I have learned about dream analysis, and was a little bit fascinated by it. Therefore I have decided to try it on my own.

Obviously I am not going to make obscure and random connections, such as how my teacher linked "wearing a white shirt" with "having emotional problems" (to date I still cannot understand how this connection could be made). Instead, I am going to use my own experiences and understandings of myself to make reasonable conclusions about myself and the ways that I think or feel. For example, the Terrible Mark in Summer School dream clearly demonstrates that I despise my summer school teacher, a fact that I have been unsure of since the beginning of summer school.

I can probably only do this for the dreams that occur on Friday or Saturday nights though, because I don't think I will be able to record my dreams during weekday mornings. Also, I would only make posts about dreams that are particularly interesting or vivid.

So, during the next few days I will update Dream: Terrible Mark in Summer School with my analysis. I hope it's not going to be too bad.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

100 posts and 1000 views

Reaching 100 posts is like a milestone to me

I looked at my Blogger stats a few moments ago, and realized that I had just over 100 posts and 1000 views!

Yes, I know that the view count is not impressive at all when the popular websites get tens and thousands of views everyday. And the post count isn't very large considering the contents of the posts and the amount of time (five and a half months) that it has taken me to reach this number. However, no matter how insignificant these figures may seem to others, I feel proud of them.

The last time I had a blog, I only stuck to it for a month and had about 10 posts and 120 views. This time, however, I have been able to remain dedicated to my blog even after five and a half months, and as a result achieving 100 posts and 1000 views! This is not to suggest that maintaining a blog is awful and that sticking to it for a long time is painful. This is also not to show the fact that the view-per-post ratio of this blog is lower than that of my previous blog. Instead, it is to show that I have become less spontaneous and much more dedicated. Sorry, couldn't find better words to describe...

I am hoping that I can put more effort and time into this blog— well, at least during August, during which I am completely free—and I hope that I'll be able to improve its quality by doing so. Thank you to anyone who has taken a look at my blog, as every visit to this blog is a great encourage for me.

Dream: Terrible Mark in Summer School

Update: I am probably not going to add my thoughts/analysis to this post
The names have been slightly altered to avoid recognition:
Students from regular school Student from summer school
  • Ginny
  • Anton
  • Nathan
  • Kris
  • Joanna 

I was in a large, dimly-lit room, and apparently that was my summer school class because my summer school teacher was giving back an assignment that we did a long time ago (in summer school), involving some kind of artwork. She called the students' names one by one, and after a while I finally heard my name, so I got up and took my assignment.

I looked at my mark... a seven out of ten! I was furious, because once again my teacher was giving lower-than-I-deserve marks. Nevertheless, I wasn't that angry because the others probably did worse than me. So I started to go around and ask for (or peek at) other people's marks.

I don't remember how many people's marks I saw. However, I do remember seeing the marks of two students— Nathan and Anton. They were both students in my day school that weren't very intelligent, but they got 80% and 86% respectively! Also, from what I remember, one or two other students got 92.5%.

Now I was actually furious, for my mark was bad even after compared to the rest of the class! Out of anger, I tore out a portion of my assignment. Then, I noticed that by accident, I had also torn out a portion of another student's, Joanna's, assignment.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cleaning a Burnt Cooking Pot

On Thursday (two days ago) I had no homework from summer school at all, and I was very glad that I could finally spend the evening doing whatever I liked.

Unfortunately, a disastrous event occurred— one of the cooking pots got burnt (I'll skip over the details...)! As a result, I had to spend about three or four hours trying to clean the cooking pot and my evening was wasted.

This isn't my cooking pot, but it's something that my cooking pot looked like

Well, the evening wasn't exactly wasted, as I have actually learned how to clean a burnt cooking pot (how exciting)! I have tried a lot of methods to clean the cooking pot, and I have learned which ones were effective and which ones weren't. So I will post all the methods (all from the Internet) that I have tried and their effectiveness for anyone who is interested to know, and (hopefully not) for future reference. 

Boiling Salt Water
At first, I put some water into the pot so that it was enough to cover the burnt areas, and then I added a lot of salt into the water. Next, I boiled the salt-water and tried to scratch the black things off of the pot using a spoon. Unfortunately this did close to nothing, which meant that all I had done was wasting my salt.

Egg Shells
After the first failed attempt, I took some egg shells (three eggs), washed off the egg whites, and then placed them into the cooking pot. After that, I took a scouring pad, and began to scrub the cooking pot with the egg shells in between the pot and the scouring pad. This created a lot of friction that actually cleaned the cooking pot very well!

Unfortunately, as soon as all the egg shells were broken down into little pieces, this method stopped working. And as I only had three eggs available, I could no longer use this method, and had to move on and use another method.

Boiled Detergent-Water Mixture
This method was similar to the "boiling salt water" method, except that this time I added two to three table spoons of detergent into the water instead of salt. Also, after the mixture boiled, I waited for another twenty minutes before I proceeded to scratch the pot with a spoon.

The twenty minutes of waiting time actually allowed the mixture to somehow remove the majority of the black stuff that was on the pot. Then, I easily scratched off the rest using the metal spoon. This was the end of nightmare for me. Hooray!

If you are having trouble cleaning your burnt cooking pot, use the second or third method, or both of them, and hopefully you'll be able clean it successfully!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

No System Sounds After Using Skype

Oh gosh, what is wrong with Skype!?

Every time after I run the program and call someone else, my system sounds would all be out. I wouldn't able to watch Youtube videos, or hear the sound effects of the games that I play (which are actually important in my pinball game)!

In order to re-hear the system sounds, I would have to restart the computer, which actually takes a very long time. Even if the computer takes a short time to restart, I still think that this is a ridiculous problem for such a popular and mainstream program like Skype. I am also very disappointed in Skype, as I have had this problem for years (I didn't use Skype very often back then, so wasn't bothered so much by the problem) and they still haven't fixed it during the program updates!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Gestalt Laws of Perceptual Organization

Gestalt is a German word that means "essence or shape of an entity's complete form," and the Gestalt Laws of Perceptual Organization are a set of laws that dictate (or speculate) how human beings perceive things.

The Law of Proximity:
Stimulus elements that are close to each other tend to be perceived as a group. For example,  in the image below, the circles that are close together are grouped together, resulting in four groups.
File:Gestalt proximity.svg

The Law of Similarity: 
Stimulus elements that are similar tend to be grouped together. For example, people tend to see the circles below as horizontal rows of black and white circles. 

The Law of Closure
Stimulus elements are grouped together if they seem to complete a "regular" figure. For example, we tend to think that there is a triangle in the image below, while in reality there isn't.

Law of Continuity:
Stimulus elements are grouped together to make the image look more "smooth." For example, in the following image you are probably going to see two straight lines instead of two V's.
Law of Symmetry:
Stimuli tend to be grouped such that each group consists of a symmetric figure. For example, we see the following image as three pairs of closed brackets instead of six individual brackets.

Law of Simplicity
Stimuli are perceived in a way that makes them as simple as possible. For example, we tend to perceive the image below as six triangles rather than as some other combination of shapes.

Looking Back at Grade 11 Computer Science

Note: Even though this is a grade eleven course, I took it in grade ten.

Computer programming has always been something that I am good at and interested in, so I was very excited to be in this class at the very beginning of the school year. Indeed, I easily mastered the things that were taught in the class and I enjoyed doing the programming assignments. However, there were a lot of annoyances that made the experience in programming class a lot less enjoyable.

First was the marking scheme and how my teacher marked. She made the programming assignments so easy that a perfect or close-to-perfect mark was almost guaranteed for each of the assignments. As a result, even those who were not very good at programming got pretty high marks. And as everyone ended up getting very similar marks in the programming assignments, the reading assignment marks became the factor that decided whether your term mark was higher than the others. This placed me at a slight disadvantage because I wasn't very good at those assignments. Fortunately, I did better than most on the exam, so my final mark was still higher than them. However, I thought that the gap was a bit too small...

Yes I know that I  am sounding a bit arrogant, especially because I am referring to those who got 7-10% lower than me. However, judging by the questions that they asked me and how frequent they asked me those questions, it's pretty safe to say that they should have gotten a lot lower. Anyway, I will now set the issue of marks aside, as I believe that I have done enough ranting about marks already.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Major Sections of the Brain

Again, for the purpose of my own studying, I will type brief, point-form notes that are relevant to the topic.
Frontal Lobe
- Allows reason and planning
- Initiates voluntary movements
- Modulates emotions and is involved in the making of personality
- Capable of turning thoughts into words
Parietal Lobe
- Allows sensory perception
- Takes in auditory and visual signals and associates them with memory
- Allows understanding of written and verbal language

Temporal Lobe
- Distinguishes volume and frequency
- Involved in forming and calling memory
- Right: visual memory; left: verbal memory
- Upper portion allows understanding of words
Occipital Lobe
- Decodes visual information
- Analyzes form, colour and movement
- Allows you to recognize and identify objects
NOTE: All images are from Wikipedia

Branches of Psychology

Since I have a psychology quiz tomorrow, I am going to briefly list the branches of psychology and give a very simple definition for each of them. Also, as a warning to anyone who might have come across this page accidentally via a search engine, the information on this page is probably all wrong because I doubt that my teacher actually understands what she teaches (and the definitions all came from her). So if you are looking at this page because of some assignment for school, do not use the information!

So here we go:
Behaviourism: The study of how humans react to the environment
Cognitive Psychology: The study of the mental processes that are involved in memory, learning and thinking
Structuralism: The study of how humans change their behaviours to adapt to changes in their surroundings
Humanism: The belief that human beings are capable of making choices, and that most behaviors are not determined by environmental factors or human drives.
Psychoanalysis: The process of a patient describing their feelings or experiences to a trained professional in the hopes of discovering unconscious thoughts that the patient has.
Functionalism: Observation of the inner-workings of human beings by conducting various experiments to see how humans experience perception and sensation.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Blogger Header Image

This is the small version of the animation that I made

Today afternoon when I looked at my blog I suddenly felt that the top was a bit empty, so I decided to make a header image to fill the space.

However, the process wasn't nearly as easy as I have thought. Blogger did not have the options for us to change the image size or position, so I had to make tons of measurements before I could start making my image. Also, the actual image-drawing part was very tedious because I was trying to make an animated image that required lots of copy-and-pasting of the objects.

After about two hours, I finally finished the animation. But unfortunately, the final product was not suitable to be a blog header at all—it was too distracting. The animation contained so many movements that it made me feel dizzy, and I reasoned that it would probably do the same to the visitors. So even though I wasn't quite happy to abandon my work, I had to.

When I get more spare time, I will try to make another header image that is more simple and more suitable for  a blog. Meanwhile, I guess the blog will have to stay the same.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Importance of Marks

Speaking practically, marks prior to grade twelve are not important at all. They are almost never looked at when students apply for universities, and they definitely have no relevance at all when students progress even further into their lives and look for jobs or graduate opportunities.

Yet they are still important to many students, including me.

Even with the knowledge that currently all my marks will not affect my future, I still can't help feeling bad when receiving a bad mark. Even worse, it often takes me a long time before I can ward off these feelings. For example, in grade nine after I received a mediocre computer mark, I was so upset that I could not fall sleep at night, and had to go outside and take a walk before I could finally feel better. And today, after I saw my horrible summer school assignment mark, I felt so horrible that I could not concentrate for the rest of the afternoon.

This made me wonder, why do my marks have such an important place in my heart? Why do I care so much about my marks?

After much deliberation, I concluded that it must be because of the fact that marks are an indication of one's ability. Getting a poor mark even after spending a fair amount of effort basically means that your ability isn't great. This would be apparent to your peers and parents, and obviously it wouldn't be a good thing. But I think what's even worse is the fact that you would have to accept the truth about yourself— the fact that there are limits to your ability.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Looking Back at Grade 10 Science

The first thing that I could remember from science class was that it was boring. Almost everyday, the teacher would tell us to open our text books and ask for a volunteer to read a particular section of it. I often got so bored that I wanted to sleep. She would also do her power-point lessons, and those were even more soporific because during those lessons the lights would be out.

The second thing that I could remember from the class was that we did quite a lot of presentations. Actually, we only did two, but since usually there would only be one presentation in each class, two were considered to be a lot. And as usual, I did horrible in the presentations. Not just my usual horrible, by extremely horrible because I practised so little that it could well be said that I didn't practice at all. I mumbled through both of them, and I also skipped quite a lot of content because of my nervousness.

Now thinking back, I am actually glad that I have had these two presentations. These failures would always remain in my mind and they would always be served as a reminder of how bad I can perform in an oral presentation if I don't practice. They have actually motivated me to work hard on my subsequent presentations (even though I still did horrible on all of them).

I don't have much to say besides these two things. The course was generally easy, and my teacher was an easy marker. And besides the things that I learned in the optics unit, I would probably use everything that I have learned in this class in the future. Mitosis and the organ systems would be touched up in biology, and of course the basic things that we learned in the chemistry unit, such as balancing chemical equations, would be used in any future chemistry course(s).

Next up: Looking Back at Grade 10 Science
Go back to intro and a list of all posts in my grade ten reflection series

Summer School

I signed up for summer school to take the course "Introduction to Sociology, Anthropology and Psychology," and I chose this course partly because it sounded interesting and partly because the school that offered this course was close to where I live. However, just one day before the start of summer school, I got a phone-call telling me that the course has been relocated to another school!

This was just wrong. I calculated that because of the relocation of summer school, I had to spend about 30 minutes more on transportation each day! And, even if they wanted to move the location, couldn't they contact the students earlier? I heard that many (more than 10 in my class) students didn't get the phone-call and as a result went to the wrong school. I was lucky that I was at home at the time of that they phoned me.

Anyway, I'll now move on and describe what happened/ what I observed in the actual summer school class.

I'll start by talking about the teacher. The first impression that I got from her was that she was not very smart. She did not seem very alert and...she just didn't look like a smart person. I don't often get this impression from teachers. In fact, I think this was the first time that I have had this impression, so she must be very extreme...

And I was right (about she not being smart, not about she being extreme). She didn't seem to understand the material completely because sometimes when other students gave her answers that were clearly flawed or illogical, she didn't seem to have noticed the errors in their answers. She didn't correct them, and I couldn't spy any change in her facial expression, so I don't think she was just being polite. Also, she made various spelling errors, such as "hiearchy" and  "intellegent." "Hiearchy" I can still understand, but "intellegent..." (no comment). On top of these things, she used her cell-phone a lot during classes (when the students were assigned work to do). I wasn't sure whether she was texting or playing games, but it didn't matter—she was using her cell-phone. It was actually quite interesting for me to watch, because I have never seen a teacher blatantly using their cell-phone in class.

Fortunately, I don't dislike her. She seemed relatively friendly—she made you feel comfortable to raise your hands and ask questions. Also, she made her classes quite structured, as she always knew what she was going to do next. Now I hope that she is an easy marker...

To be honest I don't have much to say about summer school except the teacher. I haven't really talked with any of my classmates, and the things that I have learned so far aren't really that special or interesting. So I guess I'll end this post here.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Looking Back at Grade 10 French

Oh such a year of disappointment for French! At first I was doing very well in it, but then suddenly I started receiving bad marks for assignments and projects that I thought had good quality. I was fine with this, though, because perhaps it was just that I got complacent and in the process lowered my standard for "good quality."

The real disappointment came with the summary unit. My French teacher had very strange (and to me, unreasonable) expectations for our summaries that I simply couldn't accept. For example, she wanted us to paraphrase the original texts to an extent where "my neighbors" would become "the people that live beside me." This was intolerable. Not only was this unreasonable, it also made making summaries a much harder and more time-consuming task. As a result, I only got a 72% on the reading exam! I really didn't think that I deserved this mark, because I was positive that I didn't do this bad. Anyway, because of this horrible, horrible mark, my French mark dropped below 90% and I knew that with only the writing exam left, it'd be impossible for my mark to rise up again. That was probably my saddest moment during the first semester.

Perhaps it was hugely because of the frustration that I had in French, I have decided not to take the course next year. My time table was already filled out with other courses, and the discontent about the subject simply stopped me from trying to make space on the time table for it. So unfortunately I probably won't be improving my French skills in the future, and will probably forget all the grammar rules that I have learned this year. In fact, I don't think I would be able to remember anything that I have learned from this class a few years later. How sad (I am not saying this sarcastically). 

Looking Back at Grade 10 English

Like last year, my English mark was my worst mark. However, unlike last year, I was very satisfied with my performance in English class and I had almost no regrets because I felt that I have (almost) tried my best. Also, even though the actual number of my mark was not very impressive, the mark was very good if compared to the rest of the class. Oh, why do I make it sounds as if the only thing I care is my marks? No, absolutely not, at least not for English.

One of the most important things that I have done in English class, or in the whole school year, was writing my reading journals. At the time that I was writing these journals, I couldn't think of anything to write for weeks, so as a result I really had to look into the tiniest things in my life and in the book (that I chose to do the reading journal with). However, now that I think about it, these things weren't tiny at all. They were all very important, just that they were the things that I had ignored in the past. Anyway, writing these reading journals had enabled me to really think through all the things in my life, and this has allowed me to understand myself and what I believe in.
Fahrenheit 251 by Ray Bradbury, the book that I read for my reading journals. Funny how this book was also about thinking...

It'd be unfair not to give credit to all the other meaningful assignments that I had received in English class. Each of these assignments required me to write an opinion paragraph on a topic that I have never really taken consideration of.  In order to write a well-justified paragraph on each topic, I had to really think through the topics, and as a result I would know my true opinion on the them. For example, for one of the assignments I had to write a paragraph on whether I think clothes are important to my identity. When hearing the question, I immediately thought "no." However, after thinking through the question, I realized that my answer would actually be a "yes."

Also, these English writing assignments/projects has inspired me to start writing this blog. Writing this blog may not be a big achievement, but it does allow me express my (unhappy) feelings and it is definitely a better pass-time than playing online games. Also, it can help me preseve information or thoughts that I will probably forget in years.

One more thing: I should talk about the speech that I did in the class. Even though I got a horrible mark on it—a 72%—I really had fun with it. I did my speech on game theory, a topic that really interested me, and I do not regret choosing it as my topic as I had learned a great deal about the topic because of this speech. Still, the mark should be low enough for me to realize that I must do better next year.

Oh, one last thing—I promise—one other special thing about my English class was that I met some really interesting people in it! Since we sat in little groups, we all talked a lot within our groups and as a result I have gotten the opportunity to know my classmates better and I realized that some of them are actually very funny and/or nice. I've even made friends with some of them!

Looking Back at Grade 10 (Intro+ Links)

I have been wanting to write this post since about three weeks ago. However, since I didn't know my marks for my second semester classes, I was reluctant to write anything at all, fearing that knowing my marks would make me want to change the content of the post.

Now that I know all my marks, I can finally start writing! I'll write about my first semester classes first, and then my second semester classes. Also, among the classes in each semester, I will sort them using the marks that I got in them, in ascending order. Interestingly, this way all my courses will be in order of the marks that I got in them, for my worst second-semester mark (careers) was higher than my best first semester marks (science and computers).

So here we go (I have decided to split it into several posts, since each section is very long, and cramming them all into one post is too unpleasant to read):
(Will update as I have more content)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Report Card (final)

I have never been very nervous to get my report card because in the past I could always calculate my marks beforehand by multiplying my course marks (my marks excluding my exams) and exam marks by the appropriate weightings.

However, this semester I didn't go to school on exam-return day, so I didn't know my exams marks, and as a result I couldn't calculate my final mark beforehand. Since I wasn't sure about my marks, I was anxious and nervous to get my report card and to see my marks. I especially wanted to know my history mark because my history teacher never gave out any mark updates and I had not the slightest idea about what my mark was. 

Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration. I could still estimate my marks using my assignment, project, and test marks, as well as approximating my exam performances. However, since some of my exam marks were quite variable, it was impossible for me to make an accurate estimate. Also, I actually didn't know my mark for my final project for history, which made it even harder for me to make an estimate

Anyway, as I anxiously took out my report card out of the envelope that I received, I couldn't believe my eyes—my marks were so much better than I had expected! My chemistry mark was at the highest that it could have been, meaning that I had to get a perfect on my exam in order to get that mark; my history mark was unbelievably high, meaning that I either got perfect or close-to-perfect on the final project and exam; what's even stranger was my math mark—it was a mark that I couldn't have gotten even if I have gotten a perfect on my math exam! I am guessing that it's because my math teacher has lowered the denominator for the the exam...

On top of all these excellent marks, my OSSLT (Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test) result was also extremely satisfying. I got 395 out of 400 points! I am not quite sure what this means, but if this were translated to percentage, it'd be a 98.75%! My school median is 345, and I am glad that my score is well above average.

This perfectly closes my grade ten year.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Strange Feeling

After I came back from my vacation, I finally got to use a computer. And since I wasn't able to get onto my favourite websites during my vacation, I had to spend a lot of time revisiting them one-by-one. Also, I couldn't refrain myself from playing my recently-downloaded pinball game.

As a result, I have been using my computer about 13 hours out of the past 22 hours. Sounds unhealthy right? Indeed. Just  two hours ago, when I was playing pinball, I had a strange feeling in my heart. It was a twitchy feeling that was slightly uncomfortable. I disregarded that feeling, but then it came for another three our four times later, and by then I simply couldn't ignore it. I was sure that it must be because that I was using my computer for too long. 

Therefore, to avoid having that feeling again, I must reduce the amount of time that I use my computer. I really don't want to have the feeling again! Well, I know that this isn't completely the computer's fault—I actually had the same feeling yesterday, when I was in the airplane—but I think there is definitely some relationship between using the computer and the having that strange feeling. When I was using the computer, I had the feeling about once every five minutes, which was way too frequent!

Anyway, because I have to reduce my computer time, I will also have to reduce the amount of time that I spend on this blog, which means that this blog will be updated less frequently. I will still try to have one post every day, but probably not a lot more than that.

I hope that this twitchy feeling wouldn't come again, and if unfortunately it comes a lot, then I will inform the adults around me.

I'm Back

I don't have much to say, so this will be a very, very short post: 
During my vacation I have thought of a lot of things that may be put onto this blog, and now that I am back from my vacation, I can finally start updating my blog again! However, I am very tired right now, so I won't be making another post until tomorrow.

That's it for now.