A Cloud That Just Won’t Leave

 

gfWZUb.jpgThere is always a calm before the greatest of storms. The birds are singing their careless and wonderful tune. The kids are playing without a care in the world. The skies are clear as if there was no impending storm. A serene environment, an atmosphere and scene that makes you think everything will be OK, that we are just fine. The eye of the storm gives you the last glimpse of an old life.

Suddenly the skies have rapidly turned dark. A clap of thunder in the distance indicates the brutal storm that is to come, then the winds and rain begin. 20, 40, 80 miles per hour to start. Pounding, pounding, pounding against the walls of every house, every building in the city. Trees uprooted from the intense rain and winds. 100, 120, 140 miles per hour. Houses are exploding from the immense pressure of the storm.

Suddenly things don’t seem as calm or as good as they used to seem.

Houses crashing all around, streets made useless by extreme flooding and rain. Cars, homes, schools, entire cities are shut down from the destructive storm. People are afraid; afraid that their lives may change forever.

What about after the storm? After the rain stops? After the flooding is gone and the water is drained? How will people unite to overcome a horrible tragedy?

The dark cloud has not disappeared. The rain may have stopped. The winds may have calmed. But there is still something different. Rather than helping those in need, people are taking advantage. Shops are being stolen of their goods, homes are being picked apart for valuables. Neighbors are threatening each other at gunpoint.

“In the past, disasters in this part of the country have brought out the best in people. But not this time.”

The storm still has not gone. The South has been pitted in darkness, not because of rain, not because of inundation, not because of the hurricane that has since passed, but because its people are broken apart. Its people refuse to help one another, help each other through such a tragic disaster.

This is the story of hurricane Katrina, one of many that had witnessed not one but two storms at once.

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A police officer threatens looters with death in storm devastated New Orleans. 

It was clear that Anaheim was going to be inflicted with a similar storm.

A calm and sunny day in Anaheim. The wonderful white bellied sanderlings tweet their jubilant tune as the hum and buzz of the city continue below. Parents and adults driving home from a long day of work as  children come home from school. Another seemingly normal day in Anaheim. Another eye of the storm.

The turmoil began after school, when a group of young students were walking home. Everything seemed fine until the kids passed by the home of an LAPD officer who was infuriated by the fact that the kids were walking on his front yard. The off duty officer, acting in fury, grabbed one of the 13 year-old boys by the arm and refused to let him go. After a couple of minutes of talk between the detained boy and his detainer, one of the boy’s friend decided to take action in a sticky situation. He tackled the officer, hoping to free his friend and get away from what would surely be a great danger. Instead, the officer tightened his grip on the boy and took out his firearm. In a flurry of events, the officer takes aim and fires.

A clap of thunder. Bang! In a completely unnecessary gun fire, the man scatters the kids who run for their lives. The 13 year old remains detained as the police are called to the scene. In a stroke of luck, no one was hurt or injured. A horrible act of violence, only to end in the arrest of two boys who just wanted to get home. An blatant injustice had been done that day in reaction to a string of shocking decisions made by not only a middle aged man but by an authority. Still, no one was prepared for the storm that would follow.

Streets were made useless. Cars wrecked and houses destroyed and vandalized. Buildings with shattered windows had words reading “Kill the cops!” written on them. Things were no longer calm in the city of Anaheim, the happiest place on earth. There was an unsettling and violent storm blowing through the streets of the city.

“In the past, disasters in this part of the country have brought out the best in people. But not this time.”

As used before by Alice Jackson to describe the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, this quote shows how instead of uniting peacefully to create change, civilians made a bad situation worse with their actions. A single people uniting and co-operating to overturn a tragic and terrible event is a beautiful product of solidarity and democracy. A rioting crowd looking to inflict pain and destruction is a product of uncontrolled anger and irresponsible behavior. The storm of rioters had grown to be so threatening that riot police had to protect the home of the perpetrator because of attempts to break in his home. The storm rages on in Anaheim.

Cooperation, resilience, and love. Change is brought about by these elements.

Last year, Haiti was hit by Hurricane Matthew, which destroyed many of the schools, homes, and properties of the impoverished civilians, but this didn’t spur hate.

“Noula!”

Meaning, “We are here.” A wonderful report told by “Compassion”, a movement to end child poverty, that tells of how the people of Haiti came together to get through a horrible crisis. Many of these people, who before had so little, now have nothing. Their already small homes destroyed, many are left with no place to live, but instead of resorting to violence, these people work together to help each other out of this storm. Schools are rebuilt. Churches are fixed. Ruined classrooms, laptops, and desks are recovered and moved to safety. The children laugh on, the adults hug each other and thank God for giving them life. The cloud has lifted over Haiti, where unity makes strength.

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No tears. No pain. Unity and love. 

A lot can be learned from Haiti. In Louisiana, where violence and crime plagued the region for weeks after the storm. In Anaheim, where protesters resorted to violence to corrupt such a great cause. In the rest of the world, where people struggle for justice and freedom in unproductive and degrading ways. The only solution to such a problem is fraternity and peace. Love and cooperation. Unity and strength.

How can protesters create change? With solidarity and peaceful collaboration. A force of a united people who want change and justice by peaceful means cannot be stopped by authority, force, or injustice. Any crisis or struggle can be solved by one people, united for a single cause, with only pure and just intentions.

L’Union Fait La Force.

 

 

A Skill that Cannot be Forgotten

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“So childhood is turned from a time of freedom into a time of résumé building.”

Peter Gray couldn’t have encompassed the story of childhood in today’s time any better. From an time of play and freedom to an time of whose grade has the higher letter. Parents think they are giving their kids an head start, but really play is what makes kids smart. Rules, regulations, and restrictions are what make kids dreadful; freedom, fun and fulfillment are what make kids successful. Imagination, ingenuity, creativity; these are the qualities you think of when you are asked to think an successful person. But these qualities can’t be taught by more school and more homework; they are taught by fun and outdoor activity.

Peter follows this up with a interesting point.

We’ve become a worse world for children, not necessarily a worse world for adults.

It is not the kids’ fault that play is declining; it is the adults’ fault for creating an worse world for children to play in, there is no silver lining.

This Spanish song, in English titled “Where Will the Kids Play?” imagines an world where nature and the outdoors have been so polluted and destroyed by adults that children have nowhere to play. An world where children would go outside to play everyday turned into an world will kids can no longer play; an world grown tired and gray.

Playing at school for a hour retaught me something that I had long forgotten. Meeting new people, making new friends, and creating memories are what I have gotten. Unrestrained play is what teaches kids to be social, teaches kids to be kind, and teaches kids imagination, creativity, problem solving, and most importantly teaches kids what it means to be an kid. May sound cheesy, but there kids today that don’t know any other life other than writing essays, doing homework, and graphing on the coordinate grid. Perhaps we are trying to prepare kids to be adults, but by doing that we are hurting their chances of being an kind, social, and understanding adult. We are prohibiting kids from playing because they must instead be doing sports or schoolwork, but an stressed and sad child is the only result.

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“Clue” was among one of the many games that we could’ve played. 

Taking a hour out of my stressful and impacted day to just play really made me enjoy the gift of being an kid again. Playing an game I had never played, “Clue”, before with some people that I had never met or talked to before, I hadn’t felt so much like I kid since way back when. Making up rules as we go, laughing along as we played, we had so much fun making memories as new friends. I picked Tien, Evan, Harshin, and Ian to play with because they had all never played “Clue”, so I knew that this could only have an good end. It has been years since I had played an board game while having so much fun at the same time, but what I particularly most enjoyed was meeting new people and learning more about who my classmates really are. Perhaps you don’t really know a person until you play with them.

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The chaos and hilarity of playing sports like dodgeball and soccer with an large number of people is prime example of how unregulated play can help build certain skills.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed playing “Clue”, I do wish I had more time to go outside to play soccer or dodgeball. Playing soccer, dodgeball, or basketball with an large group of friends were the times in which I had made the most memories with friends, memories big and small. I really believe I could have gotten to know more people and could have had an lot of fun if I had had more time to play an outdoor activity. Playing outside with others is also one of the best ways to form friendships, strengthen team building skills, and get active while still having fun. Sometimes you forget how tired or hungry you are when you are outside with your friends and are on the run.

This freedom to play with whomever we wanted and whatever we wanted really brought me back memories of my childhood. I still have long lasting memories of playing soccer, building hideouts, playing tag, and meeting an new friend everyday really reminded me the importance of having freedom as child  to play with the other kids in your neighborhood. In this blogpost, I go over in depth about an particular story of my childhood and how I found freedom as an kid growing up. All the nerf wars, the pool fights, the youtube videos, it all will shape me to be the person I will be as a grownup. I remember how my creativity and imagination flourished as kid, and how important it was for me to meet and play with all the kids around me. It truly is something special to have an group of seven to twelve friends running around until we grew weary.

 

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Baron Games are one of the few times we as an school dedicate school time to play. How could we be better as an school if we learned the value of playing with others?

I really believe more teachers should join in on #GSPD2017, as it instills an very important value and skill in students; learning to play with each other. It really is incredible how modern schooling puts so little emphasis on socializing and learning to enjoy one another. More teachers should join in on this event not only because it serves as a way to ease students’ stress, but also because  it teaches students to be more friendly and cooperative. Having the entire school dedicate the entire day to just playing would foster so many connections and create a real sense of unity among students, for this I would be very appreciative.

Next year what should be done differently is that students should be allowed to play on the grass fields or on the basketball courts, that way there is more space to play games such as tag, basketball, soccer, and hide and seek. I also believe that being allowed to play with students from other classes that are also participating in #GSPD2017 is important, as we are exposed to students that we perhaps don’t usually see throughout the week. I really do believe that play is a important value and skill in America and that schools should be the first to defend this value, not be the ones to take it away. #GSPD2017 is an great opportunity to teach kids of all ages and grade levels to learn to have fun with each other and just PLAY!6pEk6tdwZhDrkhwS.jpg

The Peculiar House of Slavery

A beautiful mansion, wonderfully decorated on the outside with blood stained velvet ribbons and towering marble statues. A gilded mansion, with glimmering golden paint on rotting wooden walls. A peculiar mansion, with its grandeur appearance and its crooked foundation, held up on the backs of children, held up on the backs of the poor, held up on the backs of those who were deceived. A peculiar mansion, built in the memory of a peculiar institution. This is the house of slavery, built on the foundation of inequality, in a land where justice cannot stand. Can justice truly exist in a society founded on inequality?

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It would surprise many people that not only does slavery still exist in all parts of the globe, but it has over 25 million innocent lives held in bondage. Many of these slaves were tricked into slavery or were kidnapped or even trafficked, being forced to work tirelessly with no pay and little food in compensation. An astounding majority of those that are trafficked are either children or women, like Hema, who at twelve years old was taken from her home in Karnataka, India to earn money to feed her family as a housemaid in Bangalore. However, upon arriving, she found that she had been deceived, as her job, “wasn’t what she had expected. Instead of being paid money for her work, she was treated as a slave. She was not paid and was not allowed to leave the grounds of the mansion. She was very badly treated by the man who had seemed so kind when he arrived at her parents’ house.” Taken from  the blog, “Southern Arizona Against Slavery,” the story exemplified the inequality that exists in modern day India. Hema, who at the age of twelve had to work to support her impoverished family, was taken to work as a slave in someone else’s mansion, to supplement someone else’s riches, to work and be treated as if she were inferior. Although Hema was eventually rescued and returned to her family, there was no justice for her, there was no retribution for the actions of the man who took her from her family and deceived her, no justice for the little girl who just wanted to help her family. What allows a man to get away scotch-free in such an insidious crime?

Wealth and power.

In a country where the upper class owns more than 70% of India’s wealth, the rich impose their laws and judicial structure, a structure that only benefits them and their greed. In a country full of inequality like India, owning slaves is fair game as long as you have the wealth and power.

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Supplied from the article “India’s staggering wealth gap in five charts“, the data shows how prevalent inequality is in modern day India.

Transitioning to 19th century America, the land of freedom and justice, and a haven for all white Anglo-Saxon males living under tyranny and injustice. A country that fought so bravely to achieve liberty and equality, and a country that fought even more fiercely to prevent liberty and equality. The United States has often been viewed as an example to other countries and a model for democracy and freedom, but often a large portion of its dark history is ignored, and those who suffered in this history forgotten. This is the story of the slave society of the “gallant South”, and how justice was truly absent during this time. The Dred Scott Case of 1857 was a landmark decision in what the Supreme Court of the United States ruled what the status of African-Americans was in the United States. Chief “Justice” Roger Taney ruled that, “the legislation and histories of the times, and the language used in the Declaration of Independence show, that neither the class of persons who had been imported as slaves, nor their descendants, whether they had become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part of the people, nor intended to be included in the general words used in that the memorable instrument…”. This was a primary document of the Dred Scott vs. Sanford decision in 1857, where the final ruling was that since Dred Scott was an African American, and since African Americans were not granted citizenship in the Constitution or Declaration of Independence, Dred Scott therefore could not even plea in court for his freedom as he was not considered a citizen of the United States. Dred Scott pleaded for his freedom as he claimed that since he was taken to the free state of Illinois (where slavery was prohibited) and claimed that since he had been taken to a sate where slavery was prohibited, he was therefore free and no longer bounded. Roger Taney’s decision was a prime example of the inequality and injustice that all African-Americans were subject to during the 19th century. It is this inequality and idea of racial superiority that allows the Court and government to make these decisions and uphold slavery. It is this inequality that drives justice away from “the land of the free and home of the brave”.

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The irony of justice.

Perhaps this is in our past. Perhaps the United States really is a model for the rest of the world;  a forerunner in democracy, liberty, and justice. Perhaps the hundreds of thousands of children, women, and immigrants currently held in fear and in bondage are just exceptions. Perhaps we were wrong.

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Ima Matul: an Indonesian immigrant who was deceived and forced into labor right in our backyard.

Ima Matul is from Indonesia, where at 17 years old she was offered a job in Los Angeles as a nanny. Ima was already valiant enough to travel on her own, at such a young age, to a country she has never been to nor has ever spoken the language of. She had come trusting the American democracy, believing that she would have a better life. It seemed that Ima was misled, “As soon as she passed through customs, the woman who she’d be ‘working’ for confiscated her passport. At the tony house of her employer just outside Beverly Hills, the $150 a month she’d been promised never materialized.” A great story reported by Steve Hargreaves at CNN, it tells the tragic tale of an innocent immigrant being taken advantage of. Where she was seen as inferior by her captors, Ima had no route for escape; unable to speak english, Ima could not tell anyone of her plight. She worked as a slave for two years, beaten, abused, and threatened with being sent to the police if she were to attempt to escape. She would eventually escape, with the help of her captors’ neighbors, but that doesn’t mean justice was carried out, ” Her captors were never prosecuted, she said, as the case was too difficult to prove.” Ima’s captors, who forced her to work and violently abused her for two years straight, were never brought before the law. They were never punished for what they had done, and they still profited from taking advantage of Ima. Justice wasn’t served in Ima’s case, in a society where immigrants who toil to find a better life in the United States are seen as inferior and not deserving of American citizenship. Ima’s captors weren’t prosecuted because “it was too difficult to prove”, they weren’t prosecuted because they had money, power, and were legalized citizens. American or not, justice should be blind to ethnicity, not to crime.

The most convincing piece of evidence for the fact that justice cannot exist in a society that promotes inequality comes from Frederick Douglass’ “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave”. A prolific, self-educated author, Frederick Douglass does an incredible job of portraying the life of a slave without leaving out any detail. His book serves as an insight into what Southern society was like and what Southern attitudes were towards slavery and African-Americans in general. In one quote, Frederick managed to encompass the American justice system and inequality of society in America during the nineteenth century, “If I had been killed in the presence of a thousand colored people, their testimony combined would have been insufficient to have arrested one of the murderers.” This one quote moved me. After learning about modern day slavery, before reading all the personal accounts of contemporary slaves and documents of unjust court rulings, I would never have guessed that a society could be so broken, that a society could be so divided, that a society could be so unequal as to let one man get away with murder in front of thousands of witnesses because of a difference in skin color. This quote made it blatant, it became apparent that slavery and injustice are processes driven by inequality and hatred. Two twisted institutions, supported and reinforced by two dark and looming columns.

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How can mob violence get so out of hand yet be unpunished?

How can we stop this? Is there a solution to ending slavery worldwide? Will inequality plague us as a race for the rest of history? When will justice truly be reached? Is inequality part of our human nature? So many questions can stem from this single question. But the answer is apparent; a house divided against itself cannot stand, but a house united can change the world. The peculiar mansion, with its rotting walls and unequal foundation, is bound to fall. The mallet is in our hands: will we continue to support this institution, or will we destroy slavery and global inequality?

Civil Disobedience and Witchcraft

“Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.”

A daring thing to say, especially in 19th century sectionalized America. Written by Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience was written in 1849 in response to the Mexican American War and the government’s idleness in resolving the slavery issue. Thoreau urges his fellow Americans to protest the government if they were truly unhappy with it; and if this meant going to jail, so be it.  Benjamin_D._Maxham_-_Henry_David_Thoreau_-_Restored.jpg

If you are willing to uphold a moral or a belief in the face of an unjust government, you must be willing to take the unjust punishment for your beliefs.

Rewind 157 years to the Salem Witch Trials and the events of The Crucible. John Proctor, seeing his neighbors killed for being accused of witchcraft and his wife Elizabeth being accused, stands up to Abigail Williams and the court in order to protect those around him. John claims that Abigail and the rest of the girls are pretending to see demons and witchcraft, and John even reveals his sin of adultery to the court in order to protect his wife and neighbors. At this point, John has come to terms with himself and his guilt for cheating on his wife; a turning point in Proctor’s character development. John realizes that he must accept punishment for his actions in order to defend his neighbors and wife. This development comes to a head when John refuses to sign his confession for witchcraft, as he knew he couldn’t lie to himself anymore and send his neighbors to the scaffold. John was willing to sacrifice his life in order to uphold his integrity and die for what he believed to be right. 

The irony behind the story is summed up when John and the other people “guilty” of witchcraft recite the Christian prayer “Our Father” as they are being falsely convicted and executed for a demonic crime. What made the scene even more ironic was Proctor being killed just after reciting “and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”; a nod to the court’s decisions, Abigail’s pretending, and Elizabeth’s forgiveness for John’s adultery.

John had stood up to the face of an unjust government in order to defend the innocence of those around him. A brave sacrifice and a resounding answer to the question “Are you willing to die for your most sacred religious or humanitarian beliefs?”

El Clasico

 

 

April 24, 2012. A Saturday morning in my house, but a Saturday evening 5,700 miles away in Spain. The league standings for the season was as tight as ever, both teams were setting records in unbeaten streaks; the stage was set for the biggest rivalry of the soccer world.

A victory by Real Madrid would propel them to the top of the table and give them the momentum they need to win the Spanish title, the first title they would win since 2008. A victory by Barcelona would do the same for Catalonian club, who were looking to not only maintain their 54 game unbeaten streak at home but to also win the Spanish title for the fourth time in four years.

This was one of the most memorable and emotional games for me; I was highly anticipating this game and was ready to watch with my brand new replica Real Madrid jersey that I had received for Christmas. I couldn’t be more excited for the match; could it be that we could finally rip the league title away from Barcelona?

The match started off with a bang. After 17 minutes of play, midfielder Sami Khedira buried a loose ball after a corner kick and put Madrid  up 1-0.

The game kept up its intensity as both teams would maintain constant pressure for the rest of first half. Despite the 1-0 scoreline, the game seemed too tight to call.

Then came the 70th minute. After a series of desperate clearances by Real Madrid’s defenders, in a spectacle that seemed as if the ball was playing pinball, Alexis Sanchez found himself in front of an open goal and put the ball away to even the scoreline.

A heartbreaker: I couldn’t believe it.

I was at a loss for words, how could it be that after a season of spectacular play that we keep Barcelona in the match in the game and therefore the title race?

But my grieving didn’t last for long.

One of the most beautifully strung series of passes of all time, followed by a piercing ball from German midfielder Mesut Ozil to main target man Cristiano Ronaldo, who calmly and cooly slotted the ball past Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes to put Real Madrid in the lead and win the team the game, only four minutes after Barcelona’s equalizer.

His celebration wrapped the game up perfectly, as he motioned for the Barcelona to quiet down.

One of my favorite goals and games of all time, I was jumping with joy when the referee blew the final whistle after 90 minutes of unrelenting attacking by both sides. With that victory, and with only two games remaining in the season, Real Madrid had all but wrapped up their league title. Real Madrid would end up winning the league title with 100 points; a new record for the number of points won in one season in Spain, a record that has not been broken since then.

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“El Clasico” translates to “The Classic”, and indeed the rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona is a soccer classic, attracting over 400 million viewers worldwide every year. Barcelona and Real Madrid and two of the most respected soccer clubs in Europe, and they often are competing with each other to win Europe’s most prestigious competitions every year.

It can be said that there isn’t enough room for both clubs in Europe.

Both clubs always have the best talent that the world has to offer, from Brazilian star Neymar, Argentine prodigy Lionel Messi, to Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. Along with some of the most brilliant coaching minds in the game, El Clasico is a fierce tactical and physical battle every year; the equivalent of Fountain Valley High School’s and Edison’s Bell Game.

The two teams’ rivalry can be traced back historically to the hometown of the Barcelona Football Club; Catalonia. For centuries, the catalans have been under the Subjugation of the Spanish capital (Madrid), and for the same amount of time have resented it. In fact, Catalonia residents have begun an independence movement that has been petitioning the Spanish government for independence for the past decade.

It is only natural that this resentment of Spain and subsequently the Spanish capital be reflected on the world’s biggest theatre.

Last weekend marked the 202nd competitive match between the two clubs, and the scoreline ended in an even scoreline of 1-1, with a heart stopping 90th minute equalizer by Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos.

El Clasico is often regarded as clash between two titans, as the duel between two of the best teams that humanity has to offer. The games are always highly anticipated, and never fail to produce some of the largest viewership numbers in television history.

To keep up with future El Clasico’s or just keep up with Spanish soccer in general, visit this site.

 

The Dunning Kruger Effect and My Experiences

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For the sources used in this blog:

NY Times Article

Podcast on the DK effect

Mr. Theriault’s Blog

“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed but not in despair.”

For me this quote perfectly wrapped up the ideas the article and podcast were trying to teach. The quote was read by Dr. Grayson, at the request of President Wilson himself, when Wilson had heard that the Senate had defeated the League Treaty. The quote exemplifies what it means to have anosognosia and what it means to be close minded and ignorant.

One of the biggest takeaways for me from these sources was the idea that to avoid the Dunning-Kruger effect, or avoid ignorance for that mater, was to solicit advice. But not just any advice, good advice. Like the advice McArthur Wheeler took to wear lime juice to rob a bank without showing up on surveillance cameras, not all advice is necessarily good or helpful. But the point of keeping an open mind and considering pointers or tips that others have for you are what will stimulate growth and learning. Not considering criticism or dismissing others as inferior or not as good as you are the exact premises for the Kruger effect. Turns out that considering yourself all knowing and not in need in any of help is the ignorance of your incompetence. The difference between an expert and a beginner is that an expert is willing to admit that he has much to learn and is ope minded when it comes to his or her expertise. Beginners tend to be overconfident, believing that they are as much of a pro as anyone else. However, the key to being competent is recognizing your incompetence; you cannot know your known unknowns without accepting that there are unknowns that you do not know (I know, confusing, but enlightening once you understand it). Mr. Theriault said it best on his blog, “The farther you go, the less you know.” It’s true; the more experienced you are, the more aware you are that you aren’t as knowing or talented as you previously thought.

Out of the many examples that David McRaney gave in his podcast, from X-Factor to taking a company manager job without knowing English, there was one example that I could easily relate to. David mentions that he once hosted a fighting game tournament with his friend and invited many players from around the country because he was so confident in his abilities in the game. However, when it came time to play in the tournament, he was double eliminated and placed last place in the tournament. He had drastiaclly overestimated himself because he was comparing his talents to his friend’s abilities, not to the champions of the country. Similarly, during the summer vacation, I had entered my first fighting game tournament thinking that I would go far in bracket. However, by the end of the day, I had lost four games out of four and had been eliminated from the tournament.  I thought that I would do well because I played so well compared to my friends, and thought that that ability would make me better than most at the game. I was severely mistaken. I was a classic victim of the Dunning-Kruger effect; I was overly confident and was too incompetent to realize my incompetence in fighting games.

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In this bracket I am Lebensraum: I ended up losing four games out of four and falling out of the bracket first round.

 

The greatest lesson that I learned from the blog, podcast, and article was to stay humble, stay open minded, and realize that you can be wrong. Knowing your limits (AKA known unknowns) allows you to gain experience and grow as a person, being close minded only makes your ignorance more profound. The closest thing I could find to embody this lesson was the following proverb:

“Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid of standing still.”

Valley Park Apartments

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Sing Little Bird, Sing

There was a nest, right there in our backyard, that brought joy to our home. It was a sort of symbiosis; we would feed and relieve the house sparrows of their thirst, and they would relieve us of our stress.

Four birds in a nest, one a mama and one a papa. The other two were the babies of the family, they could not yet sing.

Chirp chirp !

My dad wondered when the family would leave, I wondered when the kids would sing.

Chirp chirp!

My mom kept feeding them, nurturing them, hoping the birds would become our new pets someday.

Chirp chirp!

My brother was indifferent, he just liked to feed the birds their seeds. Maybe he wanted to see the baby birds grow.

Chirp Chirp Chirp!

Three birds singing, a tune so sweet, sweet like pan dulce. That would be breakfast.

Chirp chirp chirp!

Still one bird missing from the family, one bird that didn’t sing with the rest. Was it shy? Was it afraid of being embarrassed? Or did it have the most beautiful voice that only the purest of hearts could hear?

Chirp chirp chirp!

The three birds would wake me up when it was time to go to school, they would make me feel better when I felt like a fool.

Chirp chirp chirp!

A presentation the next day, I would have to stand all alone and sing in front of a class full of chirping birds.

Chirp chirp chirp!

Maybe the bird didn’t want to sing because it was nervous? Or it had too much to eat? Or maybe it was waiting for the perfect moment?

Chirp chirp chirp!

Maybe I was waiting for the perfect moment and I shouldn’t be afraid to let my voice out, maybe I shouldn’t be embarrased and I shouldn’t be shy and I shouldn’t be afraid of other people calling my voice ugly or my presentation bad.

Chirp chirp chirp chirp chirp!

So we sang

A Moment that Wouldn’t Last

My mom says they’re gifts from the past, moments you can’t document or record but a moment you will remember forever and ever.

Like that one time I got an ward at school she said, or that one time I scored that one goal at that one tournament at that one game. I thought these were bad examples. I didn’t get it.

Maybe it was like that one time I first met my friends, or that one time when my brother was born, or maybe that one time I ate a piece of carne asada whole.

No that wasn’t it. I couldn’t remember those moments clearly, and mom said they were moments you wouldn’t lose grip of. Maybe I haven’t had one of these moments yet.

In month of my birthday, my mom told me my grandparents from Mexico, her parents, were coming. Apparently they haven’t been to the Unites States for more than twelve years, and everyone in my extended family would be in one house to welcome them. I shrugged. I didn’t know them, I’ve never met them. They would be here in five days.

Five days, five days, they went by like the soft ocean breeze  you feel when you’re at the beach.

And there they were, in my aunt’s house, my grandpa and my grandma. I don’t know what it was, but when I first saw them I broke into tears and embraced both of them.

“Hola mijo!”

Two words, soft yet hard to swallow like peanut butter. I felt mushy inside, like if my grandpa and grandma are what were missing to make my life stable. Mushy like the two words that made me cry even more.

I would never forget this moment. Maybe it was the circumstances, or maybe the weather, like that one time my brother cried because it was too hot. But the overwhelming emotion I felt when I saw and heard my grandparents wouldn’t last. The emotion I felt would never be repeated again. The moment I met my grandparents was a gift from the past.

Viva la Vida

One of my favorite songs, a song me and my friend would listen to everyday. We would listen to it at the sandy playground, at the grassy field, on top of the apartment complex’s carports.

Bill says he likes it because it has a nice melody, a nice beat to it that makes you want to twiddle your fingers in the air.

I thought I liked it because of the title, a piece of advice from Coldplay to just live your life without precaution. But if that’s what the title said, then the lyrics were about something completely different. A song about the downfall of one king and the rise of another, only to see the latter fall from his position of power and into a life of loneliness and regret.

A tale of loss and remorse, the tune of the human struggle. The song served as an explanation for the tragedies and failures of life. The song reflected that while it is possible to reach great heights, it is also possible to fall from great heights.

One day news came that my grandmother, my father’s mother had died. She was important to me. She had taught me to count in Spanish and was the first person I called “abuela”. They say she died happy on her land in Mexico, amongst many uncles and aunts that I had never met. Uncles and aunts that I could count in Spanish because of her.

She was gone, and maybe I was more devastated than my dad. My grandmother was the first close relative that I had lost. At the young age of twelve, I had learned that happiness and joy were built on upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand.

Life on Mars?

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A photograph taken from “NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter satelite” that shows evidence of small quantities of liquid water on the surface of Mars.

After much speculation, it can be confirmed by scientists working at NASA that water did once and still exists on Mars. According to this article by astronomer Seth Shostak on SETI’s website, the water comes from underground reservoirs.

 

Could this mean that there once was, and maybe still is, life on Mars? More importantly, could we as humans inhabit the planet one day? Only time will tell.

Everything You Need To Know About Smash Summit 3

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The third iteration of the smash summit series, Smash Summit 3 is hosted by Beyond the Summit esports and is taking place this week from Thursday through Sunday.

Smash Summit has been a staple tournament in the melee community for the past three years. Now a biannual event, the competition looks hot as sixteen of the best melee players are invited to Southern California suite to fight it out over a $20,000 prize pot. It seems that all eyes are on this tournament, with Thursday and Friday viewership averaging 30,000.

The Smash Summit is as much as a casual event as a competitive one. The atmoshpere itself is about as casual as it gets; four commentators at a time sit on the living room couch to watch and commentate matches, the kitchen is full of drinks and food for the players to eat, and the whole house is open for all the competitors to just hang out.

Screen Shot 2016-11-05 at 3.10.18 PM.pngSome unconventional, fun and entertaining events are also streamed on Twitch on Thursday and Friday. One of these events is mafia, where all the players meet in a room and four are picked as mafia, one as a doctor, one as a cop, and one as a vigilante, with the remaining players being common villagers. The goal of the mafia is to kill everyone, having to kill two players after each turn. The vigilante can kill one person of his choice, but his goal to kill one of the mafia. The doctor can save one person from the mafia’s wrath per turn, however, the doctor is unaware as to who the mafia will kill. The cop can investigate one person per turn to try to figure out who is in the mafia. After each turn, the surviving villagers can vote to execute one person who they believe to be the mafia. More and better information about this party game can be found here.

Saturday and Sunday is where the real money is won. Saturday eight teams of two compete in a bracket tournament to win a prize pot of $5,000. Known as melee doubles, each team of two has eight lives (also known as stocks) and each team tries to eliminate all the stocks of the opposing team. This bracket is double elimination and will take place on Saturday from 12 PM PST to 5 PM PST.

Singles bracket attracts the most viewers, potentially more than 50,000. Fan favorites like Joseph “Mang0” Marquez and William “Leffen”Hjelte will go all out to win the big cash prize of $20,000. This tournament series is known to produce great shows and display melee’s great talents from around the world. Singles bracket is double elimination and will be played on Sunday at 12 PM.

All brackets, singles, doubles, and all the casual events played, can be found at smash.gg

The last Smash Summit was a great success, and produced some of the greatest moments in melee history. This year will be no different.

All of Smash Summit 3’s events  can be streamed from twitch.

The Other Side of the Wall

 

I still remember vividly the times I had as a young boy growing up in my apartment complex. I was never timid, displayed by the fact that by the age of four I already had a circle of four to six friends. Everyday we would go outside, take in the warm sunlight, making up new games as we go. We would role play as TV characters, build hideouts, and even sometimes film silly videos:

This would be how I enjoyed my free time as a boy, sometimes even from 7 AM to 7 PM. But as time went on, and as my friends began to grow up, those who I once saw every single day began to move away. As a result, my group got smaller and smaller, until Bill and I were the only remaining friends.

Bill was a very generous kid, about three months my senior yet about 3 inches shorter. He spent most of his time outside (as most of us did at that age) either playing nerf or just following the rest of us. He may have been short, but Bill was the most enjoyable and emphatic presence among us. Once everyone else moved away, our time as friends only got better.

As aforementioned, we had about 12-16 “hideouts”, each designated for a specific task, such as having a party, hanging out, playing soccer, etc. But there was one hideout more discreet than the others, so discreet in fact that we used to hide our own possessions in it. Bill and I had found this hideout around the age of 8, when we had grew old enough to be able to run quickly enough away from trouble and, more importantly, be able to climb walls.

This last detail is very important as in order to access this specific hideout, you must be able to climb an approximately 6 and a half foot wall. The hideout itself was about a 75 square foot area, hidden behind a beige and barren wall separating the apartment complex parking lot from a dirt filled, wild grass ridden area:

What the other side of the wall looks like today
 On the opposite side of the wall was a barbed wire chain link fence, dividing the hideout from a sort of office complex. In hindsight, the hideout was more open and less secretive than we believed at the time, but even still very few knew about its existence. Some of the few that found about about its existence were my parents.

I was prohibited from entering that hideout, period. But as every little kid would do when they’re restrained from doing something, I went ahead and went there everyday, after school, during the weekend, all the time. Crossing the wall meant freedom, the wall was a barrier to fun.

This went on for about two months, until one Thursday when I came home early from school on the school bus. Bill and I had met up the hideout at about noon on a sunny and clear day in May. We were enjoying a couple of sodas while playing around with a couple of things we had in the hideout, when I had heard the distinct sound of my dad’s 2001 Dodge Intrepid. There was no mistaking it; as I looked through one of the donut sized holes in the wall, I saw my dad pulling in to park, completely unaware that I was  on the other side.

I began to panic, but at the same time I was exhilarated. I had to come up with a plan quick in order to refrain from being punished. I looked at Bill, and he looked back at me, and right then I knew what we had to do. I sprinted to the very end of the hideout to reach what seemed to be a good place to cross the wall without being seen. Simultaneously, Bill began to throw rocks against the wall to make a faint enough of a noise to distract my dad but still keep his identity secret.

Things began to slow down. Every second lasted a minute, and thoughts began to race through my head. I didn’t know if I could hop the wall in one go without struggling and being seen. I didn’t even know what was on the other side of the wall. But I still jumped.

It was a perfect jump, in fact. I successfully jumped up the wall, hopped over, and landed in the adjacent dumpster without being seen. Due to all the action that had just happened, I stood oblivious to the fact that I was in a dumpster, and I remained there, stagnant, for a couple of seconds, wondering if I made too much noise or if my body was seen by my father.

Once I recollected myself, I climbed out of the dumpster and walked towards my house wondering what my excuse for being at the dumpster area was. Turns out he made my excuse for me.

“So you took out the trash?” was the first thing my dad said to me. I immediately nodded my head, elated that I had successfully concealed the truth.

That’s when I learned that some of the most fun times I had growing up were when I had all of the freedom in the world, ignoring any boundaries I may have, running around the small apartment complex Bill and I called home. The wall showed me that I didn’t need a large group of friends to enjoy myself, I didn’t need fancy toys or gadgets to have fun. Sometimes not obeying authority produces some of the most memorable moments of your life.

Smash for the Blind

Over the weekend there was a local tournament in Philadelphia where a blind boy entered and played on stream. 

This incredible feat can be watched  in the following link.   

The boy did his best and actually played incredibly versus his opponent, despite his disadvantage. The boy even managed to take a match off of his opponent in the three games they played. 

Further proof that anything can be accomplished if you put your mind to it.