House in the clouds
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It all began in the dusty lifeless town of Lancaster, with extreme winds that carry the tumble weeds across the hot cracked asphalt. The white Adidas shoes on the telephone lines purchased at the Payless ShoeSource are a reminder of the lack of success. There’s nothing there except unemployed college dropouts who have many offspring who will go down the same road. Those who are employed are the lucky few. They’re the ones who want to break the never-ending circle and go to college. But most of the time, that job was just temporary because those few that do graduate know they can leave this ghost town, and they take the first bus out, leaving nothing but a trail of dust that goes on for miles across the dead Mojave desert. I was fortunate that my parents saved me from a life where being ambitious is becoming the manager at Payless ShoeSource.

I spent the next chapter of my life in a place I am proud to grow up in: The wonderful town of Ventura where surfing is not a hobby; it’s a lifestyle. It’s how people talk, walk and dress. It has this relaxed feel to it — the sound of crashing waves and the fresh sea breeze. Day and night are nothing alike. The day is colorful and full of life; the buildings are colorful and are spread from sea to the mountain; and the beach is always full, looking like a 1950’s Coca Cola poster. Ventura is not just limited to the beach. It’s next to a beautiful mountain. On top, there are the iconic “Two Trees”, which you can see the whole city from. Although there’s all the commotion below, you feel isolated and alone, like there wasn’t a city for hundreds of miles. It’s the best place to watch the sunset. There is nothing like it in the world. The night is much more quiet. I could take a walk on the beach and hear nothing but the crashing tide and see maybe one or two silhouettes of people, outlined by the moon. Main Street at night has a sense of liveliness, even though it’s less than the day. It must be the bright neon lights and all the meter parking that is completely filled, even after shops are closed. As great as this town is, I am not the type of person who can live in one place his whole life.

After College, and winning the Mega Millions a dozen times or so, I would have a custom-built airship I would live on that is basically a flying aircraft carrier, but a little more complex. It wouldn’t be all modern and futuristic; it would be held up by two large balloons that look like they came off a blimp, attached by 100 feet of thick rope like the ones used to tie a cruise ship to a dock. The balloons would be just the right height so I can take off in either of the two planes I would have. One of the planes would be a HU-16 Albatross, a large sea plane that could carry a lot of cargo. It would be military green with a 1950’s pin-up girl with red hair riding a large bomb. The other plane would be a P-51, with a pair of white sharp teeth and a red mouth toward the propeller. A little behind the mouth would be a pair of eyes with a fierce look to them. It would be painted the same tone of green as the cargo plane. The planes would perfectly fit the overall theme of steam punk meets sky captain of tomorrow. Any metal on the airship would be either copper, bronze, or gold. And anything else would be a dark-colored wood. The outside of the ship would be rough wood, the wood used on a pirate ship, but the inside would be detailed refined wood with fancy floral engravings. Polished copper pipes would be visible through the halls and outside of the ship, and two large bronze smoke stacks near the control tower would be used to collect the clouds, turning them into steam and using it to power the ship. When I’m on my ship, I would wear khakis with a brown leather jacket, along with aviator goggles around my neck just to add to the feel. I would only do this on my ship, because it would already be strange going places by old planes.

The seaplane would allow me to go anywhere coastal and my P-51 would allow me to fly to any airport. From the airport, I would take the much more conventional, but less adventuress, method of transportation known as taking a taxi. Transportation would be inconvenient but limitless. I could go anywhere in the world, and that’s what would be so great. I wouldn’t even need to pack bags, because I could just take my ship with me. Once I got married and had kids, I would live on the Ship until the first one turned 5. Then, I would ask them where they wanted to grow up. It could be anywhere in the world; I would then move there so they could have a great place to call home while growing up like I did.

I would live in that town for the rest of my life because it is the end of my adventure and the start of his or hers. I would stay there, so when they come back and visit they will remember the great times they had at their old home where they spent the greatest years of their lives. Wherever it is, I know I will be happy because all I would want is for my children is to have a good life, like my parents have for me. Whether it’s the snowy mountains of Colorado or the cherry-blossom filled streets of Japan, I will gladly spend the rest of my life there.


Orcas vs. Horses?

Orcas, or killer whales, have been kept in captivity since 1961, and there have been books and movies made about them and how cruel it is to use them for our entertainment. As I read Death at SeaWorld (and watched Blackfish), I started to think about the similarities between horses and orcas in “captivity.”

Both are large, potentially dangerous, and used for entertainment and sport. Both have caused injury, both have caused death, and both are highly intelligent and (seem to) experience emotions and moods.

The only difference I see is that horses have been domesticated for 5500 years, which is far more than the 50 or so years that orcas have been kept captive. Somehow, I feel like the domestication, and perhaps usefulness, is what’s saving horses from being “liberated.”

Our horses, like the orcas, are kept cooped up in small stalls, while feral horses can travel 65-80 km daily for food, water, and shelter. To rid their energy before riding, we make our horses run in circles around us in a little pen.

Horses can get “moody” and “off.” Sometimes they’ll refuse jumps, buck for no reason, or refuse to slow down while trotting or cantering. So we blame the rider, trainer, or the weather. Orcas can be like that too, refusing trainer orders or protesting in their guttural language.

After I was flung off my pony and broke my clavicle rather terribly, I couldn’t do much of anything but sit in my room all day. I still can’t ride, but I can lunge and groom as long as I’m careful. The pony that bucked me off didn’t seem crazy, guilty, or dangerous whatsoever, and I felt no fear or trauma while looking at him. I was injured so severely that my bone was in danger of impaling through my shoulder and I required a two-hour surgery, and something like that sticks in your mind.

Huge controversies came up and multiple rules were put into place when the first orca injured its trainer, yet when I was injured by my pony my friend was instructed to keep riding him because he “shouldn’t be allowed off that easy.”

I don’t think my pony’s intentions were to hurt me, just like I think that killer whales don’t really want to kill us. But if I were stuck in a cubicle, working for hours with little to no rewards, I would probably go a little nutty and stir-crazy.

Just sayin’.

How Old?

Nowadays, age means nothing. Due to the school system, children standardly grow up with friends either in the same grade, or one grade higher or lower. If one’s sibling is a few years apart, they might socialize with their sibling’s friends, but that’s the extent of it.

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Married couples are often multiple years apart, but at that age it’s not considered odd. At a younger age, however, it would be weird if people were to date even three years up. The age gap of friendships/relationships is a double standard, and it’s simply weird to reflect on how that evolves with age.

More controversially, milestones that come with age seem to be happening at younger and younger ages. Only a few years after reaching double digits, children are drinking and doing drugs. Maturing at such a young age leaves nothing for these adolescents to do at later points in their lives. This premature maturing is detrimental to the children, and it messes with cultural norms.

Color Me Crazy

The concept of color, and what is visible to the human eye, is impossible to comprehend. For all we know, everyone could see colors completely differently. I might see a color and call it red, and someone else might see a completely different hue but still call it red, for that is the universal name.

In preschool, everyone’s teacher would repeatedly point around the classroom while the children chanted, “blue, purple, yellow.” Kids would also memorize the rainbow – R.O.Y. G.B.I.V.

However, even though everybody might see a color and call it green, they could all personally interpret it as a different color. It could even be in a different color spectrum, which is not comprehensible.

This is impossible to imagine, for people think in color, and if one has not seen a color, it is impossible to picture it. The fact that everybody might see the world in varying ways is insane within itself, along with the realization that if that’s true, it cannot be proven. Any scientists attempting to do the experiment would also interpret the colors in unknown ways, and as a result there would be nothing on which to base the experiment.

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Superbowl Sunday

I have been watching many friends and teachers walk around with a sad and slightly annoyed look on their face for the past week or so. Why? Apparently because with the close score of 22-28, the Seattle Seahawks beat the Green Bay Packers in the game to determine who will play in the Superbowl XLIX this year in Arizona.

The Patriots dominated in the finals to determine which teams face off in the Superbowl, and this will be their sixth time in the Superbowl since 2001.

However, there was some controversy over the massive 45-7 victory.

There have been many accusations of the Patriots team purposefully deflating the game balls used in the AFC title game.

One specific person has caused all this havoc for the Patriots; a locker room attendant who was one of the few people to have possession of the balls shortly before the game.

Ridiculous? Maybe.

But many say otherwise.

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It’s Patriots versus the world.


New Year New Me

I have never been a fan of the whole “New Years resolutions” thing. Everyone always talks about losing weight or eating more vegetables. I find it kind of silly that when the New Year comes around, everyone is frantic to head to the gym and start a new lifestyle.

Until this year, I never understood why anyone would make an effort to do something they should have been doing in the first place.

In late December, I had dinner with a friend who has always been very environmentally friendly and aware. We were talking about what her New Years resolution was. She had decided to use re-usable water bottles everyday and NEVER buy water in plastic containers.

A similar thought crossed my mind as she said that, and I brought up the idea to not use plastic bags anymore. I tried to not use them in the first place, but I was guilty of carrying around a few Target bags full of miscellaneous items once in a while.

This year would be different.

I was only going to use paper bags or bring re-usable bags whenever I went shopping. So far this year, I have saved approximately fifteen plastic bags, and we’re only 26 days into the new year.

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Plastic bags are one of the many causes for the enormous build up of trash in the oceans. This build up destroys habitats for the wildlife, and the wildlife itself. I do not want to encourage this anymore than I already have. This year, I will try my best not to aid in the harming of our environment.



School is a designated time and place for people to learn and increase their knowledge. Because of that, I don’t think it’s fair for copious amounts of work to be assigned out of school as well.

When long hours are spent every day sitting in chairs and taking in lots of information, it seems like overkill to continue to practice what we’ve learned later in the day.

Many teachers argue that class time is for learning the material, and that through homework we are supposed to prove our knowledge. That is a legitimate point, however, if we didn’t have homework, then there would actually be time to execute our skills during class itself.

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So much time is spent during class periods assigning, explaining and reviewing homework. If no homework was assigned, the time originally spent talking about homework after we’ve learned the lesson could be spent proving what we’ve learned. Then, we would have learned what we needed to know and have proven our intelligence all within the class period, without having to do even more work at home.

With all the homework that is assigned – coupled with after school activities – many students are staying up late into the night, and are not sufficiently rested for the next day. That causes them not to perform their best in school.

If this education system could be revised, students would be more attentive in school, have a higher motivation to get their work done in class and overall be more successful academically.

Eco-Friendly Fashion

“Every patch is a memory, every tear has a tale. These are the stories we wear.”

This is the motto of Patagonia’s Worn Wear Campaign.

As I have grown up, I noticed the environment becoming more and more important. Grocery shopping at Whole Foods and the Farmer’s Market, buying items that are fair-trade, environmentally friendly, and made out of recycled materials became of a higher interest.

That’s when I decided to learn more about what went into making those big, puffy jackets I had from a company called Patagonia. After doing some research on their website, I learned their story.

Patagonia’s clothing items are made using e-Fibers (environmentally friendly fibers). These include: recycled polyester, organic cotton, hemp, chlorine-free wool, recycled nylon, and Tencel Lyocell. Tencel Lyocell comes from the pulp of eucalyptus trees, a major benefit as it will have zero chemicals. A large majority of Patagonia’s clothing items are made with recycled materials. This includes anything from plastic bags to recycled water bottles.

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Patagonia teamed with IFIXIT, a company that helped created repair kits specifically for Patagonia’s clothing materials. They came up with the Expedition Sewing Kit that can be used to repair holes, zippers, and tears in clothing. Because Patagonia creates clothing and gear for the outdoorsman, this kit is travel sized and handy. With this kit, one of their pricier jackets can last a lifetime of adventures.

Now I raise the question: what are you wearing?

A New Addition!

Out of date, rusty and constantly in need of repair, Alvarez’s beloved stapler has finally been retired. In its place is a brand new eco-friendly stapler, bought specifically for the classroom by his wife, Tracy.

The old office supply was a hindrance to the classroom – causing anxiety for history and journalism students alike. It always failed to staple papers together, which did happen to be its only job. It survived years of battery and was even recently stolen.

Sick of constantly having to borrow a stapler from others, Alvarez finally invested in this fine piece of equipment, which he has skillfully labeled with his name. Copious amounts of tape was used to brand this item, however it is for good reason. There will never be any confusion as to whose stapler it is, and if it is ever missing it will be easy to find.

Although the tape is contradictory to the fact that the stapler is eco-friendly, the stapler itself is a huge improvement, not only to the classroom, but to Alvarez’s well-being.

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The “epidemic” of our generation. Researchers or something have come up with the term “text neck,” which is a sort of condition you can get from texting. Symptoms include bad posture, neck and/or back pains, and can lead to spine degeneration and surgery.

Ooh technology, you’ve got us now!

Or do you?

See, I get “reader’s neck.” And “writer’s neck.” And “artist’s neck.” Oh, and “carving into tracing paper with a small, sharp knife neck.”

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Oh look, no modern tech in this picture. That looks sooo comfortable, doesn’t it? I bet nobody lectures him about “scribe’s neck.”

I’m not saying that text neck doesn’t exist. I’m saying that maybe some things matter more than text neck.

How about the constantly hurting spine of the tall senior in a minuscule desk? Seriously, he looks like a titan in the desk.

Or perhaps the fact that there is almost literally no way to read a book comfortably on your bed. When I get into the story, I stop moving for hours. And then I “wake up” feeling like a ton of bricks had been stacked onto my neck.

How about I broaden this topic and say that probably everything we do is harming our body in some odd way? Yeah, let’s do that.