Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Do grades matter more than learning?

I think the education in adolescents have changed significantly, for example recently I received a physics test back and was quite happy to see that I got a 92%, To me that is great, I'm okay with a grade like that. But if I were to get a bad mark id be pretty shocked and disappointed, I honestly would not want to even see some of the criticism and corrections which help you learn as a student. I think that the feedback students get does not even compare to the value of a mark. Because the feedback is not the actual mark, it is advice to get a better mark. The advice doesn't mean anything to the student when they see their grades. I think the education should be taken with a different approach, high school is all about finding yourself and becoming more knowledgable.. but it is also about learning. You don't only become someone who is great with math or english you are taught how to learn so you can move on in life with your experiences guiding you. That said I think that marks are a really big part of the learning experience but not as much as understanding what you are taking in and learning from mistakes, because that ultimately leads to success in school.  

Thursday, 16 January 2014

First Concert, and many more to come

This year is probably the biggest year for concerts for me. My first concert was on October 25th 2012, and I went to go see one of my favorite bands, The Smashing Pumpkins. They played at the ACC and it was a really long concert coming in at around 2 hours. This year I plan on going to so many more shows. Concerts are a really good way to meet new people and have fun. Music in general is an amazing outlet for personality development. It also inspired me to to do other things like play the guitar! after seeing my first show I was able to experience the true power of live music and the connection with the audience. So because of this experience, I have planned to see many shows. On January 31 I plan to go see The Bare Naked Ladies play at Massey Hall, and in march I was invited to go see the Misfits play! Finally me and 5 friends have decided to go see Black Sabbath in April! (one of my favorites) I hope to experience new things and meet new people with a common interest and that's why I think everyone should be able to experience live shows of the people they listen to.

Monday, 13 January 2014

My Trip to California!

On november 15 I set out on my journey to sunny California, I packed my bags onto the bus at 5 in the morning and said my good byes to my family. The plane ride to California was actually not too bad, we had a 6 hour direct flight there. So, on the first day we woke up early in the morning and took our bus to fisherman's Wharf. It was a little waterfront harbour with restaurants and everything. But the main attraction is actually the sea lions! There were little barges in the water and all of the sea lions were chilling on them and playing around in the water. After that we went to downtown San Francisco and I was able to take my first cable car ride. It's pretty cool because the cable car doesn't have any engine or motor pushing it, there are cables running in the ground that the cable car latches onto and the cables pull the car. I thought that was pretty neat. After that long day of exploring the waterfront of San Francisco, We had dinner in this really nice sea food restaurant right on fisherman's Wharf. 

On day two in San Francisco, the group woke up early and we all took the excursion to Alcatraz. Alcatraz was really cool because we were given a little audio tour of the jail and where the famous escape attempt was made. They also offered this really crazy program where you could book a night to sleepover as a group in the prison itself... The thought of sleeping in Alcatraz sounds crazy.. But I kind of want to try it. After a while at Alcatraz we went sight seeing in San Francisco. the first place we stopped was Haight-Ashbury district. This is the home of so many cool rock star legends and is now home to some nostalgic hippies. there was a lot of music culture and the vibe was pretty chill... As you can imagine. The nickname for this place is the psychedelic centre of the universe where all the hippies and sunshine girls would come to find the meaning of life... pretty crazy place wouldn't you say? an average of 30 people were living in the old victorian styled homes on the street at the time of its popularity. Another thing we looked at was the housing, they were victorian styled buildings but because they looked so boring and drab, some people decided to colour them bright and vibrant colours. That night we travelled to China town and learned of the origins of the fortune cookie... oddly enough it was invented in America. 

That was our last day in San Francisco, and we were soon making our journey to LA. The bus ride could have taken a few hours if we took the highway from Oakland straight to LA... But we decided to drive down the coast and see the beautiful sights of the Big Sur. We stopped a few times to get pictures of the views and with friends. The roads were so curvy and tight along the mountain that the bus driver couldn't drive faster. That night we arrived in San Simeon, which is a smaller area in between San Francisco and LA.

The next day, while still in San Simeon we visited Hearst Castle... This is a historical monument now in California. The estate/mansion took 40000 workers to build. There are 4 main houses and the Casa Grande which is the main house is 65800 square feet with 38 bedrooms, 30 fireplaces, 42 bathrooms, and 14 sitting rooms. Each room with priceless pieces of art and furniture! and the three guest house come to just over 10000 square feet with 46 rooms in total. The two pools were the neptune pool which was outdoors and could hold up to 345000 gallons of water, and the indoor pool with a max capacity of 205000 gallons. This was a pretty big house as you can tell... that night we went for dinner in LA at this crazy Mexican restaurant. Some friends and I had a Mariachi band play for us! After dinner we went sight seeing in Hollywood, we went to go see all the stars on Hollywood boulevard and got pictures with them. There were no major celebrity sitings.. but we did see the stars from the movie Frozen! and that was our fourth Day in California, and our first in LA. 

The next day we scheduled a day with the LAPD at the police department. We were taught about the different districts of crime in LA and the psychology behind them. We had many different representatives from all the different departments in the LAPD. After we finished at the department we went to Beverly Hills High. This was really cool because we were able to see how different school for them is  in comparison to us. They all drove really nice cars and what not. They had what was called a swim gym... it was a separate building from the school where the gym floor would open and an olympic swimming pool would be under it! They also had this really cool auditorium in a different building that looked like an opera house. I was paired with three students from the school and given a tour. The programs and education at that school is really top notch. Another thing, around 90% of students were persians.. which is pretty interesting. A lot of people from Iran and Arabs of the surrounding area purchased real-estate  in beverly hills. Afterwards we went to Rodeo Dr, the most expensive shopping in the world.. We saw some nice stuff and cool cars.. still no celebrities..  LOL  

On our sixth  day still in LA we went to universal studios for the whole day! we went on all the rides, like the jurassic park rides and the new transformers one which was really cool. The Universal studios in California is the only park to still shoot films and TV shows on the park grounds. We saw iconic sets from movies like Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, King Kong, Fast and Furious, The Grinch and so much more! This was all part of a guided tour on the park. That night we went to the hard rock cafe for dinner which was cool and afterwards... Mr. Chambers and the tour guide had one last surprise.. We traveled up into the mountains and went to the space observatory which was really cool. 

Sadly enough the next day our fight was set to leave at 4. So we decided to chill in LA for a while before we began our journey home. We all went to a bike rental shop and rented bikes to take a ride from Santa Monica beach to Venice beach and back which was a really good way to spend the last day in California. I have to say this California trip was one of the best moments in my life. I was able to experience a whole new culture with friends and create memories! I would love to live in California... specifically San Francisco because LA was not as nice... pretty dirty with a few nice areas. But this trip changed my life and I encourage everyone to go and experience California once in their life:) 

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Yasmina Khadr, Author of The Swallows of Kabul

Mohammed Moulessehoul, is the true identity of the man who wrote The Swallows of Kabul. Yasmina Khadr is the name of his wife that he adopted as his pen name in order to conceal his identity as an officer in the Algerian Army. This was done to prevent military censorship of his novels.  Mohammed released his identity to the public in 2001 and left the Algerian army as a Major in 2004. Mohammed's reasoning behind The Swallows of Kabul is giving the west, that has barely scratched the surface, a better understanding of the core of Afghanistan and its cultural differences. Although Mohammed isn't from Afghanistan, and neither is his wife, he understands the Taliban as he has been fighting islamist extremists during his time in the military. Mohammed is able to understand the time and situation in Afghanistan because he can relate. This book also highlights the violence and meaning behind the conflict. I believe this book is a great choice for someone who is interested in the culture and wants to better their understanding of a Muslim state of mind and go farther than the western view of the middle eastern conflicts. 

Friday, 25 October 2013

The Fathers of Metal? A Black Sabbath Story

1968 was the year that lead singer Ozzy Osbourne, bass Geezer Butler, lead guitar Tony Iommi and drummer Bill Ward formed the blues/rock inspired band Earth Blues Company, which was soon shortened to Earth. These four talented people were inspired by early rock and blues bands in the British scene such as Cream, Led Zeppelin and so on. All four members of the band were totally in to horror films and the darker side of things. Geezer Butler, the bass player, than came up with their first dark song that was filled with heavy tones from the hands of Tony. Ozzy worked on the lyrics with Geezer and they came up with the song "Black Sabbath" inspired by a 1963 horror film playing down the street in Birmingham England.

 This struck audiences and fans of the band and they knew that what they had created was unique to anything else during the 70's rock scene. Black Sabbath's music was inspired by themes such as war, the conflict between good and evil, world problems and the afterlife. This gave their music a very powerful message behind some of the most well known riffs created by Tony Iommi. This band wasn't about worshiping satin or devilish thoughts, it was more about the hardships and dark gloomy times during their time. The Finished album "Black Sabbath" was put together in one recording session in November of 1969. Although the band had taken a more heavier tone, a lot of their blues influences were still recognizable especially in tracks such as "N.I.B", "Warning" and "Black Sabbath". It was only 7 months later when they released their next album "Paranoid". Songs such as "War Pigs" painted a gloomy picture and focused on the Vietnam war. This Album featuring classics such as "Iron Man", "Paranoid" and "Fairies Wear Boots" pointed rock into a more heavy direction. Many heavier bands such as Metallica, Iron Maiden, Guns 'n' Roses and Judas Priest have said they grew up with the music of Black Sabbath and were inspired. These two albums were insanely successful With "Black Sabbath" charting in the U.S for 65 weeks and "Paranoid" charting number one in the U.K for 70 weeks.

 Their next two albums were shaped from playing on the road and improving their style. In 1971 they released "Master of Reality" which had classics such as "Children of The Grave" which also had an anti-war message lyrically, "Into The Void" and "After Forever". A year later they released the album "Vol. 4" which also had many classics. in 1975 they released another hugely successful Album, "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath". In 1978 Ozzy quit for good. There were also many other line up changes, Tony Iommi was the only constant member of the band. Many other successful albums such as "Heaven and Hell" and Headless Cross" will go down in Black Sabbath history but the original line up can never be beat. The album "13" was released in June of 2013 with most of the original line up, Bill Ward did not come back to play the drums. The single "God Is Dead" top the charts in the U.S during it's release. Black Sabbath was the biggest influence for our metal bands today when they first introduced heavier tones, powerful messages of war and the conflict between good and evil. Black Sabbath are the fathers of metal.