Soldier Segei’s Sad Story

What had changed in Russia from 1905 – 1939?

The rulers were very different. In 1905, Russia was ruled by a Tsar (Nicholas II), and the power was passed down from generation to generation. The problem during this time was that the classes of citizens were much too separate. The rich and powerful lived in luxury, but the majority of the lower class workers lived in poverty. In between, Lenin was an important government figure and the Soviets, along with the Bolsheviks shared that power. By 1939, the entirety of the power belonged to Joseph Stalin and Stalin alone. Stalin’s rule was by far the harshest. Thousands of people were sent to the Gulag, a horrible prison camp where people were literally worked to death. They were given this punishment for tiny things, even just being ten minutes late to work. Every day, a couple people would be killed for no reason at all. This was known as “Stalin’s Purges”.

What had stayed the same in Russia from 1905 – 1939?

Much of the population, especially the peasants, still lived in poverty. In 1905, it was the wealth divide that was the main problem. It was extremely unfair for the workers, because their hard work produced the food and other necessities the rich simply enjoyed. Changes were made during the 34 years that elapsed, but at the end in 1939, poverty was still a huge problem for Russia. It was arguably even worse, considering the Gulag prison camp where living conditions were considerably more impoverished. There was always a small fraction of wealthy people, but the majority of Russians always lived in squalor.

In 1939, how were Sergei’s and Alexander’s lives the same or different from 1905?

Sergei’s life stayed relatively constant during the 34 years between 1905 to 1939. He was a soldier throughout all those years, and the lives of most soldiers were not affected. In fact, his living conditions were considerably better than the majority of the population.Soldiers weren’t loaded, but they did have enough food to live. However, the story could have ended very differently for him solely based on who he supported. At the start in 1905, Sergei could be loyal to the Tsar like most of the other soldiers and face no consequence. But under Stalin’s rule in 1939, supporting anyone other than the “Man of Steel” himself could very possibly be punishable by being worked to death at the Gulag, or if Sergei was lucky, death.

Photo Citations:

  1. “Russian-Polish Tension: Anger at Bitter Truths.” RT International, RT, www.rt.com/op-ed/316751-poland-russia-ww2-monuments/.

  2. “Soviet Models 1918-1951.” Paradox Interactive Forums, forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/index.php?threads%2Fsoviet-models-1918-1951.961694%2F.

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Living Life to the Fullest

For my multimedia blog post, I decided to do a podcast on theme. This was a new form of media that I have not really explored before, so I thought it would be good to give it a try. Over the course of five minutes, I explain the themes in They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. The three I included are the importance of love, the unavoidability of death, and living your life to the fullest. To support my ideas on these three themes, I used a total of 11 quotes from the book, with 2 being written by a person other than the author but still included in the text.

Created with iMovie

Photo Citations

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Imminent Death

It isn’t rare for your favorite book character to die, especially for avid readers such as myself. It hurts a lot every time, but authors seemingly enjoy killing off their best protagonists. I believe that under the false explanation of how the character had to die in order to “advance the plot”, the author just wants to mess with us readers. Perhaps it is unfair of me to make this statement, but the liters of tears I have shed over ink and paper support me. They Both Die at the End is no different, but at least the author, Adam Silvera, gives us a blatant warning in the title. The setting of this book is far-flung, spread all over the vast city of Manhattan, New York. Here, I will be focusing on three specific aspects that I feel are important to the plot. It is set in the future, at a time where the Death-Cast exists. The Death-Cast is basically used to tell you that you will die that day. Two more particular places that are important to the story include the Cannon Café and the Travel Arena.

The first significant aspect of the book’s setting is the existence of Death-Cast. “Death-Cast is calling with the warning of a lifetime—I’m going to die today.” (Silvera, 1). This piece of dialogue is spoken by Mateo Torrez, one of the two main protagonists of the story. He, along with Rufus Emeterio—who we will meet later—are both unlucky receivers of Death-Cast, who tells them that today is their last day in this world. “Death-Cast can only provide a date for when someone is going to die, but not the exact minute or how it’ll happen.” (7) Though Death-Cast is some pretty futuristic technology, it still has its limitations. The fact that they can only tell the date is rather inconvenient, as may prevent the receiver from living the day to the fullest. It is difficult to live with no regrets when you could literally drop dead at any minute. “Rufus, I feel for you, I do. But I’m not at fault for your death, and I unfortunately have many more of these calls to make tonight. Can you do me a solid and cooperate?” (20) It is easy to dislike Death-Cast workers. Normal citizens must think them as emotionless robots whose only job is to inform people of their untimely death. But I think it would actually be very difficult and emotionally draining on their end. They have the most depressing job in the world. Even after years of work, they still would never be completely numb to it. “The officers were pursuing a Decker who was signing up for Bangers, the challenge for online feeds that has had a heartbreaking amount of daily hits and downloads the past four months.” (292) The purpose of Bangers was for Deckers to kill themselves spectacularly. Deckers—being the people who already knew of their impending death—would record themselves dying doing something insane. If the audience was entertained, they could vote for them, and the Decker’s family would win a decent amount of money. However, if they weren’t interested, the Decker would simply waste their last living day. The original purpose of Death-Cast was to make people value their lives a lot more for the last day, and give them time to say goodbye to loved ones. Unfortunately, the opposite happened for some people, such as the Deckers on Bangers. They lost all regard for their lives, and instead chose to do daredevil stunts that robbed them of any chance to live a good last day. “Death-Cast called Howie Maldonado at 2:37 a.m. to tell him he’s going to die today. His 2.3 million Twitter followers are taking it the hardest.” (310) A lot more people are affected when celebrities receive the Death-Cast alert. In addition to their families, all of their fans would be devastated to hear that their idol would be awaiting death today.

An important place in the story is Cannon Café. “We reach Cannon Café. There’s a triangular sign above the door with an illustrated logo of a cannon blasting a cheeseburger toward the café’s name, with French fries exploding wayward like fireworks.” (131) The first important location in the story is Cannon Café, where Mateo and Rufus go to for their last breakfast. “Rufus shakes his head. ‘Nah, not kidding. I come here a lot and wanted to roll through one last time.’” (133) This café is particularly close to Rufus’s heart, because he came here many times throughout the past few months, and even chose to come on the last day of his life. “If there’s anything else I can get you boys please just shout for me. Even if I’m in the back or with another customer, I’m yours.” (136) Perhaps the reason why this particular café is so close to Rufus’s heart is because of the people there. The waitress who spoke this kind line was called Rae, and she cared a lot about Rufus, a regular. In the popular drama TV show Riverdale, the characters congregate at a particular diner too. It’s called Pop’s Chock’Lit Shoppe, and the characters go there regularly to discuss the mysteries happening in their small town. This is present in most forms of media, with meet-up places ranging from the Starbucks down the block to a tiny restaurant in the middle of the woods.

Another crucial area is the Travel Arena. “The main entrance is a little crowded as Deckers and visitors look up at the gigantic screen listing all the regions you can visit, and the different kinds of tours available: Around the World in 80 Minutes, Miles of Wilds, Journey to the Center of the United States, and more.” (281-282) The Travel Arena is made for Deckers to be able to enjoy experiences around the world without actually actually traveling. There is also no risk of dying during the exhibitions. It is free for Deckers and sick people, but tourists must pay $100 dollars as an entrance fee. “I hope our trip today manages to put a smile on your face and leaves a wonderful memory for any guests joining you.” (282-283) Underneath all the great effects and lifelike visuals, the tour “around the world” creates only artificial memories. Although, it is very difficult to travel around the world in one day, so the creators of these trips are really trying their best. It leaves Deckers with a—albeit false—feeling of not regretting experiencing more in life. Around the World in 80 Minutes is most likely based on the book Around the World in 80 Days, a classic adventure novel by Jules Verne. Published in 1873 and originally written in French, it has been translated into over seventy languages today. It is also one of Verne’s most acclaimed works. It tells the story of Phileas Fogg, who attempts to circumnavigate the world in 80 days because of a bet his friends made of £20,000. It is not unlike how the Around the World in 80 Minutes tries to take you on a global journey in a ridiculously short time.

They Both Die at the End made me cry a lot when reading it. It’s a good book, but what makes it more powerful is how the author literally tells the reader that the two protagonists will die at the end. And yet, when they die, we are still devastated even though we knew how it would end all along. Setting is crucial when writing a good book. In this particular story, the story is set in a futuristic time where Death-Cast exists, and particular places include the Cannon Café as well as the Travel Arena. It is a very great read, and I definitely recommended it. The tears are beyond worth it for the incredible story They Both Die at the End. It teaches people to live each and every day to the fullest.

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The Innocence Behind the Bloodshed

A short documentary on the Boxer Rebellion.

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Robot Petting Zoo

3 Thoughts:

My biggest obstacle was actually making our parrot resemble a bird. At first, when asking other classmates and friends, most of them said it looked more like a fish or even a pineapple. We fixed this by adding a more parrot-like head as well as ribbon wings.

One piece of advice I would give a future student doing this project is pay more attention to the number of classes instead of weeks. You only have Design Technology twice in a 8-day rotation, and that doesn’t give you a huge number of classes to work. With all the breaks included, the presentation day will come a lot sooner than you think.

Overall, I think this product was successful because the little kids enjoyed it. Although some of them figured how the beak moved, they were still laughing and looked like they were having fun putting the little hats on its head and touching the ribbon wings and button body.

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Burn. Kill. Destroy.

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I was Born with Water on the Brain

In my multimedia, I created a found poem. I tried to make it resemble the book cover of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, which is also the book the poem is about. You can compare my poem to the actual cover below. It describes the protagonist, Arnold Spirit—or Junior, as everyone calls him— when he was younger.

Junior was not exactly the healthiest baby in the world when he was born. In addition to being born with a brain that did not function well, he also had too many teeth. His vision was also damaged due to the brain damage, so he had to wear thick spectacles at a very young age. Along with that, he also had serious seizures as a child. “But the thing was, I was having those seizures because I already had brain damage, so I was reopening wounds each time I seized. Yep, whenever I had a seizure, I was damaging my damage.” (Alexie, 3) Junior was skinny, but with big hands and feet that was not proportionate to the rest of his body. His head was also larger than average, and many kids liked to make fun of it. “Some kids called me Orbit. And other kids just called me Globe. The bullies would pick me up, spin me in circles, put their finger down on my skull, and say, ‘I want to go there.’” (3) In addition to that, he would also get bullied constantly because of his lisp. “And if you’re fourteen years old, like me, and you’re still stuttering and lisping, then you become the biggest retard in the world.” (4).

The one thing Junior enjoyed was drawing. More specifically, cartoons. He believed that drawing was a way of communicating with the world. Regardless of what language someone speaks, they will all understand. Art, including music and performance, is universal. In addition to that, Junior wishes to be rich and famous to rise up from the life of poverty he currently lives in. “Almost all of the rich and famous brown people are artists. They’re singers and actors and writers and dancers and directors and poets.” (5)

Quotes:

  • “I was born with water on the brain.” (1)
  • “My thinking and breathing and living engine slowed down and flooded.” (1)
  • “My brain was drowning in grease.” (2)
  • “I ended up having forty-two teeth.” (2)
  • “Ten more than usual. Ten more than normal. Ten teeth past human.” (2)
  • “I started wearing glasses when I was three. Like a three-year-old Indian grandpa.” (3)
  • “I draw all the time.” (5)
  • “I draw because words are too unpredictable. I draw because words are too limited.” (5)
  • “I draw because I want to talk to the world. And I want the world to pay attention to me.” (6)

Book cover for comparison:

Website Used:

Piktochart

Photo Citations:

  • “17.5’ Inch Indian Warrior Indio Wolf North Native American Statue Figure Figurine.” Amazon, Amazon, www.amazon.com/Indian-Warrior-Native-American-Figurine/dp/B00EJ3BH8S.
  • “9.5 Inch Cold Cast Bronze Native American Indian Riding Horse Statue – Southwestern – Decorative Objects And Figurines – by StealStreet.” Houzz, www.houzz.com/photos/12528087/95-Inch-Cold-Cast-Bronze-Native-American-Indian-Riding-Horse-Statue-contemporary-decorative-objects-and-figurines.
  • Gorman, Kayla. “And Then There Were None.” On Indian Figurines, 1 Jan. 1970, andthentherewerenoneagathachristie.blogspot.com/2010/04/on-indian-figurines.html.
  • “Indian Chief | Hobby Lobby | 216226.” Hobby Lobby, www.hobbylobby.com/Crafts-Hobbies/Hobbies-Collecting/Diorama-Figurines/Indian-Chief/p/39637.
  • “Indian Figures.” EBay, www.ebay.com/bhp/indian-figures.
  • http://st.hzcdn.com/simgs/c9e1c8b7037fb0c0_4-4458/contemporary-decorative-objects-and-figurines.jpg (EasyBib couldn’t create a citation)
  • https://www.amazon.com/Absolutely-True-Diary-Part-Time-Indian/dp/0316013692 (EasyBib couldn’t create a citation)
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The Rarest Indian in the World

Different cultures, races, traditions and more exist across the world. They may not understand each other completely and be conflicted, but we can all overcome those differences eventually with an open mind.  There are many themes throughout The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Perhaps the most constant and obvious one is the impact racial discrimination has on Indians, but the ideas of loss within the community and hope for a brighter future are equally as important. The protagonist of the story is Arnold Spirit, who everyone calls “Junior”. He was born with “water on the brain”, which basically means there was too much fluid in his skull when he was born. He also had a stutter for most of his pre-teen and even the first few teenage years, which caused most people to look down upon and mock him. Despite not being born the healthiest baby in the world, Junior had hope that he could rise up and live a better life than his parents and sister. He transfers to a new, very different school. That is where his story begins.

The first theme in the The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is racial discrimination and the impact it has on Indians. “And what’s more, our white dentist believed that Indians only felt half as much pain as white people did, so he only gave us half the Novocain.” (Alexie, 2) Thankfully, most people these days are not that clueless, especially doctors. But this shows how ignorant people can be—in this case—towards Indians. “After all, I was a reservation Indian, and no matter how geeky and weak I appeared to be, I was still a potential killer. So mostly they called me names. Lots of names.” (63) Junior wrote this about the jocks and other white male students at his new “white” high school. This shows how discrimination and racism isn’t always physical; it can be as common or simple as name calling but hurt just as much as a punch. “The guy who wrote the article says people care more about beautiful white girls than they do about everybody else on the planet. White girls are privileged. They’re damsels in distress.” (116) This piece of dialogue was spoken by Gordy, Junior’s friend from Reardan. He was explaining a news story where a white girl disappeared in Mexico, and everyone was devastated. But the article also said two hundred Mexican girls have disappeared in the exact same part of the country over the last three years, and nobody cared about that. This shows the inequality between white and Mexican girls at the time. Discrimination is present in countless forms of media, from To Kill a Mockingbird to The Hate U Give and even The Ugly Duckling. Though it is a children’s tale, the theme behind it is not too different to racism and discrimination in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, except towards poultry animals instead of Indians. In the beginning, the Ugly Duckling is, true to his name, very ugly. Everyone else sees him as someone strange or pathetic, simply because his is different. Because they were exposed to so little diversity, they made fun of this animal purely because he wasn’t what they were used to seeing. That is present in the real world today as well. People fail to open their minds and understand those with different looks, culture, or even simply who they are as an individual.

Another theme is loss, especially the deaths of family members or close friends and how they can bring you back to your cultural roots. “And I realized that, sure, Indians were drunk and sad and displaces and crazy and mean, but, dang, we knew how to laugh. When it comes to death, we know that laughter and tears are pretty much the same thing.” (166) Junior has been to forty-two funerals in his life, which is many times more than the average Reardan student. This particular funeral was for his grandmother, who he describes as “the rarest kind of Indian in the world” because she never drank a drop of alcohol. “Each funeral was a funeral for all of us. We lived and died together.” (166) Funerals are painful, like they are for everyone regardless of culture. However, because they are such a prominent part of Indian ethnicity, it also brings people together. For Junior, it allows him to connect back to his Indian roots, despite attending a “white” school. “And you know what the worst part is? The unhappy part? About 90 percent of the deaths have been because of alcohol.” (200) Throughout the story, Junior’s grandmother was not the only one who passed away. His sister, Mary, as well as good friend Eugene also, sadly, died. All three of these central deaths were correlated to alcohol in some way. His grandmother was killed by a drunk driver. His sister passed out drunk, and didn’t notice as her house caught on fire and burned down. Eugene was shot by one of his best friends, Bobby, while they were both completely drunk. Thankfully, I have never experienced any heavy deaths or losses in my life, so it is difficult to make a personal connection. One of my favorite books, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, also has themes about death and loss. It is not unhealthy to mourn for those who have passed on, Augustus Waters in Hazel Grace’s case, but you must not let that control your life. Even with a disease as incurable as cancer, you should still keep a fairly positive outlook and be thankful for those who care about you, like Hazel’s parents and friends.

The final theme is how having enough hope and perseverance can let you accomplish almost anything. “Seriously, I know my mother and father had their dreams when they were kids. They dreamed about being something other than poor, but they never got the chance to be anything because nobody paid attention to their dreams.” (11) Hope is important, but having people who support you is even more needed. Everyone has dreams, but because they either don’t have the resources or, like his parents, have nobody who supports them, their dreams wash away over the years. “You can’t give up. You won’t give up. You threw that book in my face because somewhere inside you refuse to give up.” (43) Perseverance is also imperative along with hope. If you have a dream, you cannot give it up, no matter what. This line was spoken by Mr. P, one of Junior’s teachers from Wellpinit, his “Indian” school. He was also a crucial reason why Junior moved to Reardan. “‘You always thought you were better than me,’ he yelled. ‘No, no, I don’t think I’m better than anybody. I think I’m worse than everybody else.’ ‘Why are you leaving?’ ‘I have to go. I’m going to die if I don’t leave.’” (52) No matter how much hope you have, there will always be someone dragging you down. In Junior’s case, it is his best friend, Rowdy. This must have been very difficult for him, because Rowdy is one of, or maybe even the most important person in his life, and he is angered by his dreams. But Junior knows that as time passes, Rowdy will understand. He did not let one person go against his dreams and cause him to give up. A famous person in history also had a life that was fueled by hope and perseverance— Alexander Hamilton. Growing up poor on the Caribbean island of Nevis, Hamilton refused to live a despondent life even after his father left and mother died. When a terrible hurricane struck his hometown, he took his chance and wrote an incredibly detailed account of the disaster to his father. It was then published in the Royal Danish-American Gazette, and impressed many rich community leaders. They then decided to send Hamilton to the North American colonies to pursue his education. Thus, Alexander Hamilton rose up from his lowly circumstances and became one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is one of the best books I have ever read. It evoked many emotions from me that I thought ink on paper could never do. The themes included are also valuable. They include the impact discrimination and racism have on Indians, how death can bring you back to your cultural roots, and that you can do almost anything if you have enough hope and perseverance. As stated before, Junior says his grandmother is “the rarest kind of Indian in the world”. However, I feel like Junior is as well. No Indian has ever left Wellpinit school, especially to transfer to a “white” school like Reardan. Junior was poor, but he never gave up. I think that makes him the rarest Indian in the world too, along with his grandmother. To readers, always remember to be open-minded to different people, mourn over loss but do not let it control your life, and also have hope and follow your dreams, no matter how unlikely they seem.

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The More I Love, the More He Hateth Me

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Sweet Home Alabama

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