“She’s trying to make the library more fun”

Today my innovation group and I finished our project! It’s called the Mind Lab. You might be wondering why we would call something a Mind Lab, and what the project is even about. My English teacher had an idea about a 30-day innovation project, where we were allowed to choose what we wanted to create, whether it be change or t-shirt logos. There would be no teacher involvement (unless we were struggling with something), which allowed us to dig deep into our creativity without having to stop production.

With the help of my English teacher I was able to decide what I wanted to do, which was to create a relaxation area in my school. Everyone knows how stressful it is to be a high school student, and I needed to “feed a need” so this was the perfect idea. Kids would be able to relax with squeeze toys, or play a calming brain game. I had trouble finding people who wanted to join my one party group, but eventually I found Angela and Vivian , turning this one party group into three.

Our first step was to figure out how we were going to make this happen, so we scheduled what we were going to be done with by a certain date. We called our project the “Mind Zoo”, which our teacher suggested for the time being.

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We were planning to build put a bookcase in the school library and fill it with different types of puzzles and stress balls. We were going to raise the money by selling baked goods and that’s where things really kicked off.

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We wanted to sell cake pops, chocolate covered strawberries , and cookies so I shared Angela’s poster onto my facebook. While Angela created the poster, I started a kickstarter on gofundme.com. I thought the kickstarter would bring the majority of the money in, but unfortunately we didn’t get any donations. I could see why, being that I only knew a couple of teenagers that carried a debit card, so after realizing the money wasn’t coming in, we focused our main attention on selling baked goods.

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Week after week we started cutting down the prices, eventually four dollar cake pops turned to two dollar cake pops, and we added a couple more varieties of sweets like m&m cookies, and mint and plain brownies.Angela made the cake pops, I made the cookies and brownies, and Vivian made chocolate covered strawberries.

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Since Angela was mostly selling treats the first week, I decided to head over to the strawberry festival. Bad marketing strategy. When you go to a local place where teenagers hang out, to sell brownies, people get the wrong idea, but I did sell some brownies. I headed over to different neighborhoods around me with the remaining brownies, and luckily they sold out. I also started and was in charge of our instagram page at missionmindlab and updated our progression of getting this project finished. Eventually we made enough money and realized we needed less than what we estimated. We bought a shelf and I bought the puzzles and knick knacks. You’d think you could find puzzles in one place, but that’s not true. I had to go to Barnes and Nobles, Target, World Market, Michaels, and Daiso Japan.

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So I bought the puzzles, all we had left was the shelf. The shelf we bought was coming in later than we expected, and this was the most stressful part of this project. Finals was coming up, and we had this problem where none of us had a car big enough to bring the bookcase in. At this point, I felt like I was alone in this project, I was constantly making calls and trying to get a hold of my teammates if they could do the same, but I didn’t have much luck. Luckily I found this guy who was willing to bring in the bookcase by Monday morning. I faced another problem where the person who was supposed to pick up the bookcase ,slept through his alarm and was told that he could bring it by the afternoon(which was fine). But then my family members got involved, and to spare you the ugliness—it got stressful. The lack of communication in our group, led me to figuring out how to get out of this mess, alone. I didn’t have the resources at all to bring the bookcase in, and nobody was responding to me, everything was just too much. We should have organized who was responsible for what, to avoid something like this. But hey, this was a good lesson to learn.

Another thing that that our group needed to improve on, was trying to equalize the amount of work we had to do. There were a lot of days where each of us were busy, which delayed our schedule. I’ve learned that before creating anything, make sure to have reliable sources and to understand the sacrifices you need to make. If you plan something, plan it thoroughly to understand what you will be dealing with.Our project would have been less stressful if we weren’t so busy, but overall it challenged us to work harder.

Eventually we got the bookcase in and started building. Things got a lot better once we started building, assembling the shelf was actually kind of fun. We all spent our morning,lunch, and afternoon building, and we finished right in time. I’m grateful that Angela and Vivian were able to sacrifice their own morning,lunch, and afternoon to help finish this project. There were also other people that helped us in the construction of our bookcase, whose names are :Sandy Tran, Natalie Pham, and Anthony in Angela’s french class. This is a special shout out for the people who volunteered to help(along with Angela and Vivian of course), including the librarian who let us put the bookshelf in(Ms.Sharon): YOU GUYS ROCK! 😀

Day 1, assemble

Day 2, connect the pieces together

I forgot to mention the change from calling our project “Mind Zoo” to “Mind Lab”. We decided on calling our project the Mind Lab because ideas can come from anywhere and providing a de-stress station could help develop it. Mind Zoo has a connotation of chaos, and the puzzles were about critical thinking and the stress toys a refresher, so in that sense, the Mind Lab was a more appropriate choice. It was also because in stereotypical labs, we picture scientists creating things, and by trying to figure out a puzzle—you create different strategies and pathways.

Now that our project is finished, anyone can come by the manga section in the library(located in front of the computer lab) to relax by playing brain games and squeeze toys. We invite everyone to stop by, with the exception to take decent care of the knick knacks as you would with a library book.

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This was a great way to end the year, I’m glad we were able to succeed in our innovation project. I’ve never come across a project where I was able to create something on my own. I had hands-on learning where I learned about getting a business known through social media and figuring out how to make an idea come to reality. This is definitely an experience that’ll stick.

Fighting from Within a B.R.A.W.L.

B.R.A.W.L. is a book debate, where groups of students are given a question to answer which can be supported by evidence. My English class was using “All Quiet on the Western Front” as the chosen book to debate about.

I liked the concept of how we were able to look at the different aspects of certain questions by looking through the pros and cons, and trying to weigh out what was MORE right. Everything was happening so fast, it was hard to keep up with what was going on. Often times, the answers would have less and less of a connection to the question. Each time someone buzzed an interruption button, the topic would get farther from what was being debated. I was so upset, but only to the point where I was simmering.

I understand the importance of bringing a new topic into something that justifies it as more right, only with the exception that it ties to the question itself. Starting a new topic can provide you another path to understanding something further and to connect it with other topics that support the thesis. But it wasn’t like that, or at least for the most part. When people started buzzing in, the official groups to debate against each other, were silent. What are you supposed to say in a debate if the thing you’re debating about isn’t what’s being debated at the moment? Just debate against each other even if it wasn’t what was supposed to be argued/compromised about? The whole debate is useless, if it doesn’t tie in to the question. There were some great arguments, but they were arguments that were completely off from what was being asked.

Aside from how things got out of topic at times, I enjoyed creating and thinking up of questions and answers to prepare for the B.R.A.W.L.

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The first few days of discussing the questions for the B.R.A.W.L. were a little hectic. We spent too much time discussing the counterarguments of hypothetical answers students might choose, but people are unpredictable so we used a different method. We cut to the chase and decided to list down our opinions and thoughts on a google document, and this made it so much easier and we were more productive. My main part of this group was to write the answers I’ve come up with to add on to the group document. I elaborated some of the questions my teammates have made by providing an example to how it’s related to life and furthering the discussion if something was too vague. One example about the extent of control we have over making decisions for others was Leelah Alcorn. She was a transgender teenager who committed suicide, due to the pressure of conforming to a gender by her parents. Making decisions for others should only be necessary if they’re mentally or physically disabled. Pushing someone to do something that they don’t like, will harm the person more than it benefiting them, like Leelah Alcorn’s struggle with transphobia.

My favorite question to answer, hands down, was whether the press should focus more on the hospital or battlefield. This is something that we deal with, but it doesn’t get much attention because sometimes nobody wants to know the horrors of war, including me. Either way, there is a need of discussion for it. The press tends to focus on warfare more than the effects of warfare, and I think they censor it to keep people from knowing how awful things end up to be. War is romanticized, especially the killing part, that soldiers are dehumanized and seen as targets rather than humans. There is something so wrong about that statement. Soldiers deserve the respect to be seen as how they felt while fighting. We should emphasize the gruesome, depressing parts about war. second

During B.R.A.W.L. I felt like most of the debates were unfinished, like there was something more to add to, the only thing we could do was to prepare well and thoroughly. The less prepared you were, the worse you did. You can’t decide on something based off on one reason, you need other reasons to back it up. You’ll look like an idiot if you bluntly choose something for one reason. As a stubborn race, we humans do that constantly. Sometimes we’ll even choose something because it’s easier to deal with, or it takes less work to think about it. Everything we do has a rippling effect to those around us, whether it be emotions, actions, words, etc.

Debates provide us the opportunity to look and analyze things from different angles, and it’s something I need to work on. I know this experience will further my decision making skills forcing myself to think about all the aspects of what I should/can do. I’ve learned there’s a second meaning behind everything, and to not jump to the obvious conclusions that everyone thinks of as their first draft thought. I would be glad B.R.A.W.L. for any book or topic. I came out of B.R.A.W.L. learning that everything is in relation to everything else.

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A New Ending

Inflamed eyeballs were the un-established compromise to writing blog posts for English. But don’t get me wrong, it was well worth ALL of it. Now that the school year is ending, I’m disheartened to see this community of student bloggers come to its final stop. I think that’s what I’ll miss the most about English. I was able to see the inner workings of my fellow students and friends and their weird, brilliant, scary, and funny thoughts about everything. I had the opportunity to step into others’ perspectives and it felt genuine. I didn’t come across many bloggers that wrote just for the sake of finishing it. We had the freedom to talk about any topic and I feel like giving someone a certain trust that they can write about any topic, unconsciously makes people want to do well. That’s how I felt about it, but that’s also because I don’t like having restrictions on things that don’t require it.

There were some barriers along this whole blogging experience like not knowing what to write about, finishing on time, and creating something that would be satisfactory to myself. There’d be days where I had a week to write a blog post, I’d end up with ten drafts before I decided on what to write about and when I figured it out, it was too late. I would ignore all my drafts and start a fresh post that I wish I’d spend more time on. However those are only the elementary aspects of actual hindrance. I would worry about what I had already written, so as to not repeat myself because I am a person with old thoughts. It was also overcoming the fear of not caring what other people thought about what I wrote, that helped me grow as a writer. But not only does that help with my writing, I can speak my mind more freely than I have before this year started. There was also a line between being playful with words or just writing as though I was speaking to my friends. The main thing I would change about my writing, is to write poems, or mess with how things are supposed to be structured. I should have just risked the play on words, because then I would learn something if I was doing it incorrectly,luckily I realize my mistake now.

As I’ve mentioned in my last post “The End Has No End”, I struggled through organizing my thoughts so that the writing process would flow fluidly. Sequencing things is my scotoma, and I never realized it until I started blogging. I’m still not great at putting things in order, but it’s gotten better. Along with learning how terribly I organized pieces of writing, I learned how to incorporate quotes into a passage in ways where I could either bring it up randomly or have it slowly creep up as the main idea of my writing. Visually, I had to think about what details tied into what I was writing about, and using tags correctly to bring the right attention.

Some of my favorite posts have to be “Sorry for not Uploading” , “The Good the Bad and the Weird parts of Rain” , and “The End Has No End”. I was able to express bottled up thoughts that I’ve been wanting to share. There are some things you can go on forever talking about, and these topics were exactly that. Sometimes we forget them, but once it springs back to our minds again, you have to write it down immediately before the thought escapes. When we were forced to plan out the connections we made to rain, it helped me draw even more connections from personal experiences with rain. It was effective to focus on one topic to draw connections from your past, future, your five senses, or anything. And with those connections you would create more connections. I was able to dig deeper into the connections I’ve had with rain, even the insignificant details led to something bigger.

The best advice I could give to anybody who’s writing a blog or will be, is to be unafraid of what you post. If you’re passionate about something, go for it. Your writing can reflect who you are, so be bold even if it’s a little embarrassing. Also, don’t write about certain topics just because it will get views, write for yourself.

If there was something to fix about this blogging system, I would change the picture policy about having a picture as big as the blog post. I would often times find fantastic photos, only to be disappointed that it didn’t match up to the columns beside it. I understand how smaller pictures make things look “unprofessional”, but some photos are worth posting even if it isn’t big enough.

For my part, I loved blogging. I liked seeing other people’s opinions on things that people don’t share when they talk or hang out in real life. The things that go unmentioned were noticed because of our blogs. It is our own, and we can spread ideas like a wildfire which was what interested me the most. It’s refreshing to see new minds talking about unfamiliar things, rather than everyone focusing on one topic that they couldn’t find connections to. I think the best part about starting a blog post is finding the connection we made during class, it broadened our spectrum of what we can talk about as long as it connected to something we learned. It’s a good mixture of work and freedom and I hope other English teachers catch on(Future AP Eng teachers, I’m looking at you). Reading other people’s blogs were just as fun as writing posts, I’m glad I was able to experience this and I think I’m going to continue blogging. I’m going to miss seeing everyone post up a new blog post every week.

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Hi There Neighbor?

It’s funny how I’ve been sitting with the same classmates for months, and I haven’t learned much about them. It’s so ordinary to say, but once you say it, it’s weirder than you think. It’s a little sad to sit next to someone for months without even knowing what their favorite color is.

I think we all wear masks from time to time, especially in school. Being grouped up in a classroom gives you the opportunity to socialize with others, but once the bell rings, we’re all strangers again. Every thing we say or do is purely physical until we find someone who is willing and unafraid to friend you.

Sometimes I feel like there’s a universal law that you should open yourself up to classmates, but not too much. Not to the point where they realize who you ACTUALLY are.

We make judgements on the daily about people we don’t even know. All we do is assume, and it has never been beneficial. Have you ever met someone with a certain bias, and felt guilty for realizing that what you thought of them beforehand ? Don’t put yourself in the same situation over and over.

It’s a risk to break the ice. But who’s to say that you shouldn’t try?

This blog post made me realize all of this, there’s still a lot more content that you can grab from this blog post, and it’s worth it. It’s a fun read too.

Look At Things Different

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Do you know the person next to you?

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“The End Has No End”

Forgive me for stealing your song name, if any of the band members of the Strokes ever sees this. Julian, Albert, Fabrizio, Nick, and Nickolai, I’m sorry, even though you guys broke up a while ago. But I can’t help that it’s a great title.

As Orwell puts it,

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”

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A blog post has the potential to be just as similar. Especially when it comes to the conclusion. But I never really reach the conclusion. Writing is like reaching for something that gets farther away. Between the space and object are ideas,opinions, and memories that attach themselves like extra pieces of legos on an already “completed” rocket ship. All my blog posts are unfinished pieces of writing, which ends up as a mega-aqua-rocket ship. Like trees that branch off from itself or from other branches, or charmless charm bracelets begging for attention, or a plain fro-yo screaming for toppings, there’s always something to add. There is no end(oh hello title reference)!

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This product is “cruelty-free”

There’s a lot of consumer mistrust when it comes to beauty products. There are tons of beauty brands in the market that claim they’re cruelty free, but sometimes their suppliers aren’t, which makes you think you’re supporting animal testing. It’s good to be aware of what you’re ACTUALLY supporting. After reading mybeautybunny’s blog, I’d agree somewhat that supporting cruelty free companies with parent companies that use animal testing is actually…good. In a way it seems like you’re supporting animal testing, but if the company sparks popularity it can help bring change that companies can strive without relying on animal testing. But for the most part, it helps keep the parent company in business, parent companies will continue to endorse animal testing. At the same time, you’re also supporting the parent company indirectly. So to avoid supporting parenting companies that aren’t cruelty free, I’ve created a list.

Here are some Brands that do and don’t test on animals:

Companies that DON’T test on animals

  • milani cosmetics
  • lush cosmetics
  • E.L.F.
  • Markwins(Wet n Wild)
  • Ciaté
  • Limecrime(also 100% vegan)
  • Anastasia Beverly Hills
  • Eco Tools(also 100% vegan)
  • Hempz(also 100% vegan)

If the brand you’re purchasing comes from any of these companies, the parent companies use animal testing, but there are exceptions of some brands being cruelty free under these names…

*side note* the names listed in the parentheses are NOT the exception

  • L’oreal(Maybelline, Lancome, Garnier, Biotherm, Shu Uemura, etc)
  • Procter & Gamble(Herbal essences, Clairol, Aussie, Tide, Old Spice, Febreeze, Downy, Crest, etc.)
  • Unilever(Dove,Tresemme,Ponds, Nexxus, St. Ives. etc)
  • Estee Lauder(Mac, Clinique,Bumble and bumble, Bobbi Brown,Michael Kors, Coach, etc.)
  • Clorox(Pine-sol, Ever clean, Clorox, Glad, etc.)
  • Shiseido(Bare Escentuals)

These are some trustworthy blogs which include more makeup brands that are and aren’t cruelty-free:

The Struggle Between Aesthetics and Instagram

I’m one of those people that take instagram pictures of their food. I honestly just do it to match the aesthetic of my account or to show that I know at least two other coffee shops besides Starbucks. After looking through old photos in my phone, I realized how many unnecessary pictures I’ve taken. And by unnecessary, I mean ordinary. I take pictures of things I don’t really care about, I take pictures just for the sake of pictures. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking pictures of things without a reason behind it, but I want to collect memories and so far I haven’t been doing……any of that.

It’s hard trying to maintain a constant aesthetic in your instagram, you have to limit yourself from taking certain pictures or it will just mess up the flow of your archive. You can’t include all aspects of what you take pictures of. But then there are also the instagram accounts that have no layout. If you see the archive as a whole, it isn’t that great, but you’re left with so much freedom to take pictures of anything! This idea of trying to keep your feed looking as if everything corresponds with each other, is nuts. No one’s life is like that. There are few that take pictures that match their aesthetic inadvertently, but there aren’t many people like that. Social media is all about how people perceive you, and the pictures we take reflect who we are. For the most part it seems like everyone is trying to impress everyone else, but don’t be fooled as Phaedrus said,”the first appearance deceives many.”

Instagram is about telling stories, and by taking photos of random trees(that I don’t even like) and food that almost every fifteen year old has eaten, doesn’t tell you much. My main goal for instagram is about the significance pictures have to my life and not to my aesthetic.  I want to be able to look back through photos that might seem ordinary and come back to the memories that will carry on with me as I age. I want to remember the important and interesting moments of my life, but also have some insignificant moments as well.

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