Our class went to Nature’s Classroom in Massachusetts for four days.
At Nature’s Classroom we were sorted into field groups. In our field groups, we took hikes, did activities, and performed our skit for Wednesday Night Live. (Won’t go into too much detail about that).
You could choose which classes you got to be in. You didn’t always get your first choice, but all of the choices were good ones. I got into a class where we got to make smoothies, a class where I got to set a tiny, man made forest on fire, a class where we learned about triboluminescence, and a class where I got to manage a country’s finances.
The meals were delicious and there was a rotating cast of ‘waitrons’ who set the tables. There was always some sort of activity during dinner, and loads of options for people with food sensitivities or other dietary differences.
I particularly enjoyed the sing-alongs at the end of the day, where we sang such favourites as the Crepe song and Riptide by Vance Joy. Overall, Nature’s Classroom was loads of fun, despite the snow. I can’t wait to go next year.
To be honest, my appreciation for films was kind of inevitable, because I grew up around them. My Mom works at the CIA, (the college, not the spy agency), and she teaches a number of classes, one of which is a film class. I often ended up watching the movies with her as she taught her students . There was a period of time when my favorite movie was The Three Ages. While other children watched Dora, I watched Clint Eastwood westerns. However, I digress. The point is, not many kindergartners can say they’ve watched The Searchers. And in first grade, when all of the kids in my class wanted to be veterinarians or astronauts or whatever other ludicrous fantasies occupied the minds of my fellow six year olds, I had one dream: To be a movie director.
I didn’t want to be just any movie director. I wanted to be an auteur, like the Coen brothers. I wanted to incorporate colour scheme and attention to detail, like Wes Anderson. I wanted to create delightfully impossible plot-lines in the perfect, quirky little way like Miyazaki. And with expectations as high as these, I figured I needed to start as quickly as possible.
For a while, I made only not very serious, not very well planned, and not very impressive home movies. Various documentations of everything from my family’s camping trips to my brother pretending to be a ninja powered by almonds crowded my mom’s old desktop, and for a while, I didn’t really do anything important. I was not the Coen brothers. I was not Wes Anderson. I was not Miyazaki. I was just a kid with a camera.
Then, I was introduced to the mystery genre.
My Mom told my brother and I one night that she had a movie to watch for her class. She said it was a mystery movie, but it was very slow, included a lot of tiresome dialogue, and took some paying attention to understand. That movie was Murder On The Orient Express. It was part of a series about a short, egg-shaped Belgian detective named Monsieur Hercule Poirot, one of the more genius creations of Dame Agatha Christie. Although she professed to despise her arrogant, brilliant little creation, he was an instant hit when she first wrote about him in The Mysterious Affair At Styles, published in 1920. Anyway, Murder On The Orient Express enchanted me, and before I knew it, my Mom had ordered loads of other Agatha Christie films–I quite literally devoured Ten Little Indians, Miss Marple, and, of course, tons of Poirot. I read the books, watched the films, and memorized Poirot trivia for fun. I was, to be quite frank, obsessed.
Anyway, it didn’t take me long to realize that I could combine my love of film-making with my love of mysteries and make a mystery movie. I spent loads of time writing a script for a mystery about a woman named Miranda (played by my cousin) who’s baby daughter (played by my cousin’s doll) is kidnapped. After spending a week working on the screenplay, my actors quit to play tag after a few minutes of filming (of course, they were only seven and five years old) and it ultimately failed. I made quite a few screenplay, but they were never really what I hoped they would be. Also, they never quite made it past the revision stage.
One Christmas, however, my parents got me a Chromebook and suddenly I was inspired to write a screenplay for a mystery about a woman who had a winning scratch off ticket, and invited some friends and family over to celebrate, including her best friend from high school, and her friends husband, who also happens to be a detective . . . I’m not going to say any more about the actual plot, but I was impressed with myself. The screenplay ended up being sixty pages long, and following the minute per page rule, (which basically estimates that each page on the screenplay will end up being about a minute long), it would be about an hour long! I called it “Scratch Off.”
This was only about a year ago, and now, I still haven’t actually began to shoot the movie or anything, but I have made a documentary about the water crisis and submitted it to a film festival in San Francisco, and if I win, I plan to use the prize money to buy real film equipment so that I can make quality films, like the ones my Mom shows me.
Movies are truly, for lack of a better word, my passion. I hope that someday I will be able to be a professional filmmaker, although right now, I’m still a long ways away from being even remotely similar to the Coen brothers, Wes Anderson, or Miyazaki.
Because when it all comes down to it, that’s all I am: a kid with a camera.
Mom slammed the car door closed, jolting me out of my daydream. I unfastened my seatbelt, opened up the car door, and tried to keep up with my brother, Luke, and my Mom’s fast pace as we headed towards Gamestop. It was cold out. I wished I was not here. I wished I was at home, curled up under a blanket, a cat by my side, a book in my hand. The flames in the fireplace dancing about like ballerinas. Adele playing at full blast. That, I thought, is just what I need.
But no. I wasn’t not home. Far from it. I was at Gamestop. Why was I at Gamestop?
Let me explain. My orthodontist had this point system where every time you go to the orthodontist, you get a certain number of points. You can get extra points if your orthodontic wear is in good shape, if your teeth are flossed and brushed, etc. etc. etc. When you got a certain amount of points, you could get a gift card.
Luke got a gamestop gift card, and, thus, here I was. At gamestop. Ugh.
We stepped into the store, and the warm, stale air hit me hard. I couldn’t decide whether or not I liked it. Luke seemed to think this store was the greatest thing since indoor plumbing. I remained uninterested. Who wanted to spend their Saturday looking at used video games? Not me, that was for sure. So as Luke tried to decide between a disney infinity game and a lego batman video game, my mom and a salesperson both trying to sway his judgement, I wandered about the store. As I headed off towards the very back, past the video game controllers (10% off!) and the salespeople and the violent games that my dad played, there was only one thought in my head: There sure are A LOT of video games here.
In the back, I saw a rack of cute little vinyl figures. Batman figures, Star Wars, and–
My mouth gaped open. My eyes got larger than an anime character’s. I couldn’t contain my amazement. I sank to my knees, (and could you really expect me not too?), for on the bottom of this rack were the most amazing things ever–Harry Potter vinyl figures! I am SO not exaggerating when I say they were glorious.
“Well, this one’s cheaper,” I could faintly hear my mom saying, “But I think you’d like this one better.”
I dug through the vinyl figures, (which were, according to the box, called Funko POP Harry Potter Action Figures), with the ferocity and speed of a hungry meerkat. There were so many of them, all made in the same big eyed, big headed style. What one should I get? After all, being a massive Harry Potter fan, I knew I would go home with at least one of these (despite the fact that each of them costs about seventeen dollars). All of them were so cute, even Voldemort looked appealing Maybe I should get Harry Potter, he is the main character, after all, I thought. Wait, no, they have Hermione, too! And Ron, and Dumbledore, and Snape . . .
I reached into the back of the rack. This one was bigger than the others. And when I pulled it out, I knew which one to buy. And I don’t regret for a moment spending seventeen dollars on the adorable, bearded, pink-umbrella-wielding Hagrid I pulled out of the rack.
I ran back to the other end of the store (after neatly putting away the rest of the Harry Potter merchandise, promising to buy it all another day, of course), and told my mom something along the lines of: “Mom mom mom mom mom mom mom!”
It took her a while to respond. When she did, I briefly explained that I’d found Hagrid, (“You’ve . . . found Hagrid?”), and that I needed to buy him, (which only lead to more confusion), and that he was seventeen dollars, (“Seventeen dollars!!?”), well technically it’s $16.99, and yes, I would pay for it, yes, it was absolutely necessary to interrupt your conversation, etc. etc. etc.
And so I bought the Hagrid vinyl figure. I refused to put it in a bag when the cashier asked me. I practically skipped to the car, Hagrid perched precariously in my trembling fingers, and the second I got home, I ripped off the packaging and threw away the box. I then took a minute to look at Hagrid.
And now, whenever I pass by my bookshelf, I gaze upon Hagrid fondly, the same way I did that first day, for I know that even though I spent seventeen dollar, and was forced to spend an hour or so at a video game store, I’m glad I purchased Hagrid, because you should always do something if you think you’re going to regret not doing it more than doing it. A wise man once said, “Just do it.” Especially when Harry Potter merchandise is involved.
This is my first year using edublogs. This is my first year doing the blogging challenge. This was my first year posting online. This was my first year commenting online. This year has been simply overflowing with internet-related firsts. It’s all been quite exciting. I’m glad that my class participates in the blogging challenge, otherwise, I might have gone a couple more years without ever actually doing anything online. The challenge was really fun and I learned a lot about how to comment effectively. A couple tips include saying hello, asking a question, sharing an opinion, and leaving a link to your blog). I made a couple posts that were, in my opinion, pretty good, but if I had to name a favorite I would either say my post on apple pie, or my post on meerkats. I prefer to write informational blog posts, which is weird, because I prefer to write fiction. But I would say that these posts are the best because I put so much research into them. Also, I’m very passionate on both subjects because I love apple pie and meerkats are my mom’s favorite animals.
The Christmas season for my family starts when we get our tree. We all split up at the place where we buy the Christmas tree. We all run around for a bit trying to find a suitable tree for our house. When we think we’ve each found good ones, we decide as a family which tree is better. Then, we take the tree home and turn on the fireplace and watch Christmas movies (last year we watched Frosty the Snowman in French!) and set up the tree and decorate it. I usually take pictures during this time, but I put up a lot of ornaments too. This is my favorite part of the entire Christmas season.
On Christmas morning, I usually wake up at around 6:00. My parents don’t let my brother and I wake them up for Christmas until at least 7:00, so I wait around for an hour (which is absolute torture, believe me!) and the second the clock ticks 7:00 I run into my parents’ room and wake them up and drag them into the living room. First, we all look in our stockings. Last year, I got a mechanical cat in my stocking. I named it Samuel.
Next, I force my parents to open their presents, and soon enough, it is time for me and my brother to open our presents. About halfway through the present getting/giving process my Dad wanders around with a giant garbage bag for us to put our wrapping paper in. It’s all over pretty quickly, and the second it is all over, we pack our bags to go to either my grandparents in Saratoga’s house or my grandparents in Long Island’s house. We usually have fun using the presents we got for Christmas during the long, boring car ride. Christmas is always really fun in my family. I cannot wait for Christmas this year!
Meerkats are brown, fuzzy little members of the mongoose family with long tails (surprisingly non-bushy for the mongoose family,) that help them stand upright, and long claws, (almost one inch long each) for digging. This is because a lot of the food they eat comes from underground. Learn more about meerkat’s hunting techniques . . . They like to eat scorpions, and insects, although they also eat small mammals. Meerkats have black patches around their eyes, to protect from the sun, and ears that can fold down for convenience when digging. Learn more meerkat trivia at World Animal Foundation, Mental Floss, and World Wildlife Fund.
Meerkats teach their young to hunt for food. When meerkats are very young the adult meerkats give the little meerkats dead prey, and as they get older, the adult scorpions will maybe disable the prey, so, for example, the adult meerkat might bite off a scorpion’s stinger. (Meerkats are immune to scorpion venom!) When the meerkat pups are nearly adults, they are presented with (for example) an alive and completely able scorpion, and forced to kill it by themselves. Learn more about this . . .
Meerkats live in groups, or mobs, of 20, usually, but they can be as big as 40. In these mobs, there is usually one dominant female meerkat and male meerkat, and the female meerkat is sort of in charge of the whole mob. These meerkat patriarchs are generally the only females in the mob allowed to have pups, and if any other meerkats reproduce, the alpha female kills the new litter of pups and gives the lower level females who dared to reproduce two options: to either leave the mob and try to fend for themselves, or be a nanny of sorts to the alpha female’s litter. Learn more about meerkat alpha females at Smithsonian.com and Mental Floss . . .
When meerkats are really young, they follow adults around, squeaking for food. Adults will sacrifice their own meals. Zoologists at the university of Cambridge studied groups of wild meerkats to try to understand why the young meerkats stopped begging for free meals. They found that as a meerkat’s voice’s pitch changed as it grew older, the meerkat became less persuasive in getting food from adults. In a nutshell, the older the meerkats got and the more their pitch changed, the less likely the chance of the adults giving them food. The zoologists followed adult meerkats with speakers that played young meerkat squeaking. The adults started offering their food even to young adult meerkats, who would normally have not been able to beg their way out of finding their own food. Learn more about this . . .
Meerkats live in Africa and while they are not endangered, they are one of the most strictly regulated species in the world. They are known for their tendency to stand upright.
For this week’s student blogging challenge one of the options is to write about a food that is popular in your country, and the first thing that came to mind as I racked my brain for something to write about was the phrase, “As American as apple pie. Apple pie is a pie (well, duh) that has a sugary, apple filling and a lengthy history. Pie (or pye, as it was spelled at the time) has been around since Ancient Greece and Rome, and the first known reference to apple pie in particular was in 1589. Read more about pies . . .
Of course, these pies were a little different than are today. The first apple pies were not at all sweet, and they were practically inedible. The colonists mostly only made pies because they preserved whatever was inside them for a bit longer than usual. Read more about the colonists . . . Nowadays, apple pie is still quite popular, being a nice dessert to finish up a Thanksgiving or just for when you would like something yummy to eat.
When my family went to Washington DC, we went to many museums. I videotaped the entire trip. We stayed in a hotel that was very historical. Abraham lincoln had been smuggled in there once when detective Allan Pinkerton thought there might be an assassination. We went to very bad breakfasts, because we had to rush to find the nearest coffee shop so we could see all of the museums. We went to an awesome laotian restaurant where I had an amazing Thai iced tea and a delicious mango coconut rice dessert. I had cow tongue and quail wings! That restaurant was one of the last times I had meat before I went pescetarian. My family really enjoyed that trip, although our hotel room smelled oddly the whole time.
Somewhere, deep in the French countryside, in a territory that only poor farmers and weary peddlers called home, is the old Effrayant School, located in a clock tower at the edge of a forest, overlooking a creek. It was a girl’s school, old fashioned even for the 1800s, specializing in subjects ranging from table manners, to arithmetic, to witchcraft. I was a student there back in the day. The school was run by Mademoiselle Rassis, a 70-something year old woman with a short temper and a taste for stale biscuits. She was notorious among students for hurling said biscuits at girls who angered her, and everyone feared her like the devil. So nobody was sad, exactly, when she was found dead near the tower on Halloween night.
She was said to have thrown herself from the tower at 11:00 at night. Suicide. But legend says that one student had taken one too many biscuits to the face, and had pushed the old woman out of the clock tower herself. Whether this is true or not, at 11:00 every night, the bell on the clock tower tolled, and still does to this day. Nobody knows why.
For a time, the school was run by a kindly old man who had no control over the students, and the school soon closed down.
Sometimes, though, I miss the school. I miss waking at 11:00. I miss the old clock tower. And, oddly enough, I distinctly remember that whenever the bell tolled, I would have a sudden craving for a bit of chastising and some stale biscuits.