Today we had to do group work in biology class. Unfortunately, it isn’t a leap year thing that only happens one day every four years, for this one we’ll be doing it for a whole week. We chose our own groups of three, so I ended in a group with Kat and Mark. Paul ended up with two people he’s been talking with in gym, so at least he isn’t stuck with being in a group of leftovers. I’m pleased that I got to get into a group with the people I wanted to, but I don’t understand why the teacher doesn’t pick the groups. Usually, once all the more social people form groups with their friends all the less social people are stuck trying to make patchwork groups among themselves. So most of the class gets to work with people they want to, and the people who want to do group work the least have to work with those who nobody else wants to work with. It seems like it would be fairer to randomly select groups in order to level the playing field, but I guess I shouldn’t complain in this situation.
At least we don’t have to do group work too often, but we have to do it occasionally because a lot of us are going to go into careers where it’s unavoidable so we’d have learn how to do it sometime. It’s not so bad this time because I know the rest of my group and we were able to decide within the first couple of minutes how we were going to split up the project. Once you know what you’re part is, you can just pretend it’s a solo project. But sometimes you get stuck with a project you can’t split up or, very rarely here, a group that wants to do the work together. Having to constantly communicate what you’re doing, and trying to figure out what the other people are doing, is tiring and usually not very efficient. If you split up the project, once you’re done with all your parts you just combine them and the work is done. Well, unless somebody in the group did a poor job, then the other members might have to redo their part. But I don’t see that happening here at least.
The worst potential group, though, is a group that decides to spend their time socializing instead of working. It’s an occasional side effect of having groups selected by the students, which is another reason they should be randomized. For example, Paul’s group spent most of the day joking around instead of planning how they were going to do the project. I know this because their talking and laughing was so loud it made it difficult for me to concentrate on what I was doing. Eventually the teacher had to get involved in order to get them to be more quiet, but you could still hear them joking around even if the volume was lower. I’m sure they’ll get it together before the project is due at the end of the week however.
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It’s tax season, which means my mother’s stable work schedule has gone out the window. At least we’re out of the beginning part where we eat terrible overcooked meals because my father hadn’t cooked in almost nine months and now it was solely his responsibility. Sometimes I help with parts of it, but I’d probably do even worse and I don’t want my mother to come home to a bad meal. She already has to deal with a lot, not just the hours but the uncertainty of when the day will end. She normally takes the same lunch to work every day, but now she takes more or less depending on when she thinks she’ll get home for dinner. If she brings too little, she’s hungry when there’s still work to be done, and if she eats a snack she might not be hungry for dinner right when she gets home. And then there are the Saturdays where she has to go through her entire preparation routine just to go in to the office for a few hours. It’s a good thing that this only lasts for a few months.
Not having a steady dinner time disrupts me too. It takes me a long time to start on assignments, and I have more homework than I should because by the time the working section ends I’m still getting ready to start. I get distracted at school by the noise of other kids, and I get distracted at home by going to random web pages. I neither accomplish anything nor spend the time relaxing or enjoying myself. But at some point, I’m able to start my work, and it usually takes less time to do than to start, but I can never tell how long it will take before I do it. If I don’t know when dinner is, then I don’t know how much time I have to get things done before I’m called to the table. So I end up not starting anything before dinner so I won’t have to stop what I’m doing just when I spent the past several hours starting it. I have a half hour warning usually because my mother calls us and tells us she’s coming home soon, but thirty minutes usually isn’t enough time to get anything done.
If my father and I eat at our usual time it would probably be better for me, but then my mother won’t have the stability of coming home to a hot meal with her family. Instead of sitting around doing nothing, I could help cook. But in order to help cook I need to learn how to cook. Cooking has a lot of little rules that you need to follow otherwise things like terrible tasting meals, or food poisoning, or your house burning down might happen. So at least one of my parents would have to teach me the steps involved with each recipe, and since they both have jobs even if they want to help me learn they may not have the time or patience to do so. At least I’ll be taking cooking class next year so maybe then I’ll be of some help.
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It’s very irritating that I have to take this class, or any class for that matter, after gym. First I have to change my clothes, and I hate changing, then run around or do weights for like twenty minutes before going back to the locker room and change again. It’s going to be really bad in the summer when I’ll get sweatier, and there isn’t enough time to shower even if I wanted to shower in the locker room. So I’m incredibly exhausted once I get here so I’m glad I don’t have to submit these online until midnight.
I chose to be in the exercise and fitness class because my coordination is no good so the Sports class would be a nightmare. I remember trying to play basketball in earlier grades and it took dozens of tries before I could even make a layup. Some kids are as uncoordinated as me but take the Sports class anyway because it’s still more fun to them than just running and exercising, but for me constantly being terrible at whatever we’re playing isn’t going to do wonders for my mental stability. Mark and Paul are in the Sports class, but they’re both more coordinated than I am. Apparently Paul has been creating quite a bit of attention for himself since he’s doing very well there, which isn’t exactly surprising.
At least the sports class lets the old football field get used more often in the spring. There are intramural soccer games, but just during the fall, and track and field only uses the area around the field. It used to be that football games brought huge crowd, and it was a big event with cheerleaders, a school mascot, and even a marching band. But a football team is needs a lot of players and expensive equipment, and now it’s a lot more difficult to find over twenty-four students who want to play football and even harder to find good players out of those. So the school just stopped trying to field one, and the stadium rarely gets that many visitors. There’s still one set of bleachers that sometimes get filled for track meets, but they never even bothered replanting the grass where the bleachers on the other side of the field used to be.
The lack of qualified athletes is a real problem for professional sports leagues. My father still follows the NFL even though it’s down to twelve teams and his hometown team folded years ago. The skill level just got so bad that people didn’t find it fun to watch anymore. College football was huge too, but the skill level drop off was even worse there and now only a few dozen schools even have programs. Baseball has fared slightly better; the MLB has only had to contract a bit because they can get players from Latin America and Japan. And the NBA, NHL, and especially MLS have grown because of their ability to recruit talented foreign players. We won’t be winning a World Cup anytime, well ever, but at least our domestic league is pretty good.
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Mark’s already have three driving lessons. He said that at first he was nervous, but eventually he relaxed and found that he was able to maintain control and feel comfortable even when on the road. It helped that he had an instructor with a brake on his side of the seat, but he still made it through without the care getting a scratch. The instructor was even impressed that he was able to pick up parking so quickly. Now he has to do a lot of practice driving before he’s ready to take the driving test, but it looks like he’s well on his way towards eventually passing it. He also still has to figure out how to balance practicing driving with schoolwork and his potential job, but he thinks he can manage it. I hope my lessons can go nearly as well as his.
Lauren and Paul broke up after a fight on Tuesday, so obviously she’s no longer sitting with us at lunch. When she sat with her old friends on Wednesday Kat asked Paul what had happened and he said he didn’t want to talk about it. Then I heard a rumor that Paul was a liar and he shouldn’t be trusted, and then another rumor that Lauren was a hypersensitive idiot and shouldn’t be trusted either. It was an incredibly confusing situation.
The next day Paul explained to us what had happened. He had invited Lauren to go to the movies on a date, but when she showed up at his house he explained that his parents were out of town for the night and he thought it would be romantic to spend the night alone. He figured she would be flattered; but she instead she was incredibly angry. She began to question whether anything else he said to her were lies, and after a heated argument she went back to her house. Kat said that Lauren was probably irritated that, not only was she lied to, she was prepared to go to a movie and a sudden change of plans stressed her out. Paul was adamant that he didn’t do anything wrong, and he thought it was a complete overreaction. Kat replied that it may have been an overreaction, but he still needed to talk to her to make sure she understood his reasoning and she wouldn’t try and potentially ruin his reputation further.
Paul did end up talking to Lauren at some point, and they appeared to have come to terms since people are no longer spreading any rumors about either and are treating both like nothing happened. Paul said he has no plans of dating her again because he can’t imagine having to deal with the potential of that kind of reaction again. Mark pointed out that a lot of other girls in our school might react similarly, and he’s going to have to learn from the experience. Paul agreed, but I think his feelings for Lauren specifically means that there is very little potential for them getting back together.
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I’ve been thinking about the religion discussion I wrote about last week. The beginnings of most religions throughout history were to provide an overall explanation for how the universe worked. A creation myth explained how the world and universe were made, an explanation of how they worked that involved some sort of divine intervention, and stories were created to enhance the legitimacy that these were the correct interpretations that everyone else should follow. Almost everywhere people saw the natural world and provided higher explanation for how it must operate. This goes completely against my way of thinking, where I see things as just a combination of smaller things.
We’ve been studying pointillist painters in art class. All of their paintings are just a collection of small dots if you look close enough, but form a more coherent picture when you step back. Most people would think that the image you see when you step back is the most important part of the painting, but really the meaning is just a pattern of small dots of paint. I’m not saying that the end result isn’t important; I’m saying that it is vital that people be aware that it is just a combination of smaller parts. It isn’t just pointillism, every painting is a series of brushstrokes that add up to something more, every sculpture is a combination of carvings reducing a block of stone into something different. Music is a combination of notes in different pitches, rhythms, tempos, timbres, and textures, but it’s still made up of notes. Beethoven’s 9th Symphony can have a profound effect on you, but it’s just an orchestra playing a whole lot of notes. We can even see what the notes are because Beethoven wrote them down, including how fast you should be playing them when you start each movement. And we are merely made up of millions of tiny cells, which are in turn made up of tiny atoms just like everything else in the universe.
Again, I’m not trying to take away meaning from things. Objects made out of the same building blocks can still be completely different. What I am saying is that, whether it’s religion, philosophy, history, or any other discipline there is a tendency to only look at the larger picture. But like pointillist paintings, the bigger picture is made up of a lot of smaller pieces. Regardless of what you think of them or how they affect you, paintings are merely patterns of paint, pieces of music are merely patterns of notes, people are merely patterns of cells, society is merely individual people, religions are merely a set of individual beliefs, and nearly everything from the laptop I’m typing on to the food we eat to the houses we live in to the entire seven seas to whole planets and solar system and galaxies are made up of atoms that are themselves patterns of protons, electrons, and usually neutrons. In the end, the world doesn’t seem to me like there’s less meaning. It feels like there’s so much, sometimes too much, more.
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