a senior year blog by Derek

This Is the Best Way to…

This week for my blog post, my teacher gave me a list of 15 titles that I could choose from. I could choose any title that I wanted and I could write about anything that had to do with that title. As you can see, I chose “This Is the Best Way to…,” and this post is about the best way to fill up a blog post with random thoughts without getting points off from the teacher.

Everyone hates word requirements. When people have to type a 500-word paper or post, they seem to never have quite enough information to get all 500 words. Well, this post is going to help you with that. If you are struggling to get all the words that you need, you simply have to embellish, and I mean embellish, your paper. Use fancy words and explain yourself. You do not have to be an adroit writer to make your paper longer. As long as the general content of your paper is good, your teacher will not notice all the little fillers.

Another easy way to get more words is to simply think harder and write your deep thoughts. Everyone has an inner philosopher, and your teacher might enjoy your philosophies, even if they do not make much sense. Who cares if it makes sense as long as it takes up more space?

If you have read this whole post so far, you probably realize that my hints are quite obvious. You probably could have thought of them yourself, but you simply did not take the time to write them down. This simply proves my point that I effectively wrote a 250-word post without saying much at all, but it was a lot of fun!

Get a Life!

Facebook can ruin your life.” What strong words about everyone’s beloved social networking website.  This online article which I had to read for this blog assignment addresses the issue of posting personal information on Facebook which you would not like a “creeper” to see. These creepers can be anyone from an employer to a sexual predator, but they all try to pry into people’s personal lives in order to discover something specific about that person. Many employers and lawyers today are using information published on social networking sights like MySpace, Twitter, and Facebook to decide whether to hire someone or to fight someone in a lawsuit. Therefore, the point of the article is that you should be extremely careful about what gets posted on the Internet because it reaches more people than just your friends.

This article did not surprise me because many people today spend way too much time on Facebook. For example, I have seen news stories about colleges that make their students go for a week without Facebook. Some students nearly go crazy! How ridiculous! Get a life! I sometimes stay off Facebook for over a week simply because I do not have time to waste on this unnecessary site. I am not saying that everyone who goes on Facebook needs to get a life, but people should put some effort into analyzing how much of the time that they spend on Facebook is really worthwile.

The point of the article that I read was to tell people that their posts can truly come back to haunt them. You might say that this is so hard because so many things can be used against you. There is a very simple solution to this problem. Do not spend so much time on Facebook or any other social networking website. Facebook and Twitter do not have to be hourly updates on your fascinating life. Does everyone else find your life as fascinating as you do? Posts or tweets are fine, but if you only post one every day, then you can summarize your day.  People would much rather read one interesting post about your day instead of multiple pointless posts.

If you are worried about your employer reading your wall on Facebook and firing you for it, there is one simple solution. Do not post so many things on Facebook! If your employer secretly views your Facebook wall, maybe he simply is going to check how much time you spend on Facebook. If you spend too much time on Facebook, the employer might feel that you will waste too much time while you are working.  Although some people are extremely different on Facebook and in public,Facebook can reveal many things about a person. Let people see the positive side of you through Facebook.

My advice to people who are worried about “creepers” on Facebook: write carefully and write less often. Facebook can be fun, but it is not life. Get a life – go out interact with real people face to face. It might be more enjoyable than you think.

Top 5…

As I pondered what I could write about for my list of top five something, I decided that I wanted to write about something out of the ordinary. But everything I thought of seemed so bland and common, so I finally chose to write about my top five flights of stairs. Almost everyone at my school hates stairs. Every day I hear someone complaining about how awful the stairs are. These complaints irk me because I run cross country and the team usually runs four or five miles every morning, so my legs are sore when I start the school day. Nevertheless, I do not constantly whine about the endless stair-walking. I feel that stairs deserve more respect, so here is my list of my top five flights of stairs.

5. The stairs at school – These stairs definitely make my list of top five flights of stairs. Although there are actually two flights of stairs, I am combining them as one entry. These stairs make my list because they are a big part of my everyday life. Every school day, I go up and down these beloved stairs multiple times. They are a big part of my life because they give me good exercise and give me pathways to the classrooms that I love so much.

Lincoln Memorial4. The stairway up to the Lincoln Memorial – These stairs come in at number four on my list not because of their length or their use, but because of their beauty. These stairs lead up to the magnificent statue of Abraham Lincoln, and looking down them, one can see the Washington Monument as well as its reflection in the Reflecting Pool.Sears

3. The stairs in the Sears Tower (now known as Willis Tower) – Although I have never gone up the stairs in the Sears Tower, they still make my list because I really want to go up them. When I went to the Sears Tower, I got to ride up the elevator. However, I really, really wanted to take the stairs. Imagine how accomplished one would feel after climbing up about 100 flights of stairs.

IMG_19252. My stairs at home to go upstairs – These stairs are very close to me. Every day, I use them to go to my room. The awesome red carpet on these stairs accentuates my house as well. These stairs are very close to me because my siblings and I used to play games on them all the time. We developed our own intense games to play, and I always enjoyed playing volleyball on those stairs as well.

1. The Sixteen Golden Stairs – Pikes Peak is a very tall mountain. A few years ago, when I was about thirteen years old, some members of my mother’s extended family went on a hike up Pikes Peak. After hiking for quite a few hours, we had made it most of the way up the mountain, and we had less than a mile to go. This is when we reached the Sixteen Golden Stairs. These are not actual stairs. They are switchbacks. A switchback is when a hiker turns a sharp corner and heads the other direction since he cannot hike straight up the mountain. The Sixteen Golden Stairs are my favorite flight of stairs because after I completed them, I was at the top of Pikes Peak. Being on top of Pikes Peak is a great feeling!

16 Golden Stairs

As these staircases show, stairs are a lot better than most people think they are. Stairs not only lead people to important places, but they also can give those people a sense of accomplishment when you finally reach the top. We should be thankful for the ability to get places using stairs. So go out today and conquer some stairs, and think about how much stairs really mean to you!

What I Wonder about Other Countries

I have had an interest in geography my whole life. When I was about five years old, I knew the order in which the fifty states joined the United States of America. I could also say the order in which the first thirteen colonies joined backwards. My interest in geography continued through grade school, and in the eighth grade, I made it to the National Geography Bee. Nevertheless, through all my geographical studies, there are some things that I have never understood.

To me, New Zealand is a small, mountainous country with green pastures and sheep (I am not making fun of New Zealand or sheep by saying this; I have sheep on my farm). However, one thing that I have never understood about New Zealand is the kiwi bird. Why would a country choose a national bird that cannot fly? What possesses a country to choose a plain brown bird as its national bird? I do not view the kiwi as prestigious, but I would like to know what makes the kiwi bird so special.

The second country that I would like to ask about is Portugal. Portugal seems to be small and set apart from the rest of Europe. My question deals with the language of Portugal. Do Portuguese people know Spanish as well as Portuguese? Is it normal to go to Spain quite often? If you do go to Spain, do you speak Spanish or do people from both places know one other language like English?

Comments on this blog are very welcome. I would really like to have some answers to these lifelong questions.

If You Came to Iowa…

I am not going to lie: if you come to Iowa for a vacation … you are really awesome. Iowa has an abundance of great places to visit. Well, actually, there are not an abundance of places to visit, but there are lots of cool attractions. The Amana colonies are several original villages built by Germans over 150 years ago. Adventureland is a great amusement park. As part of Challenge 3 for the blogging challenge, I will also tell you more about three places that I have been that I would recommend on a visit to Iowa.

The Capitol building in Iowa is beautiful. Not only does it have a gold-plated dome but also has many beautiful interior rooms. When we visited the Capitol on my eighth-grade field trip, my favorite part was walking up multiple flights of stairs to go near the top of the dome. That was quite the view, and it was quite the height.

Another place that I have been is the Bily Clocks Museum. Two brothers, Joseph and Frank Bily, carved various beautiful clocks from wood. They are amazing works of art. Also, to get to this museum, you have to visit a town named Spillville. When was the last time you heard of a town named Spillville?

The last attraction that I would recommend is definitely not the least. Visiting the Maquoketa Caves State Park was one of my favorite vacations as a younger child (and I have been to lots of places outside Iowa like Washington D.C., Rocky Mountain State Park, and San Francisco). Maquoketa Caves State Park is a blast to explore. There are a few major caves for which tours are available, but the fun part of the park is exploring. There are so many caves, and all that you have to do is choose one to climb into. Some caves are spacious, and some can only be accessed through small, small spaces. Being able to squeeze is very important for those who wish to see the deepest and darkest parts of the caves. I remember crawling through many caves and finding new “rooms” by crawling around. And for those who are claustrophobic, there are plenty of spacious caves as well, and they are all very beautiful. I would definitely recommend Maquoketa Caves State Park.


Ailurophile or Cynophile

This is a very, very strange title to a high school blog post, but as the assignment for the blogging challenge, my teacher said to write about a topic of my choice. So, for anyone who is wondering, this title simply asks if you like cats or dogs. Personally, I am a cat-lover, but I have heard many complaints about cats in my senior class at school. Everybody always talks about how dogs are loyal companions and how cats are snobby and stuck-up. This kind of trash talk really gets on my nerves because cats are fabulous animals, even better than dogs.

First of all, cats are clean. Yes, they do shed, but at least they clean themselves regularly. They can even be trained to use litter boxes. How many dogs have you seen use a litter box? Not too many. This proves that cats are smart and sophisticated.

Second, cats are great hunters. Dogs can go outside and chase a raccoon around or maybe catch a rabbit, but a cat can snag some really pesky pests like rats and mice. Cats can hunt outside, or they can help someone who is having mouse problems in his house. How convenient is that? Are dogs that helpful?

Third, cats eat less than dogs. Would you rather feed a cat for a year or a dog? Even if cats are slightly picky about their food, they do eat less.

So these points establish that cats are more economical than dogs. Less food, fewer pests, and less cleaning up are all great reasons to get a cat. But many people say that a dog is man’s best friend. Dogs are friendly, but cats can be just as friendly, if not more.  Have you ever seen a playful kitten? They are absolutely adorable. Even grown cats keep some of their playfulness, and what they lose in playfulness, they gain in friendliness. I love it when cats purr. Nothing is more friendly than a snuggled up cat purring in your lap.

It should now be clearly evident that cats are better than dogs, but please let me know if you agree or disagree. I would love to know why.


Blogging Challenge!

This is my first experience with the student blogging challenge, and this is the first post that I have had to write for the blogging challenge. The first challenge has started, so I have to tell everyone why they should visit my blog!

My blog is great for many reasons. First, I am from Iowa, so anyone who reads this might get a different perspective on people from Iowa. Unlike the common misconception, we do have malls in Iowa (yes, I have been asked if we have malls in Iowa). Also, there is more stuff than corn, and Iowa is in the United States although many people from the United States could not find Iowa on a map.

Second, I enjoy politics, and I am not afraid to share my thoughts. Therefore, anyone who reads my blog will have the opportunity to either agree or disagree with me if they so desire. I have firm viewpoints, but I also love to hear the other side of the story because it forces me to think deeply about different situations.

Last, but not least, I am a Christian, so my posts will be written with a Christian worldview, which some people may not be familiar with. I am not afraid to say what I think about certain situations, but I also will not condemn people for their beliefs.

Everyone who read this post should now be highly educated on reasons why they should read my blog.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things (to Do Online)

Surfing the Internet is a privilege that many of us take for granted; however, we should always be grateful that we have millions of websites and online articles that we can visit every day. When I surf the web, I visit a plethora of websites, but there are a choice few that I visit quite often.

I need to stay updated on the weather because I am outdoors quite often. I run cross country, and I work outside at home. Therefore, I like to know what the weather is going to be like. Every night before I go to bed, I like to check the the forecast for the next week. I do this at the National Weather Service website. On this website, I can view the forecast or radar (I used Sioux Falls, South Dakota, as an example). This site is extremely useful and fun because you can view the forecast for almost any city in the United States.

I am also a big sports fan. My favorite teams are the Minnesota Twins, the Minnesota Vikings, and the Iowa Hawkeyes. Although I do not always have time to watch these teams, I like to stay updated on them. I do this on CBS Sportsline. This is my favorite site to visit because it has information on a variety of sports. I usually check how Rafael Nadal is doing in tennis and then I see how far the Twins are ahead of the White Sox.

My favorite Twins player, Joe Mauer!

My favorite Twins player, Joe Mauer!

As you can see, I really enjoy using the Internet, and I hope that you enjoy these sites too.

Aloha from Iowa

Hi, my name is Derek, and I am a senior at Western Christian High School in Iowa. I enjoy playing sports, learning, and seeing God’s creation. If you visit my blog regularly, you may notice that I will post a few pictures that I have taken on vacations in places like Colorado, Montana, and California. I love these places and can’t wait to go to Colorado again next summer!

Recently, my college comp teacher, Mrs. De Groot, decided that it would be a good idea for us to use blogs to do writing assignments. Therefore, I have a blog. I am not a regular blogger, but I am looking forward to the experience of sharing my ideas with others in a hopefully-not-completely-formal way.

Glacier National Park in Montana

Glacier National Park in Montana