Thursday, December 10, 2015

HTML 5, Margaret Mead, Grammar & Chinese

Hello and welcome to my blog on this fine Thursday.

The first topic of today's of discussion will be the end of my Grammar & Punctuation class from the University of California Irvine (UC Irvine). I completed the course and my final grade, as some of you may want to know, is a 92%. In this course, we learned about the proper uses of commas, parallel structure, sentence variety, and the different types of sentences. The class was fairly enjoyable. The one thing I really liked about this was that it forced you to interact with your peers in order to pass the class. The one downside, I think, is that there was only one video per lesson. I would have preferred more, so we could dig deeper. It was not an "Amazing, that was SO enlightening" kind  of class.

I am in another computer class since I finished my others. Today I started HTML 5 through the University of Michigan's School of Information. This is my second course through Michigan. My Python course was the first one. This is a different professor.The last one was Dr. Charles Severance. My new professor is Dr. Colleen van Lent. I do like her. HTML is often taught in correspondence with CSS, with HTML typically being used to create the content and CSS being used to create the styling and make it all fancy. With the release of HTML 5, however, HTML can now do not as much as CSS can, but it now can do a bit of styling as well. Examples of the styling it can do (to an extent) background or text color changes. Again, this is to a limited extent.

In my Chinese class, I have been learning about food, time, and numbers. Today, I learned about colors. Last year, I took Spanish and it was much, much easier than Chinese. Chinese is okay, but my preference is Spanish for a foreign language, or maybe something else similar to English.
Not many words in Chinese are similar to English. An exception is the word coffee, which is kāfēi.

In my astronomy class, Astronomy: Exploring Time and Space from the University of Arizona, it is more about recent discoveries. They are talking about the big telescope that they are building, which is going to be the largest in the world when it is finished. It is being built at the University of Arizona. In the beginning, it starts off by having you answer 30 questions about your prior science experiences. After you finish that, the second week was all about the Scientific Method and how it applies to astronomy. The big theme was CORRELATION and CAUSATION.

I learned about Margaret Mead, who explored the South Pacific islands, where she noticed natives that were actually putting head lice into the children's hair. The reason behind this was that the natives noticed that when the child has a fever, the head becomes hot and that lice abandoned ship so to speak when the temperatures got hot. They thought that no head lice was caused by fever. Because of this they believed that lice could make a fever go away. They were not trying to harm the children. They were trying to protect them from fever, even though in reality lice didn't make a fever disappear.

Thank you for coming to see today's edition of School Stories (Where School is ALWAYS in Session) and I hope to see you again soon.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

History of Rock

Hello and welcome to my blog.

Today we're going to be talking about my music class, The History of Rock: Part 1, through the University of Rochester. This week, I am learning about what happened while Elvis Presley was serving in the military. As some of you may or may not know, he was called to serve in the military in 1958. He was gone for about two years.

I also learned about the Payola scandals. Artists were paying DJs money or favors to play their music and, therefore, they were getting exposure instead of everyone getting equal exposure like it is supposed to be.

With the Payola scandals,  Elvis's departure for the military, and other deaths & other circumstances, it opened up the teen market for music. There used to not be a market for teenagers, but after Rock & Roll started exploiting it, it became a big thing.

Elvis came back in early 1960. He noticed the gap that was left by the first wave of Rock & Roll and he started appearing in movies. Many fans of Elvis agreed that movies weren't all that good, but they liked them because Elvis was in them.

There were also movies with beach themes. Those were a big hit too.

What about music during this time?

There was the brill-building approach to pop. This was another way that people - after Elvis left - came in and said, "Hey, we should exploit this gap. Maybe we should come up with the next Elvis."

The Aldon Publishing Group attempted to come up with the next Elvis and they were the leaders of the brill-building approach. That's not to say that they were trying to come up with another male hit, but they were trying to come up with another Rock & Roll hit.

Some of the people and groups they attempted to turn into the next Elvis, so to speak, were Little Eva, The Shirelles, The Cookies, The Ronettes, The Crystals, and Neil Sedaka.

There was also something called teen idols. They were handsome people who were not necessarily all that talented. That's not to say that there weren't any talented teen idols. There were. They just weren't all that common. When it came to teen idols: Attractiveness first and talent was just an added bonus.

Who were these teen idols?

The teen idols that are more well known:

  • Frankie Avalon with his songs "Venus" and "Why"
  • Fabian with "Turn Me Lose" and "Tiger"
  • Bobby Vee with "Take Good Care of My Baby"
  • Bobby Vinton with "Roses Are Red (My Love)"
  • Bobby Darin with "Splish Splash", "Dream Lover" and "Mack the Knife"
  • Elvis Presley (once he returned) with "Are You Lonesome Tonight"

My personal favorite song from this time happens to be a song called "Calendar Girl" by Neil Sedaka. I thought it was well sung and I also liked the costumes there were used to represent each month of the year. I also thought that from the approach of musical producers and companies that song would have done really well.

One last thing about the teen idols is that they were marketed as sort of the "ideal boyfriend" - that is how the music company wanted to put them out and that is how they reached a lot of their teenage female listeners.

Thank your for visiting this music edition of School Stories (Where School is ALWAYS in Session) and I hope to see you again soon.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Space, Games and Chinese

Hello and welcome to the latest publication of my blog. Today's topic is an overview of the new courses I am enrolled it. I recently completed Ancient Greek (Wesleyan University) and the FIRST: The New Hampshire Primaries (University of New Hampshire). I also finished SQL, a programming language.

Right now, I have three new courses:

1. The Evolving Universe, through Caltech. It is about space and the universe; it's about outer space and what occurs in the great unknown. In my space class, it gave a couple of metaphors for the vast of our universe. If the earth was the size of a grain of sand, the sun would be 5 feet away. The nearest star that isn't the sun would be 250 miles away.

Our galaxy would be 10 million miles across and the closest large galaxy, the Adromeda galaxy, would be 130 million miles away from the earth. Proportionally, that would be a HUGE distance! One last thing about the space class - if our galaxy was the size of a frisbee, the most distant celestial body that we know of would be 100 miles away, but that it only proportionally.

2. Introduction to Game Design through California Institute for the Arts. This is about designing your own games- it can be on paper or a video game. If you finish the class, you will be able to build your own games completely from scratch. You never know, it might be the next big hit, like Flappy Bird or Angry Birds. There are other hits that don't involve birds, though.

In the first week of this gaming course, which you can enroll in through December 7, is an introduction to the professor and his Sesame Street-like character who assists him. It also talks about the different goals you can have in your game- the need for a story line, as well as the fact that you should involve a little bit of chance and a little bit of skill in your game.

The final assignment for the first week is to create your own game that can fit on a single sheet of paper and is for just one player. What's that? You want to hear a little bit about the game I am working on? If you say so!

  • The came is called Kingly Quest.
  • The storyline goes as follows: The queen has been kidnapped. You need to go on a journey to rescue her. It's like Monopoly except with only one dice. You roll the dice and follow the instructions on the space you land on.
  • The way you win is by fighting the dragon who has taken the queen captive. In order to fight the dragon, you have to roll the die twice. If the total is even, fortunately, you win. Unfortunately, if the total is odd, you lose and have to play the game again.

3. My third course is Chinese for Beginners through Peking University. As the title indicates, it is learning the Chinese language. It seems a little bit difficult at first, but once you get a little further in, it gets a little bit easier. My Chinese class starts out with you learning about the different tones.

There are 4 tones and they indicate a different pitch that you say it in. There is one that is a straight line over the letter and as it kind of indicates, it represents there being no change in how you say it.

There is one that looks like a small V over the letter, which represents a decrease in the pitch and then an increase in the pitch so eventually you would end at the exact same pitch that you started with.

There is one that looks like an accent mark with the top facing to the left, which represents only a decrease in the pitch.

The final tone is opposite of the third one, representing an accent mark with the bottom end facing the left. This is for an increase in the pitch. Those are the different tones that you learn in the first week. I do not want to give too much away, so I will not go into more detail right now.

Thank you for tuning in to this edition of School Stories (Where School Is ALWAYS In Session!). I hope to see you again soon!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wrapping Up Greek

Recently I finished my Ancient Greek course from Wesleyan University. In the final week, it discussed the end of the Peloponnesian War, the death of Socrates, and the rise of Alexander the Great. Socrates was on trial, where he proposed that his punishment would be lifetime maintenance paid for by the state of Athens. The jury disagreed, however. In the end, after turning down an opportunity to escape from the prison that he was being held in, he had to drink a lethal poison. After Socrates’ demise, Greece came under the rule of so-called “charismatic leaders”, who rapidly rose and fell and rose and fell. One of these leaders was Philip II of Macedon. His son, Alexander, was tutored by the great scholar Aristotle, and went on to conquer much of Asia.

I personally thought that the course, although difficult at times, was overall an enjoyable learning experience. One thing that would have made the course better, at least in my opinion, would be if they went more in-depth about than the mythology of Ancient Greece. All in all, however, the course made for an excellent tool for knowing all that one can about the history of Ancient Greece. I would strongly recommend this course to anyone interested in Ancient Greece. Thank you for tuning in to School Stories (Where School Is ALWAYS In Session!) today, and I hope to see you again soon!