Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K.Rowling. Scholastic ,1998.
In the book there is a young wizard named Harry Potter. His parents were killed by the evil lord Voldemort when Harry was just a small baby. Now 11 years later he is visited by the wizard Dumbledore who is the head master Hogwarts, a school for wizards. Harry learns to use powerful spells in which he hope to someday use against Voldemort. At the school Harry meets Ron and Hermione who quickly become Harry's new best friends. During the book Harry, Ron and Hermione face a 3 headed dog, Draco Malfoy and at the climax Harry even meets up with Voldemort himself. After a close shave with Voldemont, Harry returns from the dungeon of Hogwarts to be confronted by Dumbledore. After explaining what happened Dumbledore becomes more protective over Harry.
"A wonderful first novel....Harry is destined for greatness. Much like Ronald Dahl, J.K. Rowling has a gift for keeping the emotions, fears and triumphs of her characters on a human scale, even while the supernatural is popping out all over." - The New York Times Book Review
J.K.Rowling's writing style is very unique. When she writes she uses descriptive language that allows the reader to feel as though they are standing in the characters shoes. I believe, because she is from the U.K. her vocabulary adds a fresh new style to the classic American way of description. This is one reason why I like her books, the use of different rich, descriptive words makes the stories jump out at you that much more. I also like the creativeness of her writing. The whole plot of the book is very unique and makes the book that much better.
"Not Slytherin, eh?" said the small voice [of the Sorting Hat]. "Are you sure? You could be great, you know, it's all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, no doubt about that-no? Well, if you're sure-better be GRYFFINDOR!" (Chapter 7)
I am a pretty big fan of Rowling's work. The description of her stories and the overall unique plots of her books make them a pleasure to read. I have already read all of the Harry Potter books but I wouldn't mind reading them again. My next goal is to see all of the movies and compare them with the books. I also would like to read the British publications of the Harry Potter series because they have some differences in them compared to the U.S. publication.
Monday, March 8, 2010
In The Old Man and the Sea Santiago faces many challenges such as the size of his boat. In the story he only has a 12 foot long "skiff" to fish in. After reeling in his colossal marlin he faces a huge obstacle; the fact that the fish is bigger than the boat.“He had seen many that weighed more than a thousand pounds and he had caught two of that size in his life, but never alone,” (63). If Santiago had gone fishing in a larger boat ex. a battleship then the size of the fish would not have mattered. He could have hooked onto Moby Dick and not had to worry but anyway. Santiago uses his resources to overcome this obstacle and ties the marlin to the side of the boat. This gets past the first obstacle but exposes him to the next.
After Santiago ties the marlin to the boat he faces his next obstacle, the sharks. “When the old man saw him coming he knew that this was a shark that had no fear at all and would do exactly what he wished,” (101.) Santiago had to spear the fish with his gaff to kill it, the resulting wound started to bleed and attracted all of the sharks in the surrounding area. Santiago only had a harpoon, a knife and a broken oar to defend his catch with. He kills 2 sharks with his harpoon, another 2 with his knife and finally wards off a few more with the paddle. Again if Santiago had been more prepared ex. RPH(Rocket Propelled Harpoon) he could have easily defended his catch without even breaking a sweat. Because Santiago did not have an RPH he used his available resources and his wit the overcome obstacle number two.
Santiago faces his final obstacle after he wards off the sharks. He is now faced with the daunting task of returning from 150 miles out at sea with a 1,500 lbs. marlin dragging from his tiny boat. If Santiago had a motor on his boat then he would have gotten back to shore in a fraction of the time saving time and effort. Because Santiago has to row all the way back he actually passes out in his boat miles from the main land. If it wasn't for other fishermen he would have never been found. This is the one obstacle that Santiago can't overcome in the story.
Santiago overcame 2 of the 3 biggest obstacles in the story. His boat was much too small, there were sharks that tried to eat his marlin and he had to row 150 miles back to shore. By using his resources he was successfully able to overcome most of these obstacles. If Santiago wasn't so resourceful or he wasn't as determined and just gave up he probably wouldn't be alive in the end of the book.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
The heat of the Arab sun burned at John’s neck. Cool sweat ran down his face obscuring his camouflage face paint. The sun heated the cool trigger on his M24 and the glare of the sun disfigured the reticle of his scope. They had spend the past 34 hours sneaking into position. They had to be as furtive as possible to stay unnoticed. Troy, his spotter, was giving him the wind measurements about 400 yards down range. With the “Kentucky Windage” John needed to move the turrets on his scope to left by 8 clicks. John’s military training kicked into action. He flipped the safety on his gun to “Kill”. He lined up the crosshairs with the small leader’s head when he heard Troy begin his chant which he had heard so many times before. “Fire, fire, fire” Troy chanted. On the third “fire” command John squeezed the trigger. The 7.62mm NATO round flew through the Arab’s head leaving nothing but the pink mist. From the lofty plateau they sat on they could hear in the distance a siren begin to scream and the once quiet and lifeless enemy camp sprung to life while nearly 5 dozen soldiers jump out of their tents from the turbulence of siren and gun shot. The anarchy below made John jump.
“We need to get out of here now!” John harshly whispered to Troy. Troy replied with a nod. Troy got on the radio and said.
While trying to keep his composure Troy said.
" This is Echo team we have been compromised, I repeat we have been compromised. We are proceeding to LZ 4!!!!”
They packed the M24 SWS into a drag bag and John exchanged his rifle for his M16A3. Once they began to run they could hear the sounds of motors racing towards them. The sound of screaming people and gun fire made John’s heart pound. He put on his Kevlar and flipped down the helmet mounted GPS system. They were about 1 klick away from the LZ. Out of the corner of his eye John saw a flash of red and heard a thud. He stopped to find Troy with a bullet hole straight through his chest. John immediately proned out and looked for the man who shot his friend. He saw a lone gunman holding a battered Ak-47 wearing a blue dress shirt. John crawled over to his dear friend. He checked for a pulse but found nothing. He turned and looked up to see the mob of anger soldiers running at his position. He pulled the radio off Troy’s back and said
” This is Echo team!! Troy is hit.”
After a few moments command radioed back.
” What’s his status, over?”
“He’s, he’s….” John tryed to hedge witht the answer.The thought of pronouncing his friend dead tore at his soul.
“He’s KIA sir. I need an immediate air evac.”
"Affirmative, sending in the UH64 Apache transport now. The Apache will converge on LZ 4. Estimated Time to Arrival: 5 minutes." replied command in a calm voice.
John then pulled Troy's lifeless body behind a rock and they picked up his M16. As many spotters had, Troy's M16 had a modified heat shield to accommodate the M203 40mm Grenade launcher. John loaded a grenade into the M203 and took aim at a fast moving truck heading straight at them. He pulled the trigger and the grenade left the barrel with a THUD. Although the flight time of the grenade was merely a second or two John watched it spiral toward the oncoming truck and finally explode on impact. John loaded another grenade into the launcher and took aim at a small group of militia that had assembled in their previous sniping position. This grenade killed 5 of the 6 men with the last bleeding out of his newly severed arm. The radio clicked on and John heard command say
" ETA 90 seconds, mark you position with a flare."
John reached into his vest and found the flare. He pulled off the cap and ignited it then placed it on the ground. In the distance he could hear the Apache helicopter. He could hear the roar of it's 2 onboard M134 miniguns cutting down enemy personnel while it performed elegant strafing maneuvers. Another group of about 8 or so men appeared. This group stood out more to John than any other. The man leading the group towards John was holding a battered Ak-47 and he was wearing a blue dress shirt.The nefarious man was the one who had shot his friend. Anger consumed John as he raised the barrel of his service weapon. Carefully he lined up the aperture with the front sight post and the front sight post with the man's chest. John flipped the safety from "safe" to Semi-automatic. John inhaled and squeezed the trigger on the exhale. The bullet left the barrel at 2,800 meters per second and hit the man in the blue shirt in a fraction of a second. Because the M16 shot such a small round the bullet punched straight through the man but it did not drop him. The man continued to run at John's position. As John lined up the sights again on the man the rifle jammed. He tugged at the charging handle with all of his might but it wouldn't budge. John quickly dropped the gun and reached for the drag bag with his M24. As he pulled it out of the bag the radio came on again.
"ETA 10 seconds"
The crosshairs of the scope were pointed directly in between the eyes of the man now only 50 meters from John. In a quick pull of the trigger the man fell to the ground about 10 pounds lighter. The M134 of the Apache tore apart the rest of the group. Then the helo hovered and touched down for John to get on. He loaded the body of his friend onto the Helicopter , then the rifles and finally himself. As the Apache took off again it spun up a cloud of dust that blinded the rest of the men on the ground. He now deplored the desert that took his friend frow him and he thought to himself.
"This mission was a success but at what cost???"
Friday, January 1, 2010
Jarhead by Anthony Swofford. Scribner, 2003 Genre: Autobiography
Swofford is a 22 year old who can't find a college that will accept him so he enlists in the USMC like his father and grandfather before him. Due to his "intelligence" he is offered to take the most prestigious course in the USMC to become a Scout Sniper. The class starts with 60 and after 4 months of grueling training he is in the top 8. Paired with Troy, another of the top 8 they are quickly deployed to help fight among the mounting numbers in the Persian gulf as part of Op. Desert Shield. Swofford is stationed in the Gulf for 180 days before the U.S. goes to war with Iraq. During the 5, or for the 180 days he spends in Iraq Swofford never once fires his rifle. After finding out that the war was over and they were going home Swofford tells troy he never fired his rifle. Troy responds with "You can now". The whole company raises their guns into the air and unloads them. The book ends with the quote "A story. A man fires a rifle for many years. and he goes to war. And afterwards he comes home, and he sees that whatever else he may do with his life - build a house, love a woman, change his son's diaper - he will always remain a jarhead. And all the jarheads killing and dying, they will always be me. We are still in the desert."
"By turns profane and lyrical, swaggering and ruminative, ''Jarhead'' -- referring to the marines' ''high-and-tight'' haircuts, which make their heads look like jars -- is not only the most powerful memoir to emerge thus far from the last gulf war, but also a searing contribution to the literature of combat, a book that combines the black humor of ''Catch-22'' with the savagery of ''Full Metal Jacket'' and the visceral detail of ''The Things They Carried.''"(New York Times)
Swofford uses a humorous attitude to convey a serious message. In his book he writes very little about the horrors of '"his war" while putting much emphasis on the "stupid" mistakes and irony of his time in the Persian Gulf. An example of his comical description would be just about all of the dialogue, it's focus on the reality of war is displayed through crude humor. This is what gives the book it's easiness to read in my opinion. The dialogue breaks up the description of the brutality of the desert and allows the reader a slight chuckle here and there throughout the entire book. On several occasions while reading I found myself laughing over the passage I had just read which in my opinion makes a good book even better. "A story: A man fires a rifle for many years, and he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armory, and he believes he's finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands, love a woman, build a house, change his son's diaper; his hands remember the rifle." (1)
I feel as though Jarhead has given me a more accurate look into warfare of the late 20th century. His firsthand account of the average Marine changes my views on how warfare is conducted. Instead of the Rambo like warfare I've read in books before this I now see that not all warfare is as action packed as I had previously thought. It saddens me to find that Swofford has only written this book so I cannot continue to read his books although this book has driven me to find out more about "Modern" Warfare.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden. Atlantic Monthly Press,1999.
123 U.S. Army Rangers, Delta Force and SEAL members commanded by Capt. Mike Steele, were dropped by helicopter deep into the capital city of Mogadishu to capture two top lieutenants of a Somali warlord. This lead to a large and drawn-out firefight between the Us forces and hundreds of Somali gunmen, leading to the destruction of two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters. The book focuses on the heroic efforts of various members of the US Forces to get to the downed black hawks. It focuses on Sgt. Eversmann, leading the Ranger unit Chalk Four to the first black hawk crash site and Warrant Officer Durant who was captured after being the only survivor of the second black hawk crash, as well as many of the others who were involved “Terrifyingly Real... Mark Bowden shoves you into the middle of the battle and has you fighting for your life.” said U.S. Army Major David Stockwell.
Mark Bowden does an amazing job of describing the action packed events of October the 3rd 1993. He uses 1st person testimonials from both US and Somali forces to piece together the battle. His writing style reminds me of those in books like We were soldiers, Full metal jacket and Saving Private Ryan although the reality of this book adds to the story that much more. Bowden also uses as many descriptive words that each page could possibly hold. After seeing the movie I didn't think the book could be nearly as good but in my opinion the book is much better because of the historical accuracy and descriptive language Bowden uses.
“Yurek shot one man in a doorway just 10 feet away. The man had stepped out and taken aim. He was a bushy-haired, dusty man with baggy brown pants. He didn't shoot instantly, and that's what killed him. Yurek's eyes met his for an instant as he pulled the trigger. The Somali pitched forward without getting off a shot.
It struck Yurek how similar killing a man was to shooting targets in training. In practice, targets would pop out unexpectedly. The rules were to shoot at blue triangles, but to hold fire if a green square appeared. Now, in actual battle, he had seen a target, identified it, and taken it out. He was grateful for all the tedious hours of training. “
This was the first book by Mark Bowden that I have read but it definitely will not be the last. His descriptive language and historical accuracy gives his books a quality that not many others can replicate. That is why I will seek out another Bowden book for my second quarter ORB.
These days it seems that people are forgetting what they really value. People are spending millions on houses they use for a few weeks a year. People are spending less and less time together almost to the point where they don’t even eat a dinner together each night. It seems people have mixed up their values. Instead of spending millions on houses they could spend $50.00 to go out and eat as a family. Nowadays people just need to stop and realize what is really important.
My airsoft gun is probably one of the coolest things I have ever gotten. At 380 fps with a .20 gram bb it can rip through a soda can at 20 yards. I’ve also used its 20 RPS firing rate as a bb hose to lay down suppressing fire for my teammates and myself. The gun isn’t the best money can buy be for me it’s great. It cost me upwards of $300.00 to maintain and upgrade over the last 6 months. It’s and Echo 1 M16A3 with a tightbore barrel and G&P metal hop up unit to keep it shooting straight out to 200+ feet.
In May of 2009 a close friend bought a new airsoft gun after not playing for a few years. This got me re interested in a sport that I thought was “dead” to my friends and I. After hours of research I finally found the gun that I wanted that was in a reasonable price range. The size was good, it had a great rate of fire and the FPS was upwards of 415 FPS, just right for a novice like me. I begged my parents to give me a way to earn the $200.00 it would cost to purchase the gun and after nearly a week I finally found one. I had to strip the paint off of my entire house and then repaint it. Well after 3 weeks of hard work it was done and the order was sent out to Airsplat.com for my newest prized possession. After the longest week of my life I heard the door bell ring and I ran to it to find the UPS guy standing in his brown shirt holding a massive package. I ran into my bedroom with the 4 foot long box and ripped it to shreds. Inside I found 2 Hi-cappa magazines, one 9.6 volt battery, 15,000 .20 gram bb’s and last but certainly not least my M16.
After nearly 4 hours of waiting in my room I finally hear the sound I’ve been waiting for, the chirp of my SMART Charger telling me my battery is ready to go. I pop that bad boy into my gun along with my fully loaded 350 round hicap and I’m out the door. First up I set up paper targets at 50’, 100’ and 150’. I was excited to find that at 150 feet my bb’s ripped through the paper like, well a bullet through glass. After spending nearly 2,000 bb’s I went inside to find out how fast it shot and how many rounds per second I could spray down range at an unsuspecting target. Using an audio program I determined that my beast of a gun shot at nearly 20 rounds per second. I did some calculations in my head to find I could empty my whole 350 round mag in 17.5 seconds! I knew that this was going to be the most fun summer I’ve ever had.
I value my airsoft gun because of all the hard work I put in to get it. It wasn’t handed to me and I certainly wouldn’t waste 3 weeks of my time for something I expected to break in a few weeks. Because of all of the hard work I had to do to get my gun I feel as though its actual price could be $500.00 or more.
Every Thanksgiving at 7:30 am my grandparents’ house becomes a beehive of activity wit nearly 200 people buzzing in and out, getting food or just watching the game on TV. My family has a tradition where everyone in our immediate family and the immediate family and so on and so forth gathers in my grandparents’ neighborhood in
Anyone can come to this crazy event but for a cost. The cost is not money or anything of real value but it just one dish of food. People bring venison, pork roasts, clams lobster, elf, bear, even squirrel one year. It doesn't matter to my family what you bring as long as it's edible and there is enough for everyone to sample. After the massive feast we all go across the street to “Hank's Field” to play some football. In years past we've done kids versus adults, one side of the family versus the other or just randomly picked teams but no matter it's still always fun and everyone get a laugh out of someone falling in mud.
As you can tell I value my airsoft gun and my thanksgiving memories in different and unique ways. I lost my Airsoft because it was expensive and it took many hours of hard, hot labor. On the other hand I love my Thanksgiving memories because they are my own and I get to spend time with many family members other people way not even know. To me I value thanksgiving a little more than my gun solely because of how different and exciting it is.