Decision Points by George W. Bush

When finding out something new about a person, it is best to hear stories in their own words. In doing so, you can find out their own thought process for decisions they had to make and their reasoning behind what they did. I discovered this when reading Decision Points by President George W. Bush. This book dove deep into the thought process of the 43rd President of the United States and relayed his own account of the many crises that occurred during his two terms.

He organized the book into chapters relating to types of decisions he had to make versus writing the book chronologically. Some examples for chapter titles were Personnel and Campaigning decisions. It was a very good read and I suggest to everyone that they should check it out, regardless of your political tendencies or beliefs because regardless of party or platform every president has to make tough decisions to try to better the lives of American citizens so it is interesting to see President Bush’s own thoughts on the subject.

A few weeks ago I actually had the opportunity to go out to Dallas and participate in Camp 43 at the George W. Bush Presidential Library on the SMU campus.  Twenty-three students and I were given scenarios in which to make decisions under a time limit and understand the good and bad consequences of what we decided. The camp lasted three days and we heard from a variety of different speakers and participated in a variety of decision making scenarios. I had a great time and it was so fascinating to combine what I already know, what I read in Decision Points, and what I learned at camp to be able to make better decisions in my life and in my career later in life.

-Kyle H.

Decision Points by George W. Bush is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free using Overdrive

The Car Plays at Segerstrom

The Car Plays are a set of short scenes acted out by actors and actresses in cars. The audience is one to two people at a time who sit either in the front or the back of the car, depending on where the actors are, who watch the short play unfold before themselves. Some plays were sad, weird plays; some plays were humorous, laugh-out-loud funny.

All of them portrayed great acting abilities by the actors and actresses and demonstrated acting at its core. Many of the scenes were very moving as well as gave the audience the ability to contribute to the scene as characters themselves because of the fact that the audience sits in the same car as the actors and actresses, just feet from the scene being performed. This type of entertainment requires very versatile and accomplished actors and actresses who do not have to simply act to people hundreds of feet away in an enormous auditorium, but a few inches away in a car. Segerstrom put on this event and many people, including myself and my best friend, attended it and were blown away by its brilliance.

-Kyle H.

Avengers: Infinity War Trailer

First of all, SPOILER ALERT if you haven’t watched the Avengers: Infinity War or every movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The trailer for Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War has just dropped late November and fans are already coming up with insane theories and new ideas based off of what transpired in this two minute clip. The trailer has become the most-watched trailer on YouTube within a single day of its release, with over 200 million views in just 24 hours. This film will come out on May 4, 2018 and is the culmination of the last ten years of the MCU. We will  witness everyone from all 17 Marvel movies come together to stop the mad titan Thanos from recovering the six Infinity Stones.

There are a couple of new things we see in the trailer that are new to the Avengers movies. Dr. Strange and the Guardians of the Galaxy are new to the Avengers’ movies, while Dr. Strange did have a small part in Thor: Ragnarok. The trailer also gives us a glimpse of how our beloved heroes have gone through some changes since Captain America: Civil War almost two years ago. Vision has two scenes in the trailer, one where he looks human and another where he looks like himself. We also saw a rugged Cap with a beard and long hair, as well as a blonde Black Widow.

Some cool shots from the trailer included Spider-man’s spidey sense and his new suit, Thanos putting a couple Infinity Stones into his gauntlet, and a final scene of Captain America, The Winter Soldier, Black Widow, Black Panther, The Hulk, Falcon, War Machine, and Okoye running head on into battle against Thanos’ minions in what looks like the Wakandan jungles. This will really be the culmination of the past ten years of Marvel movies and will be, as the executive producer Kevin Feige reports, “the beginning of the end” for the MCU as we know it. Next year is going to be full of Marvel movies with Black Panther on Februrary 16th, New Mutants on April 13th, Avengers: Infinity War on May 4th, Deadpool 2 on June 8th, and Ant Man 2 on July 6th. Get ready Marvel fans, we’re all in for one wild ride in the cinema.

-Kyle H.

International Games Week: Chess

In the spirit of International Games Week, I had the unique pleasure to teach two young boys how to play the wonderful and challenging game of chess. Young though these kids are, they picked up the basic points of the game surprisingly quickly and were soon playing against each other with no need for my hints or conjectures on their next move. I was glad to see that the game was still exciting in these young boys’ minds, for I do not know many children nowadays who are still interested in playing board games. It was also nice to see how the game of chess was able to give us some bonding time as they listened and questioned me on the finer points of the game.

These kids are my church youth-group leader’s children, and he was quite thankful that I taught them to play because he himself did not know. Chess is a game assigned to the smart kids and perhaps even the ones who do not fit in with the rest of the crowd; but as time goes on, it is quite a useful game to know how to play and one that one can continue to play for the rest of one’s life. Though I am no master at chess, I love to be able to sit down with someone and be able to have a silent battle with them trying to strategize, develop tactics, and anticipate their next move while also able to teach others how to play.

-Kyle H

Advantages vs. Disadvantages of Required Reading

As students, we’ve all experienced novels in English class that are required for us to read. Sometimes these books turn out to be good and other times, not so much. Personally, I have disliked most of the books I’ve been required to read for a number of reasons. However, I can see the benefits to required reading as it is done through the school system.

There are certainly some advantages to required reading material in school. One could be that the book causes students to branch out of their comfort zone, as far as books go, and help them pursue a new genre that they, normally, would not have read by themselves. This advantage holds true to me, since I am someone who has no trouble re-reading Harry Potter for the zillionth time. I find it interesting if we read a book in class that I would not have otherwise wanted to read.

Required reading can help to grow vocabulary, reading, and writing proficiency. If a student was to go to a library and pick out any book, they would most likely pick one they like or are comfortable with reading. In school, students do not have the luxury of choosing which books to read, and therefore are subject to harder vocabulary and sentence types in higher level books written by authors with insanely confusing diction. This relates to my English class experiences with A Tale of Two Cities which challenged my reading and writing proficiency greatly. Although these examples may make required reading seem great, students may also find themselves despising any book they are forced to read and make it harder for the student to get involved in the class or homework.

A solution to this problem would be to give students a list of different books they can read, all out of their comfort zone of genre and reading proficiency level, and give them the choice of which book they would like to read. This gives students the idea that they themselves are choosing what they want to read which may result in fewer students being uninterested or unfocused while keeping a challenging level of reading and vocabulary along with it.

-Kyle H.

What are your thoughts on required reading? Let us know in the comments below!

Harry Potter – Foreign Language Edition!

This summer, my family and I took a vacation to Italy. We had so much fun, but one of the key things I remember about the trip was the different language, and how hard it was to understand things. One day while we were walking through Rome, we came across a bookstore. It was so cool to see all of these books that I recognize, but in a whole new language.

Most importantly, was the Harry Potter series. These books had their own little section at the back of an enormous bookstore. It took me a while to find them because everything was in Italian. I began to read little excerpts from each book, and even though I couldn’t read the native language, I knew these books like the back of my hand. This made it easy for me to tell what is going on without reading and understanding word for word what the pages said. Instead, I would get the general idea from what I knew was going on in the book at the time. This was helpful to improve my ability to understand Italian a little better by translating my version of Harry Potter memorized in my brain against the Italian text. I was soon able to recognize words and their meanings in Italian just by remembering who said what, what was happening, and where they were in the books.

After all this time, Harry Potter is still helping me and teaching me so much.

-Kyle H.

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

allquiet_erichremarqueWar has always been a big part of my family’s history. The impact war has on people and society changes the course of history. The war novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, depicts foot soldiers in the German infantry during World War I. Illustrating the intense violence and hardships of real war, this book shuts down theories people have made to convince themselves that war is an awesome event. Most action video games glorify war with blood, gore, and kills, but real war is nothing like that. There is no pleasure in taking the life of another human being nor are there any extra lives to bring one back from death.

This book accurately shows the reality versus romanticism that war is normally associated with. Even in the early 1900’s, people believed war glorified people and brought out the heroes inside them. All Quiet on the Western Front convinces us otherwise. The characters in this novel do what they have to in order to survive, including taking refuge in a graveyard. We were required to read this book for our English class, and it has opened my eyes into the reality of the world and the things people can do to other people. If you can, read this book because you will have your eyes opened too.

-Kyle H.

All Quiet on the Western Front is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library