Author Archives: taytordactyl

About taytordactyl

Well, I'm Taylor and I am a 19 year old sophomore at Northern Illinois University. I love to read, write, listen to music, and hang out with my friends. There's no point in going in to too much detail about myself right here, because I'm sure you will find almost everything you need to know in my blogs! I hope you enjoy :)

Reflection: Stepping Stone to Something Greater

           It’s about that time again; the end of the semester and everyone is trying to cram and get everything finished before the wonderful five-week long winter break. This English 104 class has taught me a lot about my strengths and weaknesses as writer, and I feel I have improved as a writer as a whole. In the beginning I definitely wasn’t taking this class that serious, but I really learned a lot from this and I can apply what I have learned to my other classes, such as history. Now I know how to properly site my sources in an annotated bibliography as well as in my own writing. A lot of people say this class is just another Gen-Ed class to get out of the way, but to me this class played a crucial role in my writing in most of my classes.

            I’ve posted stories and excerpts online before, but never for a grade and never for an audience of my peers that I share the same class with. Knowing who my audience was and knowing that they were also doing the same kind of assignments helped me better prepare for my pre-writes. Before posting, I always typed out a small outline of what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. That way, I was more organized with my thoughts and how I wanted them to be portrayed. Typing the first draft out in Word was always a step in my writing process because if I saw any mistakes, I could fix them, or if I didn’t like the word order or how something sounded in my piece I could easily change it before posting it on to WordPress. I know that the people reading my works were in the same situation as me where we all needed to post something that not only showed how we were moving along in the class, but also show a part of ourselves. I always tried to write something worth reading, because there is nothing worse than a dry and uncreative piece of work that everyone has to read. I wanted my readers to find some kind of enjoyment and humor out of my writings so they are worth reading. Enter The Realm of Listverse is a prime example of my writing strategy and how I wanted my readers to be interested in what I was writing.

            Ever since I was in 6th grade, writing has been a passion of mine. I love writing short stories and little poems here and there but I have definitely grown a lot as a writer through English 104. As of right now, I see myself as still a “work in progress” with writing. I know I have a strong voice in my writing and I know how to get my point across to people, but delivery and structure are two things that I am still working on. With my final Pro-Am Investigation Project paper, I really feel that my structure, voice and delivery were all very well explained and introduced. I believe that anyone that reads my paper will have a better understanding of American Military Warfare and will know enough to be able to explain to others the main points and arguments I posed. I may not be as advanced with my rhetoric as Le Guin or Orwell, but if I keep practicing with writing and challenging myself, I see myself writing papers and journals for college students in the future.

            From middle school and all throughout high school, my teachers have always commented on my strength in writing. My grammar and punctuation have never been an issue, and I have always been able to get my voice and opinion out to my readers. I always try to write for my audience, because it doesn’t matter how good I think my paper or work may be, what really matters is the opinion of my readers or teacher. In my opinion, no one wants to sit and have to read a boring essay that was the product of carelessness and laziness. Even if it is last minute, I always try to engage my readers into something that will catch their attention and keep them thinking even after the piece is over. In my narrative for the WordPress blog, I wrote about a fictional man named Ryan Kirby who is in the same age group as my readers, and had some experiences that a lot of people could understand or relate to. Although not too many 23 year olds are out fighting wars overseas, the fact that he is an American that has a dream and pride in his history and background is something that most people can feel connected to. I feel that my biggest weakness in writing is the fact that I feel like I add a lot of “fluff” to my work and it causes me to float around the main point I’m trying to get to instead of hitting it dead on. I definitely feel this was the case in my Article 1 submission where I talked about the “self”. I made a lot of good points that I didn’t really go into depth with, and I added some things that may have been better omitted. From that piece until now, I have really tried to get down to the facts and explain them as much as I can as to avoid any confusion or misleading ideas. I don’t feel the need to add unnecessary comments or fluff to emphasize a point I’m trying to make, because it’s better to just plainly state what I have to say opposed to adding confusing metaphors or examples that take away from the major premise of my work. I really feel that my paper The Evolution of American Warfare captures how I have grown into just explaining my facts and getting my complete point across to all of my readers. There is no fluff or trivial information in this piece, and I feel it is the best because all of my information is there and I get my point across very clearly.

            This class has really helped me grow into a better writer, and understand that there is always room for improvement. There are skills I can take from this class that I can apply to other classes that I am taking, especially history. For now, I will continue to grow as a writer and hopefully one day have my works and opinions studied in college campuses across the country.


Atrifact 2: What it means to be an American; Ryan Kirby.

           Hello, my name is Ryan Kirby. I am an African-American man that serves in the Marines. I am only 23 years old, but I’ve seen and experienced more than most people of my age. I’ve already done two tours in Iraq, and I’ve seen many countries across the globe. My father before me and his father before him all served in the United States Military. When I tell people that, they give me a strange look because it isn’t too often you see an African-American man with such a rich military history. I will admit, it’s rare to find someone like me, or a family like mine, but we do in fact exist! Military is my life, and it runs in my blood. Someone in my family has fought in every one of America’s wars and lived to tell about it. I feel very lucky to even be here to write this all out, but more than anything I feel honored to be who I am.

            To me, serving my country is something that I don’t even think about; I just do it. I fight for my family and the other countless Americans that make up my great country. I’m not a heavily decorated war-hero, or even a high ranking officer. I’m just a regular soldier, Private First Class Kirby that loves his country and would lay down my life to defend its liberty. My father made it all the way up to Captain, I sure hope I can get there one day. He achieved the highest rank of all of our forefathers, but that was no easy task.

            My father, as well as my other patriarchs had to fight constantly not only the enemy, but their very own fellow soldiers. They had to fight to prove that they had a right and duty to defend the ones they love as well as anyone else. My great-great-great grandfather fought in the Civil War against the Confederacy to finally be rid of slavery in America. Though it was obvious what the war was about, race was still a huge issue that caused countless problems for my grandfather as well as the other African-American men fighting. But, despite the prejudices and negativity surrounding them, they fought for their freedom, and ended up winning it in the end. This was a constant struggle for the men of my family, but through the turmoil and hardships, they proved themselves to be just as worthy to fight as their white counterparts.

            I am humbled when I think back on the war stories I have heard through the years. I feel like my family story really captures the essence of what it really means to be an American. We fought for more than our liberty and homeland; we fought to prove to an oppressive government and unsupportive civilians that regardless of our skin color, we were American soldiers. It didn’t matter if they liked us or not, just as long as they understood and respected what we were doing for them. It took a long time, but I feel we are finally getting our due respect. When I look at the pictures of my family at my house, a sense of pride washes over me and I am glad to call myself an American. I hope my sons one day will look at this same mantelpiece, with my picture added up there, and feel the same pride I feel today. I love my family, I love my country, and I LOVE being American.


Artifact 1: Evolution of American Military Warfare

“UNCLE SAM WANTS YOU!” We have all seen these recruitment posters at some point in our lives. Be it on television or in person, there has always a need for men and women to join the armed forces of our nation. Throughout the 200+ years this country has been an independent nation, we have always needed people to step up and defend our rights and liberty. As far as anyone can tell, there haven’t been any shortages of people stepping up to join the military and fighting to our country. But why? Why have so many people willingly given up their lives for the sake of their country? What has changed from our fight for freedom in the Revolution to the fight on Terrorism in the current war in Iraq and how have we advanced from then? Through this project I will answer these questions and shed light on how and why America has become one of the greatest forces in military in the world.

            Let’s take a look at the very first war that America ever found itself in; the American Revolution. The people of America were getting fed up with how they were being ruled and used by the British Parliament. They were often treated unfairly and made to pay taxes to a far-off land that most Americans had never and would never step foot on. It was time for a change, and although the simple militias of the states were clearly no match to Britain’s well-trained and experienced army, they stepped up to the challenge. In the beginning, it seemed like a futile fight for the Americans as they soon realized the British clearly had the upper-hand in battle. Many men deserted the fight, and put in substitutes to fight for them. These were usually very poor whites, servants and slaves. Nevertheless, these lower class citizens fought because they believed that through fighting in this war, they would gain their independence; not just from Britain but from the oppressive elites of their own home front.

            The tactics used to fight the Revolution were primitive and very inaccurate. The most commonly used weapon used among these soldiers was the musket and bayonet since most battles were fought out in the open. Other weapons that were used were rifles, swords and other smaller cutting weapons, but the most commonly used was the musket and bayonet. These big guns were heavy, messy and took a significant amount of time to reload. On top of all of this, the smoothbore ball used as ammunition was virtually harmless more than 75 yards away. The only real effective way to kill someone was up close with the bayonet, which took out countless cavalrymen. In battle, soldiers used linear tactics which means that they stood shoulder to shoulder and marched towards the enemy with the ability to attack and defend. This way of combat was made to break up the enemy’s lines so they could go in and attack with their bayonets. But, the most effective of all weapons were the cannons. The British used them mercilessly on the Americans. But, not until the French aided America in many of the necessities they were lacking in the war, which included cannons and more muskets with bayonets.

            The fatal flaw of this American army was that they already had their own ranks among their states, and that made it difficult for the commanders to keep control over them. This disorganization and insubordination caused many setbacks for the American army. A man named Freidrich Wilhelm von Stueben saw this problem and set out to fix it. Stueben set a single standard that this army would be trained to obey. It wasn’t long before the Americans began to come together and put up a real fight against the British. Stueben united the scattered ranks of militias into an Army of American soldiers.

            This way of fighting and the new unified army was carried over into the Civil War, where Americans fought each other on their own ground which lead to the bloodiest war ever fought on American soil. Linear formation was still being practiced, but there were a couple new innovations made for fighting. Minie bullets made rifles easier to load and the percussion lock allowed a faster rate of fire. In time, the rifle replaced the musket and became the standard weapon for the men of the infantry. Although weapons were slowly but surely beginning to evolve, the way in which these men fought hadn’t change at all. Men knew that as rifles and other firearms kept evolving, their primitive way of aggressively attacking their enemy was dying out. They just didn’t know how such an army would work in that way. Individual and small unit fighting was impractical to the commanders because that would make it much easier for the ranks to get out of control, and field fortifications were not well liked because people believed that took away the aggression a man would have to fight. But as increasing amounts of lives were being lost, commanders dropped the idea of aggressive and brutal fighting for field fortifications.

            When tried at test ranges, the rifles used by the American army were surprisingly accurate, and it was made clear that those weapons could be very deadly. But, the battle field is a lot different and a lot more stressful than a target range. While fighting, a lot of ammunition was used but only so many shots fired resulted in casualties. It is said that during the Civil War, over a billion cartridges were made, but many were wasted. When a soldier was under that much stress and in the middle of so much chaos, it’s easy to understand that he was more concerned with getting his rifle reloaded and ready to fire again than actually aiming for a target, and all the gun smoke from the black powder made it very difficult to see anything. Regardless of any of the weapons used in the Civil War, it would have still been a slaughter house for all the men fighting. The Union and the Confederacy were fighting for something that could never be settled over a simple compromise. The North fought to preserve the Union, and to get rid of slavery in America, and the South fought to preserve their way of life which was almost solely dependent on slavery. This war showed how men were more than willing to risk their lives to protect their livelihoods. “It’s better to die for something, than to live for nothing.” –George S. Patton.

            Just over half a century later, America finds itself engaged in another war but this time we were fighting on a foreign land across the Atlantic Ocean. Tensions began to rise in Europe over things that seemed completely mundane to Americans. When Europe broke out into war in 1914, America immediately claimed neutrality, and did best to try and keep the peace. In 1915 the British liner Lusitania which was carrying about 130 American passengers was sunk by a German U-Boat. Although outraged, President Woodrow Wilson did not want to get involved with their foreign affairs, and settled the matter with one condition; that the U.S. would not put up with unrestricted warfare, and for a little while, Germany abided by this. Just two years later, Germany began their unrestricted submarine warfare once more, and sunk seven American merchant ships. The Germans also sent the Zimmerman Telegram to Mexico, telling them that if they joined the Germans as allies, they would restore the land the Mexicans had lost in the Mexican-American war. America was done with getting made a fool of, and on April 6, 1917 Woodrow Wilson declared war on Germany, and the American people were anything but opposed to this act. There was no way any other country would impede on our liberties and right to life.

            America had heard about the horrors of trench warfare, and wanted desperately nothing to do with it. By the time they made it to Europe, new and better ways of fighting were being introduced, which included new weapon technology. World War I forever changed how wars were fought. Instead of a marching infantry carrying bulky muskets into an open battle, men were now using cannons aimed directly at the enemy as well as mortars and even machine guns. Fighting wasn’t as up-close and personal as it had been before; new weapons made men just as deadly 100+ yards away. For the first time, armed aircrafts were being used in raids to terrorize people and level enemy cities. Countless new forms of technology were being introduced, which in a way reflected the industrial growth of America as well as the rest of the world. Advancements in technology almost directly meant advancements in weaponry and how wars were fought. Tanks, armored cars, chemical warfare, submarines, wireless communication and even observation balloons were all products of the First Great War.

            Only 20 years after the end of World War I, Europe found itself in another widespread war, but this time it was global. Once again, America claimed neutrality in the whole matter. The war in Europe began on September 1, 1939 and it continued to cultivate into the Second World War. Just 13 months after the beginning of the war, on December 7, 1941, Japan bombed the naval station of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii in an effort to keep the U.S. Pacific Fleet out of the Pacific Ocean so they couldn’t interfere with the Empire of Japan’s plans against the United States, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. The very next day, December 8, 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on Japan. The American people supported this decision with immense enthusiasm. No one was going to make a deliberate threat on our country, and on our liberties without a fight. Shortly after, on December 11, 1941, Germany declared war on the United States, and was officially part of the Allies in the fight against the Axis powers in the Second World War.

            They way in which America fought in World War II is what gave it its infamy and recognition as one of the world’s greatest military superpowers. America had had enough of Germany and now Japan thinking they could threaten our freedom on our own land. It was time to show them what the United States was all about. Britain was not ready for a land-based battle, but once America joined the fight, they were somewhat relieved for a short time to get back on their feet and rejoin the fight. From the south, America invaded North Africa and continued north to defeat the halted Axis powers, while at the same time giving the Soviet Union some relief on the Eastern front. Plus with the draft of almost a million more soldiers, there was definitely going to be a good fight. In the Pacific, aircraft battles ensued constantly, but the Americans fought back harder and harder. Armed with submarines, aircraft carriers, cruisers and destroyers, America destroyed the Japanese navy in just under a year. As the Japanese military were being cleansed out of the Southwestern Asian islands, America began taking complete control over the Pacific Ocean; Japan still would not surrender. Back in Europe, as the Axis powers began to stall in their advancements, America, as well as the rest of the Allies, began to overpower and move deeper and deeper into Europe. With Allies on all sides of Germany, and constant bombings on the cities and towns day and night, Germany finally surrendered in Italy on April 29, 1945.

            With the Axis powers defeated, Japan had no more allies to rely on. Yet, they continued to fight tirelessly without any sign of stopping. America wanted Japan to surrender unconditionally to end the war, but they continued to ignore the Potsdam terms that had already been established with Germany. In a last stitch effort to get an unconditional surrender from Japan, America would use a new powerful and very destructive weapon; the atom bomb. On August 6th and 9th of 1945, President Harry Hoover gave the executive order to have the two bombs (“Fat Man” and “Little Boy”) dropped over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Six days after the bomb was dropped over Nagasaki, Japan surrendered completely to the Allied Powers and finally ended World War II. This was the first and only time nuclear bombs had ever been used as weapons of mass destruction. America had become the true superpower of the military forces of the world, but to abuse that power and to continue using nuclear bombs could result in a world-wide genocide. It would be a long time before another foreign enemy of America would dare to attack it again.

            If World War II was American military and patriotism at its highest, then the Vietnam War would have to be America’s lowest point in military history. What started out as simply aiding South Vietnam in their own war on communism against North Vietnam, turned into the longest war the United States ever fought. For 15 years, American soldiers were sent to Vietnam and fought against communism. America was so against any concept of communism that they sent money and military advisors to help them through their fight. By the early 1960’s the number of advisors jumped from just under 800 to over 17,000. In 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson reported that North Vietnam had attacked a U.S. Navy Ships on the coast of Vietnam. By the end of 1965, more than 80,000 American soldiers were in Vietnam. When they all arrived, the Americans conducted an air war against North Vietnam, and within just one year, it flew over 150,000 missions on the North Vietnamese territory, and by 1967 America dropped more bombs on North Vietnam than it had dropped over their enemies from World War II. At the peak of the war in 1969, almost 600,000 American soldiers were stationed in North Vietnam.

            Many of these soldiers were only teenagers, some of them being no more than 19 years old. Through the draft of these young boys and men to Vietnam they felt a sense of pride, going to fight against anything that would threaten their liberty back at home. (Even though home was all the way on the other side of the world.) Like their father’s before them, they felt honor and pride in themselves for fighting for their country. I’m sure they were planning on doing their tours and returning home to happy families and a country that supported them and revered them for fighting for their freedom. Unfortunately, many of the civilians back at home didn’t think those troops were doing anything noble or honorable. When the troops were finally called back home, they weren’t greeted with warm welcomes or even acknowledgement of their deeds. They went back home to a country that shunned them for something that the government had sent them overseas to do. There was no support, and there was no compassion. They left the battle field in Vietnam to come home to find another battle waiting for home; a battle to survive in a country that they had fought for that didn’t want to help them or even care.

            On September 11, 2001, the American people would learn how to support and respect our men and women of the armed forces again. On a beautiful Tuesday morning, our freedom was threatened in such a way that all Americans came together as one nation, despite any differences, to mourn over the many lives lost on this day. At 8:46AM a plane crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, and then another plane crashed into the South Tower at 9:06AM. Two more plane crashes were reported at the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. Without hesitation, the government and military forces went to work to do justice for all of those who had died in that horrible tragedy, as well as secure our freedom from terrorists like the ones that attacked us on that fateful day. Men and women stepped up, without a second’s hesitation to defend the country we all call home. As of recently, our armed forces have captured and eradicated two of the main conspirators behind the September 11th attacks. Soon, our troops will be coming back home, and we will embrace them with open arms and show them our immense gratitude for the sacrifices they have made for us to defend our freedom.

            This war in Iraq is being fought like no other war has been fought before. We have come a long way from chasing each other with bayonets to flying unmanned aircrafts over dangerous areas to deliver missions. We’ve gone from huge infantry ranks down to 5-10 men squads that can get the same amount of work done in half the time, and twice the efficiency. As with any war zone, there are always prominent dangers and the soldiers are never really out of harm’s way while stuck in the middle of a war-torn country. It is safe to say, that the way war is carried out now seems more humane, and “soldier-safe” than in any of the previous wars. Casualties are always present in war, but compared to many of the previous wars we have fought in, that number now is relatively low. Men and women now not only join the armed forces for the fight of freedom, but for the honor and pride that comes with knowing that you are ready at any moment to defend your nation’s livelihood at any cost. Many American families have very deep-rooted military histories. With pride and humility they acknowledge and celebrate the great sacrifices that were made for them, and look forward to becoming part of that family tradition.

            Our country has come a long way since the Revolutionary War and even since the Vietnam War. From our humble beginnings as a broken up and disorganized militia, we have evolved into a military super power and gained a rich military history that is characterized by tradition, honor and dedication to the pursuit of happiness and freedom for all citizens of the United States of America. The men and women in the armed forces fight to protect the one thing we all hold very dear to our hearts; liberty. Whenever our liberty is threatened, there is never a hesitation from them to defend and secure it for all of us. As our technologies evolved, so did our ways of combating the enemy and as technology continues to grow and expand, so will our military technology and intelligence. One thing will remain for certain though; as long as there is a free nation for our men and women in uniform to defend, we can count on them to fight until the death to ensure that our liberties and happiness are secured.


Random short story by the Taytor :)

“Just relax; you’re going to feel a small pinch. Relax your body.” Nathan said. I closed my eyes, and waited for the small pain of the needle to enter my arm. As quickly as the little pinch came and went, I was overcome with a great feeling of euphoria.
“Is that it?” I asked as I peeped open my eyes. He nodded as he put the tourniquet on his arm. I looked down and saw the mix of blood and heroin coming out. I had never had this feeling before. There was nothing else in the world right now; it was just the two of us. Did I really just do this?
“How do you feel?” he asked me. “I feel like I’m in a different dimension right now.” That’s all I could say. Words failed me at that point. I just laid on the couch next to him and stared off into space, and let my mind wander the furthest reaches of the cosmos. I wasn’t in DeKalb anymore; I was off in a new and exciting place. He grabbed my hand and squeezed. “How about some music?” I asked. “You read my mind.” He replied as he got up to go over to his stereo. I hadn’t noticed it before now, but Nathan was exceptionally attractive, and I couldn’t help to think that I was starting to get feelings for him. Quickly, I knocked that idea out of my head. This is a world famous musician, and he just got you into heroin, how romantic…

Suddenly, music filled the air. Not the kind of music one would think a drummer of a metal band would listen to, but I had no complaints. This was my kind of music, and I’m glad he was playing it. I felt the weight of his body back on the couch, and he grabbed my hand again. My heart began to race at the thought of him touching me. I closed my eyes, and let the music take me over.
Traveling somewhere, could be anywhere. There’s a coldness in the air, and I don’t care.
“Phoenix. What a unique and wonderful name.” Nathan said; I smiled. He was all that existed in my world, and I loved it. I could listen to him speak for all of eternity. Right here and now was all that mattered; he was all that mattered.
Slowly, I opened my eyes, and was met with his bright blue eyes staring right back at me. I felt as though I had melted. Embrace me; surround me as the rush comes. Embrace me; surround me as the rush comes. What I would give to feel his arms around me, what I would give to breathe in his sweet scent. “Oh Nathan, what have you done to me? Don’t look at me like that. It puts silly thoughts into my head.”  I said as I looked away blushing and smiling. My arms and legs felt like dead weight, and it felt like my body was sinking into the couch. My feelings could not be put into words at this moment. I never want this to end.
“The question is, what have you done to me? You give me a feeling that I have never experienced before, and I’m not sure how to deal with it.” He said. “You’ve been horny before.” I said jokingly. Turning my gaze back towards him, I could see his face was sincere. “Nothing like that Phoenix, I can’t shake it. Ever since I laid eyes on you, you’ve blown my mind away.” He said. This can’t really be happening right now. I did not just hear this guy pretty much say that he feels the same about me as I do him.

“What silly thoughts do I put in your head?” he asked. I blushed madly and grinned like I had never done so before. “That my dear, is an ancient Chinese secret; if I tell you I’d have to kill you.” I replied. He laughed at my remark, which made me giggle. “I’ll take my chances.” He said.
Lazily, I sat up on the couch and ended up inches away from his face. I hadn’t realized how close he was to me. I could feel his breath on my lips, and I was overcome with another wave of happiness and bliss. His ice blue eyes saw into my soul, and I knew I couldn’t restrain myself much longer. I either had to say something, or I would end up kissing him.
“I’m afraid you have quite the affect on me Mr. Jordison. I’m not sure what to do about it.” I said. He put his hand around my shoulders and without a second thought, I put my head on his shoulder. This all felt so right.
“I would give anything to know what you are thinking right now. I would love to understand how you think.” He said. Is this really happening to me right now? I can’t believe this is actually happening. No, this isn’t happening, you’re just high as hell right now. In a while, this will all be over. “That sir is for me to know, and for you to somehow find out. I’m not just going to let you know my deepest darkest secrets. Like I said; I’d have to kill you!” I said as I giggled to myself. There was no way this man feels anything for me, I’m sure this is how he woos all of his groupies!
“What am I to you Nathan?” I asked. I felt him lift his head a little and turn towards me, I met his gaze as I looked up. “Am I just another girl to you? Or am I actually worth something to you?” His eyes lowered, and he looked like he was genuinely hurt by what I had just asked. It was a serious question though, I needed to know if this was for real or just a way to get into my pants.
“You aren’t other girls. You’re Phoenix, and you are amazing. I know I haven’t known you long, and that this all may seem a bit weird but believe me when I say that I have never felt this way before.” He said. I didn’t want this to get too awkward, he was right. We barely knew each other, and we’re both drugged off of our asses. There was no way this was really happening to me. I just smiled to myself and sank even further into the couch. (Which I didn’t think was possible.)
He turned his head to me, and I could feel his gaze burning into the side of my face. I couldn’t help but to smile. “I hope you don’t end up hating me one day. That would really suck. I’m not sure what I would do.”  He said to me. “You could always just find another girl!” I laughed.
“Not like you.” He said. “You’re the first person that hasn’t judged me, and what I do. I can actually talk to you without worrying about what negative thoughts you have of me. I can just be myself.”
“Well that’s good to know.” I replied with a smile. “Now why would I ever hate you?” I finally met his gaze. His eyes stared right back into mine, and I melted yet again. He put his hand on my arm, where the injection was made. I had almost forgotten about that, but it didn’t matter. I was caught in this man’s eyes and I felt paralyzed.
I couldn’t help myself; I slowly leaned in and saw he was as well. When our lips touched, a chill went through my entire body. This was the perfect kiss. He wrapped his arms around me and I lost myself in his embrace.
Embrace me…


Welcome Back To Listverse! :D

Okay! So first of all, Listverse is like my most favorite website eveerrrrr! (And I mean EVER!) It is a website of lists; lists of anything and everything you could probably think of. It’s probably the coolest thing I’ve ever come across, not even gunna lie. I don’t even know how long I’ve been reading this website, but I know it’s been a while. Like, a couple years? Maybe? I don’t know. I guess, one really cool thing about Listverse is that anyone, ANYONE can post a list, and anyone can comment on them. There is no set author! No one needs to go through the lame process of making an account and then getting countless random emails about the website. (I hate that!) Honestly, I’ve never really looked at the comments on the lists before, because I have better things to do with my time… BUT for the sake of this assignment I read a couple. J

A lot like other blog posts I have read, it always seems like the person to comment first on the blog gains a sense of fulfillment or gratification. Like, oh, awesome you left a comment… you’re so cool. They never even say anything other than, “OMG I’M THE FIRST TO COMMENT!” (These are the people that sit around their computers all day waiting for blogs they can be first to comment on, haha!) From then on, other people begin to comment on the posts, usually saying whether or not they liked the blog or what they liked most as well as what they found to be false or offensive. I honestly don’t recall the authors giving feedback through the comments; I’ve only seen the readers and what they have to say.

It’s always awesome when a couple of the readers get into arguments over the blog or something that the other person said. I’ve seen some pretty brutal language shared on this website (that I don’t wish to share here!) and arguments sometimes grow into huge debates and disputes between a handful of the readers. What I love the most is, when people have no idea what their talking about or even what the list is really about. They’ll take some names and words from the list, throw some bigger words in their comment to make them seem smarter, but it actually does the exact opposite. It is always amusing, especially when other readers call them out on their crap! Priceless.

Listverse doesn’t really follow any rules or guidelines, it is pretty much a free-for-all for anyone interested enough to read and/or comment on the list. If it were up to me, I would keep it this way. There haven’t been any problems with the site. The founder dude, JFrater, runs it how he runs it and he’s been doing a good job. People that want to submit a list submit it to him, and all he does is looks over it and makes sure whatever list you’re trying to post isn’t copied from a previous list and that it actually makes sense and is interesting. Other than that, this site is run by the readers. It is fun and entertaining stuff to read when you’re bored, or trying to put off mountains of English homework…

http://madworldwriters.wordpress.com/2011/09/16/enter-the-realm-of-listverse/

 


Why I’m Proud To Be American

Hello, my name is Ryan Kirby. I am an African-American man that serves in the Marines. I am only 23 years old, but I’ve seen and experienced more than most people of my age. I’ve already done two tours in Iraq, and I’ve seen many countries across the globe. My father before me and his father before him all served in the United States Military. When I tell people that, they give me a strange look because it isn’t too often you see an African-American man with such a rich military history. I will admit, it’s rare to find someone like me, or a family like mine, but we do in fact exist! Military is my life, and it runs in my blood. Someone in my family has fought in every one of America’s wars and lived to tell about it. I feel very lucky to even be here to write this all out, but more than anything I feel honored to be who I am.

To me, serving my country is something that I don’t even think about; I just do it. I fight for my family and the other countless Americans that make up my great country. I’m not a heavily decorated war-hero, or even a high ranking officer. I’m just a regular soldier, Private First Class Kirby that loves his country and would lay down my life to defend its liberty. My father made it all the way up to Captain, I sure hope I can get there one day. He achieved the highest rank of all of our forefathers, but that was no easy task.

My father, as well as my other patriarchs had to fight constantly not only the enemy, but their very own fellow soldiers. They had to fight to prove that they had a right and duty to defend the ones they love as well as anyone else. My great-great-great grandfather fought in the Civil War against the Confederacy to finally be rid of slavery in America. Though it was obvious what the war was about, race was still a huge issue that caused countless problems for my grandfather as well as the other African-American men fighting. But, despite the prejudices and negativity surrounding them, they fought for their freedom, and ended up winning it in the end. This was a constant struggle for the men of my family, but through the turmoil and hardships, they proved themselves to be just as worthy to fight as their white counterparts.

I am humbled when I think back on the war stories I have heard through the years. I feel like my family story really captures the essence of what it really means to be an American. We fought for more than our liberty and homeland; we fought to prove to an oppressive government and unsupportive civilians that regardless of our skin color, we were American soldiers. It didn’t matter if they liked us or not, just as long as they understood and respected what we were doing for them. It took a long time, but I feel we are finally getting our due respect. When I look at the pictures of my family at my house, a sense of pride washes over me and I am glad to call myself an American. I hope my sons one day will look at this same mantelpiece, with my picture added up there, and feel the same pride I feel today. I love my family, I love my country, and I LOVE being American.


Apocalypse Now

Taylor Andrea and Kim Hay

 “Apocalypse Now”

        Do you ever sit and wonder how the Earth was formed, how we have evolved as humans or how one day, humans may no longer be around? All of us have learned about the evolution of species and Earth and many have strong viewpoints on how everything came about.  On one side we have the deep rooted believers in God and his creation of the world while on the other side we have secular scientists who take a different stand point and believe the Big Bang Theory created Earth and that Earth eventually evolved into where we are today.  Whatever you believe, you are taking a stance in how the Creation was formed and you have become part of a bitter rivalry that has been around for centuries between those of religious faith and those of science belief. Edward Wilson is a scientist who writes “Apocalypse Now” in the form of a letter as an attempt to bridge the gap of these two rivals and form an alliance for the common good of all people. Whether one believes this Earth was created by God or that it was just a lucky coincidence that we all ended up here in this world, one thing is for sure; the destruction of our planet will inevitably lead to our own demise and Wilson believes among our different viewpoints, this should be something that we all are concerned about.

        Wilson wrote “Apocalypse Now” in the form of a letter to an imaginary Pastor with the intended audience of either those of religious following, secular belief or anyone that wants to prevent further destruction of the planet. The goal is to pick up the pieces of what has been broken to make a better world for us to live in.  Wilson’s main focus is on nature and if the problems aren’t addressed now, nature and ultimately humans are near an untimely end.  When writing to the Pastor he addresses him in a very humble, respectful, and almost informal tone, explaining the ever apparent differences in opinions and beliefs that both sides have, but he also shows similarities from which both sides stem upon. Wilson needs to persuade those of religious belief to set the differences aside and form a common ground in order to save nature.  He chooses to write to the Pastor because he understands that the Pastor is a leader in his community and is well respected among his people. Wilson believes in order to save humanity the Pastor and his followers need to join forces with him and those of science belief.  All in all, Wilson hopes as humans we could set these differences and uphold a common ground in order to preserve the planet that we share. 

        Wilson attempts to persuade his readers with his major claims, support points, and qualifiers throughout his letter addressed to the Pastor.  His letter can be broken down to form one major claim, which is “Creation—living nature—is in deep trouble […] and if religion and science could be united […] the problem might soon be solved.”  Throughout his entire letter he continues to iterate that nature can only be saved if religion and science unite “simply because religion and science are the two most powerful forces in the world today.” Wilson even acknowledges the fact that “environmental activists cannot succeed without [the Pastor and his followers] as allies.”  This was a huge breakthrough in his letter showing that he was not trying to convince his readers what side to be on; but rather show his readers his main focus is in fact on nature.  He also supports his claim by data stating that “the ongoing extinction rate is calculated […] to be about 100 times above [what it was before] humans appeared on earth, and is estimated to be 1,000 times greater in the next few decades.”  This data helps readers come to realize that nature is in trouble and something needs to be done to save it before its too late.  Wilson goes a step further and states that if the ongoing extinction rate continues to rise as estimated, “the cost to humanity– in wealth, environmental security, and quality of life– will be catastrophic.” Then Wilson explains that the long-term effect of everything is no longer just a danger to nature it’s a danger to our society as a whole and ultimately our very existence.

        In Wilson’s writing he is not trying to panic his readers by saying our lives are in danger; but rather he is trying to inform them of the importance to unite on a common ground for the safety of our planet. Wilson claims in his writing that regardless of whether or not you’re deep rooted in your faith or just a person who wants the hard scientific facts, we are all people first. Even if everyone has different beliefs, those beliefs can be set aside because we are all inhabitants of this planet.  His voice throughout his entire piece is very welcoming to his readers and he is trying to influence everyone to become allies in order to save something we all share, Earth. No matter what anyone believes in, there is one obvious truth; our world is crying out for help from all the destruction we have caused and we need to care enough about our own well being to answer that call.

          Community seems to be the reoccurring theme throughout this piece; and it reminds me of the essay done by Ari LeVaux “A Different Education: Compost and Community, Not Literacy.” In both of these essays, it is apparent that a community is more than a group of people living and interacting with one another.  Rather a community is a group of people working together for a greater good as a whole. Whether it is a group of illiterate kids coming together to grow food in and around their neighborhoods to replenish the agriculture of their disaster stricken homes, or two completely opposing communities, religion and science, uniting as one to preserve humanity on Earth – the only thing that matters is the well-being of all present in the community. Both of these pieces stress how uniting together as a community is the only way to achieve a common goal of saving the community (and humanity).

            In “Apocalypse Now” Edward Wilson writes a letter to a Pastor in hopes of convincing those of religious faith to unite with those of science belief in order to save our environment. Wilson understands that there are some areas that those of religious faith and secular scientists will never agree upon, but he believes they should forget their stark differences and come together to save the home in which we all live, which is one thing we obviously all have in common no matter what any of us believe in. In fact, Wilson takes on this tough situation of discussing religion by illustrating his mutual respect for those of different faith and by realizing that his goal of saving our planet cannot be done without both science and religion coming together. Wilson opens the eyes of his readers by supplying data that demonstrates our planet is in danger and by backing up his claims, in hopes to save our planet from ultimate destruction.


Selbst. Selv. Self!

The word “self” seems to be pretty much the same in a few different languages. As
you have seen in my title, I have it in German as well as Norwegian. Defining
self is a pretty difficult concept because I feel it has so much more to do
with not just yourself, but also the world around you. I found the perfect
definition of self on dictionary.com. “Self is the uniting principle, as a
soul, to underlying all subjective experience.” I quite enjoy this definition
for two reasons; 1) it gets me on the track of making up my own definition and
2) it really sums up what Eve Ensler had to say in her essay. In many ways, I
feel like I can relate to her and her struggle to find “herself”. My own
definition of self would be, finding out who you are among the rest of the
world while understanding that you in yourself represent the world around you.

Living in a society where looks are everything, I felt a lot like Ensler where she knew there was “me”
and then there was her “body”. They were two separate things to her, and they
are for me. Ensler states, “Me was trying to become something, somebody. Me
only existed in the trying. My body was often in the way.” As most females are,
I am very self-conscious of myself and I often feel like the contempt I have
for my body gets in the way of things I really want to do. The “me” part of
myself has unlimited goals set, and a million and one ideas and desires that I
wish to pursue. I am currently at the stage in my life where I think I can use
my body and manipulate it into doing whatever I see fit. I’m young, my body
will bounce right back from whatever little fun I decided to have now. Like
Ensler, “It was to be conquered and mastered like the Earth herself. I didn’t
have patience for my body. I took more than my body had to offer.”

There are times that I hate my body, and there are times that I do appreciate it. There are days when
I can look in the mirror and be very pleased with what I see, and other days I
am absolutely disgusted. But one day, I decided to stop objectifying my own
body and start accepting myself for who I am; my whole self. Whatever that may
be. In diving deeper into finding out who I am I realized I have so much to
offer the world, and the world seems to be willing to accept what I have to
give. There are so many other stories of people out there that I can’t wait to
hear. I feel in listening to other people’s stories and learning about their
lives, I find that I become absolutely fascinated with them. I also realize
there is so much more out there in the world than my own backyard. There is a
whole world out there with countless stories to be told and to be heard. Some
stories are good, some are bad; but no matter what story I hear, I feel even
more connected to the rest of the world.

In gaining more knowledge of the people around me, it makes me want to go out in the world and learn even
more. I’m learning two languages, so that I will be able to communicate with an
even broader range of people; so that I can get even more connected to the
world that surrounds me. My body will no longer, at that point, be a subject of
my objectivity but a portal from one place to another. It will be my grounded
stand point, always remembering where I came from, but not being afraid to see
what else is out there. I don’t need to be the most beautiful model to be able
to connect and grow with my fellow humans. I don’t need to have the flattest
stomach or the prettiest hair to learn from others’ experiences and be able to
share mine.

Finding yourself in such a vast world seems to be intimidating, but if you look at it, all we are doing is
learning and growing from each others’ experiences. We all become connected
when we take down the barrier of physical beauty and just look at the person
for who they are and what they have to share.


Enter the Realm of Listverse!

For starters, Listverse is one of my favorite websites ever. It is literally a
website of lists. Lists of anything and everything you could possibly think to
make a list about. I’ve been reading these lists religiously for about three
years now. The one really cool thing about Listverse is the fact that anyone
can post a list, and anyone can comment on them. So there is no set author for
anything on there. I never really paid attention to the comments on the lists before,
but for the sake of the assignment, I did this time!

As with a lot of other blog posts I’ve seen, the first person to comment on the blog always seems to
have a sense of pride in themselves for commenting first, and from there other
people begin commenting. Usually the first few comments are from people stating
whether or not they liked the list, or what item on the list was most appealing
or offensive or whatever to them.  As I
stated earlier, this website is a free for all. Anyone can comment and anyone
can post. All you need to do is make a little screen name for yourself at the
bottom of the page and post your comment. From the different lists I have
looked at, I don’t think the author makes many appearances in the comments
space.

Sometimes the comments turn into heated arguments between two or more of the readers while others
discuss what they agree on. Sometimes people say rude things to one another or
about the list itself just for the sake of saying something. (From what I’ve
gathered.) In rare instances, there have been times when people really have no
idea what they are talking about or what the list is talking about (which doesn’t
make any sense) and they end up making themselves look absolutely ridiculous!
What I find the funniest is when someone who is really learned on the topic of
the list puts one of those “ridiculous” people on the spot in the comments.

Besides making a screen name for yourself, I don’t really see any other guidelines on the comments on Listverse,
but I know that there should be some kind of basic rule everyone should follow.
Since this site is open to anyone and everyone, all the people that comment on
it should be respectful to one another. Having a heated argument over subject
matter is fine, but when you call someone out for their ignorance on the topic,
or just because you think they’re dumb is not cool. Doing that not only takes
away from that person’s experience, but it takes away from that site. That one
person that you made feel stupid may never come back to the site again. (And no
one wants that!) Respect is the name of the game!


Picture this…

It’s winter 2021, and I am STILL in school. I guess I always knew I would be in school forever, but this is ridiculous! Let’s see, I’m 29 and I’ve been in school every year since I was 5. Wow, I’ve spent most of my entire existence in school! This is thankfully my last semester, and then I get my PhD in History! This is the final goal that I have set for myself academically. I’ve already received my Master’s Degree from Marquette in history, and I’ve already graduated law school, and took the bar. Now that school is pretty much over with, I’m not sure what else to do with myself. Of course I always knew this day was going to come, and I would have to pick a career, but I still feel that at 29 I still have a lot of growing up to do. I DON’T WANT TO BE A GROWN UP! Besides school, I have an amazing husband that supports me in everything I do, and is also begging me for some kids! I guess it’s about time to start makin’ some babies. BUT not until I get this last degree out of the way. Oh, how I wonder what else life has in store for me…


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