Journal 15: The End
December 8, 2011, 1:31 am
Filed under: Weekly Posts

English 3231, Expository Writing, was a challenge from the get go: writing genres is not a simple task. At first, I wasn’t writing up to the course’s standards. I committed a lot of mistakes in my works, I wasn’t using my full potential when writing and it was becoming noticeable in my papers. My mind was not really in this class. I was in the middle of a transformational phase and time wasn’t exactly abundant in my life. However, like I’ve said before, I don’t like to make excuses.  I worked harder during the last half of the semester to improve the areas I know I’m not as good at. Now that the course is about to end, I believe I’m a better writer than I was in August.

Like I mentioned before, writing genres is no easy trait. A lot of effort and passion has to be put into all of the papers in order for them to be A papers. Nonetheless, the one thing that really makes me proud of my work is that when I wrote, I wasn’t thinking whether or not my papers were A papers or B paper or C papers: I wrote what I wanted to write. Obviously I tried to follow the guidelines for the different papers and I know that sometimes I didn’t follow them completely. However, I’d fun with them and I have no regrets regarding my papers though I still think I need to practice writing conclusions. Overall, I’m happy with my performance and I hope the techniques I’ve learned during this course will help me in my future professional career.


Journal 14: Cotto vs. Margarito II
December 8, 2011, 1:29 am
Filed under: Weekly Posts | Tags: , ,

I like sports. I don’t know how to play them, though. Basketball is my all-time favorite sport; however, recently, I’ve started watching a lot of boxing. I like the sport’s intensity and complexity and the fact that it only takes one punch to change the outcome of the bout.

Last Saturday, Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto fought Antonio Margarito, a hard nose Mexican, for the second time. During their first bout, which occurred in 2008, Margarito defeated Cotto by means of a technical knockout in the eleventh round. That night Margarito handed out Cotto his first professional boxing loss. A year later, Margarito was scheduled to fight Shane Mosley, one of boxing’s biggest names. Before the bout, however, a pair of loaded hand wraps was confiscated from Margarito’s locker room. It was determined that Margarito intended to use them as an advantage in the fight with Mosley. However, the administration allowed the fight to go on. The outcome: Mosley knocked out Margarito easily. A couple of weeks later, Margarito was suspended for a whole year and he was forbidden from fighting anywhere in the US.

The question, however, was why Margarito had loaded hand wraps in his locker room? Did he always fight with these wraps on? Did Margarito use the same illegal hand wraps in the Cotto fight? To answer any doubts, Cotto and Margarito fought a second time. The outcome of the fight was very different, however: Cotto knocked out Margarito in the tenth round.

As a fan of the sport, I’m glad Cotto got to avenge his first professional loss. Whether Margarito used illegal wraps in the first bout or not will always remain a mystery, though Cotto’s face looked a lot different in the second fight. Maybe Cotto was much better trained this time or maybe Margarito didn’t work enough for this rematch. Suspicion, that’s all we get.

Journal 13: NBA likely to begin on Christmas Day
December 8, 2011, 12:41 am
Filed under: Weekly Posts | Tags: , ,

Even though the NBA lockout continues, finally there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The brightness of the light, however, is not very intense though.

The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) and the NBA team owners agreed on a tentative deal that would finally end the five month lockout. The 2011-2012 regular season, now shortened to 66 games, is intended to begin on Christmas Day, December 25th with a showdown between the Miami Heat and the current NBA champions, the Dallas Mavericks. The deal is pending the ratification from the NBPA representatives though talks between them and the owners have turned positive during the last weeks.

The NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expired on June 30th, 2011 at midnight. Therefore, the NBA has been in lockout since July 1st, 2011 at 12:01 am. From that moment on, the game took one of its biggest blows so far. As a fan, a lockout is one of the worst things that could’ve ever happened to the sport. Players lose money, owners lose money and even the guy who sells popcorn in the stands loses money. Is a very tough situation for anyone who enjoys the game.

The NBA has a lot of ground to cover since its last operational day, which was June 30th, 2011. A lot of good players are now lending their talent to teams overseas and others have become either inactive or uninterested in the sport. Others have considered retirement and others have tried their luck in other sports. As far as I’m concerned, as soon as the season begins, all of those players will come back home and history will continue to be made one hoop at a time.

On Christmas morning, I’ll check beneath my tree and see if Santa brought me what I’ve been waiting for: basketball.

Journal 12: Enrollment
December 8, 2011, 12:16 am
Filed under: Weekly Posts | Tags: , , ,

Just like plants dread harvest, and kids fear dentists, UPR students are terrified of enrollment. Yes, enrollment, that horrible time of the year where you have to select the way you will spend your time the next five or six months. If you have special talents (musician, dancer, sportsman, etc.), if you’re about to graduate or if you’re a good student, you have the “privilege” of selecting courses in the first three days of the enrollment period; if you’re a freshman, second day enrollment is for you. However, if you’re an average student, you get to select courses during the last days of the enrollment period.

Of course, if you’ve never done your enrollment using telnet, the most reliable and all around greatest enrollment software available, you don’t have to worry about your enrollment date. Who cares if you get to select courses the first day or the last? “Sections will be opened and you’ll be able to select your courses without problem” is the common answer given to students during adjustment time – a very dull excuse in my opinion, though I have to admit that my first and only adjustment time experience was not as bad as I’d thought. Still if you want to know how other students have experienced adjustment or enrollment, just log on to Facebook and hit “News Feed”. You’ll get a lot of examples of what I’m talking about.

Overall, I believe enrollment is a life changing experience and it has to be treated with respect. If you’re one of the lucky ones who get to select sections ahead of other students, feel blessed. As to those who don’t get that privilege, don’t worry, there’s always adjustments and there’s always hope. Sleep good for the next days so you have stored energy come adjustment time.

Journal 11: Things you see at Kmart
December 6, 2011, 5:16 am
Filed under: Weekly Posts | Tags: ,

It’s been three months since I began working at Kmart. As a cashier at one of the biggest retail stores in the United States – and of course, one of the biggest in Puerto Rico as well – I’ve seen a lot of crazy things in a very short period of time. I’ll sum up some of the funniest ones I’ve seen so far:

Do people really need twenty seven six-packs of razor blades? From what I know, hair takes a least a month to growth what, half an inch? My point is hair grows slowly and twenty-seven packs of razors is a lot of razors.

People are so surprised to hear items are not on sale. Normally when an item is on sale, a special tag is placed on the normal price tag, signifying that that specific item is on sale. If there is no tag, the price of the item is the one indicated in the price tag. However, people are annoyingly surprised when they hear something like “the item is regular priced at $19.99”.

I hate the IVUloto so bad. It is the worse idea ever. Not only has it made consumers more addicted to gambling than they already are, but also the degree of impossibility to win is huge. C’mon, IVUloto combinations are like “HJ47P-N975K” or something similar. It was even hard for me to write, imagine how much harder is to ever win the price. It is a terrible idea.

I’ve seen other things (stealing, fights, falls, etc.) though except from the falls, they’re not as funny or annoying than the one aforementioned. Maybe in two or three months I’ll have more anecdotes to talk about.

Editorial: The Adventures of a Pepper Sprayed Armed Customer
December 6, 2011, 4:50 am
Filed under: Papers | Tags: , ,

Let’s face it: Christmas is the year’s best time to shop. Megastores like Wal-Mart know this and they save their biggest savings for this special day: Black Friday.

Every year, thousands of intrepid costumers wait long hours in longer lines for the best deals of the year in electronics, beddings, jewelry and sporting goods. They also save up a lot of anxiety and it is all released, in a manner of seconds, as the doors open wide at 3:00 am; in some stores, even earlier.

These events have not been exactly controlled before and, as a consequence, sales have turned violent in the past though minor disturbances have been the worse that have occurred. This year, however, creativity has been at its best.

As the doors of a Los Angeles Wal-Mart opened, a woman, armed with a pepper spray propellant, fired the lachrymatory substance over the eyes and faces of several customers in order to get a head start towards a crate full of cheap X-box games. The woman’s identity was not revealed to the media.

“We have [the woman’s] identity and we know who [the woman] is and where [the woman’s] at. When appropriate action needs to be taken, we know where to find her,” said Officer Bruce Borihanh, a police spokesman. “She’s a suspect, but she’s not booked or anything, so we’re not releasing her name,” added the law enforcer.

With ongoing rising prices, many shoppers are willing to suffocate in line for long hours in order to buy electronics at the lowest prices of the year. Yet, is it worth it? An X-box is worth what, two hundred dollars? Even if X-box consoles were at its lowest price ever, there is no justification for what happened inside the San Fernando Valley Wal-Mart.

Normally, police agents are the ones investigated for pepper spraying civilians during confrontations. Their reason is always the same: the tear gas is used to attain control of the situation. This time, a visionary woman followed police procedure and attained control of her own situation by pepper spraying customers. Ironic isn’t?

As of today, the police are investigating the incident as a self-defense act, since she might have used the tear gas out of fear of been squeezed to death. They’re also investigating whether or not the woman managed to buy the X-box games.

As absurd as it sounds, other violent incidents have been reported in the past happening either near or inside Wal-Mart stores. States like South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, New York, Alabama and Connecticut have all reported confuse incidents in which the greenish substance has been either sprayed or at least brought into the picture. One can wonder if there’s any correlation between sudden violent conduct, pepper sprays, X-box games crates and Wal-Mart retail stores.

Maybe is time for consumers to reconsider buying during days like Black Friday. Although prices seem to be a lot lower than normal, the sleeplessness, the waiting, and now the pepper spraying, are serious determinants to think about.

Journal 10: Stephen Wolfram
December 6, 2011, 4:35 am
Filed under: Weekly Posts | Tags: , , ,

Stephen Wolfram is definitely a modern day genius.

Born in London, England in 1959, Stephen was like most genius, a hard-to-teach student. The guy didn’t even finish college; he was granted an honorary Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology at the age of twenty for his studies on particle physics. He then joined the staff at the CIT and worked there until he left to form his own company, Wolfram Research LCC.

What really surprised me about this guy were his creations. Wolfram and his team of researchers developed Mathematica, one of the most used computational software on the market and a very important engineering tool today. Not content with that, he also developed Wolfram Alpha, an answer-engine that answers almost any question. Wolfram Alpha can compute mathematical, biological, chemical and social problems as well as giving definition to many words, etc.; some people even believe that Wolfram Alpha will one day be the most used search engine in the world.

Wolfram envisioned this website and based it on his book “A New Kind of Science”. In his book, Wolfram states that most scientific problems can be resolved using only simple computations, which he calls simple programs. He also argues that computation is an essential aspect of science and believes that computation is the science in between engineering and mathematics since it’s derived from both, therefore the title refers to computation itself.

As of today, Stephen Wolfram continues to explore the complexity of life through simple computations.