The Clafabio's blog

A Little Game's Big Message

Now, many of you may be aware of my easy distraction by fun or colorful things. As I opened up the New York Times homepage this morning, my senses were catered to by the offering of a game. Hooray! However, this game was rather different from many I am drawn to: this game is designed to inform players of the potentially fatal consequences of driving while texting. Though I cannot drive and I cannot text, I figured I would give the game a try.

Indeed, there is one thing that I can say: the game was quite difficult, and I found it rather stressful. Throughout the game, you receive three text messages on your cell phone which you must answer with one of the given bolded phrases. Once you answer all of the text messages, the navigation track ends and you are shown your results.

Giving Back and Feeling Good

During the school year, I would go on walks around my neighborhood once or twice a week. The thing that always struck me was how dirty and full of litter my neighborhood and the surrounding areas were.

Finally, one day when I was walking home, I saw a large slab of cardboard laying on the side of one of my town's main streets. I decided that I had seen just enough garbage defiling my neighborhood, picked it up, and started walking home with it. On the way home that day, I picked up a deteriorating blueprint, several cereal boxes, three soda cans, and various scraps of paper. When I got home and threw away the garbage I had collected, I realized that it really felt good to give back to the community that I lived, and I decided that I wanted to do it again.

Now, I am on summer vacation. I have gone out three days this week for about three hours at a time to collect trash. I am generally armed with two garbage bags, two or three grocery bags, latex gloves, and hand sanitizer.

Another Tale of Air Plane Trouble

Sadly, on May 31, 2009, Air France Flight 447 crashed in the Atlantic Ocean. According to a New York Times file article, the plane was headed to Paris from Rio de Janeiro when it disappeared from radar contact. The flight had 228 passengers on board.

Now, on April 19, 2008 (don't worry, I had to look it up), I wrote an analysis of the article stating that Southwest Airlines could be forced to pay up to 10.2 million dollars in fines for continuing to fly their older planes which they had not been inspecting. Now, I would like to acknowledge a few things. For one thing, I do indeed know that, at this time, nobody knows what caused the Airbus to crash. Another thing is that I know that everyone who knows about the incident is speculating as to the cause of the crash.

Special Little Election

Budget is defined as a statement of an organization's financial position for a definite period of time based on cost estimates, or is a plan coordinating resources. Incidently, crisis is defined as an unstable, critical situation where changes are immediately called for. As many of you may know, we are experiencing extreme budget trouble across the nation, especially in state governments. Tuesday, May 19, the citizens of California (my home state) voted on Propositions 1A through 1F, a series of emergency initiatives written in an attempt to rescue our state's budget. Before I give you the results, let me give you a little history.

The Recession and Public Speech

The recession: all of us have been affected by it over the past several months. Though I am thankful that I still have a home, a family, and an education, I see the results of our faulty economy all around me. Half of the houses on my street are in foreclosure, many of my friends' parents are out of their jobs, and my family's delivered Los Angeles Times is getting smaller and smaller.

Take a trip with me back through our recent history. Our nation began to collectively move its focus from the future to the present; instant gratification became more important than overall benefits. Families with middle to low salaries bought 2,500-square-foot homes, boats, ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles), and ate out constantly. People spent beyond their means, not worrying about what would happen when the hypothetical money ran out. Finally, however, this nation's "house of cards" (a painfully overused, but adequate, description) has collapsed to the ground.

More on Private Contracting

There has been a lot of recent concern about private contracting in Iraq; I have commented on it myself. While browsing the New York Times site a few days ago, I came across more, and not entirely what I was expecting. I don't know about you, but when I think about private contracting, I think of security agencies like Blackwater USA. But no: the subject of scrutiny is this time electrical contractors.

According to this article, there have been, "... at least 283 electrical fires [that] destroyed or damaged American military facilities," and this is just in the past six months; back in 2006, a fire at a base close to Tikrit resulted in the deaths of two soldiers. Soldiers have a lot to fear if they go to Iraq - they should have to worry about electrical outlets.

To Buy or Not to Buy?

I don't know, am I? As you may have seen before, I can lose my concentration and sanity both in a very short time. De ja vu: I was on the NYTimes at about five in the morning, and an ad for the new Samsung Instinct (new phone) caught my attention. I'm used to the General's car insurance ads letting me crash into cars while I'm checking my e-mail, but I was a little surprised that there was a game with this phone ad, let alone a memory game. Since no one else was up so early and I really had nothing better to do, I decided to play. I had been able to remember 12 of the flashing buttons (too hard to explain) before I finally lost.

Do Me a Favor and Walk to School

I attend an out-of-district school which is about 16 miles from my house. The only bad thing is that it costs us anywhere between 40 and 50 dollars to fill up the gas tank in my mum's Mazda. Unfortunately, after a year of driving two sixteen mile trips a day, our gas bill has really skyrocketed. And to think that as recently as two years ago gas was only about $2.00 a gallon. It's too bad we live so far from our school, otherwise we could just walk.

Vice-President Clinton?

One thing I'd like to quickly get out of the way: now that the two candidates for president are Barack Obama and John McCain, I am officially endorsing Barack Obama. Wonderful: with that out of the way, let's get rolling. 

Since the Democratic National Convention, many people have questioned whether or not Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama will choose Hillary Clinton as his running mate. Some supporters of Hillary Clinton's initial run for president began a campaign, "...to pressure Senator Barack Obama into choosing her as a running mate," (thanks NYTimes).  According to the article, Clinton stopped the campaign, saying that it was up to Obama to decide, and no one else.

High-Stakes Testing: A Student's Point of View

This week, my school in Place-You've-Never-Heard-Of, California, began administering the California Standardized Tests (CSTs). This year is different for me than in previous years because, instead of just testing in math and language arts, we are also taking tests for science and social studies. Unfortunately, I was not very satisfied with my education this year. We had a textbook, but we never really read much in it, and instead focused on a limited assortment of principles. I never really understood why we focused on such a limited spectrum of information, but I just ran with it.