Grammar Time


Something isn’t right here…

Today a few folks gave presentations in my psychology class and I was astounded by the amount of simple grammatical errors that were present within the presentations of highly educated individuals. I absolutely understand misspellings and mistakes, but there were some errors that were just too frequent to be accidental. Lacking grammatical skills is definitely not related to intelligence though. I think the problem is that many people just never learned. I hope this clears things up.

Easy Grammar Solutions

1. Your vs. You’re –

“Your” is the possessive form [“ex. Your hair is looking scrappy”]. “You’re” is a contraction, meaning two words combined [you + are].  Try replacing “you’re” with “you are” in a sentence for an easy differentiation.

2. No one –

NOT “noone” or “no-one”

3. Its vs. It’s –

“Its” is possessive [ex. “Its favorite time to feed was around noon”]. “It’s” is a contraction, a combination of [it + is]. try replacing “it’s” with “it is” for an easy differentiation.

4. Effect vs. Affect –

This one is tricky. “Affect” often means influence, while “effect” often means outcome or result. Trying replacing the word with one of those alternatives to figure it out. [ex. “The effects of zombie killing” = “The results of zombie killing”] [ex. “The child was affected by zombies” = “The child was influenced by zombies”] See?

5. Nor –

This is used in place of “and not”. If used incorrectly, it can result in a deadly double negative. [ex. “Either that or this, neither this nor that”].

6. Who, Whom, Whose, Who’s –

“Who” is subjective, meaning it can be used in place of [he, she we, it, they]. “Whom” is objective, meaning it can be used in place of [him, her, it, us]. [ex. “Who did it?” =”He did it.”] [ex. He is my son, of whom I am well pleased.” = “He is my son, I am pleased with him.”] Whose” is possessive, like “its”, while “who’s” is a contraction used in place of [who + is] [ex. Whose dog is that?”]

7. Their, They’re, There –

“Their” is possessive [ex. Their grandmother is nuts!”]. “They’re” is a contraction used in place of [they + are]. There refers to a place or a statement ex. “There are thirty-seven cats in her house” or “Just look over there”].

8. Then vs. Than –

“Then” refers to a transitioning of time [ex. It was then that the irony of the situation occurred to me.”] “Than” is relative, as in comparative [ex. “I would rather die than be a part of this madness.”]

9. Into vs. In to –

“Into” is a preposition that refers to location, just like [over, under, beside]  [ex. “I went into the cave”]. “In to” is used when the two word end up sitting together by coincidence. This can be easily differentiated by chopping up the sentence [ex. “I walked in to find Batman having tea with Morgan Freeman” = “I walked in. I found Batman having tea with Morgan Freeman”].

10. Me, myself, and I –

An easy way to figure out how to use the phrase, “you and I’ is to pretend the “you” is missing [ex. “You and I should go for a magic carpet ride” = “I should go for a magic carpet ride”].

11. Good vs. Well –

I think this is probably to most common mistake among spoken language and it takes some getting used to. “Well” describes a state of being [Think illness vs. wellness or poorness vs. wellness] [ex. “I am doing well”, “He did very well”, “All is well”, “She swims well”]. “Good” often refers to performance [ex. “That looks really good on you”, “He did a good job”, “It has been a good day”, “She is a good swimmer”]. To be honest, I just feel my way about it. Eventually, if you are mindful, you will get the hang of it.

That’s all I have for now. Grammar time!

p.s. Check this out. Hilarious!


Rockwell’s Women

I admire Norman Rockwell as one of my favorite artists not only for his realism, but because every piece he created was designed with some sort of purpose or message in mind. His work was my inspiration to incorporate meaning into my designs. One message in particular that I am fascinated by in Rockwell’s work is the way he portrays women and young ladies throughout the 1920s to the 1970s. This post is a random visual compilation of some of Rockwell’s work so that you can see what I mean.

Pardon Me, 1918

Needlepoint, 1924

Three Gossips, 1929

Man Courting Twins, 1929

Breakfast Table, 1930

Child Psychology, 1933

Peach Crop, 1935

Movie Starlet and Reporters, 1936

Movie Star, 1938

Letterman, 1938

Decorator, 1940

Cover Girl, 1941

Let Nothing You Dismay, 1941

Hatcheck Girl, 1941

Two Flirts, 1941

Willie Gillis: Girls with Letters, 1942

Willie Gillis: USO, 1942

Willie Gillis in a Blackout, 1942

Rosie the Riveter, 1943

Rosie to the Rescue, 1943

Freedom from Want, 1943

Travel Experience, 1944

America at the Polls, 1944

Charwomen, 1946

Changing a Flat, 1946

Baby Sitter, 1947

Dewey vs. Truman, 1948

Christmas Homecoming, 1948

Prom Dress, 1949

Shiner, 1953

Girl at Mirror, 1954

The Tender Years, 1957

Window Washer, 1960

University Club, 1960

Little Girl Looking Downstairs at Christmas Party, 1964

For more Saturday Evening Post archives, visit You can also check out the Norman Rockwell Museum. I hope you feel enthralled!


Life of Pi

If you have not read or seen Life of Pi, I highly suggest you do so before reading this analysis. I don’t want to spoil it! Also, it is important to remember that Life of Pi is a fictional story, so as to not get over-invested in fact-checking and critical analysis.

Last night my sister and I watched the film Life of Pi for the first time and were overwhelmingly impressed with how well it was done and how meaningful it was! Now I’m dying to read the book! I really enjoy books and movies that don’t just entertain me, but really captivate my thoughts and make me contemplate things I would not normally think of. Challenges are opportunities to become wiser!


{My younger sister(left) and I enjoying our “Pi night”}

There were many intriguing topics within Life of Pi, but there were a few specific ones that seemed to jump out at me.

First of all, what really happened?

Obviously, some parts of Pi’s animal story were very illogical and cannot be backed by scientific evidence. Everything made sense up until the point at which Pi discovers the “Carnivorous island”, which resembles a large mangrove. The island is bountiful with plenty of food and water in the daytime, not to mention the millions of meerkats, but at night the pools of clean water become “acidic” and kills all of its inhabitants (the fish). Pi watches this reaction from a tree and subsequently notices a human tooth in what looks to be a plant similar to a lotus flower. This reminded what was said in Pi’s encounter with his first crush, Anandi:

“Pi Patel: None of the others dancers did that. What did you mean? The God of love is hiding in the forest?
Anandi: No, that also means the Lotus flower.
Pi Patel: Lotus flower is hiding in the forest? Why would a Lotus flower hide in the forest?”

Why would a lotus flower hide in the forest? The keyword here is “hide”. A lotus flower is beautiful and desirable, something one would desire to seek. What the flower contains though, the tooth, represents death. This could be easily linked with the way sin operates. It is beautiful and desirable, and people go out of their way to seek it. Eventually though, seeking sin will result in death, eternal death. God reveals to Pi what is inside the beautiful lotus flower in order warn Pi that what seemed to be a perfect oasis was actually a death trap, as it is with sin. One important thing to notice is the shape of the island, which at a distance resembles a body, in an eerie sarcophagus form.


This leads me to my second assumption. When Pi tells his second story to the Japanese company, he tells it with such emotion and detail. Either Pi is a really good liar, or his second story is the truth while his entire first animal story was a metaphor for the things that actually happened. Of course, Pi says,“So tell me, since it makes no factual difference to you and you can’t prove the question either way, which story do you prefer? Which is the better story, the story with animals or the story without animals?”

I would prefer to believe the animal story. It sounds much more desirable, much cleaner, and much less barbaric. Unfortunately, I think that it is much more likely to be a metaphor. The monkey represented Pi’s mom, the zebra represented an Oriental sailor, the hyena represented the strange cook, and the tiger represented Pi.

The Japanese sailor injured his leg from jumping into the lifeboat. After a while, the cook feared for supplies and killed the man as Pi and his mom held the man down. Pi recalls, “So… I kept saying, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry’, but he just kept.. looking at me, his eyes so… I’ll never understand the point of that man’s suffering.” The cook used pieces of the man’s body as bait to catch a dorado, which angered Pi’s mom. The next day, Pi accidentally dropped a turtle that the cook had caught and was slapped across the face. This angered Pi’s mom even more, and she attempted to hit and punch the cook. Pi watched as the cook killed his mom with a knife and threw her overboard to the sharks. A short time later, Pi took the knife and killed the cook. He used the cook’s flesh as fish bait, doing to him what had been done to the sailor (meaning possible cannibalism). Pi says, “He was such an evil man, but worse still, he brought the evil out in me.”

Relating back to the carnivorous island, the shape of the island (a body) has a new significance. I read from one blogger, beerdoggler, “The island (cook) is teeming with life. The thousands of meercats represent the life-giving flesh of the island. But we see it’s shape is that of a sarcophagus, or mummy, or dead man … the cook. Pi eats the roots and seeds while Richard Parker eats the flesh of the island.” This may indicate that though killing the cook seemed like the right thing to do, Pi still feels guilty about indulging himself on something that he knows to be morally wrong – murder. He knows he has to move on from that place or he will eventually go insane. Another theory is that the island represents Pi’s view of life after he killed the cook.

One more thing about the island. I was intrigued that Yann Martel could make up such a place, so I did a little research. Apparently, the closest thing to what Martel describes is a small island in the Tyrrhenian Sea near Naples called Castello Aragonese. According to, “bubbles of carbon dioxide rise from volcanic vents on the seafloor and dissolve to form high concentrations of carbonic acid that make seawater corrosive. Like the floating island Pi and Richard Parker discover, the island of Castello Aragonese creates beds of vivid green sea grass and sustains swarms of translucent jellyfish and algae. Yet no other life survives in its waters.”

As far as the relation to religion goes, Pi states that there are 330 million God’s in the Hindu religion, the primary religion in India, followed by Islam and Christianity. One blogger, , proposes that many aspects of the story seem to represent several different Indian philosophical concepts.

“1. Metaphor: The island floating on the Pacific ocean.
Meaning: Vishnu, floating on the cosmic ocean (this imagery was shown at the beginning of the story).

2. Metaphor: The seemingly surreal happenings on the island.
Meaning: Our reality, which is a “dream” in the mind of Vishnu (this was also mentioned at the beginning of the story).

3. Metaphor: The carnivorous algae on which the island floats.
Meaning: Sesha, the five-headed snake on which Vishnu rests.

4. Metaphor: The numerous meerkats.
Meaning: Human beings. I know, what an unflattering metaphor! Possibly, they were chosen for their semi-bipedalism, semi-intelligence, social living, or some combination of similar reasons.

5. Metaphor: The island supports life by day, and causes death by night, again and again.
Meaning: Samsara, the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth – that which supports life, causes death, and that which causes death, supports life.

6. Metaphor: The meerkats live meaningless lives eating, running, and dying on the island, under the impression that this is all there is to reality.
Meaning: Maya / Avidya, the illusion about the false nature of reality, which ultimately arises due to ignorance, and causes people to be stuck in Samsara.

7. Metaphor: Pi realizes the true nature of the island, and recognizes its futility.
Meaning: Vidya / Sat / Chit, knowledge or consciousness of the ultimate truth, which dispels Maya, and enables one to achieve enlightenment and liberation.

8. Metaphor: Pi, recognizing the truth of the island, decides to leave it for good.
Meaning: Moksha / Nirvana, the ultimate liberation of one’s self from Samsara, so as to attain union with Vishnu (in Vaishnavism, a monotheistic Hindu religion), or union with God (in Sikhism, another monotheistic Hindu religion), or attain supreme character (in Jainism, an atheistic Hindu religion), or to attain supreme serenity (in Buddhism, another atheistic Hindu religion), or union with the supreme oneness (in Advaita Vedantism/Smartism, a monistic Hindu religion). This constitutes the soteriology of the major Hindu/Indian religions.”

There were many Christian principles that stuck out to me as well. In recalling the book’s version of Pi’s detailed account of the carnivorous island, he says, “My foot sank into the clear water and met the rubbery resistance of something flexible but solid. I put more weight down. The illusion would not give. I put the full weight of my foot. Still I did not sink. Still I did not points out, “Doesn’t that sound like “Doubting” Thomas from the New Testament touching Christ’s wounds in order to believe that he was resurrected from the dead? Or Saint Peter trying to walk on water after he sees Jesus do it?

But maybe the island doesn’t represent the type of faith Martel thinks we should have. Because, of course, the algae turns out to be man-eating algae. It’s an island that can consume you if you’re not careful. Meaning, if you appease yourself with physical comfort – all the food and drink you want – it turns into a type of spiritual death. If your faith is too easy and you no longer brave the stormy seas, then you’re no longer experiencing real faith.

Notice too that Pi really tames Richard Parker on the island. He has him jumping through hoops. Literally. Richard Parker, like the ocean, is part of Pi’s spiritual trial. What do you do when your spiritual test (a.k.a. Richard Parker) follows your every command? You leave:

By the time morning came, my grim decision was taken. I preferred to set off and perish in search of my own kind than to live a lonely half-life of physical comfort and spiritual death on this murderous island.

Hope this wasn’t a dull read, I understand that it is long! If you have any intriguing thoughts you would like to add, please comment! I love thinking about new ideas!


Traditional School Vs. Online School

It is fair to say that both schooling systems have their pros and cons, but as far as student capacity and the economy goes, I say that traditional schooling is the way to go. First of all, students who have actual teachers are much more likely to be held accountable for finishing their work and doing a good job of it. Though online schooling may be easier because of this, that does not always mean the student may be learning to their fullest capacity. Rather than having multiple choice tests and generated scores, real instructors know the student’s personality and goals for themselves. With this knowledge of knowing the student’s personality comes the leniency in subjects that may not be the student’s best subject. Every students brain is different and may be geared towards different subjects. For example, while some may be great with math and horrible with English, others may be terrible with math and wonderful with English. With computer generated scores, everything is graded the same without any consideration for the student’s actual effort. With online classes, one cannot speak with the teacher about the grades received and ask for extra credit to improve it, there is simply a final grade that one has to deal with no matter the reason. Yes, one can take the class again, but ultimately that is a waste of time. In reference to testing, many online students will memorize the information that they need to know for the tests and forget the information after the exam. This is done in traditional schooling as well, but the difference is how the information is taught in the first place. The expression, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, but teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime” is definitely true in this situation. Teachers want students to retain information because it will serve them better in the long run. The best way for students to learn is not just having the information given to them, but for the students to have hands-on experiences that teach the skill or  idea that they are supposed to remember. Many teachers use this practice through labs, activities, games, songs, and other approaches. Hands-on activities can be simulated through online classes, but realistically they seldom are. Another advantage that traditional schooling has over online schooling is the human interaction. Throughout the school year, students will meet and befriend other students in their classes, which builds both self-confidence and social skills. Also, students being able to collaborate with one another may help the information stick and studying to become easier and more common. Though online students may know other online students who are taking the same class, it would be very rare for these students to interact with each other on a daily basis. It may be argued that online classes prevent bullying, but this is not so. Bullying among young students is going to happen no matter what, it will just happen in a different place. Also, students who are bullied and choose online classes to escape this may have lower self-esteem because they are hiding from their fear rather than confronting it, and by being isolated, may be without the support system of other students who have also been bullied. My last argument against online schooling is concerning the economy. Many teachers are already struggling to find jobs, and those that have them are getting paid very little. If online schooling became a prominent system, millions of men and women would be without jobs, which would put the United States economy in ruins. Some may argue that schools are overpopulated with students and teachers are overwhelmed, but I think that the solution to this problem is build more schools. Yes, it is expensive, but as far as long-term effects go, building more schools and hiring more teachers is a very good investment. For example, in the 1930s, F.D. Roosevelt authorized the idea to build the Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic highway through the Appalachian Mountains. Though this may have seemed like a waste of money at the time, but overall its construction employed hundreds of men and now brings in a large revenue from tourism. Building more traditional schools to replace the need of inline schools will ultimately help the economy  and better educate the youth of America.

Any Comments?

-Jordan Miller