Throwback Thursday: Vicaria Blanca – 2013

Throwback Thursday, where, essentially I post old writing samples, essays and short stories that I dig up from my pile of hoarded papers and school assignments or from the depths of my computer. So everyone can see how my writing has changed/improved over the years.


Ever been in history class and found it weird that people didn’t have medicine all those years ago, and died from common diseases? You’d think that they form of medicine didn’t work, but actually, some of those methods are still used today, and some people think they work better the usual run of the mill medicine we all use! The elder I interviewed for this project on the use of plants, as medicine was my grandfather, Jose Rios. He was born and raised in Cuba, where he met my grandmother and had his three children, my uncle, my mother, and aunt. They moved to Miami, Florida when he was forty years old in 1980, and has been here ever since. He speaks primarily Spanish and can understand English, though when he speaks it, it’s heavily accented and usually has butchered grammar. He is now 72, and he cares for my younger sister and me after school everyday.

When I interviewed him, he told me he uses Vicaria Blanca (White Vicaria) to treat pink eye, and other problems. He’s been using it since he was a child, when his grandmother used it on him and taught him how to use it. He told me that to use it, you boil the flower bowling in water, into a type of tea looking liquid, greenish-yellow in color. You then use it as eye drops or wet a napkin with it and hold it on the eye. He’s been using it for over 50 years and says it’s worked for him every time. He says he prefers to use this then over the counter eye drops because it has the natural vitamins and has less chemicals, which makes it good to use on small children and adults.

Based on the research done by the University of Florida Herbarium, Vicaria Blanca is useful for treating eye infections. Based on a study in 1995, the drops made from boiling the flower in water does help your vision. And according to Wikipedia, Vicaria Blanca, a type of Madagascar Periwinkle commonly found in tropical and sub-tropical regions, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat many things, including: diabetes, malaria, Hodgkin’s disease, and well as some extracted substances used to treat leukemia. On the other side however, if ingested orally, it can be fatal and if not, it causes hallucinations. So, if used on children, it should under supervision.

What I’ve learned from this, is that plants can be used as medicine just as they did thousands of years ago, and that, though I hadn’t known it, my grandfather has been using it on me since I was an infant. It seems odd that people would still use these things, but they do, I’ve also learned that they still use poisonous plants…at least people don’t poison themselves anymore!

Throwback Thursday: “I Hear America Singing”/”Let America Be America Again” Compare and Contrast Essay: Block Organization – Views of America

Throwback Thursday, where, essentially I post old writing samples, essays and short stories that I dig up from my pile of hoarded papers and school assignments or from the depths of my computer. So everyone can see how my writing has changed/improved over the years.

“I Hear America Singing”/”Let America Be America Again”

Compare and Contrast Essay: Block Organization

Views of America

“Let America Be America Again” by Langston Hughes and “I Hear America Singing” by Walt Whitman (who inspired Langston Hughes as a writer) are two important pieces of American poetry. They have several similarities despite being written several decades apart, and both are about America, and life in America. Both poems reflect on their author’s views on America at the time at which they were written. However, those views are very different in each poem because of the differences in experiences and culture of their two authors.

The Harlem Renaissance was a cultural movement in New York around the 1920’s. The movement consisted of African-American poets, singers, and artists beginning to express their own voice, style, and culture instead of mimicking popular white styles as they had in the past. “Let America Be America Again” by Langston Hughes was written during this time. This poem is quite long, maybe a page and a half long. In the poem, Langston Hughes talks about the American dream of freedom and equal opportunity, and how it failed to live up to that promise. He writes about wanting to change things, change America to fit the values it was built on, “O, let America be America again/The land that never has been yet/And yet must be/the land where every man is free.” About how, as a black man, the American dream never seemed to apply to him, and how he wants to change that. You can see this in the lines “There’s never been equality for me, nor freedom in this ‘homeland of the free’”. “Let America be America Again” is a more negative poem, with themes of racism based on Hughes’ own experiences.

“I Hear America Singing” by Walt Whitman was published in the 19th century, a few decades prior to Hughes poem. This poem is in, comparison quite short, maybe half a page long. In this poem, Walt Whitman writes how different people lead different lives but each works in harmony with another. He writes of different professions singing different songs, but together they are all singing, “What belongs to him or her and to none else”. This is a more metaphorical poem, as I doubt everyone he met was always singing about his or her work. But his intention was to convey that people work hard and take pride in their work. Unlike Hughes, he doesn’t speak of the differences in people or in himself. He writes about people as a whole, not separate. His poem is more positive, with themes of unity. People sing joyfully, you can tell by the line “I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear” because carols are happy songs. As a white man, Whitman didn’t have the same experiences as Hughes. So his poem is not tinged with bitterness or sadness, unlike “Let America Be America Again”.

In all, both poems show the author’s view on American life. Hughes shows a harsher reality, he is straightforward with what he says needs to change. He speaks of the dissonance between what America claims to be and what it is. And uses his own experiences, as an African-America who is free but not really as evidence to support his claims. Whitman paints a happier, more metaphorical picture. People get along, are grouped as a whole: people. Not separated. If he noticed any of the problems Hughes did he didn’t mention them. He writes about Americans having pride in themselves and their work. Hughes came only a few decades after Whitman, but their views on the very same place differed greatly. And though Whitman came earlier, he is the one who writes as if America already has had its problems fixed. He didn’t see the same problems Hughes does, because he did not experience them himself.


Throwback Thursday: Research – BioTech Product

Throwback Thursday, where, essentially I post old writing samples, essays and short stories that I dig up from my pile of hoarded papers and school assignments or from the depths of my computer. So everyone can see how my writing has changed/improved over the years.


Ibuprofen is an over the counter medication, in the category of NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) used to treat pain, cramps, fever, and to reduce inflammation. It usually comes in the form of a pill, but does come in liquid form, usually for children. It was developed as a safer alternative to aspirin (though its use has been linked to increased chances of liver and heart diseases). It is manufactured by various companies, under brand names such as “Advil”, “Nurofen”, and “Moltrin”. Some specific companies include: Bayer Healthcare, Johnson and Johnson, and Pfizer Inc.

Ibuprofen is a synthesized compound. The process begins with a compound called “2-methylpropylbenzene” and through a six step process of adding and removing various molecules (a process which has since been reduced in what is called “green” synthesis), you end up with Ibuprofen. The original method was called the “Boot Process” after the company with the original patent, but now the “Hoechst Process” is used (this would be that new “green synthesis”). With the Hoechst process, the original
2-methylpropylbenzene is still used, then a H2 catalyst is added and then a CO catalyst is added. Through this, the proper molecules are added and removed to form Ibuprofen.

Ibuprofen was first developed and patented by the Boot Pure Drug Company in the UK. The research team was led by Stewart Adams. Ibuprofen became available as an over the counter medication in America in 1974 when the American Upjohn Company was given permission to market it as Motrin. Later, the Boots Company also sold it in America under the name Rufen.

Throwback Thursday: Heroes Need Followers Synthesis Essay

Throwback Thursday, where, essentially I post old writing samples, essays and short stories that I dig up from my pile of hoarded papers and school assignments or from the depths of my computer. So everyone can see how my writing has changed/improved over the years.


Each of our protagonists are considered the heroes of their stories, though they had similar aims of making their worlds better, and very different methods of achieving their goals (with varying degrees of success), they are all none the less the heroes of their respective stories. However, the heroes are not heroes without their followers. None of the heroes we see in the following novels attained that heroism by standing alone, because they are too easily shunned or dismissed that way. If they stand with others, they are not so easily ignored, and can more likely “enlighten” others or otherwise attain their goal. According to Plato’s definition, enlightenment is achieved by sharing your acquired wisdom with others, to do this, V from V for Vendetta, Harrison from “Harrison Bergeron”, and Jonas from The Giver all need their followers in order to become heroes.

Hero has several definitions with different connotations. Ranging from “the chief main character…” to “a man greatly admired” or “a legendary warrior of great strength”. We can fit some form of this definition to each of our protagonists. Showing they are heroes in terms of the works in which they appear.

Take V from V for Vendetta by Alan Moore for example. He is perhaps a controversial hero, but for his story, he is the hero. He achieves his goals, despite his death, but he only achieves them vicariously through Evey. Without his training and manipulation of Evey his plan of overthrowing the government would not have worked. He needed people on his side, to understand his ideals in order for them to come to life. He is the original “enlightened man” in V for Vendetta, and he becomes “truly enlightened” as per Plato’s definition when he begins to share the art, music, and literature he has saved from destruction. Without Evey, he is a terrorist, trying to change the world for the worst. With her, more citizens are swayed to his view, and despite perhaps being a tragic hero through his death; he becomes a hero nonetheless.

We see this similarly in The Giver by Lois Lowry. Jonas becomes the Receiver of Memory, and with this title becomes “special”, this is of course, a classic hallmark of a hero. But Jonas does not become a hero simply through this. It is The Giver and Gabe that make him a hero from his potential to be one. He gets the memories, as well as strength to carry out his plan from The Giver. The Council assigns him his role as the Receiver. And ultimately, it is the memory of love, The Giver’s love for Jonas, and Jonas’s similar love for Gabe that incites his heroism, stealing himself to make a change, to bring the memories back, all in order to save Gabe’s life. Without Gabe, the entire course of the story is changed. Jonas would not have left the community, or at the very least he would have left much later. Jonas becomes a hero when he decides to make a change for what he believes is the better, and without Gabe, he never would have made the choice at all, for there would have been no choice to make.

Then there are those like the Unknown Citizen, who is not, by any definition of the word, a hero. He stands alone, and does as he is told, and dies without being known. Had he died for a cause, for his cause, he’d have been a tragic hero, much like Harrison Bergeron, but he did not have a cause, or a conflict to solve, or a person to save. He was not special in anyway. He stood alone, and was in no way a hero for his world. And that is exactly the point the poem made. Heroes are known, remembered, praised. And the Unknown Citizen was praised by the government for not trying to be a hero, and his thanks was his name already forgotten.

Heroes need others in order to be heroes. To act as foils to make them better. To incite the heroism they have the potential for. To start the support, because there is power in numbers and multiple voices are harder to ignore. Heroes need others because they are by nature constructed by others, they must be seen as heroes to be heroes. Heroes without others aren’t heroes, they simply are.


Study Guide: AP United States History

College Board Description – Knowing is half the battle.

Survival Resources and Practice Tests

Crash Course: US History – This is crazy effective for reviewing/jogging your memory as you approach test day. While the crash course sciences are a bit lacking, the histories are the most useful thing.

Half the AP score is essays, so knowing your information is only half the battle, learning the formats and scoring of the essays.
This site helps: Sample Essays and Chapter Outlines

List of Themes and timeline outlines  -Useful to study

Massive Study Guide – In-depth

This guide is links more than anything else, but there isn’t really a short hand or formula sheet for APUSH – you cannot cram it like other stuff. Its connection and memory based, not application/approximation based. Here are resources to study if you don’t have a review book and your textbook is long and dry.

The history AP tests tend to be a bit easier, but you do have to have more than a vague idea about the subject.


Study Guide: AP English Language and Composition

About the Test – This site has some good in-depth explanations on the different sections of the AP test.

The test has two parts, multiple choice and essays.

I can’t really make a study guide for that.

Multiple choice is, well, the basis for every test ever – its reading comprehension, its about practice more than anything.

As for the essays…Read the guidelines on College Board – they also have old essay samples and score breakdowns – its useful.

But, essay writing is about practice. I have a really great teacher that I also had for sophomore year. You can’t become a strong writer overnight.

If you want some resources though:

Purdue has some great essay writing resources.

On Synthesizing

English Grammar 101


General Study Tips and Tools

Okay, studying is never fun, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

Studying is particularly important for the AP test(s). I’ve gotten a 3 and two 5’s on my past tests, and I’m taking 4 more the year; so I think my study methods can help others.

I’m going to try and make specialized guides for each test I’ve taken so far / am taking this year, but this is a more generalized list of my study habits/tools.

General Tips:

 -Actually learn the material the first time.
You can’t put it off and catch up a week later, it’ll just make you cry.

-Review your test and homework mistakes. It helps more than you think.

-Get a review book. Barron’s and 5 steps to a 5 are both good. Barron’s is my favorite, the sections are short and good for basic review and their are lots of review questions and explanations of the answers.

-Start studying more than a week before, especially if you have more than 1 test coming up.

General Tools / Most Subjects:

AP Study Notes –

Basically a site full of outlines and bullet point notes for pretty much every AP subject. Its really helpful for reviewing.

One Month AP Study Guides –

30 day study and practice guides for each AP test, if you have the time/patience for it, it helps a lot, especially if you’re bad at sticking to your own schedules for studying.

Easy Note Cards –

Basically notecards of test questions and vocabulary words, more helpful for class tests than the AP test, as its textbook specific.

Crash Course Videos –

Crash Course is my number one study tool for the AP test, I have more patience for videos than extra reading, and its entertaining too. Pretty much every subject you need is here.

Science Tools:


Bozeman Science –

Science videos, more in depth on the math-ier concepts than other sites/videos. Step by step with explanations for the math in chemistry, physics and biology.



2017 Resolutions


Its February, and I am only just now writing this.


I’m not so great at working with indefinite deadlines. Which is why reviews for publishers are done well in advance and Netgalley/self-published/etc. reviews are…chronically three months later than they should be.

But I digress. Lets get to the point.

So, resolutions. Everyone has already posted and broken theirs no doubt.


I have some, and I’d like to share them, and worst comes to worst…well, I fail like every other New Years Resolution that has EVER existed.

Ignore the fact that we are now 1/12th of the way through 2017.



This is a chronic issue for me. I cycle through a month of INTENSE BLOGGING…followed by 3 months of maybe 1 post total. Then, even during the intense blogging, the posting is irregular, 3 days of nothing and 4 posts on the same day and so one.

I need to be better at this. I CAN be better at this. It isn’t a lack of ideas or love for the blog.

I just…lose track of time when I don’t have homework deadlines.

I’m not committing to a schedule yet, but…I’ll try?

I am going to be scheduling posts all throughout summer so maybe that’ll help. If any one has any advice for me, I am more than happy to hear it!


2 – Memes And Features

Memes are a staple of book blogging. Features make a blog unique and memorable.

I had both. I stopped doing both. Why am I like this?!

You may notice that after this post: Trying To Be Better…

I started up my feature “Throwback Thursday” once again. I already scheduled the monthly posts for the ENTIRE NEXT YEAR! So, thats going well at least.

I’ve also had ideas for new features I want to implement, I’ll make a post detailing them soon, though you can see all the titles on my NEW DIRECTORY I MADE. (See I’m already doing great at this).

I also want to start doing memes again, Top Ten Tuesday, Waiting on Wednesday etc. I did them for like, a month in November and…stopped. But I like doing them, so lets see how this goes.

Let me know what you think of the (tentative, not soon to be implemented) schedule of memes and features, if there are any you like the sound of particularly more so I can focus on that one etc.


3 – Drafts: Tags and Reviews

I’ve never made a secret of the fact that my draft folder regularly has 100+ posts in it. Like I said, my issue is never a lack of ideas. I have 20+ reviews backlogged (of just books I’ve read, never mind  books I’m behind on), and 20+ tags (again, chronically late with those).

I want to get better at writing reviews and tags, and scheduling them, in a timely manner. To help the draft folder craziness and prevent the “3 month blogging absences” that always happen.

I have tags, original tags ideas, discussion ideas, book reviews, movie reviews, etc. In my drafts folder. I want to get it all caught up.


4 – Reading

This is the big one. I’m probably going to break every blogging resolution to varying degrees but reading is the one thing I have got to do. I love to read, it de-stresses me from life and I have a review copy TBR threatening to kill me.

But…I also frequently fall into reading slumps / brain is too tired to read slumps.

I’ll read 17 books in a month and then not read for 2 months.

Last year, I had to change my Goodreads challenge because they was no way I was reaching 100 books.

My problem is, I start, but then forget to finish books. Not because I wasn’t enjoying them, or because they were DNF books, but because I got distracted, forgot what was happening because I was trying to read while doing calculus or something, and just…don’t continue.

If nothing else, I have to get better at this.


5 – Time Management

This one is only peripherally blog related, as I mean it in more of a general sense for my life. I have a project I need to finish tonight that is barely started.

I have my ring ceremony in 2 weeks and I don’t have the tickets yet.

I have oodles of homework to do.

ACT and subject tests to register for.

Summer internship applications to do.

Silver Knight to work on.

Subject selection to fill out.

And AP tests to not fail (there is more, these are just the big things kill me now).

I need to manage my time better if I want to keep everything as it should be. And practice for next year for when college applications are slowly killing me with stress.

So, thats a goal. Arguably the most important one…



AND I think thats it!

Is it suitably dramatic/fashionably late?

Do you agree with my goals, do you have any similar goals?

Here is the post where I talked about Memes and Features I want to start doing in more detail. It won’t be happening any time soon, I will probably never attain that schedule, but it is a nice goal to aspire to. See it here: Maybe This Time It’ll Work: New Blogging Schedule, Memes, and Features

Do you like any in particular?

Excited for one versus another?

Have any tips for me? Let me know!

Trying To Be Better…

You all know how I’m prone to accidentally taking month long hiatuses?

Well…I did it again. I’m working on, well, not doing it, but…

In my defense I was:

a) Out of the country with no internet until the ninth

b) Had a Chemistry unit exam, an APUSH unit exam, and an AP CALCULUS CUMULATIVE MIDTERM EXAM

c) And the SAT (I took it yesterday, it was…well, it was a six hour test is what it was.)

I haven’t even had time to watch Sherlock, let alone blog.

But, I think everything is going to be a little less crazy for a while, so I’m trying to schedule a bunch of tags/reviews/posts. I’m so far managed to read a lot this year, between the cruise and the fact that in my Spanish class I finish my work fast/we have no work most days. So the reading slump of last year has been annihilated!

Thanks…Basically everything I wanted to say. I’ll be back to blogging semi-regularly soon.

I have:

  • 13 book reviews getting written/scheduled
  • 12 tags that I’m behind on to do
  • A lot of movie reviews drafted
  • And a whole list of discussion post ideas I want to get written, but those will likely be concentrated over the summer, where I have the time/mental energy to write them well. (Give me suggestions too!)

I also want to maybe bring back some features, as I’ve basically stopped doing a lot of them…

Some are:

  • Scars and Stories (Personal stories / ridiculous ways I’ve injured myself)
  • Throwback Thursday (old samples of my writing / stories or essays)
  • Top Ten Tuesday / Top 5 Wednesday etc.
  • Thinking of adding a photography feature too (not bookstagram)

These are some I’ve done in the past (first two of my own making). Would you guys be interested in seeing me bring any of these back? Or doing any other weekly-bookish meme, maybe one you find fun? Let me know and give me suggestions down in the comments!

Throwback Thursday: 10th grade Symbolism in V for Vendetta

Every once in a while, on a Thursday, I post an old school assignment that I have written as a “throwback thursday” type thing when I have an assignment I’ve found that seems interesting enough to post. This time, I have my essay on the roses in V for Vendetta as a symbol from tenth grade.


“They have eradicated culture…tossed it away like a fistful of dead roses” p.18


This is one of the first things V says to Evey. It’s important because it’s the first line we get that clearly shows his indignation with the world, and also the start of his education of Evey, in telling her all of the culture that was erased by the government he is trying to change, and later, get her to help him change. This line is also an important piece of foreshadowing because it is the first time V speaks of roses. Roses play an important part in V for Vendetta, V grows roses while at Larkhill, V gives roses to people whose deaths are carefully planned – such as Delia and the priest -, V also guides Rosemary – a different type of rose – into killing the leader. He speaks off dead roses, and he uses roses as a symbol for someone’s death. Giving them a rose means he is going to kill them, such as when he tells Evey, much later, to pick a rose to give the man who killed her Gordon. We learn that the roses have gone extinct, or at least nearly so, while reading Delia’s diary. The roses are dead. V says the culture is “tossed away like a fistful of dead roses”, so he tosses away the people who thinks are the worst of the society, of the government, the ones who worked at Larkhill with the dead roses. The roses die by consequence of their actins and they die too. V’s line “They have eradicated culture…tossed it away like a fistful of dead roses is important, because it is the first mention of the roses, which are important all throughout the novel.