Nuclear power

There has been a lot of debate about Australia changing to nuclear power in the media lately. The main reason to change to nuclear energy is to fight Global Warming. Well this statement may be true, but I know that many people are still against nuclear power, including me. Why? Because nuclear power is dirty and has its own dangers and risks.

So if nuclear power is so dangerous, why does our current federal government want to use it? Our government sees it as a way of reducing carbon emissions, therefore helping to stop global warming. The current energy source that we’re mainly using (oil and coal) is the major reason for Global Warming because they release carbon dioxide into the air. This is why nuclear power is being considered- because unlike oil and coal, it does not create carbon dioxide…

Or does it???

Lets look further into this area. The question is, “Does nuclear power emit carbon dioxide?” It is claimed that nuclear power does not emit any carbon dioxide at all into the air. However, this is only partly true. Yes, the nuclear reaction itself does not release any carbon dioxide into the air, but the process of converting uranium ore into nuclear fuel (eg. mining, refining and concentrating) is a highly polluting process. A huge amount of energy is also needed for the construction of a nuclear power station. And we go straight back to what we’re using now (coal and oil) for this energy. Therefore, if the making of nuclear power and its requirements are taken into account, nuclear power is in fact responsible for a large amount of carbon dioxide emissions.

Nuclear power really doesn’t have many more advantages other than its reaction doesn’t emit carbon dioxide. Actually, many of its other factors are quite worrying. There’s the threat of terrorism/making of nuclear weapons, the fact that the waste is dangerous and must be handled very carefully and I’m not even going to mention the overwhelming cost of it all.

My main worry for changing to nuclear power is how dangerous it is. The disposal of nuclear waste is a dangerous process, and the waste will last for thousands of years. Because the waste will be radioactive, it will need to be handled very carefully. Have you ever tried burying a plastic bag to see what will happen to it? As you may already know, plastic bags can take up to 1000 years to decompose, so most likely that plastic bag will remain in the ground much longer than you will remain on earth. It’s like this with nuclear power. The waste that is created from nuclear power will not simply “disappear” or “decompose”, but it will remain there for thousands or years. And on top of that, it is also very dangerous, so we will have to dump this dangerous waste somewhere where it cannot escape. And we all know how much power we use right now in Australia (I’m sure we’re all guilty of spending many hours a day watching TV or using the computer for MSN etc.). So therefore, Australia is going to have a lot of nuclear waste to deal with if our government decides to switch our main energy source to nuclear.

So because the waste is such an issue, the question is, what will we do with it? Well there have been some bizarre ideas on how to get rid of this waste such as burying it under the ocean floor and shooting it into space. The most likely one, however, is burying the waste under the ground. However, another issue arises from this as to where underground should the waste be buried. If we, Australia, were to go nuclear, we must be careful not to store the waste in an area where there is ground water flowing through. Ground water could erode the containment sealers and carry the waste into the environment if it flows through a waste storage area. Another factor to be careful of when choosing a containment area is to pick an area well away from a fault line/an area where geological activity occurs. We don’t want an earthquake to occur 1000 years into the future, because this will release the reactive nuclear waste into the environment as well.

When I was researching this nuclear topic, I came across a sentence that really shocked me. Quote: “Low level waste can be buried near the surface of the earth. It will have lost most of its radioactivity in a couple hundred years.” A couple of hundred years?! I thought. This was the lowest level of waste, and even this level will take hundreds of years to loose its radioactivity. And even when it finally loses its radioactivity, it doesn’t mean it’s completely gone. It will still remain there for most likely another couple of hundred of years, or maybe even more. But what scared me was that if this is how long it takes ‘low level nuclear waste’ to stop being radioactive, how long will it take ‘high level nuclear waste’ to stop being radioactive?! The site said that high-level waste is harder to get rid of and takes thousands of years to become stable. This waste must be contained for a very long time. If it is not contained, it could come in contact with human population centers and wildlife, putting their health at great risk. Therefore, the waste must be sealed up tightly.

I am worried about the risk of a nuclear disaster happening in Australia that could affect our health. One of the most well known nuclear disasters happened in 1979 at Three Mile Island in the USA. The disaster was caused by a meltdown. Luckily, no one was killed, but apparently the disaster affected the drinking water, which may have impacted on people’s health. The cleanup process was also very slow and costly.

Below is a picture of the Three Mile Island nuclear power station which I believe is still running today. Have a look at the colour of the water around it.

3_mile_island_fullsize.jpg

In the past, there have also been fatal nuclear disasters. This includes the Chernobyl nuclear disaster which was considered the worst nuclear power disaster in history.

Besides all the dangers, nuclear power shouldn’t even be considered now, simply because it cannot reduce carbon dioxide emissions quickly enough to prevent dangerous climate change. Nuclear power is not the answer.

Many environmentalists have spoken out against nuclear power.

“Nuclear power is too expensive and too dangerous. Wasting billions on more nuclear reactors would distract from the real task of developing renewables and reducing energy demand. Nuclear power is the ultimate unsustainable form of energy – for a little energy now, we would be condemning 10,000 generations to deal with the radioactive waste we would produce.” Andrew Lee, Director of Campaigns for WWF

“Nuclear power is a dangerous distraction from the real solutions to tackling climate change and it rightly deserves to be so unpopular,” commented Robin Oakley from Greenpeace. “It’s a hideously expensive and ridiculously antiquated way to generate electricity.”

I’m sure our prime minister wouldn’t like a nuclear reactor in his own backyard (just in case something was to happen!), but by changing to nuclear power, he’s putting nuclear reactors in his own country’s backyard!

My advice would be to leave the uranium right where it is in the ground. Clearly it was never meant to be touched by humans. Considering how costly nuclear power is, the money should be put towards renewable energy sources instead.

Blackle

Hello everyone!

Lately I have been keeping the time spent on my computer to a minimum, so I haven’t posted anything for months. However, today I thought that I should log on to give readers a quick update about the environment.

Google. When I say this, what comes to your mind? I’m sure you all imagine this search engine- the image of its bright, colourful heading on a clean, white page. Google is probably the most famous search engine I know, and it was the first search engine I ever used. Well did you know that Google has been re-created so that there is a search engine? You’re probably wondering what the point is in doing this. Like I mean, one search engine’s enough. All search engines do the same thing- type in what you’re looking for and click search. About a week ago I was informed this new search engine, and gee was I impressed! Why? Because this one was especially made to save energy and help the environment!

The name’s Blackle. Unlike ‘Google’, it’s heading is dark, and instead of having a bright white background, the background of Blackle is black, of course! All right, even I admit that I preferred the nice, colourful theme of Google. However, Blackle serves a much more important purpose than looks. As I’m sure many of you know, the environment is in a lot of strife, so we should all try and do a bit to help. Blackle is the perfect way to do this when we have to look something up on the internet. As Heap Media (the creator of Blackle) explains, taking small steps in our everyday lives to save energy is important. You may think that this isn’t going to make much of a difference, but if everyone took these small steps, there would definitely be a huge difference! Blackle is an example of taking small steps. It’s as easy to use as Google and has the same results. The only thing that I have noticed that it’s missing is the image search option. Sometimes I use this option, so whenever I need to use it I go onto the normal Google website, but for the rest of the time, I do all my searches on Blackle.

So what is the concept of having a black screen? How does it help the environment? Apparently, black screens don’t use as much power as white screens. I’m guessing that this is because they are much darker. So therefore, every time someone uses Blackle instead of Google, they are saving energy. As I write this, it says that 136,525.445 Watt hours have been saved. Of course, this number will continue to go up. This just proves that by simply changing your search engine to Blackle, you, among with everyone else that has been using Blackle, are making a real difference.

I’d also like to add to this post a bit of info about the origin of this fantastic idea. The idea of having a black screen to save energy was actually discovered by a man called Mark. He posted his discovery on his blog in January 2007, which attracted quite a bit of interest. If you’re interested, you can check out the very blog post that started this by clicking here.

Heap Media created Blackle because believe that there is great value in the concept. They say that even if the energy savings are small, they all add up.

As I end my blog post, I encourage you to visit Blackle (www.blackle.com) to see this site for yourself. I also encourage you to use Blackle as your search engine from now on because it’s not a hard way to help contribute towards helping the environment. If you were a frequent user of Google, it may take some time to get used to typing in “Blackle” instead of “Google” (trust me, I know from experience), but eventually you will get into a habit of automatically using Blackle instead. You may even like to set it as your home page as well.

Thankyou to everyone who takes the time to read my blog. I hope I have taught you a fact or two by writing this post. Have a great day!

Visy Box World

Today, while shopping in the mall, I noticed the most peculiar thing. As I approached it, I observed the different buildings, traffic lights and roads. Buildings ranged from small shops to tall skyscrapers with lines of windows covering all four sides. It was such an amazing city! Before you ask, “How can a city fit inside a mall?”, I will have to confirm to you that it was a moblie model city. But this wasn’t just any old model city. This city was made entirely from recycled materials such as cardboard, milk cartons and bottles! It was such an amazing piece of work that I decided to post about it here on my blog. I have done some more research on it as well which I have added below.

Name: Visy Box World (rightly named Box Town as well which represents a small city with buildings, cars, people and a Visy building)

Creator: Warren Thomas

After seeing the Legoland display when it toured Australia, Warren Thomas decided to build Box World. He chose to build his own world completely out of recycled materials, and the project took him over 12 years to complete. The finished product is over 200 square metres!

I am so thrilled that I got the chance to see part of Warren Thomas’ impressive city. I closely examined some of the shops and found that they even had an inside to them! There was a Chinese takeaway shop and a bread shop with a window that revealed rows of bread. Every shop had a lot of detail put into it and looked just like a real shop but miniature. I also read on another website that apparently there were over 900 individual buildings representing things you would expect to find in a typical Australian city. The site said that there was even a ferris wheel made from a BMX bike wheel, a circus made from a striped carry bag and part of a cathedral was made from a tomato sauce bottle! Although I didn’t notice these in the part of Box World I saw today, I’m sure they would have been included somewhere on the complete model city. Talking about websites, have a look at the Visy website: www.visyrecycling.com.au

Besides the buildings and structure of the city, there were also many facts about Visy around the structure. One of them that I can remember went somewhat like, “Each year, all of the bottles Visy recycles can circle Australia 6 times”!

As this part of the model city goes on tour, it will probably move to another location at sometime. However, where ever the recycled city goes, it will always be an inspiration to start recycling to anyone who sees the fantastic work! Visy Box World really inspired me to be creative with what and how I recycle, and I hope it inspires others to do the same.

Plastic bags

I can remember the other day when I was out shopping with my younger brother. He’d spotted a small toy that he wanted to buy, so he picked it up, and brought it over to counter. As I stood with him, I watched as he paid for the item. He was then asked whether he wanted a plastic bag for it. I know that this is a typical question that is asked at the shops, which I’m sure you’re all very familiar with as well. Anyway, my brother nodded his head, and I watched the shop assistant pull out a plastic bag to put this small, packaged toy in. At this point, I couldn’t help but interrupt. I told my brother that he didn’t need a plastic bag, and if he didn’t want to carry the toy, then I would carry it for him in my handbag. That was just one bag that I may have saved from damaging the environment.

Before you ask, “How can one plastic bag be so harmful,” I would like to list all the effects plastic bags have on the environment. I remember my brother asking me this very question after we stepped out of the shop, and I know that many others are still unaware of the impacts these bags have on the environment. I can remember when I was younger, I would always say “yes” to plastic bags when offered them at shops. Although these bags may seem like innocent things to carry shopping in, I have now learnt that they really are quite a harmful thing to the environment that people should be more aware of. My aim for today is to teach people who don’t know the harms of plastic bags what they’re really capable of, and I hope to alter people’s answer to the question “Would you like a plastic bag” to “No thanks”.

Earlier today I started researching why plastic bags are so bad for the environment. Before this, I knew that it was better to “Say ‘no’ to plastic bags”, but like many people, I didn’t know why they were this bad. After searching for answers, I came across many websites that discussed the alternatives to plastic bags, listed some astonishing facts about these bags, and described the damaging effects these bags have on the environment. After reading all this, I would like to pass on what I’ve learnt to others. I will begin this by listing these dangers to the environment and some amazing facts, which should answer the question, “What is so bad about plastic bags?”:

1. Once let loose into the environment, plastic bags are categorised as rubbish. We all know that rubbish makes our environment look untidy, and by littering plastic bags, they’re just another piece of rubbish which helps make the environment look dirty and unwelcoming. Next time you’re outside, have a look around you, and you’ll be amazed by the number of plastic bags littering our streets and waterways. These bags can also get blown away to trees and other areas full of nature, which leads me on to point two. 

2. Plastic bags are killers, and claim the lives of many animals each year. These bags end up in water, which can be mistaken for jellyfish by wildlife. This is the reason why plastic bag pollution is particularly dangerous in marine environments, because animals such as birds, turtles, whales and seals swallow the bags and then die from intestinal blockages. It is claimed that plastic bags are the most common man-made item seen by sailors at sea, which isn’t nice to hear. Below is a picture of an operation to remove plastic from inside a green turtle:

Operating on a turtle
 

Next is a picture showing the contents of the turtle’s stomach. This includes a blue plastic bag and a red balloon. 

Plastic bag found in turtle

The turtle was then released back into the ocean. How long will it survive? 

Setting a turtle free

3. One of the biggest problems with plastic bags is that they don’t easily break down in the environment. It is estimated that the decomposing time ranges from 20 years (at least) to 1000 years! This means that a plastic bag that was let loose in the environment before I was born (about 14 years ago) is still trying to decompose in the environment today, and it will be a long time to come before it’s done so. This is just one plastic bag, and each time you put a plastic bag into the bin, it will take somewhere between 20 years to 1000 years to break down. And during this time, the bag separates into smaller and smaller toxic particals that contaminates the soil and the water surrounding it.

4. Plastic bags can basically be described as “serial killers”, because believe it or not, just one plastic bag can claim more than one animal’s life. Once an animal that has swallowed a plastic bag dies, it decays at a much faster rate than the plastic bag (which, like I said above, takes somewhere between 20-1000 years to decompose). You can probably already tell what’s going to happen next. Once the animal has decomposed, once again, the bag is released back into the environment, ready to be eaten by another misguided creature.

5. Plastic bags can also cause the clogging of drains, threatening not only natural environments, but urban ones as well. Here’s an astonishing fact; Plastic bags in drains was said to be a major contribute to the severe flooding in Bangladesh in 1988 and 1998! This resulted in a ban on plastic bags being used there in 2002.

Plastic bags go down the drain

6. Besides the harsh environmental costs, general use of plastic bags is quite costly in terms of money. There is the cost of bags themselves, which is four to six cents each, and the production of them, but apart from this, there is a lot of money that goes into collecting and cleaning up the bags once they have been discarded.

7. Plastic bags are made from a gas called ethylene, which is produced as a by-product of oil, gas and coal. The production of plastic bags consume millions of gallons of oil that could be used for fuel, heating or some other energy.

Other facts:

* Plastic bags are one of the most commonly used application of plastics technology. Australians use around 6 billion plastic bags per year, and 3.3 billion of those are supermarket plastic bags. According to Clean Up Australia, if tied together, these bags would form a chain that is long enough to circle the world 37 times!

* On Clean Up Australia Day in 2002, nearly half a million plastic bags were collected.

I would like to give credit to http://www.abc.net.au/science/features/bags/default.htm. This site was where I learnt all this information from, and where I found the pictures.

Plastic bags. Every minute, people are being given plastic bags to hold their shopping in. How many of these are polluting out environment? Well, there were nearly half a million plastic bags collected from the environment by on Clean Up Australia Day, 2002. Who knows how many more were still out there, and are out there right now. Just a few days ago I took a moment to observe the surroundings while on the way to a friend’s house, and I was shocked by how many plastic bags there were. Wrapped around trees, blown to the side of fences… my list could go on and on. And many of these plastic bags could have been saved from ending up in the environment as well. So many plastic bags are given to people without any need as well. I have read many texts that support this point, and have been in many situations (like when shopping with my younger brother) where there was no need for a plastic bag, but the server would have given us one if I hadn’t said no.

Now, I would like to suggest some of the alternatives to plastic bags. I know that some retailers offer paper bags instead of plastic bags, but just today I read that paper bags carry their own set of environmental problems. The text that I read said that according to the American Forest and Paper Association, in 1999, the U.S alone used 10 billion paper grocery bags, which consumed 14 million trees!

I know that sometimes, you actually do need to receive a plastic bag though. When this happens to me, I don’t throw the plastic bag out afterwards. Instead, my family has a place in our house where we put the plastic bags we get, so we can use them again for other things such as storing other items in the house in. I have also read that some plastic bags can be recycled by taking them to central recycling collection points, such as supermarkets. As long as the bags do not contain any ink marks, food, or supermarket dockets, the bag should be recycled. I have never actually experienced these recycling collection points before, but I have read about them on the abc link which is further above. Other than that, if you don’t need a plastic bag, say “no”, unless you are going to reuse or recycle it. This is where a saying that I like comes in:

Recycle, Reuse, Reduce

So if both plastic bags and paper bags aren’t the best option for the environment, what is? Well, I have come to the conclusion that the best alternative is reusable cloth bags. These bags are not only stronger, but they are reducing the amount of plastic bags being released into the environment. They can be kept in the car and used again and again, instead of receiving more and more plastic or paper bags. It may take a bit of time to get used to remembering to bring your own bag to the supermarket, but it is quite an easy habit to get into and it’s definitely a relief not to have to pack the groceries away, and then find room to pack the plastic bags as well! These reusable cloth bags can be found at some major supermarket chains such as Coles (the Go Green bags) for a very small price (which is definitely worth it if you’re serious replacing those plastic bags with environmentally friendly bags!) I have copied a paragraph from the Coles website below, which explains a bit about these Go-Green bags:

Go-Green Bags are available at all Coles Supermarkets for only $1.79 each. The very popular non-woven polypropylene Go-Green Bag has a sturdy base and can hold more than a standard plastic bag. The bags are easy to clean and can be recycled through the checkout bag recycling bins. The Go-Green Bags have been designed to operate with standard packaging frames. These bags are available to purchase in all Coles Supermarkets.

I have also noticed a popular teenage clothing shop called “Supre” has started giving out these reusable cloth bags, but with a different design on them. I think this is a good idea, and hopefully it will encourage more teenage girls to start reducing plastic bags. Besides stores, I have seen many other reusable bags from other organisations such as Red Cross.

To finish up with, I believe that children (like my brother) need to be aware of the reasons for refusing a plastic bag. This is one of the reasons I decided to post this issue on my blog, and I hope that I have convinced others that for a small price, it is worth buying re-usable cloth bags. Not only are these bags stronger, but they are helping the environment by reducing the amount of plastic bags being released into it. I hope I have taught everyone reading this about the reasons for refusing a plastic bag, and ways to help reduce the amount of bags contaminating our environment. I’m sure that next time I go shopping, I will refuse plastic bags when I can (or reuse them), and either put the items I buy in my handbag, or carry groceries in environmentally friendly cloth bags.  

Charlotte’s Web

A story of love, a story of friendship, a story of sacrifice… Charlotte’s Web is one story that will pull the heartstrings of anyone who watches it.

For the first time these holidays, I entered the cinema to watch a movie. I chose Charlotte’s Web because it seemed to be getting some very good reviews. After watching this movie, I too agree with all the great reviews on it out there! I don’t think there was anyone in the theatre that didn’t have tears running down their cheeks while watching the movie.  

The story revolves around a terrific, radiant pig (as Charlotte describes him as) called Wilbur, who was saved by a young girl from being killed by his owner. With the determination and kindness of the girl, she gave him the opportunity to have a life. However, when she was told that she couldn’t keep Wilbur in her house anymore, she had no choice but to hand him over to her uncle, who lived just across the street from them. Wilbur’s new home was inside a barn, where he was placed next to the other barn animals. He leaped into barn life, taking every opportunity to have a bit of fun around there. He rolled in mud, introduced himself to the other animals, and became good friends with a kind spider called Charlotte. Although the other animals rejected Charlotte because of her species type, Wilbur offered his friendship to anyone, no matter what they looked like. The most unlikely pair soon became strong friends, and although the other animals described Charlotte as “ugly”, Wilbur described Charlotte by her kindness. “I think she’s beautiful” described Wilbur, as he stuck up for his friend. Some pig!

However, all the barn animals, including Charlotte, knew something that Wilbur wasn’t aware of. They all knew what happened to pigs that were kept by humans. As Wilbur soon discovered, most pigs didn’t get to see the beauty of Winter, as they were killed and eaten as pork. But Charlotte wasn’t going to let this happen to her friend. As he had stuck up for her, and offered his friendship, she too was going to return the favour, and sacrifice her own life along the way. She made a promise to Wilbur that she wasn’t going to let them kill him. “I never break my promises,” she told him in her soothing voice.

To sacrifice your own life for a friend is a very strong thing to do, and really shows how powerful friendship can get. Charlotte used her spinning web technique to create words that described Wilbur. The humans were unsure who did this, but were amazed by it, and they all praised Wilbur for it all. As Charlottes words made Wilbur win the best pig contest, they were also, at the same time, harming herself. Wibur was unaware that Charlotte was losing her energy by helping save his life until he found her huddled in a corner with her newly laid eggs beside her. Wilbur’s life had been saved, but Charlotte was very ill. She was dying.

Charlotte explained that this was what happens in life. She told Wilbur that everything she wrote in her web was what she saw in him. “Terrific, Radiant… Humble”. She was willing to do this for a friend like Wilbur.

Charlotte’s Web shows “The Circle of Life” in a story of friendship and sacrifice. “We’re born, we live a little, and we die” is what Charlotte explains to Wilbur. As one spider passes away, hundreds more are born, and are released into the world. As this story proves, friendship isn’t about the looks, or the species of an animal. It’s about love. As I think about this movie, I think about the different friendships I’ve had with people. I think about whether I’ve been used by others to gain something for themselves, and about the friendships I have with people right now. I have in counted many people who are judgmental like what was included in this movie, and only show niceness when they want to gain something from me. However, I also think about how lucky I am to have friends who care about me in a way that I would definitely describe as true friendship.

Charlotte’s Web is one movie that will appeal to all ages. Just make sure you pack your pockets with tissues before you watch it!

The end of Year 8 is approaching…

Every year and everything I go through changes me as a person. This year I have been through so much, from making friends I will keep with me for the rest of my school life, to completing yet another year of school. Everything that has happened to me this year has changed me, and made me what I am today. In one week, Year 8 will be over, and it will be the holidays that I know we are all looking forward to. Sometimes it scares me to think that I am nearly in Year 9, the middle of high school. It feels like just yesterday that I stepped into the school building for the first time. Everything was so big, and so new. I was a tiny year sevener, dressed in my brand new uniform that that way too big for me. I can tell you one thing for sure; I didn’t like this new school. All my friends from my primary school weren’t with me, my teacher wasn’t here, and I was lost. Standing in the middle of  the courtyard, I looked around me and felt as if everyone else were staring at me. All alone in this huge school with very little people I knew, I felt cold. I was a shy year sevener who never said a word unless I was asked to. Everything has changed now. I have now formed a good group of friends who I feel comfortable around, and I am now used to this place which I used to describe as “cold” and “not nice”. I have grown, not only in size, but in education and confidence. I have experienced many different things that I never knew existed in primary school such as blogging, and I no longer feel that everyone is staring at me.

This year I met all my new teachers, and one of them, Mrs McLeay, decided to introduce us to blogging. If you look back to my first post, you can see that my writing has changed quite a lot since then. There is so much more to blogging that I thought there was back at the beginning of this year, and I have learnt so much from it as well. From all the support people have given me, I was encouraged to carry on blogging, and although many people will end their blogging experience when Year 8 finishes, I will continue to blog. I feel that blogging is an on-going thing, and although I may not post as often, I will want to continue doing this even though the year has ended.

I would like to thank every one of you who has been reading my blog, and commenting on it. Each comment has encouraged me to continue posting as I know there are people out there who are reading what I am writing. Thank you!

Blogging overview

I have read many different opinions on blogging, so I have decided to write a post based on my own idea of blogging. I have answered the questions that Mrs McLeay set for us to answer, but I have also compared my answer with what other people think.

What have you learned through blogging?

Fran: Through blogging I have learnt about what different people think and what issues people like to address. It has helped me come to understand what different girls in my class and around the world write and think about the same issues and the way they respond to these. Blogging is all about sharing thoughts and feelings with other people.

Myself: Blogging allows you to say what you think about different things from your heart, without people interrupting you. Of course, there are guidelines to blogging. Although there are many people just like us who are students, teachers or just bloggers, we have to be aware that not everyone is trustworthy and genuine on the internet. Anyone can access our blogs, as it is open for anyone who finds it to come and read what we have written. There can be some dangerous people who use the internet as bait, so therefore we cannot give out any personal information such as the town that we live in, our address, our surname or any other information that can be used by these people who are up to no good. This is one thing I have learnt through blogging; about the importance of internet safety.

Like Fran said, by reading someone’s blog, you actually get to know them more. You learn about other people’s opinions from other countries, and you also learn what other people in your class think about different issues. As well as reading what other people think, you also get to voice your own opinion. Blogging allows you to share your thoughts with other people over the internet, and you can actually devalop an online friendship with someone.

What would you say to other Year 8’s about the possibility of blogging in English next year?

Sarah: I would say why. I don’t really get the point of it.

Myself: I believe that what you put into blogging is what you get out of it. I really enjoyed the opportunity to have a blog, write posts and communicate with other bloggers this year, but not everyone has the same opinion as me. As Sarah said above, she didn’t understand what they point was of blogging. However, I look at blogging as a different way of learning, instead of sitting there in class with a book open, reading about how to write and how to blog. I’m the kind of person who actually has to get in a try something instead of read about it. I really think that you have to give blogging a chance, and by doing this, I have got a lot out of it. Although blogging may not be the style of learning that everyone likes, I have found it a really great experience. I remember reading a comment that someone left which said something like, “Your blog is great, but why do you write so much?” Well, the simple answer is that I have such a strong passion for writing, it is natural for me to write such long posts. Not many people are like this, but and actually do the opposite. They can’t think of anything to say and their posts are usually quite short according to me.  

At the beginning of the year, I didn’t really understand blogs that much. I had never come in contact with one before, and I didn’t understand why we were doing blogs in English. I assumed that English was just learning about grammar and spelling, but as I looked into it more I began to realise that English revolves around us everyday. Communicating with people, understanding how other people live and basically “exploring the language we speak” is how I describe English. I have continued to write new posts throughout the year, and every new post has improved my writing skills. I have put the most into blogging, and have really got the most out of it. When I look back at my very first post, the length of the post was tiny compared to what my posts are like now. I can now look back and read all my previous posts, watching my writing grow, improve and become more passionate along the way. Blogging is truly a great thing to be doing, as long as you put a lot of effort into it.

People say that blogging is just a different way of learning. What do you say about the possibility of using blogs to learn?

Everyone has their own style of learning that helps them learn. Whether it’s reading from a book, listening to someone explain how to do something, following a picture or a diagram, listening to the instructions being sung out with music or building something that will help them understand the topic, everyone has at least one style that they know helps them learn well. Just like all these styles I have listed above, blogging is yet another type of learning style that some people prefer. I know that I’m definitely one of these people that’s learnt so much from blogging, but other people may not like this style as much as, just say, listening someone explain how to do something. It all depends on your personal preference to how much you learn out of blogging. As well as this, you must also give blogging a chance. If you don’t, you may miss the opportunity of discovering a great learning idea for yourself.

8Alive Masks

I just had my last 8Alive day two weeks ago, and it is sort of sad to think that never again will we be doing this program. I would like to share with you one activity that really stood out for me this week. By doing this activity, I thought beyond the basic idea of painting and decorating a mask, and looked into a deeper meaning where the colours in the mask represent my own personality and thoughts.

To start off with, I would just like to explain where the idea of painting masks came from. If you think about it, people that we know and meet everyday wear masks. Not physical masks like those that you physically put over your face, but masks that hide their true self from people. This mask changes their personality, and hides what they’re really like.

I can remember clearly a true story that I was told before we started painting the masks. This story was a perfect example of how masks can hide what someone’s true self is. The story started off at school, where a mask was hiding someone’s real personality. It was set back in the years when a female teacher went to high school with a guy. This teacher always saw this guy as a really ‘up himself’ person, who was always showing off and thought that he was better than everyone else. The teacher told how she didn’t like people who thought they were so good and superior, so she kept a distance from this guy at her school. However, during the school holidays, this guy turned up in the same camping area with his family, and set up camp next to this teacher, who was also camping with her family. Because this teacher knew this guy from school, she took a big step, and introduced her family to him. After spending a bit of time with him while camping outside school, she found out that he wasn’t so up himself, and was actually a really nice guy. His personality completely changed when he was with his family, and the two of them became very close friends. Now, many years later, this guy who this teacher met back at highschool, became her much-loved husband. During school, this guy wore a mask to hide what he was really like. This mask made him look like a show off, and if this teacher had never got to know him without his mask on, she would never have him as a husband like she does now. 

You may recognise this story, which relates to other stories where people’s personalities are hidden by a mask. I know that I actually wear a mask myself, and this is where my choice of colouring came into the mask I painted during 8Alive. Below I have explained all about my choice of colours, and what they really mean.

First off, I painted half the mask with a pale blue colour. Why did I choose the colour blue, you ask? Well to be honest, I don’t actually know why I chose this colour myself. Maybe it had something to do with my interests, as blue is one of my favourite colours. The colour blue has always been a special colour to me. It reminds me of the beauty of nature, and really is a special colour. Some people may say that they have the “blues”, but this did not come into my choice of this colour. I generally see myself as a happy person, so relating this colour to sadness and “blues” isn’t the path I chose to colour my mask as. Well, back to the reason why I chose this colour. Like I said before, I originally didn’t have a meaning behind the choice of blue, but the colour just stood out to me. The beauty inside this colour is just exquisite, and really reflects on the beauty of nature. I often look up at the strong blue in the sky and admire its colour, often wondering how the sky got such a beautiful colour. Another example is the ocean. The ocean, or beach as I know it, has always been a magical place for me, and it also shares the blue colouring of my mask. Just then I did a quick search on Google for “blue ocean”, and up came a whole lot of pictures of the ocean. These pictures were probably each taken from different locations, but they all share one thing in common… the beauty of the ocean. Just by looking at these pictures I can feel the shimmering, glamorous scenery, as if I was right there at that very place. All the shades of blue come together to form one stunning stretch of water which I look at as being a very special, meaningful place.

Talking about shades, I better start talking about the two different shades that I used in my mask. I divided my mask into two halves, and the first half was painting with a pale blue, that I mentioned just above. This half, with the pale blue colouring, represents my life at school. The other half of the mask is covered with the same colour (blue), but it is a darker shade. Now I will explain to you what each side represents. The first side (pale blue side) represents my life at school, and the other half (darker blue side) is my life at home. In each place my personality changes slightly. At school, I don’t feel as comfortable as I do at home. Because of this, I am much quieter, and my personality changes (which is the light blue side of the mask). Most people in my class have only met this side of me, which is hiding my more natural personality that comes out at home.

At home, I don’t restrain the actions that I often stop myself from doing at school. For example, at home if my brother has the TV on too loud, I would yell across the room at him to “Turn the TV down!” This is what is represented by the darker shade of blue on my mask. However, in class, if a TV was on at a very loud volume, I would ask the teacher quietly if she/he would mind turning the volume down. This side of me is represented by the light blue on my mask, which is what most people in my class know me as. The difference between these two responses would basically be the word “please”. At school I would think about what I was going to say to the teacher for a while before I approach her, but at home I would just yell out what comes to the top of my head. The reason for this is probably because I’ve been with my family my whole life, and I’ve sort of adapted to them.

Another example would be when the class starts talking really loud. Some people may find nothing wrong with this, but because I am very sensitive to the volume of noise, this really annoys me. I hate discos because of the booming, loud music, and I hate any kind of loud sound. If you are like this as well, then you would know exactly how I feel. If not, you may find it hard to understand why this bothers me. Well, this has always bothered me. Whether it’s a balloon popping, people screaming, music that’s at the maximum volume level… I get very sensitive to the noise. Well, back to the example. It just happened that yesterday at school, we all had to do a test. Usually, no matter how fast I try to go, I am always the last one to finish a test. Well, it was all quiet and I was working away at this test, and then the sentence that I feared was announced. “I’ve finished!” someone yelled out. “Yes, I’ve finished the test!” Well, I would probably say the same thing if I was doing the test at home with my family, but I know that my family wouldn’t react so much to it. At school, I would quietly hand up the test, and find something else to work on. The thing is, in our class, there are not many people who do the same thing as I do. When more than one person finishes a test, the noise begins. There was talking that followed the announcement, and as soon as someone else finished, they started talking as well. Of course, a pattern began to form. As more and more people finished, more and more people began talking. And when more and more people start talking, everyone raises their volume so they can hear each other, and so on. Meanwhile, there I was sitting there, trying to get through this test. No one had any respect to the people who were still finishing their test, and the more they talked, the more annoyed I got. Anger was building up inside me because not only was I finding the test hard, and because there was a certain time limit for the test, but mainly because I could not concentrate with everyone else talking. They could at least show a bit of respect by staying quiet until the time limit was up. If anyone from my class is reading this right now, you won’t believe it when I say that I really felt like screaming at everyone to “shut up”. And no, I am not joking. I meant what I said, but my light blue mask fought this temptation and won against it. No matter how much I wanted to do this, my mask prevented me from this happening. It would be a completely different story at home though. If this was my brother making all this noise while I was trying to do something such as homework, I would have easily told him to “shut up” in a very angry way. This is what I would naturally do, but because masks are so strong, they can actually block you from showing what your true reaction would be. If you don’t know a person very well, it will be quite easy to hide what you’re really like from them. However, the more you start to get to know a person, the more their real personality will start to unfold.

Now that I have explained the main colours used in my mask, I will explain the colours that I used to outline the features of the mask. To begin with, I outlined the two eyes with half black, half white which represents how I see the world. The white represents all the good things that happen in this world. Friendship, love, compassion, enjoyment and nature all fall into this category. However, with the good there’s also bad, and this is what the black represents. Hatred, wars, pollution, murder and depression all fall into this category. So in this world, there are both bad things, and good things. We like to encourage good things that will make the world a better place.

I have also outlined the nose as well with half black, half white, which is how I smell the world. Once again, the white represents the good smells, and the black represents the bad smells. Good smells include things such as flowers and trees which are mainly natural, but the bad smells include pollution such as car fumes and rubbish that are man-made and help to contaminate the planet.

Finally I outlined the mouth, which is how I word things. In other words, this is what I encourage people to do and not to do. Like the nose and the eyes, I outlined half the mouth with white, and the other half with black. The white side is what I encourage people to do, and a lot of these encouragements I have previously written about on my blog. These include doing things such as recycling, saving water and being compassionate to others that have a good effect on the earth. The black side of the mouth is basically the opposite, which is what I tell people not to do. Not littering, not bullying and not wasting water are some examples, and there are many more examples for both what to do and not to do that I haven’t listed.

Well that pretty much rounds off another long post. Unfortunately this will probably be the last post I write about 8Alive (since the program has now finished), but I will be back to post about other experiences and ideas.

The Dons- Character Discussion- Zia Rita

While reading our new class novel ‘The Dons’, I have learnt a bit about different people’s characters, and have had a deeper look into people’s behaviour. One example I would like to talk about is a lady in the story called Zia Rita.

The first thing I will tell you before I start talking about Zia Rita’s character is the meaning of this word. ‘Zia’ is Italian for ‘Aunt’. I know that I went through the whole book without knowing the real meaning for this word, and I always thought it was just part of her name. ‘Nonno’ is also from the Italian, which means ‘Grandfather’. However, in this book we start to think of this word as Zia Rita’s father’s name.

Well with Zia Rita, the first thing I will say that will describe this lady is that she is like a book with a piggy bank on its cover. If you’re wondering why I have linked a human character to a book’s cover, then I’m just about to explain it all to you right now. This is where the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” comes in. Throughout the book, we get the impression that Rita is just a selfish lady who doesn’t care about her own father. It is her behaviour that makes us think that she’s just a selfish person, which is like the cover of a book. Have you ever looked at the front cover of a book and gone, “Gee, that book looks so boring!” because of the cover? However, if you read it, you may find that the book itself isn’t what it seemed like when you looked at the cover. This is exactly the same as Zia Rita! People make their mind up on what she’s like based on her actions (which is like judging a book by it’s front cover) instead of looking deeper into her inside feelings about the whole issue with Nonno. The piggy bank on the cover represents the selfishness that people see in Zia Rita, but it’s a completely different story when you look into the situation more closely.

So what is Zia Rita really like inside? Inside, Zia Rita was afraid of what might happen to her father (Nonno). She couldn’t cope with all the changes that were happening to her own father. It was this same person that used to laugh and talk to Rita when she was a child. It was this same person who would play the piano accordion and dance around the garage… the only thing that had changed was that Nonno was getting old. He was losing his mind, and Rita had no control over what was happening to him. She was confused, and afraid of what was going on. What was happening to her father that she always loved to socialise with?

So what was all the selfishness about? Why didn’t she show how she really felt about Nonno? Zia Rita loved Nonno so much that she didn’t want to face what was happening to him. She was so afraid of what was happening to him that she tried to escape the situation by avoiding the fact that he was losing his mind. She seemed like a selfish lady throughout most of the story because she continuously refused to look after Nonno, but it wasn’t Nonno who she was refusing to face; it was what was happening to him that she couldn’t understand.

But why didn’t Zia Rita talk to people about how she felt? Well I believe that this is an indication that gives a bit more information about her personality to the readers. Because she would not talk to anyone about her fear, she  striked me as quite a hollow person. The kind of person who cannot understand that it’s better to talk to others about how she feels instead of keeping it all inside her. This may be a problem of trust, or she may only be scared of what people would think of her.

However, there was one part of the book where Zia Rita did actually mention how she missed the old times she had with Nonno. The sound of Nonno playing his piano accordion brought back memories of her childhood. All Rita’s worries was swepted away by the music, allowing her to reveal how she missed the good times she had with Nonno.

Zia is dancing in the silence, her arms out over her head, her head to one side. It doesn’t take long for Nonno to start playing, and when he does Zia Rita grabs me by both hands and we whirl around her garage the way we did at family get-togethers before Dad died… I see Nonno hunched over his piano accordion. His head is rocking from side to side and his eyes are closed. There is a grin on his face and his right foot is tapping time. “Gee, I miss this stuff!” Zia cries as we lock arms and twirl and stomp our feet.

Zia Rita’s way of trying to cope with the huge change in Nonno was to try and block him out of her mind. She wanted to pretend that she had nothing to do with him anymore, instead of face that Nonno was not what he used to be. This approach is what makes her seem like a selfish person in the story, however, by reading this book, I have learnt to understand people’s actions and learn what causes them.

Her final decision to move away so she could escape the stress of Nonno was a selfish decision that proved how weak she was when it came to accepting reality. However, this was caused because of her inside fear of what is going to happen to Nonno. Therefore, I don’t consider Zia Rita as simply a selfish person, but only selfish on the outside because of her lack of understanding and dealing with the situation.

This rounds me off to the cover of the book again where it has some small writing. I think that the whole issue of Zia Rita running away from her family to live in Sydney is one reason for this little sentence on the cover, as well as some other issues in the story. Really, when you think about, it all winds up to this very sentence on the cover of the book. This is the sentence that I never really understood until I finished reading the book. When I started talking about the family issues that have been faced in this book, everything begun to link up with this little sentence.

You can never escape family

Compassion

When I say the word ‘compassion’, what do you think of? What kind of things do you imagine someone doing which involves compassion? Why is being compassionate so important? Today I have decided to write a post which is all about compassion, which will answer all of these questions.

Have you ever heard the saying “treat others how you want to be treated”? I believe that this saying is in the center of compassion. If you do not respect people for who they are, and do not show kindness, don’t expect people to treat you any better than you have treated them. People must realise that everything doesn’t revolve around themselves. The key words that need to be focused on in compassion are kindness, empathy and generosity. I have explained these three words below:

Kindness– Kindness involves treating people in a manner that would make them feel comfortable. Showing kindness could simply mean saying greeting someone friendly, including them, starting a conversation with them etc.

Empathy- I would say that empathy is one of the most important points in compassion. The word empathy basically means understanding how others feel and trying to put yourself in their shoes. Instead of only thinking about yourself, you are imagining what things would be like for someone else. When I say “putting yourself in someone’s shoes”, I don’t mean this by physically putting on their shoes, but I mean imagining that you are actually this person, and how things would feel like from their point of view.

Generosity- Generosity is giving up something of yours for someone else. This may simply mean sharing your money with a friend so they can buy a chocolate muffin from a cake stall, or it could mean giving up your bedroom so that your new brother has a place to sleep at night. No matter how big or small the sacrifice is, it will always make someone else happy.

Now, can you imagine a world where there is no compassion at all? Try to imagine what things would be like for not only you, but everyone else as well. Everyone only helps other people for money, the poor people get left to starve because no one cares about anyone but themselves, everyone uses everyone else to please themselves… it wouldn’t be a very nice world at all! Everyone is capable of showing compassion, but not everyone is willing to do so. That is why today I would like to thank everyone who have taken time to read this, and everyone who has shown compassion in this world, or will do after reading this.

So next time there’s a job that needs doing, do it out of good-will instead of only doing it to gain money for yourself. I know that this week I’m going to set myself a goal of to do things out of good-will instead of money, and I hope that I have aspired you to do the same.