The Worst Part of Summer: Summer Homework

Don’t read the title of this post. Oh, you did? Sorry. Well, the good news is that I’m reminding you about your summer homework at the beginning of the summer, so you have about two months to try and re-erase it from your memory.

See, summer is not about school. Summer and school go together about as well as apple juice and potato salad*. The good thing is that summer and school are pretty much separate.

*No, I did not make that statement from experience. Mostly. Okay, maybe I did. It DOESN’T CONCERN YOU. MOVE ALONG.

Logically, then, homework, which is the worst part of school, should not exist during summer vacation, right? Obviously, you say. (Notice how you are unable to disagree with me when I’m writing. This is why I always win arguments – I talk for the other person and make them agree with me).

However, homework does exist during summer. For most AP and Honors classes, summer homework is the norm.

Now I’m sure you are aware why homework is bad. If you are not, you are either very lucky (having never had homework), very stupid, or lucky to be stupid, although that isn’t actually all that lucky (although if you were stupid it might seem lucky, which is stupid).

Summer homework, though, is uniquely bad for many reasons.

The Weather

Now, you either live in a place where it is sunny all the time, like Mercury, or you live in a place where it rains every single day except for ten weeks during summer, like where I live (in a cloud). In that case, your summer basically goes something like this:

You [sitting at a computer, doing an AP History study guide]: My brain is melting…[you glance outside] Wow, it’s nice outside. You can even see the storm drains – there’s no water flooding them! [Sigh] But I have to work on this.

[In the window: A frolicking (assuming birds can frolic) blue bird flies by. Then another bird.]

You: Ughh! Those birds are enjoying this weather while I have to do this stupid study guide on…Benjamin Jefferson? Huhmm, this must be some new stuff…

[In the window: A monarch butterfly flits by. You pause to watch it.]

You: No, gotta focus. Let’s see, George “Sacagawea” Adams was born in…

[In the window: A flock? Herd? Gang? Bundle? Of butterflies goes by, completely blocking out everything but the sun for three minutes.]

You: That was cool. I’ve never seen a rabble* of butterflies before.

[In the window: Just as your head turns back to the computer, the bluebirds return and land on a birdbath.]

You: I wish I could go swimming, too. Hey, wait a minute, I don’t have a birdbath outside my window.

[In the window: Birdbath disappears, and the birds perch on the windowsill and start singing summer songs that you hear way too many times on the radio in the summer, such as “Doo-wah-diddy-diddy-dum-diddy-dee.”]

You: I don’t believe it. Now I’m in, like, a Disney movie. That’s it [pulls out metal cuffs and chains self to desk.] I have to finish this. [Parts of your brain start dripping out your ears as you try to focus. Scene fades to black].

*I guess my subconscious is smarter than I am.

Some People Don’t Have Summer Homework

While I’m sure your esteemed colleagues and you are the geniuses of the school, and thus have tons of summer homework, I guarantee that no matter what, one of your friends won’t have any.

This means you will be subject for the rest of your summer to comments like: “Hey, want to go to the park with us? Oh, wait, I’ll bet your summer homework is more fun,” “Dude, I’m having a party tomorrow, but you can only come if you’re done with all your homework, ha ha,” “You have summer hoooommmeeeewooooorrrrrk. I don’t. Seriously, though, your summer will suck.”

The Homework Itself

Granted, most homework assignments are about as mind-stimulating as lying in a dentists’ chair while they drill your teeth. But certainly, there is a scale of how boring the assignment is.

Well, I’ve got some bad news: Thomas Edison is no longer alive. Oh, sorry, I meant to say that summer homework is on the lowest end of the scale. It’s reading, worksheets, memorization, and, in extreme cases of AP Honors Advanced Accelerated classes, water boarding as well.

Honestly, summer homework is terrible. So, while you spend at least a week this summer seriously procrastinating and doing your summer homework, know that you’re not alone. There are many others in the same situation. Myself, well, let’s just say I worked out a deal with my teachers so all I have to do is record myself drinking potato-salad-apple-juice. They agreed that as long as it’s unpleasant, it works as a substitute.

Also, we’ve added a new page to our site entitled “Suggest a Post.” If you have an idea or topic that you’d like to see written about, go to that page and submit it. More info can be found there as well.

How to Use Clip Art to Make Your Projects Better

Mona Lisa getting ClippedBefore I start, let’s just get one thing straight: clip art is meant for teens. I mean, who else would use clip art?

Adults have no need; they are not graded down for not including relevant pictures in their business report (which is, ironically, entitled “The use of media in the workspace”). Children definitely have no need; Teachers these days are still surprised that 3rd graders already know how to type when it comes time to start ‘All the Right Type’ (or the learn-typing program of choice). And all the 3rd graders know that if they did include clip art, their teachers would be so astounded that they might try to get on Facebook and tell other teachers. This is a bad thing, because it takes teachers like this upwards of 7 or 8 hours just to figure out how to log in to Facebook, not to mention actually communicate with it.

If you don’t know what clip art is, then I’ll tell you. If you do know what it is, you can skip the next paragraph, but you might miss the funniest joke in the whole wide world (then again, you might not. It all depends on if your last name is Gates).

Clip art is a term that refers to the gallery of pictures of Bill Gates’ friends that Bill Gates decided to include in Microsoft word when creating the program. Since this was back before Mr. Gates was incredibly wealthy, he had very few friends, like most computer nerds. Therefore, most pictures featured poorly drawn caricatures of humans, or symbolic sepia photographs of household objects.

But just because these pictures would be considered laughable if they appeared in an art gallery/spray painted on a wall/tattooed to the arm of an NBA star, that does not mean that you should shun your clip art gallery. In fact, you should embrace it as you would an electric eel in front of a group of fellow teens, knowing that it may be hard to get over the shock and pain of stooping so low but also knowing that it appears impressive to the person(s) evaluating you.

And so, the question now becomes, don’t you think that Phil uses too many rhetorical questions in his posts? The answer is: yes, I did up until about three seconds ago, when I started thinking that it was even weirder Phil had started to referring to himself in third person.

No, sorry, the question actually becomes: when and where should you use clip art? That depends.

If your teacher doesn’t actually grade assignments, but just looks at their length, you should use as much clip art as possible. You can print the whole gallery out, frankly, and then just attach those 20 pages to the end of every assignment you submit. Plus, this is also “green,” because rather than having unique assignments, you save paper by just submitting much of the same content.

Sure, this might get you detention/suspended/expelled/thrown off the Grand Canyon (depending on the strictness of your school, ranging on a scale of Hogwarts – where they don’t block social network websites such as Facebook, Twitter, or Fireplaces – to your school, where you could probably be burnt at the stake just for reading this blog), but “Clip art gallery over-submission” looks less bad on your transcript than “Doesn’t turn in homework.”

Another way to use clip art is in PowerPoint presentations. Let’s say you need x number of slides, but you only have x-5 slides. Simply put clip art montages on 5 slides, along with semi-relevant captions such as “This pixelated symbol represents the feelings of ‘unknown’ that Lewis and Clark experienced at times, because neither you nor I know what this symbol is supposed to be.”

A third way to make clip art work for you is to have “technical difficulties” and cover the less-intelligent parts of your paper. For example, if you’re writing about the importance of the printing press, and, after listing all your facts/evidence, have no idea what the importance is, use a relevant piece of clip art (I’d recommend the boy pulling a wagon filled with books, because books=need printing press) to obscure the part that says “…printing press, therefore, destroyed human culture, as it contributed to the creation of Twilight…”

Finally, you can use clip art to release anger or stress that teens usually accumulate (and the less-angry you will create better projects). Simply print out full-size paper clip art pictures, tape them to a bulletin board, and throw darts/pencils/gum/other clip art at them, providing much-needed entertainment.

Last year at this time, we published our first-ever illustrated post, entitled “Future Career Options.” I can’t say enough good things about it, so instead of trying, you should just go read it.

The Periodic Table of the Elements-and You!

Periodic Table of TablesWith the recent discovery concerning neutrino particles, it is clear that science is changing and advancing at a rapid speed (faster than light, one might say).

For those of you who are just joining us on the Internet, neutrinos particles were ‘witnessed’ travelling about 0.[lot of zeros][# that isn’t a zero] seconds faster than the speed of light, meaning that not only is time travel now more feasible, but that you could, if you are lucky, actually travel back in time and tell Einstein that his theory of relativity is wrong.

Which means he would probably come up with a new theory and we would never question it, meaning we would never discover the neutrinos to go back in time in the first place; but I’ll let you wrap your head around that paradox. (Myself, well, I hear the price of neutrinos per ounce is still pretty low-I’d look into investing in those).

In all honesty, though, I don’t have time to worry about the neutrinos and other faster-than-light possibly radioactive cancer-causing brain-damaging particles that are probably shooting through my body fast enough to rip my liver to shreds if they so choose as I write this, because- sorry, just ran off to put on a lead-insulated jacket -because I need to worry about the periodic table of the elements.

This periodic table is very useful.

For example, when I want to know something basic about one of the elements I look to the periodic table, on which I’ve scrawled in big black permanent marker: “Just use Google.” Thus, Google is helpful too, but not as much as the periodic table, without which I’d be lost (I don’t want to even think about accidentally going to Yahoo, or, God forbid, Bing).  Google has shown me useful information over the years, including that there is something called ‘lead poisoning’ and now I’m stuck debating whether or not to risk those particles or the lead jacket (caught between a ‘rock’ and invisible particles).

But don’t let that worry you! Gosh, I’m sure if I sacrifice my old lemon torture science kit (the one that has the alligator clips and the light that you can power with a lemon) (and the one that used to be used to make the lemons confess to eating my homework) to the science gods, those particles will miss me-right?

It’s too Periodic

The thing about the periodic table that really bothers me is, well, the periodic-ness of it.  Periodic, for those that don’t know, means “occasional” or “regular”, which is why it is so boring to use.  I think that those scientists could really benefit from putting some random elements inside, such as ‘Mb’ (Monopoly board), ‘Dd’ (Doggy-doo), and ‘Ab’ ($29.99-and you only need to exercise that six-pack for four minutes a day!).

This could lead to some really groundbreaking discoveries and new compounds.  A compound is something like salt (sodium and chloride, or NaCl), so scientists could now discover the compounds crying children (Dd and Mb) and Crap (Dd and Ab).

The Symbols Make No Sense

While we’re thinking about it, you ought to examine the letter symbols that are used.  Some make sense, such as O for Oxygen, but others seem to have been thought up when a scientist spent too much time experimenting on himself.  For instance, ‘K’ stands for potassium, which means that conversations often go like this, in today’s shorthand communications:

“Meet me at the party @ 5, potassium?”
“Potassium, can do.”

When you consider Uranium is ‘U’, you would think that the federal government would be a lot more worried about today’s youth coordinating the development of weapons of mass destruction on Facebook and by text:

“ill pic uranium up at the bac of the gym”
“uranium’ll be there at 5, rite?”
“Potassium.”

And, when you consider that these jokes are easy to make using the hundred some abbreviations on the table and get old really fast, you end up with a bunch of angry readers who are not above sneaking into your house and changing your alphabet noodle soup to all “As” (symbol for arsenic).

PETE

So, before I make the mistake of including one-too-many bad jokes (with bad jokes, literally, one is too many) I want to mention the numbers in the boxes of the periodic table as well.  Actually, I don’t want to, but I feel I am morally obligated to, because how would you feel if you got stuck on a chart next to 117 other people with your weight and name clearly displayed?

Thus, I advocate that somebody needs to start a PETE (People for the Ethical Treatment of Elements) organization, or at least get some guy named Pete to join another equally important cause like the Occupy Wall Street cause or the LIP-ART cause (Legally Insane People Advocating for Regulation of Tyrannosaurus-rex’s).

With that, I must leave you, because in all seriousness, I should really just do my periodic table of the elements homework already.

Also, apparently the neighbor’s dog chewed my lead jacket up (and my neighbor won’t be too happy when he finds out), so not only am I very vulnerable right now to neutrino damage, but I also need to make a quick trip to REI and pick up some T-Rex repellent.  Apparently, my state still doesn’t regulate who is allowed to own those beasts, and, as fate would have it, my neighbor’s got three.

3 Magnificent Ways to Get More Done on the Weekend

getting stuff done on the weekendThe weekend.  That word has immense power over any teenager.  For example, you can threaten to assign even more homework over the weekend.  You can threaten to force a teen to do chores over the weekend.  You can even threaten to play the word “weekend” against a teen in scrabble, netting you (without any bonus tiles) at least 65 points.

What makes this word so powerful is that the weekend is like a two-day sunburst of freedom amongst a 9 month ordeal of torturous backbreaking work.  Thus, teens try to avoid working on the weekend even more than they try to avoid work during the week.  Sadly, however, teens haven’t yet figured out that they can’t both procrastinate on the weekend, and say that they’ll do the work over the week, and then spend all week saying that they’ll do it over the weekend.

So, then, it may be an unavoidable fact of life that you will have to work on weekends.  However, I’ve devised a schedule that should allow you to get all your work done and have plenty of spare time:

Friday night: homework

Saturday: homework & chores

Sunday: homework & chores

See? It’s brilliant!

Seriously, though, there are strategies for making your weekend more enjoyable, and I’ve come up with a secret that I think could make your life easier.  I’m not going to tell you what it is, though, because then it wouldn’t be a secret, so instead here are three things you can do to free up more time over the weekend.

Outsource

This is flaunted in the business world as a key to freeing up valuable time.  There’s no good reason why you can’t extend this technique to your homework and chores, aside from the minor inconveniences of this being immoral, dangerous, plagiarism/cheating, and possibly nausea.  Ask your doctor if outsourcing is right for you.

Really, though, in today’s interconnected society, outsourcing is so easy that even babies (yes, even the ones who aren’t advanced enough to trade stocks on e-trade) frequently outsource their main tasks, namely eating, sleeping, crying, and defecating (usually all at once).

You have the obvious resources, like Fiverr, where thousands of people are willing to do just about anything with “guaranteed results”, even if these results are jail time for you. Then you’ve got your more personal social media, such as Facebook, where you have 5,783 friends whom you’ve never actually said more than two words to.  Simply ask one of your good buddies who friended you at some point last year (or was it this year) and whose name is…Jim-no, John, his name is John-to write a 5-page paper on the meaning of the word “is” as intended by the author in “Something Wicked this Way Comes.”

Coffee Time Machine

On the weekend, the fact that you are not in class allows you to drink coffee whenever you want.  If you can start drinking coffee as soon as you get home on Friday, then, assuming you don’t need to sleep Friday or Saturday night, you can intake enough consecutive caffeine so that time appears to slow.

What’s really happening, of course, is that you are simply going faster, which still allows you to get more work done.  Of course, you may need to avoid this method for writing homework, because your hand will shake so much that your written responses will look like a seismograph during a major earthquake (and the fact that you probably spilled coffee all over your papers just adds to this impression).

Also, I should probably warn you that you will experience a major crash Sunday night/Monday morning, to the point where you should pad your floors and sharp corners and call the attendance office and let them know that you “won’tcometoschoolforthreeweeks” because you have a rare disease and must travel to doctors in Miami where you will be abducted by Aliens and then dropped at your house next-next-next Monday.

Self Hypnosis

While this doesn’t avoid the work, it can make the work more enjoyable.  Just imagine that you aren’t actually doing homework, but rather are doing something enjoyable.  Honestly, I’ve no idea how this works, but it sounds great on paper: you have fun, the work gets done.

I suppose that you could pretend that your math problems are really evil villains, and every time you complete one the villain is killed.  But that won’t work for one obvious reason: any teen faced with 40 math problems or 40 villains would take the villains in a heartbeat.

While these three methods will greatly improve (improve meaning change for better or worse, here) your weekends, there is still my secret method.  But I’m not planning on telling you anytime soon, although I will give you this hint: it involves a blender.