Monday, May 4, 2009

Diagnostic Essay

Diagnostic Essay - First Draft
25 March 2009

My Favorite Vacation

My favorite vacation was the time that I accompanied my husband, Ignacio on a business trip to Puerto Rico. Ignacio was working for a company called Network Medical that traveled around the United States and taught other companies, church groups and other organizations how to properly use a defibrillator in emergencies and the skills needed for first responders. Because my husband has a medical background in the Norfolk Fire Department and speaks Spanish fluently, Network Medical was able to expand their business and offer these same classes in Spanish. So when they were awarded a contract to teach these classes in Spanish to a company in Puerto Rico, Network Medical paid for me to accompany my husband as a thank you to him for making it even possible.

So there we were, on our way to an all expense paid trip to sunny Puerto Rico with no kids and no worries. We stayed in a wonderful hotel that took care of our every need. We were treated like royalty. We would go to dinner and the wait staff would pull out my chair and unfold my napkin. We would lay by the pool and a waitress would bring us drinks and anything we wanted to eat.

When you walked out of the back of the hotel you would be in the pool area that was lush with greenery and a huge waterfall. There were several pools in one. There was a kiddy pool. We never even visited that one. There was a relaxing pool but the best pool of all had a complete bar that you could swim up to and order a drink and something to eat. But our experience was not limited to the pool area. Our hotel was right on the beach. After you past the pool area there was a large gate that opened up onto the beautiful blue beaches and white sand of Puerto Rico. Standing at this gate was another staff member eager to assist us with carrying our beach chairs to our desired location. I would look around for a good spot, not to many people or a lot of children running around. Just Ignacio and I left alone to soak up the sun and the relaxing sounds of the ocean.

The only time that we would exert any energy other than playing in the waves or taking long strolls on the beach was to lift our heads and with the wave of our hand signal another hotel waitress that we were thirsty and/or hungry. Then they would come and get our order and make us feel as though they have been eagerly waiting all day to take care of our every need. They would bring a small table and whatever we ordered right to us there on the beach. Our order was served with real dishes, real silverware and wine glasses. We were enjoying our new found lifestyle.

Unfortunately this life style was only available to us for one week and before we knew it our week was over. I think that time must have adjusted to lightning speed, if only for just that one week. As we were packing our stuff and getting ready to re-enter the real world I remember Ignacio and I discussing all of Royal experiences we had over the course of this week. That is when Ignacio made the statement to me that although this week was wonderful, a good home cooked meal sounds absolutely delicious. My response to him was “where do you think we could buy one of those”?

Diagnostic Essay - Revised
April 4 2009

This Is My Lucky Day

As I begin to dose off after a long day of working in the hot sun planting flowers my mind begins to reminisce about my all-time favorite vacation. My husband and I had won a raffle for an all expense paid trip to Puerto Rico from a contest held at the local Burger King on Royal Drive here in Norfolk, VA. There we were laying on the beaches of sunny Puerto Rico sipping on our pina coladas without a care in the world. We had no responsibilities, no jobs to worry about and no kids asking for money or a ride to the mall. We stayed in the VIP suite of a luxurious hotel that took care of our every need and treated us like royalty. Little did I know, they thought we were royalty. Apparently there had been a mix up in our reservation with King Burger and his wife Queen Winner from the far away land of Norfolk.

When we arrived at the airport in Puerto Rico there was a sharply dressed man with shinny shoes and white gloves that was holding a sign that said “Winner-Burger King of Norfolk”. We were pleasantly surprised that the all expenses paid trip included a limo ride to our hotel. When we arrived at the hotel we were greeted by several hotel employees that were eager to take care of our every need. They escorted us to a private elevator that went straight to the top floor. When we reached the top, the elevator doors opened up to an extravagant private suite on the Hotel's top floor with a large living room that had a grand piano and huge doors that opened onto a large outdoor terrace that overlooked the white sandy beach behind the hotel. This was more than we expected. It was late and after the long flight we were exhausted, tired and hungry so we decided that we would go get some dinner and bring it back to our room and call it a night. As we discussed our dinner choices between Pizza Hut and of course Burger King the elevator doors opened and a man stepped out announcing that he was our personal gourmet chef Ignacio, and that tonight he will be preparing fillet mignon. Just then another hotel employee stepped off the elevator and announced that she was there for our evening massage. As I was eating the perfectly prepared fillet mignon and feeling very relaxed from my massage I told my husband how glad I was that he bought that $5.00 raffle ticket at the Burger King in Norfolk.

In the morning, we woke up to the smell of bacon and eggs being prepared by Chef Ignacio and the sounds of the beach coming from the outdoor terrace. We spent the day at the beach enjoying the sand and the surf of our own private beach area right off the hotel. Even at the beach there were hotel staff members eager to assist us with towels, lotion and at times provide us with shade when it would get too hot. The only time that we would exert any energy other than playing in the waves or taking long strolls on the beach was to lift our heads and with the wave of our hand signal the hotel staff that we were thirsty or hungry. They would come and take our order and make us feel as though they had been eagerly waiting all day to take care of our every need. Our food and drinks were served with real dishes, real silverware and wine glasses right to us there on the beach. We were enjoying our new found lifestyle.

After a day of soaking up the sun and the relaxing to sounds of the ocean we were ready for a night in the hotel casino. We went back to our luxurious hotel suite and got dressed up for a night of gambling in the Caribbean Nightlife. When we arrived at the casino we found out that we had unlimited funds to play a variety of slots machines and table games. We spent the evening winning and losing, mostly losing, when we decided to call it a night. We were exhausted from our day in the sun and I could feel my skin tightening up from all of the sun I got that day. I had one quarter left in my hand so I inserted into the slot machine and pulled the lever. The wheel began to spin and then one by one the number 7 appeared and when it stopped the numbers 7-7-7 were on the screen, bells and lights went off and someone came on a loud speaker and announced that we were the winners of 1 million dollars. I turned to my husband to tell him I couldn’t believe how lucky we were but he could not hear me over the loud bells that were getting louder and louder. I rolled over and realized that the bells was my alarm clock and it was time for me to get up and take my children to school. As I got up and cooked breakfast for my family I could also feel my skin tightening up from all the sun I got from the day before when planting my flowers and I was wishing it was from my dreams of a lucky day in Puerto Rico.
Images from GetAway and FourSeasons

Sunday, May 3, 2009

EXTRA CREDIT POST 1 - X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie review

Being someone that has never watched an X-Men movie, or read any of the comic books, I was not planning on going to see the new X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie. So when I was given this assignment I was not as excited about it as some of my classmates. My husband who enjoys these types of movies said he was willing to sacrifice a Saturday night to go with me for the sake of my education. So I went into the theater with my popcorn and soda in hand took my seat. I had no idea what to expect and worried that because I did not have any background or prior knowledge of what or who X-Men were all about, I would be lost and not understand the movie.
I have to say that I enjoyed the Wolverine movie a lot more than I thought I would and was able to follow the plot with no problem. Truthfully, I was surprised of all the negative reviews I have heard about for this movie. It had action, revenge, romance, betrayal and suspense. Although I found the Wolverine movie to be predictable it was also exciting and entertaining. But that's an opinion from somebody who doesn't know anything about X-Men.

To me the Wolverine movie was mainly about a love/hate relationship between two stepbrothers Wolverine and Victor. Within the first twenty minutes I learn that these two main characters are half brothers and both possess super human powers that keep them from being killed. Although both brothers took separate paths, wolverine good, Victor not so good, I think they both were doing what they thought was right for their country in their own way.
The movie had an array of colorful characters that kept it interesting. From a mutant that grows long metal knives out of his hand to a morbidly obese mutant that is sensitive about his weight.
In the end of the movie you can see the true human side of Wolverine by his reaction to the dead body of his girlfriend. Although he had no memory of her there was clearly an attraction and a familiar feeling when he looked at her that was drawing him to her.

There were a few things that I did not understand or think could have been written better and maybe these questions will be answered in the other X-Men movies.
1 –When the youngest brother killed the father the older brother was not angry with him?
2- With all of the attention that was given to the older couple’s son. They never said what happened to their son. It would have added to the story if they said that their son had begun to get sick and showed signs of having powers and that the government took him away or that he served in the military and the military said that he was killed in action but that they believe the government is hiding him somewhere because he had unexplained powers. And then when Wolverine set the others free, he found their son.
Overall I would recommend the movie to anyone that enjoys an action movie. I also plan to watch the other X-Men movies so that maybe some of these questions will be answered.

Image from IMP Awards

English-111-Mr. Gasparo- Are you willing to do the work?

I walk into a class room with thirty old style school desk-chairs lined in rows and along the wall. As I look around to find the safest seat in the room, I notice young college students that are my new classmates. That is if I’m in the right classroom this time. I find a desk up against the wall, not too close to the teacher, not too far from the door and not in the middle of all the young college students. As I sit at the desk in the safe location, I began to ponder to myself what in the world was I thinking when I decided to attend college for the first time twenty years after high school? I graduated in 1989 from a small private school in Holly Hill Florida where my graduating class was a whopping total of ten. That’s a big difference from this TCC campus that I am now attending. I noticed one of the young students messing around with things on the teacher’s desk. I became perplexed as he began addressing the class. I kept waiting for this practical joker to take his seat because surely our teacher will be here any minute. I soon realized that this was not a young college student trying to be funny; this young man was indeed my teacher, Mr. Gasparo.

As Mr. Gasparo began telling the class everything that was expected from us as students and all the writing that we would be doing, I wondered if I had the ability to do this course. I began thinking about the academic disadvantages that I had going to that small private school where I never had to write a term paper. Not to mention I have dyslexia. Everyone knows that people with dyslexia are horrible spellers. And you have to spell to write a paper. The only thing I did not question was that this course was going to be a lot of work. That wasn’t just a feeling that I got from Mr. Gasparo, it was all in black and white laying on the desk in front of me. He had handed out a course calendar that laid out all of the time consuming, thought provoking details of what was in store for us over the next few weeks. He explained to us not just all of the many papers that we were expected to write but how they would be graded and scrutinized down to the formatting of the text, proper use of all punctuations and even what format they are to be saved in and the title they should be saved as. He even went so far as to tell us what we should put in the subject line on the emails we send him. Needless to say that on that first night my inner child, who was still older than my teacher, was slouched down in that old style school desk-chair feeling like the wind had just been knocked out of her wondering how in the world I thought that I could successfully attend college after being out of school for so long, never writing a term paper and being blessed with dyslexia. I had so much going against me when I started this class. But being the kind of person who never ran from a challenge, I decided to take this on with everything that I had and make a go at it. So I mustered up the courage to come back the next class and the next.

I found myself enjoying some of the conversations and group discussions and began to focus less on what I didn’t know before I came to this class and more on what I was learning by attending the class. Mr. Gasparo did an outstanding job of bringing out the creativity in each of us. He also did a great job at getting us to look deeper in the things that we read, movies, TV and advertisement that we saw and the words of the people and music that we listened to. All in all, it was a positive experience of hard work and learning.

As the course continued I would see less and less of the almost thirty classmates that we started out with. This eight week class is not for the weak by no means and it is also not impossible to do. If I can do it so can anyone else that puts their mind to it. Although that first night of receiving the class calendar was a little overwhelming to see all that was expected of us over such a short period of time it was also very helpful because we knew exactly what was expected of us and when everything was due. Mr Gasparo was very organized, approachable and helpful. I would attend another one of his classes and would recommend him to anyone that is willing to do the work.

So here I am at the end of this English 111 course proud of myself for not only sticking with it but also maintaining a grade that I can be proud of. It definitely has been good for me and an all around positive experience.

Images from NDSU and Slough