Category Archives: PAST Featured Posts

Exploration Library

May 2, 2013, by

For my independent study, in addition to transcribing poems of Fernando Pessoa, I have been studying different ways of archiving and organizing libraries. After reading related texts and visiting libraries, including the Newberry Library and the Poetry Foundation, I created my own (sadly hypothetical) library. Even once I had my plan, it was a long process of selecting books, photographing examples, and creating a book from all of it. Below you can look through a gallery of photos of the book; below that is the same content in digital form.

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Jorge Luis Borges imagined a world that is an infinite library, but the effects of living within it sometimes drive the inhabitants to insanity. To me, any library is a world filled with the infinite worlds of books. Not a daunting infinity fraught with frantic searching like Borges imagines, but an exhilarating infinity of opportunities to explore. Every library has a different goal. Public libraries serve the community; institutes like the Newberry Library provide a wealth of information; places like the Poetry Foundation enable readers to discover more and more poetry. It was this goal of discovery that intrigued me, and so I created a Library of Exploration. Anyone who enters is free to explore every corner of the house, and explore all the books, movies, magazines, music, art, and other portals for information and stories within.

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Stickers on the spines of books help readers narrow down their exploration; however, the library isn’t split into these four sections.

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The library is within a rickety old house whose rooms, closets, cabinets, windowsills, and other corners are all packed with materials. Each spot in the house has its own aura created by the decor and the books/movies/etc.  in that space. In this way the house is filled with tiny worlds waiting to be explored. No one walks into this library with a call number of the book they want to pick up. You come in with a mood or thought and find the corner that best suits you at that moment, or wander through with no clue where you’ll sit down until you stumble across the spot for you. You just have to keep exploring.

For example, this is the window you might sit by when you’re stuck inside on a rainy day, or on a hot day where you just wish it would rain. There is also a list of materials that can be found here.


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Some books can indeed be found on actual shelves. One example is the story shelf. Its three sections can be divided and titled in a number of different ways:  Beginning/Middle/End, Past/Present/Future, Origin/Process/Prediction, etc. Items in the first section include the zine “Little and Big Goals of Life”, The Matrix, How We Decide, and the U.S. Constitution. The second section includes a graphic novel biography of Buddha, a guide to evolution, The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy, and Memoir: A History. Finally, in the third section can be found books on numerology and the I Ching, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, and 1984.

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But most materials are found off shelves because sometimes the environment needs to fit the material– like when what you’re after is comfort. On a bed full of teddy bears, tea cups, and pillows, the following books, movies, CDs, and more are scattered among the blankets:

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There are books in every nook and cranny. There’s plenty to read when you need to use the bathroom, from Captain Underpants to an explanation of how exactly the toilet works. On the stairs you have to watch out you don’t start off a domino effect of the books perched precariously on each step– books that have precarious themes themselves, such as revolution, war, or dystopian societies.

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If you’re feeling peckish, take a seat in the dining room and there will be plenty to peruse.

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Usually fictional characters are company enough, but sometimes it can get lonely. One part of the house lets you experience others’ friendships vicariously, whether they be light-hearted (Betsy-Tacy), adventurous (The Knights of the Round Table), informative (Toxic Friendships), or intellectual (The Letters of Sacco and Vanzetti). There’s also plenty of room to curl up with a real live non-paper friend, and there are board games around for when you need a change of pace.

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Books can be a great escape, because sometimes you really need to run away from everything. And, of course, there’s a corner for that. My Side of the Mountain, Walden, Paper Towns, Black Boy, The Hobbit, and other stories of journeys or survival guides can be found here.

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But sometimes you don’t know where to go, or where you came from, or even where you are. So one shelf is filled with guides to cities (or the universe), tales of explorers, and searches for identity in relation to location.

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Every inch of the house has something to offer. Within each room and hallway is so much to discover. And each time you visit a new corner will call out to you, so never stop exploring. So wander in…

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The Life Of A Flank Steak

April 12, 2013, by

This is a project for my Food For Thought class. The purpose of this project was to write an autobiography in the first person as if we where an ingredient. In this project I learned a lot about my ingredient which was the meat from a Cuban dish (ropa vieja) also known as flank steak and where it comes from. I am proud of my autobiography and my illustrations. You can read my story below

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I am a flank steak. For most of my life, I have hung out in the stomach of a cow, on a small farm in Colorado. Then one day, I saw a huge truck coming from a distance. Then suddenly, the truck came to a stop beside the gate of the farm. A huge guy got out of the driver’s seat, and with him he has a shock-y stick. He starts to walk towards me, and of all the parts of the cow he could have shocked, he chose to shock me, the stomach, with 8000 volts of surging electricity! He started forcing the rest of me into the huge truck he brought.

Finally, the terrible pain is over. But now it is pitch black inside the truck. All I can hear are desperate cows mooing for help all around me. After long hours in the truck, the huge door at the back of the truck opens and it is the man again. This time, he pulls us, one by one, out of the truck and apparently we are now in a place called Iowa, which I can tell by the sign on the side of the road. The man is now herding us all to a big factory. The doors of the factory open and we are led to a dark room with tons of rows of cows. I am taken to a small fenced off area and for hours all I can do is think to myself, “What will my fate be?”

Then I look to one side of me and I see a partner that has been with me my whole life. His name is Loin. I ask him, “Loin, what will be our purpose?” Loin says, “Well I will be cooked and served in country clubs and restaurants all around the country,” and I say, “Well, what about me?” and Loin then says to me, “Your history is actually very interesting. You are usually used in a Spanish dish, ropa vieja, also called flalda. The legend behind that dish is a story about a man whose family was coming to his home for dinner. Being very poor, the man could not buy them enough food when they came. To remedy his situation, he went to his closet, gathered some old clothes (ropa vieja) and imbued them with his love. When he cooked the clothes, his love for his family turned the clothes into a wonderful beef stew.the dish also originated in the Canary Islands which was the last place ships from spain would stop on their way to the americas.”

Then from the end of a very long hall I see a man coming towards me. He opens the gate and leads me to a room and separates me from the rest of my body. Then he packages me and takes me to a very cold room, and for days I am sitting in that room seeing packages just like me coming and going. One day, finally, I am picked up and I am put in a box and into another truck, but this time three days come and go, then finally, for the first time in days, I see light as the package is torn open and I notice I am being put on a shelf in a freezer in a place called Jewel Osco. The night was long and cold, then morning time comes and people start rushing in picking up packages of meat, but not me. I feel like I am never going to be put to use, and then a small cuban lady comes and picks me up and takes me home. She puts me in a pot and cooks me and serves me to a young teenager as the fork comes closer I feel like I am more and more ali……..

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The Land without Evil – by GL

February 22, 2013, by

For my Hurricane Season course, we were asked to research an unnatural disaster that is meaningful to us. Our requirements were to find an unnatural disaster happening (or that happened) both  here in the U.S. and somewhere around the world. After finding and comparing the disaster we had to create an annotated bibliography explaining our research. Another requirement for this project was to create an artistic piece explaining the disaster. Overall this was an amazing experience and I really enjoyed doing this project. I hope to further my interest of indigenous tribes in college.

For my Unit 2 project I will be investigating the problems faced by indigenous people around the world. I will focus my studies on the struggles of these native societies. Indigenous people of the world have had many difficult setbacks as individual cultures, while having their land and natural resources taken away. While dealing with lifelong discrimination, they also have to be the pillars keeping their culture alive.

I will be focusing my studies on how the Lakota societies of Pine Ridge, in South Dakota, and Guarani-Kaiowá Indians, in Brazil, have had a recent rise in suicides due to the conditions, discrimination their people have suffered. They both feel as if they have no other place to take refuge.

Please take a look at my poster below and check my annotated bibliography.’ photo (22)

ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY

(1) Red-Cloud, Henry. “Help Save Lakota Babies’ Lives.” Indiegogo. Indiegogo, n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2013. <https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-save-lakota-babies-lives>.
This website is to help raise money for Indigenous people of the world and was a vital part to my research. Within it I found specific information within an article about the Lakota tribe. It allows me to find statistics about the Lakota tribe, as well as information about the current events they are currently dealing with. The Lakota tribe is facing a rise in death rates, which as of 2013 are the highest in the USA. They go on to talk about the recent death of the Lakota children: “Our children are sacred; they’re our future. If we don’t save our children, then our culture won’t survive,” Donald Warne, of the Oglala Lakota tribe said. Due to the recent and mysterious deaths of these children the mothers then go into extreme depression. With this increase in depression many of the mothers think the only way they can be relieved of their problems is to commit suicide. I believe this is a very reliable source, I say this because a man who is a big part of the Lakota tribe community wrote this article. Speaking from personal experience it allows him to share the story of his people on a personal level without leaving out any information.

(2)   New York Times/Wall Street Journal Statistics – Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota

In this news article it explains that Indian neighbors of the Lakota tribe decided to help build a National Healthy Start Program. HS, as they call it, is a program that provides all the resources the Lakota Tribes people would need mentally and physically. This program was aimed specifically to reduce the death of babies and help the mothers with their psychological problems on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. I learned that the statistics on Indian health are disastrous and preventable. “[Nearly] every young mom who goes into Healthy Start tests off the scale for depression.” says a worker at the HS. I believe this source had quality information about the National Healthy Start Program . The New York Times is known to be a creditable source for all information.

(3)   Giago, Tim. “High Suicide Rate on Indian Reservation Near Epidemic Proportions.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 01 June 2010. Web. 13 Feb.

     This article in the Huffington post gave me a lot of information as to why not only the mothers but many of the Lakota tribe members suffer with depression. “Many of the Native Americans grew up ashamed of their culture and traditions. The shame and guilt impose generations of Native Americans became a part of a new culture; one that had many Indians searching for themselves and finding absolution in alcohol and drugs.” Iron Cloud; an important leader to the Lakota says. Iron Cloud then goes on to say, “If you think the government can fix everything, ask an Indian.” To help create a better a positive outlook the people of the Lakota tribe need the money the government offers. The government’s promises are never fully fulfilled so they intend to find a solution to the problem of the high suicide rate on the reservation by going back to the culture, traditions and the spirituality of their ancestors. This article was written by a very credited source as well; The Huffington Post. The writer of this article was assisted by Iron Cloud another important figure to the Lakota Tribe, giving me the assumption that all he information is reliable.

(4) The Movement for Tribal Peoples. “Guarani – Survival International.” Guarani – Survival International. Survival International, n.d. Web. 14 Feb. 2013. <https://www.survivalinternational.org/tribes/guarani>.

This website was the only website I used to research the Guarani-Kaowai. Survival international is a website to help people around the world understand the struggles and hardships that indigenous people around the world have to face.  “For as long as they can remember, the Guarani have been searching – searching for a place revealed to them by their ancestors where people live free from pain and suffering, which they call ‘the land without evil’.” says a writer from Survival International. Due to the fact that the Guarani-Kaowai have been pushed off their land and now suffer displacement suicide rates have risen to an ultimate high. For fifty years Marcos Veron had been a leader of the Guarani-Kaowai tribe in Brazil; his people had been trying to recover a small piece of their ancestral land, after it was seized by a wealthy Brazilian and turned into a vast cattle ranch. Some have no land at all, and now live in plastic sheet tents on the roadsides of a highway. These ranchers have done everything in their power to make these people leave the land. A community of Brazilian Indians says “Their main source of water has been poisoned by one of the state’s most controversial ranches.” After being kicked out by the ranchers Marcos Veron led his people to back onto their land. The ranchers then took the Indians to court where the ranchers won the right to kick the Indians off and get all their land back. Marcos Veron said, “This here is my life, my soul. If 
you take me away from this land, you take my life.”  During another attempt to return peacefully to their land, employees of the ranchers viciously beat Marcos. He died a few hours later. Veron’s killers have not been charged with his murder, but they were charged with lesser crimes related to the attack. The Guarani suffer from racism, discrimination and harassment from the Brazilian police. For example  “It is estimated that there are over 200 Guarani in jail with little or no access to legal advice and interpreters, trapped in a legal system they do not understand. This has resulted in innocent people being condemned. Many are serving disproportionately harsh sentences for minor offenses ” Says local tribe member. The result of these people being arrested and discriminated against have led to high suicide rates, with a total of 517 dead since 1999. Overall I think this was the most useful source. This website is very credible and allowed me to find all the information I needed.

After researching both tribes I found a pattern of displacement and racism which then both led to depression and suicide. Knowing that indigenous people of their nation can’t live in peace without some sort of higher power destroying their tribes and culture I believe is an extreme crime against humanity. Usually people are so distracted with the beautiful land they live in they never think about the land and how it was taken away from those who originally settled there.  By taking on this project I hope to spark an interest for others, allowing them to learn more about the topic and ask themselves how can I help? With the help from outsiders I believe these cultures do not have to become extinct. Better yet grow and strive to their fullest potential.



The Turtle and The Nightingale

November 16, 2012, by

Currently we are in our civic engagement unit which is a four week course on learning about how to be civically engaged in our own community, Chicago. This year’s focus is on making short films having to do with each of these four values; Autonomy, Accountability, Purpose, and Gratitude. We were split up into groups and each day this week all of the groups got the opportunity to attend the International Children’s Film Festival, organized by Facets, the largest festival of films for children in North America. My group has learned a lot about films and below is our first film critique thus far in the course.

The Turtle and The Nightingale by Gershon Hinkson is a movie marketed for children, but it is really a movie for everyone and anyone. Have you ever thought about the responsibility of a parent? What they owe to their child? Why, to quote Harry, a character from the story, “parents get to choose whether they care or not, but we don’t get to choose whether it hurts or not”?

This short film is the story of three boys, each of whom have their own issues at home. Harry is being abused by his father, which transfers into his aggressive behavior at school. Turtle, or Liam, is the new kid at school who recently suffered a loss, an event that his father is handling very poorly. Ricky is Liam’s friend at school who has been bullied by Harry in the past. This movie is incredibly powerful and moving, and there were many scenes that affected us deeply. Through these scenes we learn how children’s home environments can affect their lives outside. They can learn to be caring and empathetic, aggressive and violent, or, in the best of cases, friendly and accepting. After their violent interactions, Harry, Liam, and Ricky are able to step outside of the lives built for them by their parents, and begin fresh.

Everyone felt that the movie was very interesting and enjoyed watching it. The movie sent out a specific message explaining the quote mentioned above, “Why do parents get to choose whether they care or not, but we don’t get to choose whether it hurts or not?”. It gave the voice to those who sometimes don’t have any. It showed that, while these kids may love their parents, they don’t want to become them, and it gave us as viewers a glimpse into a world that 10 and 11 year olds are discovering they have control over. This movie was one of my personal favorites. It can connect with kids on many levels. It does a great job of showing how your home life can affect your social life. In the end it goes to show that every problem can be reversed and it’s never worth harming yourself.



Retrieve the Apple- BKJ

November 5, 2012, by

I did this project for my great pretender art class. The point of this project was to make a sculpture of our power animal’s movement. I learned how to have confidence in my work and how to keep trying no matter how many times I fail.

Click the link below for the blueprint I used to build my sculpture:

Retrieve the Apple BLUEPRINT

Click on the image below to see the video:

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bear climbing
white plastic tube,brown duct tape,moss,branches,rocks,marble,fishing line,Styrofoam,aluminum foil,

I made a sculpture for my Great pretender art class, this sculpture represented a bear climbing a tree for my power animal. I chose a bear because it is my power animal. First off I cut slits in a plastic tube and made a bear out of styrofoam and aluminum foil; next I tied two sticks together and put it through the tube and connected the bear to the sticks; next I tied a string to the sticks inside the tube and tied a rock to the end of the string and then I decorated it with branches and brown duct tape — and finally I made a base for the tube and decorated it with rocks and moss.

In this project I learned how to keep my confidence strong and keep trying even though it didn’t work the first couple tries, but I finally got it to work but I learned how to have confidence in my work and keep trying.



Counterculture Shout-Out Poem by LF

October 12, 2012, by

For our first unit in our ‘Counterculture’ class, the assignment was to create our own shout-out or invocation poem. The project of an invocation poem usually involves calling attention to the little things, or aspects of everyday life that sometimes are purposefully ignored. This poem was the first I’ve ever written and I can truthfully say that it has opened a window for me to something I never thought I would consider doing to pass the time; poetry! Hope you enjoy!

We live for that moment on the train
When the drunk homeless man
Giving you the dead pan
Lets his gruff voice creak
And begins to speak
Mumbling something and everyone laughs
And you feel a connection to those around you
And you feel so profound
As your insane thoughts dance around
You look at the people on the train
Wonder their names
Who are they?
Why are they here?
Who placed them so near?
What do they fear?
If you voice these thoughts, you know you’ll sound weird.

But you can’t help wondering what they’ve done before
What they’re sorry for.

So this one’s for them.
That drunken homeless man, and the strong smell of alcohol emanating from him
The middle-aged businessman,
And his briefcase
And his unnecessary, official looking umbrella
The rebelliously artsy young girl rocking the purple skirt and funky glasses
Probably on her way to art school, dreading her classes
For the man who clutches his bicycle close to him
And for the eyes, squinting angrily,
Frustrated by his use of space
But the eyes look up when the smelly man cracks his thoughtless joke
And laughter invokes
For that moment
When you get out of your head
And everyone in your small train car is connected
You appear as an extra in all of their lives
But you never know
They might be thinking about you, too…

REFLECTION:

I received some of my writing inspiration from discussing the topic of counterculture with passersby. I really enjoyed my conversations with them because they said some very surprising and interesting things that I didn’t expect to hear from strangers I’d never spoken to before. For example, I spoke briefly with a woman in her 20’s who explained that she would vote for new laws that wouldn’t necessarily benefit her lifestyle and wellbeing as an individual, but if the law was a benefit for society and the general public she’d be willing to vote for it. When asked, the example she provided for me was the legalization of marijuana. She seemed confident in herself and in all of her answers.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to speak with these different people with different beliefs. It gave me a secondary perspective and made me think about opinions I previously had, some of which I thought about while creating my slam poem.



Artist Statement: AT wire sculpture

October 2, 2012, by

For my first project as action in my art class, I made a sculpture depicting the movement of my Power Animal along with a human and mechanical movement that resembled the original one. The basis for this project was the theory that the movements of our Power Animal could be used to show our own natures. This project helped me better understand my personality by providing a visible version of it. Since I am a better visual learner, even this abstract piece of art was of more of a use to me than a somebody describing me. I’m really happy with how the piece turned out given that I had no idea what I was doing with the clay until I was already doing it. It worked though, and that’s just a great feeling.

AT                                                  The Earth Above  (22”,22”,9”)                                                09/2012                                                                 Made with: wire, clay, sculpey, and cardboard

The idea of this piece is to show your power animal’s movement, along with a similar human and mechanical movement and relate them to our natural elements through the use of molded wire and clay. We first started this project by trying to define what the term Power Animal meant and used the ICHING to determine our natural elements. We followed that up by choosing our own Power Animal and taking a field experience to the zoo to verify our animal and observe its movements. The next step in the process was to make a flipbook depicting and visualizing our animal’s movements that would later help with the building of the sculpture.

Lastly, we found both a human and a mechanical movement that associated with our animal’s own movement and shaped three wires to identify each of them. In order to finish the movement wires, we had to make beads with a hole in the middle out of sculpey. After they were hardened in the oven, we slipped one through each wire and were this way able to illustrate how the movements worked in a visual form. We then took the cardboard we had spruced up with clay and the molded wires, and put it all together to show the movements mingling with the natural element we had chosen.

At first I had chosen an ox, but after going to the zoo and discovering that there weren’t any oxen residing there, I changed my Power Animal to the Sichuan Takin (a goat/ox mix that lives in the Asian mountains). The natural element that I chose was Earth. In my sculpture, I made  a mountain with the clay I had to better depict my element. It worked in the exact way I wanted it to; it did a great job of representing the solidness of my animal and his/her way of life.

The movements I chose were the Takin’s slow nonchalant walk, a human rolling down a hill, and a vending machine dispensing a snack. The walk represented an established motion; one so normal that you wouldn’t even need to think to do it. To me, the roll was similar to the Takin’s walk in the sense that even though rolling down a hill is usually a chosen act, there is a set motion to how you do it. The vending machine’s motion depicted a non-negotiable action that once concluded, fulfilled its given purpose completely.



There And Back Again: Brazil

September 26, 2012, by

From July 2011 to June 2012, I participated in a study abroad program in Brazil. The program, American Field Service (AFS), placed me with a host family, and I spent my junior year attending a Brazilian high school. I lived in a small town called Aquidauana in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. Apart from going to school, I made friends, traveled around the region, and volunteered in a local orphanage. This was the subject of my presentation for TABA (“There And Back Again”), a chance for students to share their experiences on study abroad or service trips with others.

I have wanted to live in Brazil since I was ten years old: that was when I lived in Rio de Janeiro, and although I returned to the United States after just five months, I was always determined to come back. As I made plans for the long-awaited return, however, I decided to go to another part of the country, so that even as I returned to a place I had lived I would discover somewhere new. I told this to AFS and they certainly did their job to place me in a location totally different from Rio. Aquidauana is a very small, calm town, rather than a huge, bustling metropolis. Mato Grosso do Sul has a distinct culture mostly influenced by its environment, a wetland called the Pantanal; its proximity to Paraguay; and the many cattle ranches throughout the region. For my TABA presentation I talked about some of the unique elements of the culture around the Pantanal. Below is the slideshow, which you can click through and hear my narration of the photos.




Field Experience at Sandbox

May 25, 2012, by

For a field experience, our Student Enterprise class went to Sandbox Industries. Sandbox Industries is a foundry that supports start-up businesses. The purpose of our visit was to gain experience by presenting the progress we’ve made on our individual business plans. During the presentations, we discussed the key points of our business: why we created it, what the plan is, and how the business will function. Here is the SlideRocket presentation I used to explain my business, Catalyst Outreach:

From this field experience, I learned a lot from the Q & A with Sandbox Industries employees, including Nick Rosa. We heard helpful advice about work ethic: you should love what you do, don’t go to work only to leave. I thought this advice connected well with our businesses because they are aligned with the Millennium Development goals, so our motivation comes from impacting the world.

After I finished my presentation, I considered what I can do in the future to improve my business plan. Regarding the presentation itself, I can work on communicating my mission in a way that creates an impact in a short time. My business plan will improve when I think of responses to tackle “killer” questions (questions that will signal a significant problem with your plan if you can’t answer it). I also need to think about how I can improve perceived barriers. As I revise my business plan, I’ll be thinking about it from the side of the client. This field experience provided us with memorable advice to finish the year strong.



HP 12 Hour Endurance Immersion

May 21, 2012, by

The purpose of this Endurance challenge was to endure 12 hours of work towards accomplishing our mission. I decided to exercise my ability to focus and specifically hone it for basketball, and school work. These challenges ranged from different tests of mental endurance in accomplishing school work, to doing different workouts for basketball — and how I went about practicing basketball as a whole. If I knew it beforehand I wouldn’t have saved so many challenges for the final day of my project, and spread it out a bit more. I am proud of the fact that I learned about how I focus best, which is when I’m moving around. I’m also proud that I finished all of the workouts, but I learned that I need to be able to focus better just sitting down and working.