Business 1, Lesson 55 – Increasing Efficiency

Writing assignment, 250 words: “What can I cut out of my weekly schedule in order to increase my efficiency?”

Every day I tell myself that I will finish all my schoolwork by 2pm. Yet every day, I end up sitting at my desk at 6-7pm, still working. Why is this? Well, there are numerous things that suck up my time that do not need to be there.

First off, my phone is a big distraction. A double-edged sword, just like free time. Texting, watching YouTube videos, and browsing Pinterest are all big timewasters, even though they can often be extremely useful and informative. I can cut down on phone time by only going on it at the end of the day, perhaps after dinner, which we usually eat at around 5pm.

Second, I take breaks between my study time, as does anyone, but I often let my breaks drag on for too long. Breaktime should last 10-15 minutes for maximum efficiency, yet I find myself taking hour long breaks in the middle of the day. I go upstairs to stretch my legs or use the bathroom, but then I get distracted and start doing other things. To stop this from happening, perhaps I could set a timer for 15 minutes when I come up, and then when it rings, I go downstairs again.

Along with distractions away from my desk, there are also a few websites or apps that allure me into the trap of timewasting. Typeracer.com is much more of an addicting site than it looks. I could spend hours trying to beat my typing speed and accuracy, and in fact I sometimes do. Checking my WordPress every half hour or so is another distraction that I could do without. I do not necessarily need to check my WordPress more than once a day, seeing as all I do is like my fellow students’ posts and comments and respond to comments I receive. Like with my phone, I can cut my WordPress time to after dinner. There is no urgency to respond to comments, I can take my time.

In conclusion, those are the three main things that distract me from my studies. I will work on keeping my focus on studying so that I hopefully have time after 2pm to do extracurriculars and leisure activities.

English 1, Lesson 50 – How Helen Keller’s Autobiography Affected Me

Writing assignment 500 words: “Has any piece of literature affected you in a major way? If so, explain how. If not, explain why not.”

    Coincidentally, this essay topic falls on the time when I am reading Helen Keller’s autobiography, which also happens to be a piece of literature that greatly inspired me. The book was inspirational because of the constant determination and hard work Keller displayed in most every aspect of her life. Even though at times it was exceedingly difficult, what with her blindness and deafness, Keller pushed through and succeeded. Despite her limitations, she managed to accomplish more than most of you reading this essay.

    At the age of 11, Keller wrote a short story called The Frost King, which was good enough that the head of the Perkins Institute saw fit to publish it. Soon after, another journal published it. Keller was accused of plagiarism for writing the story, but nonetheless, the story itself was truly remarkable, considering its author.

    By the age of 12, Keller was a gifted linguist; able to spell, read, write, and understand German, English, French, and even Latin! She spoke German every chance she got with her German teacher, Mrs. Reamy, at the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf in New York City. Keller learned Latin under the neighbor of a family friend. The man, Mr. Irons, was a good Latin scholar, sweet and patient in nature. He and Keller read books in Latin together and he tried to teach her arithmetic, but she could not grasp the concepts, and so they focused on Latin. The most incredible lingual advancement she made was in French because she did not have a teacher. Keller taught herself using descriptions of the words and sounds in a book. How she was able to perfect her pronunciation will always astound me.

    By the time Keller was 22 years old, she was an immensely powerful writer. At 23, she was a more potent writer than any other who ever lived. She wrote a total of 12 published books, including her autobiography The Story of my Life, and numerous articles. Many of them were about socialism and feminism, two movements that she was a firm supporter of.

    Keller met with many famous and political figures, not because she asked to (although I am quite certain she wanted to), but because those men and women themselves wanted to meet with her.

    Although Keller’s goal was to get into Harvard University, she wasn’t able to, instead attending Radcliffe College, the next best college a woman could go to in 1900. The academy hadn’t lowered their standards to let her in. They hadn’t gone easy on her, despite her deafness and blindness. She was allowed to use a typewriter, which was invented at the perfect time (1868), and she was able to read braille which was invented at the beginning of the 1800s. Keller struggled a bit going through her studies at Radcliffe, not having enough of her textbooks embossed in braille, not being able to hear the teachers, some of the teachers not wanting her to read their lips or not knowing how to spell with the hand signs Keller relied so heavily on. Her teacher, Anne Sullivan, was a major part of Keller’s education, but she couldn’t spell everything into Keller’s hand. Keller fought to keep up with her classes, typing her essays and reading her instructors lips when she could. She was eventually able to graduate with flying colors and became the first deaf and blind person to ever earn a bachelor’s degree in arts.

    Helen Keller’s story was one of struggle and triumph, over and over again. Keller lived for 80 years, her whole life full of interesting events, struggles, victories, and hard work and determination. I immensely admire her dedication and will to learn, and after reading her book, I am inspired to work harder and push myself to my limits, and to not be afraid of failure, as she wasn’t. Should I fall, I will get back up and run. I have never yet been more affected by a book as I am by The Story of my Life by Helen Keller. I hope to be able to accomplish half of what she did in her life.

English 1, Lesson 40 – Writing Dialogue from Memory

Writing assignment: 500 words on this topic, “Which is most important in writing dialogue from memory: accuracy, succinctness, or liveliness? Why?”

Dialogue has always been a key element in books and movies. It is when a character in a book or film speaks as they would in real life. You can find dialogue in most pieces of writing, always accompanied by quotation marks like this “hi!”. Dialogue is used because it engages the reader’s or watcher’s attention, and removes the need for lengthy explanations from the narrator. When writing dialogue, there are multiple different styles to implement. But the most important factor in writing dialogue based off someone’s true words is accuracy because it needs to be errorless, descriptive, and authentic.

First, dialogue must be errorless so that you do not twist the words of the speaker. You don’t want to misquote them, or make them say something different than what they said. When you write dialogue based off true words from a real person, it should be as factual as possible.

Secondly, dialogue also needs to be descriptive so as to help the reader imagine the character you are portraying. Use the same speaking style that the actual person used. For example, in The Persecutor by Sergei Kourdakov, the director of the undercover police group, Nikiforov, was a short, balding, potbellied man, who spoke fast and often shouted for no particular reason. It is easy now to imagine this man because his dialogue enticed his character.

Finally, dialogue should be authentic to ensure that your own opinion does not get mixed in with what the character says. You want to make sure that the words your character says are his or her own. At the same time, their dialogue should be meaningful and add something to the story, and not become overwhelming. The story should not be: “Hello.” “Hi.” “How are you?” “Fine, thank you. How are you?” “Quite well.” that kind of dialogue does not add much to the story, and becomes too much conveying too little if you fill your book or film with just that.

In conclusion, accuracy is the most important factor when writing dialogue. It is the most effective way to get the characters personality, beliefs, and points across, as well as set the scene without needing to narrate too much. Dialogue that is errorless, descriptive, and authentic is accurate.

English 1, Lesson 45 – How Helen Keller Escaped her “Prison”

Writing assignment: 500 words:
“Which were the key incidents that led her out of her ‘prison.'”

    Helen Adams Keller, as I’m sure you know, was blind and deaf by the time she was 19 months old. She relied completely on her touch, smell, and taste. Before her teacher, Anne Mansfield Sullivan, arrived, Keller mostly communicated with hand signals. A push meant go, a pull meant come, touching her mouth meant she wanted to eat or drink. But she wasn’t able to effectively communicate like a seeing and hearing child could, and this frustrated her very much. In her autobiography, Keller describes this period of her life as ‘her prison’. But then Anne Sullivan arrived, and Keller was slowly released from this prison.

Sullivan taught Keller how to sign with her hands. She learned the letters to spell out simple words like ‘cake’, ‘doll’, and ‘pen’. She learned how to spell the words, but she struggle to understand that the word was connected to an actual object. Sullivan persisted to spell on her hand, and slowly but surely, Keller made the connection between the words being spelled on her hand, and the items that those words represented.

Then Sullivan began to teach Keller to read. She made paper slips with braille written on them, which is a language used by blind people. It is composed of bumps that represent letters. Keller soon learned to read them and understood what they meant. She put them next to each other to make simple sentences such as ‘doll is on bed’, and ‘girl is in wardrobe’. Keller was now able to spell and read with her fingers.

But Keller wasn’t satisfied with just reading and spelling. She noticed that others did not spell with their fingers, and wanted to communicate the way that others did. Of course, this meant she wanted to talk. Her determination and will to communicate is admirable. She really pushed her limits and worked hard to be able to communicate just like seeing and hearing folks.

Due to Keller’s determination to speak, Sullivan tried to teach her using the Tadoma method:

Tadoma is a method of communication used by deafblind individuals, in which the deafblind person places their thumb on the speaker’s lips and their fingers along the jawline. The middle three fingers often fall along the speaker’s cheeks with the little finger picking up the vibrations of the speaker’s throat. It is sometimes referred to as tactile lipreading, as the deafblind person feels the movement of the lips, as well as vibrations of the vocal cords, puffing of the cheeks and the warm air produced by nasal sounds such as ‘N’ and ‘M’. There are variations in the hand positioning, and it is a method sometimes used by people to support their remaining hearing.

    “Tadoma.” Wikipedia. 24/10/2020. 1/12/2020 <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/tadoma>

Keller’s first spoken word was ‘it’. Her first spoken sentence was ‘I am not dumb now’. She never learned how to speak clearly, and she needed a translator, but Keller was finally able to speak with her lips. After learning this skill, she went on to give multiple inspiring speeches. She met with numerous presidents and famous historical figures.

Learning to spell, read, and talk were all things that brought Helen Keller out of her ‘prison’. She was no longer trapped in the darkness of her own mind, for she could finally communicate with those around her. She was able to speak and write her ideas, as well as read the ideas of others.

Business 1, Lesson 35 – Three Goals I’m Committing to Achieve by Age 70

Writing assignment: write 500 words. Topic: “What are three goals that I am committing to achieve by age 70? Why?” (250 words) “How will owning my own business increase the likelihood that I will attain them?” (250 words)

Everyone sets goals, or says they want to accomplish this and that. But once you make some goals, there are two paths you can take. You can work hard, putting in time and effort to achieve your goals, or you can sit around and not do anything about it except hope that someday those goals you made ten years ago will magically achieve themselves. Most people, unfortunately, take the second path. I, however, will not be one of those people. So, here are my three goals that I am committing to achieve by age 70.

    Number one, I would like to establish a proper routine. My current sleep schedule is, to say the least, horrible. I am going to change that, though I don’t think it will take me until 70 to get into a routine, most likely only a year or two. I want to go to sleep at a set time, wake at a set time, eat at set times, go for walks, work for certain time periods, etc. Organization always makes me feel good, even if I currently don’t follow through with those plans.

    Number two, I want to have a legacy to leave behind to my heirs. I would like to leave them an estate, a business to run, and some money so those who want to start their own business will have some start-up funds.

    Number three, I would like a steady income flow so that in retirement I may relax and not have to work every day. Maybe I can focus more on writing in retirement.

    Now how will owning my own business increase the likelihood I will achieve these goals? Simple. Owning my own business will help me achieve the first goal because I’ll need to make and maintain a schedule so I can be successful and organized. For the second goal, owning my own business in and of itself will be achieving that goal because I will be able to hand that business down to my children. And with the money I would make from that business, I can buy an estate to leave behind. Owning my own business will assist me in attaining my third goal because the business will make profits, some of which I can put in my retirement funds. So those are the three goals I am committing to achieve by the time I am 70 years old and how owning my own business will help me achieve them.

Business 1, Lesson 40 – Saving 10% of my Income

Writing assignment, 250 words: “What would I have to give up in order to save 10% of my income?”

I do not have any source of income at the moment, but I am going to attempt to plan for when I do. My goal is to save 10% of my income, so I will have to give up a few things. I am writing this essay under the assumption that by the time I earn enough to sustain myself, I live in my own house (or apartment. That seems more likely). I actually have a pretty big list of things to either give up or cut down on, so here we go.

First off, I don’t need TV. I don’t watch TV except with my family when they want to spend time together, so we watch a movie or something. I won’t miss TV in the slightest, so not paying for cable will help me save. I can also save by making sure I only turn on the lights that I need, keeping the electric bill down. Same for heating in the winter. I can turn off the heat every time I leave the house, and when I’m home, turn it down low and wear sweaters. I can cut down on the amount of times I eat out. To be honest, I probably won’t eat out too much, maybe now and then as a celebration (birthdays and such). Also, I will most likely be cooking for two or three people (myself and maybe a roommate. Possibly the occasional guest.), so I won’t need that many groceries. Owning a car can cut down on money for bus and train fares as well.

Internet is a big cost nowadays, I could keep my leisure internet time (texting, social media, watching YouTube) to only a certain amount of time each day, which can also help with productivity, not just saving money. Assuming I work from home (extremely likely), I’ll need internet most of the day, so this one isn’t a big one, and it’s not likely I’ll actually cut down much on it. Traveling as well is something I don’t need to do, at least not often. Limiting vacations to once ever couple years will definitely help me save. Staycations are the way to go when you want to keep that 10%.

Those are the things I can cut down on to save 10% of my income. I wrote this essay assuming I’d have the income of an average office worker, though if I start my own business and find success, I’ll likely make much more. But even then, saving is a smart idea, and no matter how much you make, you should still try to cut down on some of these less-than-necessary expenses.

Business 1, Lesson 25 – Going the Extra Mile

Writing Assignment: 1. Write a one-paragraph answer for each of these questions:

What am I willing to settle for as having achieved one year from now?

What am I willing to settle for as having achieved on my 18th birthday?

What am I willing to settle for as having achieved at age 25?

2. Write 250 words on this: “How can the strategy of going the extra mile help me attain these goals?”

One year from now, at age 15, I would like to be either starting or already well into my CLEP and DSST cram courses. Then, in a few years, I can take the exams and graduate collage. I’d also like to be able to pay for the courses, or at least majorly contribute to their purchasing. I intend to achieve this by making some money from trading in the stock market and doing business on Fiverr.

By my 18th birthday, I want to be starting a business, possibly in real estate, or interior design, or owning a few houses to AirBnb, like my father. Those are two jobs I have most interest in. I also want to own a car, whether I make that purchase completely independently or pay most of the expenses. Though cars are more of an investment, so if my business is successful, I hope to be able to maintain it properly. By 18, I hope to be almost completely independent.

At age 25, 11 years from now, I would like to continue growing my business as much as possible, and have a steady income to support me and my family. By then I’ll be married and living out of my parents’ house.

Going the extra mile means doing more than just what you were paid to do, and doing it gladly. It means arriving at work 15 minutes early, staying 15 minutes after your shift is up to make sure everything you needed to do was done. Going the extra mile can help achieve these goals because by doing more than what I was paid to do, I’ll get more tasks done, and people will have a better image of me, which could lead to recommending me for promotions or other, higher paying jobs.

I’ve seen a lot of students talking about what their calling will be in essays on this topic. But I am not sure what my calling will be, unless you want to count being a mother. But I do know that no matter what my calling is, going the extra mile will most definitely help me do the best I can in it. As a mother, going the extra mile would mean signing them up for extracurriculars so they can meet other kids and make friends, packing them their favorite lunches when they go to these activities, clearing time on my schedule to spend time with them, and more. If your calling isn’t as a mother, you can still benefit from going the extra mile. Making time to improve yourself as a person and as an asset, you can make yourself a desirable employee. Put in 10 minutes a day to raise your typing and reading speeds, and you’ll steadily improve. Learn how to write and speak better, and you’ll become a much more desirable worker.

English 1, Lesson 30 – Kourdakov’s Failed Assignment

Writing Assignment: 500 words on this topic: “Describe the choices that led Kourdakov to the failed assignment.” Possible topics: Army vs. Navy, Lenin prayer vs. the slave labor city, joining a crime syndicate vs. staying clean, telling the truth vs. telling a lie.

In Kourdakov’s autobiography, The Persecutor, he tells of how he was initiated into a police operations group, and how he and about 20 other young men persecuted the Christians. His first raid on the “Believers” (Christians) was a disaster. For the police group, at least. 14 of the men (including Kourdakov) were supposed to go to a secret Christian sermon, break it up, grab the two middle-aged pastors and bring them to the police station for interrogation, and “rough up” the rest of the attendees. By rough up, their director meant to beat them badly enough that they’d think twice before going to another secret meeting. But went they got to the meeting place, things didn’t go quite as planned. Instead of charging in, they politely rapped on the door. One of the pastors let them in and spoke in a whisper. Kourdakov found himself also lowering his voice so as not to disturb the hymns being sung. Then the pastor began to tell them about how the Russian constitution permitted religious freedom. This confused Kourdakov because the constitution really did permit religious freedom; but the constitution was for public relations reasons only, though Kourdakov didn’t know that. So he told the pastor that he needed to take him and the other pastor to the police station, and the men went with them without a single protest. This made their director, Nikiforov, furious.

One of the choices Kourdakov made that led him to this failed assignment is choosing to join the Navy rather than join the Army. Had he chosen to join the army, he wouldn’t have been recruited to the police ops group. He might have not even been alive by that time.

Another is choosing to stay clean, instead of running off with his friends who were selling illegal items, which were things you could buy at a Walmart or dollar store in America today. Illegal items in Russia in the 60s-70s were things like lipstick and cassette tapes. I thought this was ridiculous and showed the backwardness of Communism. If he decided to go sell these daily items, along with a few illegal drugs, he wouldn’t have ended up in the Communist Youth League, which led to him joining the Navy, which led to him being recommended to Nikiforov by the head of the naval academy.

Another yet is telling the truth about a suicide at the naval academy. One of the cadets jumped from a window, but the academy covered it up and said the young man was drunk and had fallen out, not jumped. Kourdakov new the truth, but kept it covered along with the academy. If he exposed the academy, it would give them a bad image and taint his record. A tainted record could ruin your career in Russia, and possibly in other countries as well, I haven’t looked into it. The academy wouldn’t have recommended him to Nikiforov, and he wouldn’t have been part of the ops group.

English 1, Lesson 35 – Kourdakov’s Use of Contrasts

Writing Assignment: 500 words on this topic. “Describe Kourdakov’s use of contrasts to strengthen his narrative.” Examples: Sunday afternoon’s activities, or the meetings — public and private — where he got his award, or the leaders of the USSR vs. the leaders of the victims. Do you think these contrasts make his narrative more powerful?

    As I read The Persecutor, Sergei Kourdakov’s autobiography, I noticed that he often used these stark contrasts. These really strengthened his narrative and made his points all the more powerful. Today I am going to take you through a few of them.

    One of those contrasts tells the story of a sunny Sunday afternoon in a beautiful hilltop landscape where a group of Baptists were going to baptize a few new converts in the river. In the morning of that fateful Sunday, Kourdakov and his 13 police group buddies enjoyed a fun-filled picnic on the hill. They drank, ate, played guitar, and swapped stories, laughing, and goofing around. After a while, they fell asleep, the vodka making them drowsy. When they awoke, the Christians (called Believers in the autobiography) were about to arrive, so they quickly got ready with their specially made clubs and handcuffs. As the afternoon progressed, the 14 men beat up the 15 Christians at the river, even killing one of the pastors! They were brutal and merciless, and their director, Nikiforov, applauded them for it.

    This story clearly projected the contrast between the peaceful, harmless, Believers, or Christians, and the brute, angry, ruthless young men who persecuted them. The entirety of the KGB and the Soviet Union felt quite strongly about the Christians, and poured tons of money into their persecution and termination.

    Another story Kourdakov tells is of the contrast between the leaders of the USSR and the communist party, and the Christian leaders. The pastors, both young and old, were kind and forgiving, and they tried to convert everyone, even the police! This infuriated the police and Kourdakov’s group, leading them to attack harder, but still this didn’t dampen their spirits nor stop their attempts to convert others. The leaders of the USSR and Communist party, on the other hand, were constantly putting up a façade. They pretended to be faithful in Communism and work for the hope that someday, Russia, and possibly the world, would be a Communist country. But on the inside, they didn’t really believe in this fantasy of equality.

    On April 22nd of 1970, Kourdakov was invited to attend a party celebrating the one-hundredth anniversary of Lenin’s birthday. There he met Comrade Orlov, a man he had heard of on several occasions. Orlov, being one of the top 200 party leaders, had a lot of influence on Kourdakov. Orlov awarded Kourdakov, praising him and saying that young men like Kourdakov were the future of communism. He was even given a seat of honor! This was one of the proudest moments of Kourdakov’s life. But the event quickly went downhill. He noticed that the big party leaders weren’t dining with the youth leaders and local leaders, and after dinner, wandered through the halls. He came across a private dining room where the party leaders were stuffing their faces with food. Orlov saw him and invited him in. Somewhat reluctantly, he followed Orlov to a table and observed the leaders in the room. What he saw disgusted him. The top 200 party leaders of the Communist party were drunk out of their minds, bellies stuffed almost to bursting point, unconscious under and top of tables, and on the floor. A drunk Orlov then began cursing Stalin, Communism, and the then Soviet leader, Brezhnev. Kourdakov was terrified. Imagine someone heard what Orlov was saying! Imagine someone knew that Kourdakov heard Orlov’s true feelings about Communism! Kourdakov would surely be terminated. He quickly left the room of drunk, unconscious party leaders. That was the night he lost all faith in Communism and decided he, as the other party leaders, would use the party to get ahead of his peers.

    The Communist leaders were hard, cynical, and drunk. They didn’t care for Communism, didn’t care for equality in Russia, just wanted to be on top, and live comfortably. They did what they did for money and power. Compare this to the Christian pastors, who risked their lives to spread the word of Jesus, no matter how badly they were beaten, no matter how many times their meeting places were destroyed, no matter how many Bibles and other bits of literature were stolen from them. They were persistent and purposeful.

    The biggest contrast of all, that stays constant throughout the autobiography, is the difference between the lives of the Christian youths, and the lives of the young cadets at the Naval academy. The Christians had purpose in their lives: to spread the belief of Jesus, and to devote themselves to him. The cadets didn’t have purpose, all they cared about was vodka and money. Many of the young cadets even killed themselves at the academy, having nothing worthy to live for. Even Kourdakov, near the end of his life, around 20 years old, converted to Christianity and began to use his influence as a Communist Youth League leader to promote Christianity. The importance of religion and hardcore beliefs vs. living a hard, cynical life trying to control others to achieve a fantasy is evident in this autobiography, and his message is not an unrealistic one.

English 1, Lesson 25 – Major Turning Points in my Life

Writing Assignment: 500 words on major turning points in your life. What changed? Why were they turning points? How did they take place?
Kourdakov experienced several of these. They are important for the narrative. Use these as models for your essay.

Kourdakov had a very interesting life, full of turning points throughout. He was orphaned at four years old, ran away from his adoptive parents at six to live in a train station, and was sent to live in a children’s home a few weeks after running away from his adoptive parents. He was sent around to different children’s homes as he got older, and in one of them he witnessed the death of a fellow orphan. He realized that life is survival of the fittest, and that life wasn’t going to give him seatbelts. These experiences and realizations drove him to be the strongest, and drove his ambition to be on top.

My life isn’t nearly as exciting as Kourdakov’s, but I hope to have many interesting experiences as he did. So far, I have had a few turning points, though nothing amazing or crazy.

One of these was joining a homeschool co-op. This experience changed me for the better. I learned how to hold proper conversations with kids and adults alike, I met new people, some of which became my current best friends, and I was able to have something to look forward to throughout the week. Overall, this co-op helped me develop my social skills and make friends without my parents help.

Another turning point was getting a phone. Getting a phone definitely changed my life, but not completely for the better. It most definitely brought a ton of distractions with it, such as games, endless youtube videos, and other such sources of entertainment. These distractions, however, led me to try and manage my time properly and discipline myself. I’m still working on it, but I’m getting better at making sure I don’t slow myself down in the education department because I’d rather do stuff on my phone.

The last major turning point I am going to talk about today is starting the Ron Paul Curriculum, the curriculum for which I am writing this essay. This curriculum taught me (and is still teaching me) how to manage my time and maintain a structured day, all while getting a proper education. This differs from how I used to do schooling, which was basically just sitting down every now and then, sometimes not even daily, and just doing a page or two from a workbook. RPC is a lot more mentally challenging than the old workbooks I used to do as well, which is a huge plus. It gives me the drive to do well and understand and learn as much as I can.

In conclusion, these three turning points have helped me and continue to help me grow into an adult who can be successful. I hope to have some more interesting turning points and more interesting experiences in the very near future.

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