Thursday, April 25, 2013
If you are looking for a great local coffee shop with delicious pastries and drinks that beat out Starbucks any day, look no further than Emilie’s Dessert Cafe. Emilie’s is located on Canyon Rd, right next to the Portland Lexus dealer. I have been going to Emilie’s ever since freshman year when I was looking for a local family-owned cafe. As you walk in, jazz music can be heard as some of the “regulars” get their daily croissant and americano. The Baristas are very welcoming and it is a great place to study with friends or just hang out on the couches. I often go there to study for finals because the atmosphere is so quiet and calm. My personal favorite is the mexican mocha and of the pastries, the almond financier. This is an egg-filled delicious muffin with raspberries scattered throughout. I would recommend to stop by Emilie’s and try their pastries and delicious sandwiches while working on some homework.
at 11:27 AM
In 1972, the American band Big Star released #1 Record. Though the album sold few copies due to poor distribution by Stax Records, it is one of the quintessential rock albums. The first song on the album, Feel, sets the tone for rest of the album, with a Led Zeppelin feel and Beatlesque chord changes. Innocence and nostalgia for the 1960s permeates the album, yet everything is infected with 1970s sensibilities. The guitars manage to shimmer and groove at the same time. The songs are poignant and well-defined, pinning down individual feelings and sensations with precision.
at 11:26 AM
Portland, OR— “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
I do not belong to an organized religion, but I sure see the value in the power of scripture.
One week ago, a tradition lasting more than one hundred and ten years that brought together a city and people around the world, was changed forever. Two individuals detonated crude bombs in the city with the tenth largest urban population in the country, killing three individuals and wounding over 260 others in the first successful terrorist attack since 9/11.
The ensuing manhunt for the two suspects, which resulted in the death of the elder suspect, Tamerlan, and the capture of the younger brother, Dzhokhar, managed to put the entire city of Boston on lockdown while thousands of local, state, and federal law enforcement tracked down the two suspects. The entire country and the world watched as the older brother was killed in a firefight, and the younger brother was captured, and after receiving serious medical treatment, admitted to the bombings and detailed how they were planned; he has been charged and could receive the death penalty.
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Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Prom is coming up and people are starting to look for dates. This being said, I know plenty of people going as a big group of friends, rather than having a date, and I've seen girls take initiative and asking boys instead of waiting. To be added, as mentioned for Semi, the OES Style of dance asking is not restricted to girl-boy couples: "Ask whomever you want, regardless of gender, to any dance".
Here are some interesting and creative ways to ask:
at 5:01 PM
On April 10, OES US Band went all the way to Clatskanie to participate in an annual district band festival. This is the first time that OES sent a band to a music competition, and the group did well. Although OES was not qualified to go to state, everyone in the band seemed to be very satisfied with their performance.
Friday, April 19, 2013
The first days of May are tiptoeing into Portland, finally bringing blue skies, fresh flowers, and most importantly, spring vegetables. After a winter stuffed with hearty bean stews and sweet potatoes, the palate craves the delicate flavor of pea shoots and salad greens. Although March offerings have been limited, in April, farmers’ markets blossom with arugula, spinach, fava beans, sugar snap peas, radishes, the first strawberries, and many more delicacies.
at 11:06 AM
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Ms. Baker's third grade classroom recently ventured into the OES wetlands for a canoeing field trip. The children became mesmerized by the intense beauty of the natural sanctuary and felt compelled to write about their experience in the form of personal journals and persuasive essays. They defined and pondered the theme "New Explorer," which outlines a way of life that fosters curiosity and polite caution for the environment. Below are a selection of the essays, take a look!
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Friday, April 12, 2013
The OES choir qualifies for the Oregon State Championships. They are going to sing on May 9th, the day after Mt. Hood Service day at George Fox University. What makes the OES choir so great? They sing songs in six different languages and sing an all a capella set with no instrumental accompaniment. The fact that the OES choir is smaller than most high school choirs means that every member has to be individually responsible for their music. The basses especially have to work hard tobe spot on all the time because there are only four of them.
Choir director Adam Steele recognizes that music is often not the priorityfor OES students. Other schools, in the OES division, place enormous amount of importance of band and choir programs, sometimes encouraging students to play music instead of football. But Adam’s goal, as a music teacher is to have students love making music as adults. Adam says, “what matters to me is that people who come through my classes have confidence and love for music, so that when the become a doctor or something and then 20 years down the road they say, ‘things are going great but, man, I’d love to join a choir’ and they have confidence to do that.” He thinks the real purpose of music is to create art that interests an audience, rather winning high school and college competitions. But the choir competition validates that the Choir is making good art. And making good art is what all music groups
should aim for.
at 11:02 PM
Thursday, April 11, 2013
I really don't play a lot of Japanese Role Playing Games. Sure, I've spent some time with various Final Fantasy games (VII and X to be precise), and I have tried to get into some other similar games in the past, but none of the really managed to suck me in and hold my attention for more then a few hours before I lost interest. Until I got Persona 4 Golden. In Persona 4 you are a Japanese a high school student who is sent to spend a year with his uncle in small town of Inaba while his parents are overseas. While on the train there you are told in a dream that the next year in your life is a turning point in your destiny, and that you will have a year to solve a great mystery. Soon after you get to Inaba, dead bodies start to show up hanging from telephone poles and the like, and you discover that you have the ability to enter another strange universe through TV screens.
The story is engaging and well told, and somehow managed to include a few plot twists that I didn't see coming, as well as a number that I saw coming a while in advance. More important than the story however, is the individual characters that you interact with. Each one is unique and well rounded without exception. A core theme in Persona 4 is that there is more to everyone than what we see, and the game does an excellent job demonstrating this with its large cast of characters. The story also did a good job of engaging me emotionally, with more then a few moments that left me doubled over laughing, and a few that made me feel like someone was chopping onions nearby. Most of the story is told through text overlaid on partially voice acted in game cutscenes that use some rather mediocre canned animations. There are a few hand drawn anime cutscenes that are absolutely beautiful, but they are all very short, and I felt like there should have been a lot more of them, as some of the visually uninspired text-heavy in-engine cutscenes started to bug me after awhile.
The gameplay is split between two equally engaging areas: the normal world where you do stuff like go to school, build relationships, and study, and the TV world where you fight your way through a series of multi-level dungeons, each one with a completely unique visual aesthetic and sound track. You will spend more time in the normal world then the TV one though, and this is where all of the interesting characters come into play. A big part of the game is building relationships with the people around you, and the way the relationship mechanics are executed is just stellar. Every single major character has his or her own major story line that you follow just by spending time with them, and in every case you come away with a new level of understanding concerning the people who you spend time with. You actually get bonuses when dungeon crawling in the TV world from spending time with people. The other activities you do in the real world are also generally pretty entertaining, although I never really did get around to fishing or bug catching. I did have one issue, however, with the sections of the game that took part in class, as the game would often ask me to answer questions that are probably common knowledge for anyone who has gone to school for more then a few years in Japan. Not being from Japan, I had to google a lot of answers because if you answer incorrectly, there are some (albeit minor) penalties. What really surprised me was how the mechanics of day-to-day life in the real world were well enough executed that I never found myself desperately wishing to get to the next dungeon crawling sequence.
The dungeon crawling sections of that game are just as polished as the rest of the game, and tend to wildly vary in thematically if not mechanically. Each dungeon is about ten levels in size, and progressing through a given dungeon is generally pretty straight forward, although there was one dungeon that did require some backtracking (which the game didn't explain to me, so I spent about an hour aimlessly wandering around before I googled the solution). Rather then using the random encounter system common to so many JRPGs, every encounter is represented by a mobile amorphous blob that will notice and attack you if you get too close, triggering the actual encounter. You can also initiate a normal encounter by attacking directly from the front, although if you get the drop on an enemy (or ‘shadow’ as that is what the game calls them) you get an advantage that allows you an extra turn first, although a shadow can get the same advantage if it attacks you from behind.
Speaking of the actual battles, the battle system is really strong turn-based one that is actually quite complex and engaging, but could probably be better explained. Every one in your party (which consists of you and up to three other characters at any one time) has a basic attack that does damage based on the equipped weapon (which counts as physical damage) and a “persona” with up to eight skills, both active and passive. Your party members always have the same personas unless you max out your relationship status with them, in which case their persona evolves into a more advance form that also looks awesome. You start with a basic persona, but you can replace it with persona cards found after battles, and by fusing these persona cards once outside of the TV world. There are a lot of different personas with a lot of different abilities, and once again this is an area where the game could do a better job of explaining itself. Knowing the various strengths and weakness of your enemies is also crucial to your success, as an attack that exploits a weakness knocks an enemy down and allows you another attack (and with proper planning and a field full of knocked down enemies you can do an extra-powerful attack with your entire party), while some enemies reflect attacks of certain types. Know your enemy, or you will do what I did, and hit an enemy that reflects physical attacks with a physical attack that deals high damage to all targets on the field and has been charged for double damage, thus wiping your entire party, which is at full health.
Graphically, the game is a mixed bag. Persona 4 originally came out on the Playstation 2 in 2008, and it probably didn't even look all that great back then. Most of the time the camera is pulled pretty far back so you can't see to much detail, and the character portraits are all hand drawn, but even far away, the character models look a bit strange, like an uncanny combination of normal and anime style, with heads that are just a little bit too big. Up close, (particularly when walking around school) the character models actually look pretty bad, with features on faces being uninspired, simple low-res textures rather then even the most basic geometry. I wasn't expecting Uncharted: Golden Abyss levels of detail, but this game looks pretty ugly even when compared to the Metal Gear Solid HD collection. Thankfully, the game has some of the best and most interesting monster designs I have ever seen. The sheer variety and (occasional) strangeness of the designs never ceased to impress me, and while most of the attack animations are pretty simple, they all carry a sense of weight, and seem to ooze character.
As far as technical issue go, I didn't notice any bugs, and load times were very fast. Persona 4 Golden mostly stuck to the controls of the original Playstation 2 release, and did not try to make use of any of the Vita's unique controls such as the touch screens or the accelerometer. There is one menu where you can use the front touch screen, but it was a menu that I literally never used.
It took me about forty hours to beat Persona first time around. There is an asterisk attached to that number however, as I didn't read any guides, and I got the “neutral” ending without knowing that I was choosing an ending in the first place. I'm not a fan of games that feature a last minute choice ending, but yet again Persona 4 gives too little rather than too much information, and I didn't realize I had made a single dialogue mistake until after it was to late to go back. Of all the endings, the bad and neutral ones end the game early, and the game emotionally manipulates you toward them. If you don't screw up, you get another one or two dungeons and bosses, and a lot more answers as to what is actually going on, which from what I hear adds up to another ten to twenty hours of content.
I really enjoyed Persona 4 Golden, and while the horrible in-engine cutscenes, and the occasional lack of a proper tutorial did become annoying at times, the overall experience was still solid, and I was pretty much unable to put the game down as soon as I started playing it. My sessions with the game were often only limited by the Vita's five-hour battery life, and the game kept me awake until the wee hours of the morning more times then I would like to admit. Persona 4 Golden is one of the best RPGs I have played this year, and if you own a Vita (even if you are not a big fan of JRPGs) the game is a must-buy as far as I am concerned. Hell, it could even be a system seller if you want a stellar JRPG that you can play on the go or in bed. The game is just that good. Persona 4 Golden is available on the Playstation Vita for (a very reasonable) $39.99. Seriously. Go buy it. You won't regret it.
at 11:42 AM
Since I haven’t collected many recent responses to Ask Puffer, I thought I’d write a blurb to explain more in depth about the column. Ask Puffer is a new student- led advice column. My identity will remain anonymous along with the identities of any people who submit questions. I would love to help answer any questions you guys might have that need advice. I know how hard it is to deal with a problem by yourself, and that’s exactly why I created this column: to help you guys out! So, if there’s anything that’s bothering you or that you need some guidance on, send in a question! The link to the form will be sent out by email about every two weeks. I will try my best to get your responses out as soon as possible. You can also check out the Ask Puffer tab on the Blöphish page to read my advice!
at 11:32 AM
Friday, April 5, 2013
|Photo by Holly Andres for The New York Times|
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Tuesday, April 2, 2013
at 9:28 PM
Over Winterim, I had the pleasure of joining Chris Myers’ class watching 60’s movies. We began each morning stockpiling candy, chips, and soda to prepare for two hours of screen time. Throughout the week and a half, we viewed a total of eight movies from various genres.
at 3:46 PM
at 3:11 PM
To be honest, I wasn’t sure how much I was going to like the Golf Winterim when the week started. My friends were off to hot locations like Hawaii and Ecuador, and I was stuck in rainy Portland, Oregon. On the first day the group of 14 drove over a couple miles to Redtail golf course and hit off the second floor of the practice range. This was the first time many students had ever hit a golf ball, and it was entertaining, and frankly quite dangerous, as novice golfers swung iron clubs. Though no one was injured during this Winterim, there were some close calls as golf balls popped up in every direction except straight.
at 10:27 AM
The Winterim “Strategy Games” obviously involves playing strategy games. With games ranging from Diplomacy to Illuminati to Hearts, there are plenty of games for everyone to play and have fun. However, this Winterm is not only about fun and relaxing; it is also about getting to know classmates better and develop skills to learn how to react to both the expected and unexpected. Personally, I have very much enjoyed this Winterim, as have other people in it, and if it is offered again next year, I encourage people to sign up for it.
Strategy Games by Adrian G
In the Winterim Strategy Games we played many classic strategy games such as Diplomacy, Risk, Chess, Power Grid, Agricola, and Hearts. These games call for a lot of concentration and mental stamina. I was surprised to find that good interpersonal skills were helpful in playing strategy games. When playing games, people do not act merely as self-interested computers, but with goals besides winning the games. People are willing to compromise their own positions in the games to achieve different ends. The interpersonal nature of these games made us learn about each other’s personalities. Being a novice at most of the games, I was happy to have fellow members of the class assist me in making strategy decisions. I didn’t enjoy playing games that take place in the ancient world or games with cards that represent complex things beyond the basic game. The simple games played nicely. I recommend this Winterim.
at 10:24 AM