Sunday, March 16, 2008

Chinese Lunar New Year

Chinese New Year Traditions
Written by: Jennifer Zhang

"Out with the old and in with the new” is the definition of Chinese New Year. The goal of this holiday is so everyone can have a fresh start and so everyone can start off the New Year with positive energy that will last for the rest of the year. Other names for Chinese New Year include: Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival.

Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year because it is based on the combination of the lunar calendar and the solar movements. It usually occurs in January or February. For the year 2008, Chinese New Year will be on February 7, which is the year of the rat when associated with the Chinese Zodiac.

Chinese New Year is so everyone may get a fresh start in life with positively flying around, but the events that people do on New Year's Day can impact someone's whole life for the rest of the year. Some things to watch for are to: be careful with one's actions, be selective with what one eat, greet people with joy and wish them prosperity. If these guidelines are followed, the chance is that one's life would be prosperous and healthy for one's family and work place.

Everything associated with the New Year should represent good fortune. There are different wishes for different people. One should wish for the best for everyone on this day. To singles, it may mean love and romance, while students would look for good grades. The sick may look for a healthy year and a cure, while the unemployed would look for jobs.

To make sure that one may have a good year, there are guidelines that one must follow. There is a process of how to act and what to do before New Years and on the day of the New Year. Before Chinese New Year a family should: clean the entire house, put away all brooms and brushes, pay all debts, resolve differences with families and friends, buy red envelopes, oranges, tangerines, Chinese candy, flowers, and new clothing. On New Year's Eve a family should have a reunion dinner, pay respects to ancestors and household gods, and open all windows to dispose of the old year. At Chinese New Year a family should decorate their house with symbols of good fortune (use colors like red, which stands for happiness and orange for wealth). Other symbols include oranges (good health and long life), persimmons (happiness and wealth), circular candy (togetherness), flowers (blooming year), and red banners with good wishes written on them.

Chinese New Year is not only about a new start, but it is also about family and the togetherness of one's family. It is a great time for reunion. Relatives come together to cook a simple meal and laughter is shared in the room. It is a really warm feeling and plus the food is great. Teen'Zine would like to wish everyone a Happy Chinese New Year 2008, year of the rat.

The Alcatraz Island

The History of Alcatraz
Written by: Jennifer Zhang

Alcatraz was the home for violent and prisoners that don't follow the rules at regular prison. It was a frightening place to be, but it did not always started out that way. The island Alcatraz was founded by a Spanish explorer called Juan Manuel de Ayala and was also the first to sail in what is known as the San Francisco Bay. It used to be called Alcatraces, but it's now shorten to Alcatraz, which means“strange bird" in Spanish.

In 1850, the president wanted to set aside the island for use of the U.S. military reservations, but because of the California Gold Rush and the growth of San Francisco, the need for protection of the bay grew and the Army made plans to install 100 cannons on Alcatraz and it became a defense for the entrance of the bay. It also became the first lighthouse in the West Coast of the U.S. With Alcatraz as a military site, it also became the first military prisoner house. The necessary for defense died down after the Gold Rush and so in 1909, Alcatraz became a military prison. The nickname for this prison house became“The Rock". In 1993, Alcatraz was transferred to the U.S. Department of Justice and for use by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Alcatraz was then decided to be used to deal with the most incorrigible inmates in the Federal prisons as a threat to the public about stopping rampant crimes in the 1920s.

Alcatraz is actually not as bad as books and movies portray. The average amounts of prisoners are around 260-275 and the prison never even reached its capacity of 336. Alcatraz did not held that many prisoners because only the most violent ones were chosen to go and the conditions were not all that bad. For instance, there is always one man to a cell and it is better than the other Federal prisons. Several inmates requested to be transferred to Alcatraz. Prisoners that are sent to Alcatraz are mostly ones who refuse to conform to the rules and regulations at the other Federal prison houses and not all are like Al Capone and other big life gangsters. The prisoners there are mostly considered violent, dangerous, and had great escape risks.

The four rights that a prisoner had in Alcatraz are: food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. There are other privileges that are earned through working including: family visits, prison library, and recreational activities. Once a prison official felt that a man is no longer a big threat and can follow rules, the prisoner is usually sent back to a Federal prison to finish his/her sentence or will be released. Prisoners usually stay at Alcatraz for about five years or so.

Even though it is about five years, there still were escape attempts made. Over the 29 years of working Alcatraz, there were 36 men who attempted to escape and had 14 separate escape attempts. Of these men, 23 were caught, 6 were shot and killed, and 2 drowned. Of the 2 men that attempted, but were caught, they were later executed in a gas chamber for death of an officer during their attempt.

Alcatraz may seem to a eyes of a person as a frightening place, but it was better off than most Federal prisons. I would say that the most frightening part is where a prisoner would look out and only see water. The feeling of isolation of land is pretty scary if you asked me.

*Some pictures come from

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Passing of a Singer

Selena: One of the Best
by Jennifer Zhang

Selena Quintanilla Perez was a famous star from April 16, 1971 to March 31, 1995. The time when she was a little girl to the time of her death, she showed everyone that she was able to succeed in this world no matter who told her what with nothing shot her down. Since she was Spanish/American, both Spanish speaking and English speaking songs arose from her albums that showed pride in her nationality. She had a tragic death that brought everything to an end, but no one would every forget Selena.

Selena was born in April 16, 1971 in Lake Jackson, Texas. Selena was the young one of a family of three siblings to her parents of Marcella and Abraham Quintanilla II. She was part of a musical group already called the Los Dinos. Abraham practiced music in his home. Abraham knew she had a voice for singing. Selena started singing only in Spanish, though she spoke English originally. In 1980 they started to succeed. Los Dinos moved on to Corpus Christi, Texas, and traveled around Texas playing everywhere to earn money. Choosing the Freddie label, they came out with their first album. Selena met Chris Perez in 1988. At the Nueces County Courthouse on April 2, 1992, Selena, at the age of 20, secretly married Christ. The once Selena Quintanilla was now Selena Quintanilla Perez to the public. In 1990, a fan from San Antonio, Texas eagerly wanted to open a fan club in honor of Selena. Since this fan, Yolanda Saldivar, knew Selena personally through a friend of hers, her request was approved and granted. The prosperous fan club was set up, but later the club along with another company started many troubles between Yolanda and Selena, leading to Selena's death. In 1995, Selena was approached by a record label to start recording her first English album. It was what she had wanted for a long time because English was her native language. Also in this year, Selena Ect. Inc. was soaring. Another boutique was opening up in San Antonio. Up to this year, everything seemed to be going right. Selena had a wonderful career in singing Spanish and now English albums, and her fashion business was expanding. Though, this same year, problems originated with Yolanda Saldivar leading to her death. Selena died on March 31, 1995, in Corpus Christi, Texas, after being shot by Yolanda Saldivar, the founder of the Selena fan club. Saldivar had been managing Selena's boutique in San Antonio and was about to be fired for embezzling money. Selena's murder sent shockwaves through the Latino community and her fans around the world mourned the singer's passing.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The First English Colony in America

Ever Heard of Jamestown?
by Jennifer Zhang

Jamestown was the first English colony that first settled four hundred years ago. It was established on the North America continent that we see today. This was a really big event in history. When Jamestown was finally created, it affected a lot of people other than the English like the Native American population. The English started to take over the place and of America's east coast. Jamestown was a really new and special place, so a lot of stories were created there to explain the live of the people like Captain John Smith, Pocahontas, and Powhatan.

One of the first things that happened in Jamestown was when tobacco growth started. When the town was created, the people had to also create their first representative of 1619. They needed people and helpers, so slaves were transported there from Africa. There was also the first Anglican Church. The times were also tough for the people since they were not that familiar with everything. They only, just started a new place after all. They had problems with health and disease, hunger, and death. In the year 1609 was of the winters that the people of Jamestown had to endure. 70% of the settlers died because of this. Jamestown did survive through all of this because the English really wanted an empire and wanted to explore and kept the colony going because they were in a competition with Spain.

The expansion continued on May 1607 when Englishmen dropped their anchor in Virginia and built a fort on the peninsula of the James River and named it James Fort. James was the King in London that granted for the Englishmen to go there and named them the Virginia Company. After that day, they made a new settlement and invest in money from the colonization. The company had all the power to provide all the essential needs. They also wanted to open more new land and had the hope of finding gold. To make more profits, they had to build industries and they wanted to get lumber as their resources. They wanted to make a profit by sending things like lumber to England. To do this, they needed to discover a quick and safe route to the Orient to England.

Jamestown was actually a bad investment for the Virginia Company because the early people were not willing to do work for themselves and just wanted to make a profit. There was also a lot of disease with the marshy and swamp area that they were at and the fort that they build was not even that old. Jamestown was really unstable with all of these self factor, but they also have to deal with the warfare with the Indians and many other disputes. They were losing and was about to have a shortage of supplies.

Something that saved both settlements was new settles that came in at June 1611. A year later, tobacco was planted and profits were finally coming in from the exports. The Virginia Company organized all of the new families. Virginia Company got a royal control after that.

Jamestown was destroyed in 1676 at the Bacon's Rebellion and then was taken over by Williamsburg, which was the new capital in 1699. James Rive r is still shown as a historic place and is being preserved where people can see it and remind the old Jamestown history.

Help Prevent Television Violence

The Marriage Counselor
by Jennifer Zhang

Meet Bob and his family. He has two children named Andy and Anna. They are the typical American family in the photo that was shown to me. The family is smiling in front of their brand new house. They even have a Golden Retriever. Who would have thought that this family was having so may problems inside?

Bob received a large amount of cash just by investing in the stock market for a year. He got a brand new car, a house, and a nice pack of cigars to hold around in his pocket. From the money, we decided to buy the good stuff for his family. His wife got the best fashion style with all the 18 Karat jewelry and his children got the latest video games. For Bob, he always wanted a large screen television set. He got that with ease. After Bob got his set, all he did was stay at home and watched all he can watch. He was a millionaire now and can just live out the next 40 years of his life on the couch with the stock listing on the side of his new television and that was exactly what he did. He would watch sports programs to drama shows everyday for seven days a week and have another screen just for the stocks. He would sleep and eat at his mini theater and ignore everyone around him. His health habit changed from golf to television programs.

His wife would come in and ask him to take a walk with her and the children, but his mood changed compared to before. He was grumpy most of the time and seems to have mood swings. He would talk, but everything he says had an example behind it that came from a television program. His wife annoyed with him and told him he was addicted to the screen and asked him to marriage his theater instead. This will cause big fight and Bob will end up throwing chairs at his wife and then locking himself in his theater. "He seems to think that what he sees on television is where all the excitement is. He thinks he can get all the experience he can get by looking at the drama shows.", says his wife.

It has been half a year and Bob didn't connect with Andy or Anna at all. They are teenagers, but he acts more like a media freak than they do. Bob finally began to see that looking at the television is not a good thing for him. His vision is blurring and his wife is mad at him. He notices his mood swings which he blames on the family that was forcing him to do things that were not of their business. He also notices that he dreams a lot more of vivid events that feels so real, but it was actually something he can recall back on a program that he watches. He starts to notice that he tries to be the characters on the programs and he can see these imaginary fighting scenes in his head. His family notices that he likes to act tough at times after an action movie or he would be sweet after a chick flick.

Bob's health and mood started to change only after half a year of his relaxation period because of his television programs and mini theater. Because the things shown on television are so feel and the emotions are something that we can feel, we love to watch it. Everyone loves stories and so does Bob. What Bob doesn't notice at first was how he started to actually be the characters that he can never be. He finally notices this and instead, quotes the television characters without knowing he is doing it. Even when he was sleeping, he dreams and recalls the events that happened, not in his life, but from a television program.