The allure behind Nintendo Switch

grew up as a Nintendo kid. The first product I owned was the DS Lite, which provided me with countless hours of fun, and still remains a cherished part of my childhood today. My fondest recollections of the handheld include playing Animal Crossing Wild World in the pitch blackness of the backseat of my family’s minivan on a roadtrip.

The Nintendo Wii also gave me hours of good fun. Mario Kart Wii played an instrumental role in my preteen years, and even today I’ve put the console to good use by using it to emulate Gamecube games from an even older era.

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So I certainly see the appeal of the Nintendo Switch to Nintendo fans, veterans and noobies alike. When Nintendo first released its trailer for the Switch in late 2016, I was immediately drawn to the console as if it were some $300 matte black child magnet. After all, it seemed like a novel idea to introduce a console that blurred the line between game console and handheld, with detachable game pads which doubled as remote controllers.

However, early reviews of the console have rendered it sub-par by Nintendo’s standards, with IGN giving it a 7.0/10 rating, stating “Switch doesn’t do any one of the many things it can do without some sort of significant compromise.” Furthermore, CNET gave the Nintendo Switch a meager 7.5/10, noting its biggest flaw in its ecosystem, which currently lacks AAA titles aside from Breath of the Wild.

Perhaps I set my expectations too high.

Only time will tell how well the Switch bodes in the future, but early signs have suggested that the Switch is yet another concept that looks good on paper, but unrealistic in practice.

But this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I believe that great products come from people trying to solve great problems. And in the case where the consumer dictates the flaws and market for the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo has great potential to turn a difficult concept into the console of the decade.

Is Donald Trump a narcissist?

Is Donald Trump a narcissist?

The arrival of a new president also signifies the arrival of a new personality in the White House. Lincoln, witty and honest. Wilson, dispassionate and pragmatic. Obama, charming and sensible. Trump, some may argue, is a completely different breed. He’s unfiltered. He speaks what’s on his mind. And he is always determined to be right, truth or not. Regardless of how the American people view this behavior, Trump’s resolve and self-confidence is undeniable. Psychologists and media outlets such as “The Atlantic” have been quick to point out that Trump’s infatuation with himself is a symptom of an actual disorder: narcissistic personality disorder. Yet these labels may have surfaced out of rage and discontent with the president, begging a critical question: are these statements qualified?

According to the DSM-IV, which is used to diagnose mental disorders, narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by “a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, lack of empathy and presents itself in a variety of contexts.” Furthermore, common symptoms include the common belief that one is superior or unique, the inflation of one’s accomplishments and abilities, and the belief that those who associate with one are special. Trump’s public appearance certainly has parallels with the DSM-IV definition of narcissistic personality disorder: he claims to have won the electoral by a landslide, despite several independent findings refuting such claims. He exaggerated the size of his inaugural crowd, while photographs suggest precisely otherwise. And then there is Trump’s persistent use of superlatives such as “greatest” and “best” to describe his family and aids. He has also barred media outlets who ask unfavorable questions from certain press conferences, as he did on Feb. 24 to news agencies including CNN and the New York Times.

However, it’s undeniable that such a definition is fairly broad in today’s social context. In an individualistic society, something as mundane as a football player’s celebratory dance could easily fall under such a definition. According to Marriage and Family Therapist Richard Prinz, it’s dangerous to ascribe a label to people, particularly when taken out of context.

“Once you put a label on something, it sticks,” Prinz said. “And I think if we do that with mental issues, sometimes it’s helpful to some people, but other people feel stigmatized and people will look at them differently.”

Prinz says that creating a label for somebody, a heavy label of “narcissist” at that, puts him or her into a small box, and suggests that he or she isn’t capable of anything else because of a mental disorder. It doesn’t give people a chance and draws attention away from their positive aspects.

After all, the process of diagnosing mental disorders is not as simple as listening to a person speak. It takes a combination of reports from several sources and is based on extensive observation of the patient. Without meeting the patient one-on-one, it is disrespectful, as Prinz describes it, to draw a conclusion about one’s mental state. It’s also difficult to distinguish Trump from average Americans simply because he was not raised in an average household. Trump was raised with money, and entered the real estate business with the support of his father. Therefore, Trump’s personality and that of “typical” Americans isn’t necessarily an apples-to-apples comparison. Prinz thinks this could be an explanation for Donald Trump’s lack of empathy.

“He’s been privileged and entitled, and he’s a white male,” Prinz said. “So there’s a lot of things in this culture, from the get-go, that put him in a powerful position. In that position, people can feel entitled and not empathetic.”

It’s also impossible to tell whether or not Donald Trump is putting on a show or if he truly believes in his words, or as Prinz, calls it, “crazy like a fox or just crazy.” After all, Donald Trump is playing the game of politics, a game which can oftentimes blur the line between a politician’s personal beliefs and what beliefs garner the most votes.

All things considered, even a president with narcissistic personality disorder isn’t inherently bad. Trump appears to have empathy for the working class, with his promises to bring manufacturing back to the United States. Ultimately labels are just words placed on people, and it’s more important to focus on the content of people’s’ character than place them into a box. Perhaps this rings particularly true for the President of the United States.

“When you’re president you’ve got the target on you,” Prinz said. “You’re a public figure, you’re in a position of power, people like you or don’t like you.”

Smartwatches: Asset or nuisance?

Smartwatches: Asset or nuisance?

A couple weeks back I found an ASUS ZenWatch 2 sitting in one of the drawers in my house, looking rather dusty and neglected.

I marveled at the small piece of technology right before my eyes. This was the fruitful effort of millions of dollars and hundreds of work hours being poured into a single piece of technology: the smartwatch. It could measure steps taken, monitor sleep habits, answer calls—the works. And without giving it much of a second thought, I slapped that thing onto my wrist like a child eager to show off his new toy.

But over the course of the week, I gradually realized the impracticality of such a device. There is the issue of always being connected. Sure, there’s an option to completely mute the notifications on your phone, but I found myself constantly marveling the Mickey Mouse watch face that I had installed and checking my wrist often (more than my old watch to say the least) to see what new notifications I’d received when I wasn’t looking at my phone or my computer. It’s become more of a distraction than an asset. The only instances when I used my lavish paperweight for something “practical” was for setting alarms and reminders.

What point is there in wearing such a hefty watch so I could complete a few mundane tasks by burning a couple more calories and mere seconds taking out the phone in my pocket? Who in a right state of mind would spend hundreds of dollars to save a couple of seconds retrieving his or her phone? The answer isn’t really a shocker: a lot of people. According to The Verge, Apple sold over six million Apple Watches last quarter.

Perhaps the invention of such a device speaks to how self-indulgent and, dare I say, lazy we’ve become. I can see why there is a demand for such a device, given Apple’s consistent success in introducing innovative products and how the company has become a symbol of status and luxury. But maybe, just maybe, wearable technology companies that follow suit should consider putting their resources into trying to solve bigger problems than the abominable task of consumers reaching into their pockets to pull out a five-inch piece of silicon.

Sunday Project: Christmas in the Park

“SPIRIT ACRES,” one of them reads in bold, black font reminiscent of the wild west. “THE BEACH HOUSE,” reads another, with an intricately carved crab underneath. These are all wooden signs, hand-crafted and personalized by woodworker James Greene. It all began with a shop at Bass Lake, where Greene’s brothers got jobs, only for Greene to get one as well. Each sign is hand-carved using only Greene’s hands and an arsenal of low-tech equipment.

“We hand carve free-hand all these signs with routers like that one there,” Greene said, “so we don’t use any stencils or anything like that so everything’s hand-made. We’re very low-tech. We’re low-tech in the center of high-tech.”

In his 30 years doing woodwork, Greene’s passion has taken him to the farthest corners of the United States, from Tucson to Seattle. He began coming to Christmas in the Park to sell and showcase his work after attending the Santa Clara County fair for several years. But the fair “went away for a few years,” so Greene looked to Christmas in the Park as an alternative venue. One of the most rewarding aspects of Greene’s job is the fact that everything he makes is a representation of America. With every cut of a wooden block, every stroke of sandpaper and every sign he sells, Greene interacts with a variety of people across a wide range of locations.

Greene’s passion for people and his beloved woodworkings is ultimately what gets him up for work every morning. Woodworking, after all, is an art that Greene deems an astounding feat of human achievement.

“They’re all awesome,” Greene said. “Are you kidding, that’s real wood, that’s made by humans, right? Made by humans on real wood, by hand. It’s art. Art is priceless.”

At the center of all of the commotion in Christmas in the Park stand two women greeting and assisting passersby at the event. Wearing red sweaters and tags which say “Board of Directors,” they radiate authority and confidence. One of them is Martie Degutis, who has been on the Board of Directors for Christmas in the Park for 20 years, and next to her is Karin Cogville, who was recruited by the Executive Director of the Park five years ago. Collectively, the two have not only invested countless hours into the 40-year-old holiday tradition, but have also shared a passion for their work each day.

“My favorite part is just seeing the little kids and just how excited they are to see Santa,” Cogville said, “to see all of the lights, to see the new displays, and just the families get[ting] to make new traditions every year.”

Ever since being recruited by the telephone company Pioneers, one of the event’s first sponsors, Degutis has seen many changes take place, including the way displays and clothing have been modernized and the difference in creators of decorations.

“It used to be done by all volunteers,” Degutis said. “So you would look at it and say ‘Yeah, a three-year-old painted that.’ And now you’re looking and going ‘Wow!’ So there is a huge difference because we’re more self-sustaining now than we were 20 years ago. ”

However, it would be a fallacy to say that the Christmas tradition has changed drastically over the years. Some things simply never change. For one thing, families continue to come to the park yearly to enjoy the displays and have a cup of hot chocolate. But behind the opulent lights and action, those who have made the annual tradition happen continue to do what they love most: providing a free community event for those of all ages to enjoy.

Release: How teachers cope with separation anxiety

It’s the first day of school, and they’re saying goodbye to you. The panic starts to set in. You are afraid of leaving them behind for the first time, after watching them grow for years. You choke back a nervous sob as they part on their merry way, hoping you’ll be able to get through the day. Alone.

Separation anxiety is something even the most independent people have to face on their first day of school — including teachers.

For English teacher Vanessa Otto and Social Science teacher Eric Otto, parting with their 6-year-old twin daughters Elizabeth and Evelyn was a milestone in parenthood.

“The first day of kindergarten, that was kind of an emotional day for us,” Vanessa said, “probably more so than them, because it was also our first day at MVHS.”

After arriving at work first thing in the morning, Eric and Vanessa hurried over to Lincoln Elementary, adjacent to MVHS, to say their final goodbyes to their beloved daughters. The scene was set — benches with different bins for school supply donations, students’ name tags in lanyards and two lines of kindergarteners, hoping their parents would stay just a little longer.

The Otto’s twin daughters Elizabeth and Evelyn embrace before heading off to separate kindergarten classes. During their first week at Lincoln, the twins struggled with being apart from one another. Photo used with permission of Vanessa Otto.
The Otto’s twin daughters Elizabeth and Evelyn embrace before heading off to separate kindergarten classes. During their first week at Lincoln, the twins struggled with being apart from one another. Photo used with permission of Vanessa Otto.

According to Vanessa, the most nerve-racking part of leaving her kids was not on the first day of school. It was the day before.

“It’s the anticipation of the day before the first day of school, when you start to realize, ‘Oh my god, summer’s over,’” Vanessa said. “They were babies and it’s officially over. Now they’re entering the educational world.’”

She looked at her daughters through new eyes, eyes which saw them as scholars, little kids and independent beings. Yet the proud parents of five years could not help but feel a part of their lives being torn away from them.

They were babies and it’s officially over. Now they’re entering the educational world.”
ENGLISH TEACHER VANESSA OTTO

“You feel very vulnerable,” Vanessa said. “You feel like a little piece of you is left behind and in the back of your head for the rest of the day, wondering how they’re doing or wondering what they’re doing at that exact moment.”

But that was the first day of kindergarten. After a week, the Ottos were able to rest assured that their children were in good hands and provided for. Inevitably, the Ottos were able to adjust to the change, knowing that they could come home each day and return to their treasured daughters.

“It’s all good things,” Vanessa said. “It’s just that letting go of the past can be hard to do.”

Students create Cupertino branch of online tutoring nonprofit TutorChatLive.org

[dropcap]J[/dropcap]uniors Annie and Amritha Anand have always fostered an interest in teaching others and volunteering. After finding a website which allows them to pursue both of their passions, they have have taken upon themselves to help students from low-income families, through an online platform called TutorChatLive.org.


tutorchatlive
The home page of TutorChatLive.org descibes the organization as a nonprofit which provides students with free and live online tutoring. The site is used to aid students from low-income backgrounds.

In essence, TutorChatLive.org is a website which provides free tutoring to sixth through 12th graders who may not be able to afford tutoring classes. Using this website enables students to directly ask for help from tutors: dozens of volunteers who assist students in a variety of subjects from math to social studies. And it’s all done through a Facebook-style chat box.

Junior Annie Anand
Junior Annie Anand

After submitting an application, people who are interested in tutoring are asked questions pertaining to certain subjects to ensure that the site’s teachers have a thorough understanding.

Originally, Annie and Amritha decided to tutor for the nonprofit organization hoping to gain volunteer hours from home. But through the experiences of teaching others, knowing students would walk away with a better understanding of a subject, Annie and Amritha have taken away something more significant from volunteering for the organization.

“I found it super fun because I was able to help people,” Annie said, “and people left better understanding things.”

While most other tutoring jobs require a college degree to get hired, any high school student who has a basic knowledge of school subjects qualifies to be a tutor at TutorChatLive.org. Annie believes it’s much easier for tutees to learn because of the lack of an age barrier between student and teacher.

“When I get tutored by people around my age,” Annie said, “I feel like I learn better than from people older than me.”

When I get tutored by people around my age, I feel like I learn better than from people older than me.”
-junior Annie Anand

According to Amritha, the main difference between TutorChatLive.org and conventional tutoring centers is that because everything is done online, a tutor can teach someone across the country and build more connections using online networking.

“If it’s not online you can only work with people who are just 20 minutes away,” Amritha said. “So someone living far is probably benefiting from the help they may not otherwise have.”

Volunteering for two to three hours on a typical week, Annie and Amritha have become accustomed to volunteering for TutorChatLive.org. That being said, the two now have plans to reach out to other students in need of better education.

Junior Amritha Anand
Junior Amritha Anand

Annie and Amritha originally wanted to start a club at MVHS. However, due to the large number of service clubs already on campus, it was difficult for their club to be approved. Nevertheless, the two still wanted to get the word out to some students on campus by localizing their new chapter to the City of Cupertino and recruit local residents.

One of these people is freshman Eesha Moona, who heard about the program from Facebook. The prospect of teaching others through the online platform appealed to her because she could not find the time to drive back and forth tutoring students at Monta Vista, whereas the online platform would allow her to help other students from the comfort of her home.

Annie and Amritha are now considering holding a fundraiser and sending its proceeds to the organization, since many of the site’s users do not have the money or supplies to succeed in school. Another way the organization could use money is to fund its engineers to help improve the platform.

Future plans aside, the two girls reflect on how they got into online tutoring in the first place. Amritha thinks a part of the reason she joined TutorChatLive.org was to educate people who come from a low-income background. Similarly, Annie has found one of the most rewarding aspects of tutoring to be teaching students her age who come from a low-income family.

“I feel like at first I just wanted to do it for the hours,” Annie said, “but now, after actually going through it and helping these kids … it’s actually been super rewarding because you actually see them learning. You’re constantly having a relationship with them and it’s pretty nice.”

Learn more about the nonprofit at www.tutorchatlive.org.