Wednesday, October 18, 2017

I'm writing a story

I'm writing a horror story based on an experience I had a few weeks ago with a smoke alarm that wouldn't stop beeping in the unit next to mine. If the story turns out okay, I will post it on here.

I already made a Youtube video summarizing what happened because I thought that might be funny.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

I'm Not Strong

I decided to stop comparing myself to other people. I've always had trouble carrying heavy things or with too much physical exertion. I usually get tired in the middle of the day even if I got 8 hours of sleep the night before. I have a lot of trouble falling asleep if there's any noise or if I'm stressed out about something. I get cold very easily. My digestion is not good.

Other people don't get back and shoulder pain carrying a laptop in a backpack. They can go all day on 6 hours of sleep or less. They only need one jacket if it's cold. I don't know what it feels like to be those people. I wonder if they feel like I do and they just don't cut themselves any slack. But sometimes I wonder if they would be shocked if they felt what was going on inside my body.

Either way, there is no point in making myself miserable by trying to live up to a made-up standard of what humans should be able to do. Even if someone else wouldn't be bothered by the pain that takes me out, it's still really bad pain to me. It doesn't benefit anyone if I don't take care of myself.

But I also plan around my energy levels. If I make a promise then I won't schedule personal things that might wear me out and interfere with my ability to be there for another person. Unless I get sick suddenly, which can't be planned for, I will show up. There are time when I need to push myself for the sake of someone else, but that's different because it's hurting myself for a reason, not from refusing to accept my real abilities.

So that's why I won't feel bad for needing more sleep and not being able to do as much as other people. Doing that doesn't benefit anyone and it would only lead to me crashing from exhaustion harder and more often.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

My little shorn lamb

Today Mom came over and helped me clip Cooper's wings.

Cooper is very tame and he hasn't had clipped wings in at least 10 years. (Yes, he is quite a geezer now.)

The reason I decided he needed a trim was because he has recently been moved from a large house to a small apartment. He also is living with another bird for the first time ever.

It seems like there is bird behavior where if one takes off for whatever reason, the other wants to take off too, especially if they are close together. For Teka (the budgie) this isn't really dangerous because he is smaller and able to turn and avoid the walls. Cooper, on the other hand, has a naturally bigger wing span and has trouble turning in time when he is in a panic. He sometimes crashes into the wall and hits his head or his wing. He's even started bleeding on his nose after hitting the wall.

The solution I decided on was clipping Cooper's wings so he can't get as much speed when he starts flying. (I'm hoping he will gradually get calmer in the future. Another thing I could have done was not let both birds out at the same time.)

His feathers will grow out again in a few months, but by then he might be more comfortable with his new home and buddy and not be as quick to panic. We only clipped off about two inches of the outside two feathers on both wings. You can see his wings in this picture.

 Cooper still has 90 percent of his wing mass and can fly for short distances. He just can't get the same height and speed. Since Cooper loves walking and climbing around, limited flight is not a tragedy for him. He'd much rather ride on a human anyway.

The clipping did not hurt him because there were no arteries or veins in the feathers we cut. It was like giving a haircut to a nervous toddler. Cooper was not a fan of being held and having his wings stretched out and then trimmed, but a few minutes later he was back to his normal self.

I don't believe that clipping a bird's wings is mean to the birds. A pet bird like Cooper or Teka doesn't need to fly from predators. If you let a bird vet clip your bird or follow a guide, you won't hit any of the "blood feathers" that have an artery, so your bird won't feel any pain. Clipping only two (at most four) feathers on each wing will not rob a bird of all its flight power. It will just keep them from flying too fast and hurting themselves. This is some basic information about wing clipping, so if you still don't think it's a good idea, that's fine, but don't try to tell me wing clipping permanently maims a bird or anything like that.

And other people don't want to clip their bird's wings at all, which is fine. In my experience tame birds on the whole don't need it. I wouldn't have clipped Cooper's wings if I weren't worried about him literally giving himself a concussion or breaking his own wing.

Right now Cooper is wandering around on his playpen eating old seeds. Cooper, お元気で!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Sub or Dub?

This is a post I might include as a page on my final project for school.

Sub or Dub?

…It depends?

It depends on the person and it depends on the series.

There are some people who never feel comfortable reading text and watching the action at the same time, whether it’s on a small computer or a large movie screen. They will probably prefer dubbed versions.

Other people can't stand watching dubs of live action because the lip movements never quite match up. But they’re fine with dubs of animation where characters only have a few distinct mouth shapes and the voice actors can match the timing and the lip movements exactly.

I’m lucky to be the kind of person who is always writing in a journal, typing, or doing a craft while watching a movie. People ask me “Are you really watching the movie?” I am. I like doing stuff with my hands and can look back and forth between two places quickly. So reading subtitles isn’t hard for me.

You should go with the language version you’re more comfortable with.

Sometimes dubs add something really unique and creative to an anime series. For example, Baccano!, which takes place in 1930s America, all the characters have appropriate Chicago, New York, or Southern accents. And it’s hilarious. The regional dialect is lost in the Japanese version.

However, sometimes the dub is simply not up to quality. Characters sound robotic and wooden, or voices just don’t match characters. If a good dub isn’t available, you should go with the original even if that’s not your preference. Listing to grating voices won’t enhance your enjoyment of a series.

There are also some benefits to watching the Japanese version of a series. Language isn’t just utterance. It’s also facial expression and body language—and the gestures unique to the animation style. Japanese body language is not the same as American body language.

For example: as one friend pointed out to me, most Japanese vocalizations come from back in the throat and don’t require detailed lip and cheek movements. This is why Americans seem “expressive” to Japanese, while Japanese seem a bit “wooden-faced” to foreigners. The difference translates into animation style. You’ll notice that in ordinary conversation character faces don’t tend to move much—until they explode into overdramatic chibi style!

So for me, when characters have what seems like an obviously Japanese expression or pose, hearing English coming out of their mouth gives me this weird feeling of disconnect. Seeing a character say “I’m in your hands” feels wrong when I know they should be saying  よろしくお願いします. Some things just can’t be translated. However, I also know Japanese and have lived in Japan, so for someone else these moments might be invisible.

Whether people prefer subs or dubs is determined more by how they process information and their language background than whether or not they are a “real fan.” If you like dubs, you are still getting the real experience of anime and you’re appreciating the hard work of the English-speaking voice actors. No reason to kill your eyes for a hobby.  If you like subs, you get to experience a medium in a different language from your native one. Go you!

This is my opinion on subs and dubs.

Sunday, July 23, 2017


Teka is my new baby. He is a green English Budgie and I think now he is about 2 1/2 months old. He was my birthday present this year. His original owner had to go overseas and returned him to the breeder (along with a blue budgie who turned out to be more wild). So Teka needed a new owner and the breeder knew we were going to buy a budgie from the next hatching anyway and recommended him to us.

I think his name was originally pronounced "teeka" but I call him "Tehka" because giving him a name made him feel more like he was really my bird and not someone else's that I was borrowing. It's close enough to the original sound that he made the switch easily. This sound also reminds me of "tech." 

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I'm still not entirely sure he has eyes though...

When we first took Teka home, he was very quiet. Not scared necessarily, but he mostly ate and slept. Now he is still a pretty quiet bird, but he chirps and climbs around on furniture when he comes out of his cage. He has adjusted to my apartment very well, even though it is his fourth home so far!

I was worried that Teka might not be socializing very well because he seemed like he just wanted to sit on Cooper's cage a lot and didn't want to get on my finger. Now he is happy to explore more places such as the couch and the window (or my breakfast) and he likes sitting on my head or my finger when I take him out of the cage.

He seems to be responding more quickly to "up, up" too, although he still sometimes runs around instead of getting on my finger. I read that you have to wait until birds fluff out and not chase them because they will start feeling like you are a predator. So I keep talking to Teka to make sure he is fluffed up when I'm trying to pick him up. When he does step on my finger I lift him up (which birds like) and tell him he's a good boy. I haven't had to grab him at all for a week now.

I think because Teka is still a baby, he doesn't recognize that "finger perch" means "free taxi ride" like Cooper does, so that's probably why he's nervous. Hopefully he'll continue to get used to being handled by humans as he gets older.

Cooper still isn't the biggest Teka fan, but he tolerates having a bratty little brother, which is good. I was worried that because I have two males, they might fight or have dominance issues. However, Cooper lets Teka come in his cage and climb around and eat out of his dish. He just looks mildly annoyed about it.

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Teka invades Cooper's cage

Right now, Cooper is still more affectionate. He'll do stuff like fly to my shoulder and demand to have his head scratched. However, this might be a species difference. Teka definitely is interested in what I'm doing and likes to be talked to. He also likes sitting on my head and chirping. Probably because he feels like he is the highest and most important one of us.

Teka is beginning to imitate Cooper's vocal patterns, including his attention squawk. But he uses it more as a way of talking to himself rather than demanding attention like Cooper does. Overall, Teka isn't bothered when I do stuff in my room or walk around the apartment without paying attention to him. So I can leave him uncovered when I have to cover Cooper.

I'm not sure yet, but I'll probably end up keeping both of the birds because they can be company for each other when I'm gone. Cooper was pretty lonely at my parents' house because when Will is at school there aren't a lot of people to baby him.

I am trying to be a good bird mom.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

My Brown Eyes

I can't complain about my eyes because I came by them honestly. My mama gave them to me, passing down the single brown eye gene she got from her father to all three of her children in the equivalent of winning a coin toss three times in a row. And everyone knows you have to flaunt what your mama gave you.

It didn't take me long to realize that the heroes in books didn't tend to have brown eyes. Blue, green, grey--those are all cool. (I'm looking at you, Jonas.) (I'm looking at you, Harry.) They're the clues that our heroes and heroines with the mousy brown hair or messy black hair are secretly special and beautiful. (I'm looking at you, Meg Murray.)

The only time you see brown eyes being described as beautiful is when the main characters are black and brown people. Even then you'll get the black or Asian person who inexplicably has light-colored eyes in defiance of the odds. (I know it can happen in real life, but in literature it only happens to main characters.)

But chances are the narrator will call the brown person's eyes "black." Which when I think about it would be incredibly creepy in real life because you wouldn't be able to distinguish at all between pupil and cornea. The real reason to say "black eyes," is because black is still a slightly more romantic color than brown.

Don't get me started on "violet." I understand when it's used to refer to a particular shade of blue. But sometimes the author literally means the character is walking around with bright purple eyes. For no reason besides identifying them as the main character. (Looking at you, Alanna.) I don't care how good the rest of the writing is. That image is fucking ridiculous.

Madeleine L'Engle even wrote a book where all the good guys have blue eyes and all the characters who don't are either evil or shouldn't be allowed to breed with the blue-eyed people.

Really? Really?

Also, some of the good characters are Native Americans who are good because they are descended from Welsh people.

I just don't know how a normally chill person can write an entire book on this premise and not pause a moment to think, "Huh....Does that sound a tiny bit racist?"

Brown eyes are often associated with dogs or cows. Loyal, sweet, a bit dim-witted. Once someone told me my brown eyes were pretty because they looked "honest." I didn't say, "Wow, way to say my eyes aren't actually pretty." So I guess not so honest.

On top of having brown eyes, I'm also a ginger, which makes it very rare to find characters who look like me. Most people assume that red hair = blue or green eyes, pale skin, and Irish. (My great grandparents came from Germanic countries.) Because of the brown eyes I tan easily and burn rarely.

The stare of blue or green eyes is a mysterious gaze that pierces your soul with its ethereal power, as of a fairy-like being who somehow possesses infinite wisdom.

A brown-eyed stare probably makes someone look like a serial killer.

 I have to admit that blue and green eyes are just objectively better. On the whole people prefer cool colors to neutral ones. My favorite color is blue.

 As an adult I'm not as bothered by having brown eyes. After about 25 you stop thinking that you need to change things about yourself to look fabulous. I make my brown eyes fabulous. I use gold eyeliner, and it looks awesome. My skin, hair, and eyes all have the same undertones. I can't imagine my face with different color eyes.

And maybe it makes sense for me to have brown eyes. I'm not a fairy. I'm fierce and I don't tolerate idiots. I stare them down with my dark brown eyes.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Writer's Greatest Fear

As writers our greatest fear is not that we can't write. It's that we don't have anything to write about because we're not deep.

Anyone can learn mechanics. You can get a couple of grammar/construction books from the library, or hell, use Google to learn how to figure out how to write a correct sentence. But since you're a writer you're also a reader so you'll be inhaling any good writing you can get your hands on anyway. You'll learn by osmosis.

Anyone can put the effort in.

But then there's that moment. When you enter a contest, or write for a class or a club, or anything really, when you've put so much effort into your story, and worked on it night after night, and rewritten it five times, and finally you sort of like it.

Then someone else gets up and says, "I didn't really know what to write about, so I just decided to write about something that had happened to me. I was 13 the first time I was raped. Within a year, I was living on the streets..."

And suddenly it doesn't matter what you wrote because you will never in your life write anything as important as what that other person wrote. Because you're boring as fuck.

You're boring because your parents never hit you. Because they're still together. Because they gave you an education. Because you're healthy. Because your partners never abused you.

Wherever you go, people smell the stench of old money. And they judge you.

Moreover, you're white, so that's that.

And here you start feeling haunted by the specter of the "P" word. Not pretentious, although that's another good one. "Privilege."

Mostly we talk about checking your privilege. But I've checked it. I guarantee you. I've taken it out, turned it over, and acknowledged, "Yep, I'm Mommy and Daddy's little princess who gets what she wants." I didn't ask for it. It just kind of showed up.

Being privileged means you're simultaneously enviable and boring. Maybe the second takes the sting out of the first for other people. I don't know. It's like being back in church when it's "share your testimony time" and everyone's on the edge of their seat waiting to hear from the gay hooker drug addict who found Jesus and is now a youth pastor. Because that's where the juicy stuff is.

But I don't know if that's the way anyone really approaches life, or writing for that matter. Your ordinary boring life might seem exciting for someone else. I'll mention in passing that I lived in Japan for three years and people who I consider much more interesting will say, "That's amazing! I haven't done anything as cool as that?" And I'm like, "Are you kidding? You're way more interesting than I am!"

The people who are really worth talking to and paying heed to don't see the world as a stage where everyone is competing for the spotlight and let the best dramz win. Authentic people will accept you the way you are and won't typecast you.

Also, it's an incredibly modern way to think of writing to say that all writing is a reflection of your actual life and you have to experience everything in life to be able to write about it. Why are people still making movies about how Shakespeare wasn't really Shakespeare? Like he had so be some tragic noble figure who had some great love story behind the scenes. When all the data we have points to Shakespeare being a pretty normal, middle-of-the-road dude.

So no matter who you are, if you want to write, just write. Whatever you're interested in, even if it seems weird.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

If we talked about design the way we talk about writing

I am looking a piece of artwork, perhaps a panel for a comic or a work for sale. Perhaps this scene takes place online in a forum or at a local gallery. Maybe the location doesn't matter. The artwork being discussed is a symbol which I chose for its relevance to a strongly visual society. 

We don't tolerate anything that offends our eyes. Our ears and our intellect? That's another story.

Me: Hey, what's up with the shadows? The light source is clearly on the left but the shadows are on the left too. Shouldn't they be on the right?

Rando: Huh, I never noticed that. I don't think it looks weird, though. I don't really pay attention to the light source when I'm drawing shadows. It's too complicated to keep track of anyway.

Me: But doesn't it look weird to you? Like the person in the picture isn't in the same place as the light source?

Rando: I dunno. She looks like she's there to me. I don't really have a problem with it. I do, however, have a problem with the privileging of literalist art. Art by definition is non-representational. It never follows the rules of physics exactly, and it never should.

Me: I get that if the artist is trying to create an unsettling effect, but everything else in the picture is much more standard. So for me it's weird that she shadows are in the wrong place. I just end up thinking about the shadows instead of what's going on in the rest of the picture.

Rando: It must be so miserable to nitpick the little details all the time instead of just enjoying art.

Me: Um....I think perspective is hard but ultimately rewarding because it can really make your art pop and add depth.

Rando: Your insistence on the classical rules of art is inherently classist because it discriminates against artists who never had the money for art school or who come from non-western traditions. African art, for example, doesn't use perspective but it is as valid as any system that does because it adheres to its own internal logic. You're also racist against black people.

Me: Didn't I just say I don't mind breaking the rules if it's done intentionally to create a specific effect? But you sort of have to know the rules before you know when to break them, right?

Rando: You obviously need to check your privilege before you engage in these discussions. Did not your upbringing give you ample opportunity to learn the unfair and arbitrary rules placed on what is considered "correct" design, created by society with the implicit purpose of oppressing the working class and minorities?

Me: So my two degrees and years of work experience make me less qualified to talk about design?

Rando: I see you concede my point.

Me: No, you don't have a point because it's not like minorities are some hive mind that all draw the same way.

Rando: You're twisting my words now, and I don't have time for these rabbit trails. I've made my point several times and you keep dodging the question.

Me: The shadows are stupid!

Rando: You're more stupider!

Me: More stupider isn't a word!

Rando: It is in some dialects! A word means exactly what a bunch of people say it does!

Me: You will always get judged during job interviews and you'll never know why!

Rando: Capitalism is the devil!

Me: Whatevs. I bet you've never drawn in the African tradition in your life. You just patronize the poor ignorant coloreds because you think it's cute.

Rando: I am so blocking you! Block Block Block!

 Some time passes.

Me: Huh. He's gone. Did that even happen?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Why I lost interest in atheism

I tend to get super interested in things in phases. It's usually something I don't like or I'm not comfortable around and usually avoid. Then the thing appears in a new and different light and I want to learn more. Then I LEARN ALL THE DETAILS AND HISTORY EVAH. Then the obsession wears off and I get into something else.

For a while I was into learning about people who had no religion and didn't believe in any spiritual beings. I'm very into fantasy and not-material things so I didn't think I could relate to that mindset. But in some ways I relate a lot because I tend to be very cynical and prefer a rational explanation instead of a supernatural one.

Even when I was at a Christian college, I was always thinking, "You really heard the voice of God telling you to study abroad? Really? Because it sure sounds like you just really want to study abroad. Just freakin' own it already!"

I'm really glad I learned about atheists because the stereotypes about them are THE TOTAL OPPOSITE OF TRUE. I cringe now when I read any piece by a religious person describing what "atheists" believe.

They aren't angry at God. FIRST BECAUSE THEY DON'T BELIEVE IN DEITIES LIKE THAT'S BASICALLY THE DEFINITION OF ATHEISM DUH. However, they might object very strongly to belief systems that revere a character who's actions are petty and vengeful.

They do believe very strongly in morality. They just draw their morals from history and what we know about human behavior. Also, the Bible is not the only place or even the greatest place to go for morality.


Those are just some of the things I learned about atheists. But I don't think it's a belief system that really describes the way I feel.

Eventually I got bored with learning about atheism, but for a reason that probably makes a lot of sense to most atheists. All atheism is is a lack of belief in a deity or deities. It doesn't tell you anything about what a person is like, if they're nice or mean or boring or whatever. There are misogynist atheist trolls, and totally nice atheists out there.

So I don't think most of the important questions in life can be answered by deciding whether or not to believe in a deity. No matter how you answer the question, you still have to decide whether you're going to be a jerk to the person next to you. If you want to be a jerk, you can probably justify it either way. Either God hates the people you hate, or no God means you'll never get caught.

Overall I'm more interested in if you're a nice person and why you believe what you believe rather than what specific religion you follow. Or lack thereof.

Monday, May 8, 2017

My Review Porfolio

Hello! This is collection of links to my reviews for the Reviewing the Arts Class.

Art Museum Review 

Restaurant Review

Movie Review (Cinequest)

Movie Review (Just for me)

Not a review but a piece I'd like to feature this at the student showcase.

Thanks for reading!

San Jose Museum of Art Review

I was a teen the last time I visited the San Jose Museum of art, and I only remembered the Chihulys hanging in the entryway. Back then I lived in Fremont and only came to San Jose on rare outings. Now I’m a San Jose native. I can walk to the art museum in fifteen minutes, but somehow I never made it over there until my class scheduled a trip. The spring weather was clear, breezy and mild. A perfect morning not to spend in a dim classroom.

It almost made up for missing our trip to the Cinequest festival, which had to be scheduled during my evening class. I still haven’t forgiven everyone for that.

The San Jose Museum of Art is a community effort. In 1969 a group of citizens saved the condemned building (previously a post office and then a library) from being torn down by converting it into a local museum. Their vision crosses the boundaries between different cultures and classes, between science and art, and between the new and the old.

From both the website and the galleries, you can see the focus is modern art pieces that break genres and highlight political and cultural issues. Their mission statement reads, “The Museum fosters awareness of artists’ broad contributions to society and engages audiences with the art of our time and the vitality of the creative process.”

The exhibits change every few months, but on the day I made the trip, the gallery on the first floor was showing “Fragile Waters,” a photography exhibition containing the work of Ansel Adams, Ernest Brooks, and Dorothy Monnelly. Designed to explore the scarcity and pollution of water, the exhibition was put together by Adams’ daughter-in-law Jeanne after an oil rig explosion in 2010.

Instead of descriptions, each photo is accompanied by a relevant quote from one of the photographers or a famous author to give the gallery a more contemplative feel. I spotted lines on water from both Antoine De Saint-Exupery and Robinson Jeffers. 

There are even original glass plate negatives from when Adams was a teen, and a Deardorff camera Adams used to take some of his iconic photos of Yosemite Valley. Seeing this huge bulky camera made me remember how hard it was to get these photos and develop them back in the day. That's part of the journey too.

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Some call Adams' photography "fanciful," but that's not necessarily a bad thing. His photographs look to me the way landscapes look inside my head but never in my photos. He is sharing a vision with the audience, and that's not easy to do.

Upstairs, the meditative gallery, “Your Mind, This Moment” helps visitors slow down enough to really take in what they’re seeing. I had more fun observing my classmates than the displays. Several of my class were fascinated by a spot of light projected on the wall. From my point of view off to the side, they were looking at a half moon. When I moved over to their position I saw that they were looking at a disk of light hovering in front of the wall.

The upstairs also housed “Darkened Mirror: Global Perspectives on Water,” “Beta Space” by Victor Cartagena, and Diana Al Hadid’s “Liquid City.” Everyone in my group seemed most impressed by the last. The giant sculpture felt half desert cathedral, half limestone cave full of stalagmites—echoing both the natural and human worlds.

The basement level always has an educational gallery that connects art to another discipline, such as science or mathematics. Fittingly, I saw a crowd of junior high students investigating the displays. So I only took a quick look around before heading to the gift shop.

It’s hard to recommend the museum because all the displays we saw were temporary, so if I go back later everything might look entirely different. I felt a little gypped when I saw the much more extensive permanent collection on the website. I started wondering, “Did they have some galleries in the back I missed?”

But the location won’t change. I wholeheartedly recommend a visit as part of a trip to downtown San Jose. The gorgeous old building faces the Plaza De Caesar Chavez with its iconic fountains (and in December, the Christmas fair). You can get through the museum in two hours and head across the plaza to Tech Museum afterward—or hang out at one of the many local restaurants or coffee shops. (I recommend Bijan Bakery because they have awesome cakes.)

Admission is $10 for adults, $6 for students, $5 for kids 7-17, and free for kids under six. Getting the student admission is worth it, but the cost isn’t prohibitive even for broke Millennials or families with kids.

Even though the galleries in the San Jose Museum of Art are constantly changing, the museum does have its own distinct identity. By focusing on modern, multicultural, and political art, it feels like the right museum to represent Silicon Valley.

A video of our experience:

Youtube Link: