Saturday, March 17, 2018

The More I Learn About Them...

...the more I want to swim with them.

Most would remember that scene in Star Trek: The Voyage Home where Spock jumps into the humpback whale enclosure and mind-melds with the whales, right?

When I saw that scene for the first time a couple of years ago, I was overcome with an intense desire to go and swim with whales. Honestly, the Star Trek movie wasn't the instigator of this desire, because I know that this desire began when I was a kid when I watched all three Free Willy movies – movies about the relationship between a boy, the west-coast aboriginals, and the orca named Willy. Long story short, the movies involved the kid swimming with Willy. A lot.

I always thought it would be really cool to swim with whales, but Mom managed to convince me that orcas are relatively dangerous, and then she showed me a video where an orca got a little too overenthusiastic and was jumping on his handler over and over. So... my desire to swim with whales jumped out the window... until I watched the Star Trek movie.

Recently, I came across a short Youtube video of humpback whales fighting to save a grey whale and her calf from a pod of orcas (so I guess orcas can be big jerks?). I wasn't specifically looking for videos of whales, I was actually looking for information on something else (which I can't remember), and the story the video was on was on the same website.

I guess I just never realized how vicious killer whales can be. Like, I've heard that orcas hunt dolphins – which I've always found rather strange since orcas are not whales, but actually are part of the dolphin genetic family (though don't ask me how or why). It's always made it seem rather cannibalistic.

After watching this video, I was curious. Was it true? Did humpback whales actively go to the rescue of other, smaller creatures who were in mortal danger?

Recommended videos popped up, and so I clicked on one after another, all related to humpbacks and how they helped those smaller than them. Then I came across the video of a humpback whale trying to save a diver from a threat she wasn't even aware of.

The fact that the whale surfaced after she had climbed back onto the boat to check to see if she was okay made my heart warm in such a way that I was moved to tears. It suddenly wanted to rush outside and jump out into the ocean and go swimming with one of these gentle giants. Unfortunately, I haven't lived near the ocean for over ten years, I don't live near any water, and I live nowhere near where these guys swim.

This research has stoaked my desire to swim with whales to a small fire, and so swimming with whales has been added to my bucket list. It's things like these that also reminds me that interesting research can be found in places other than what pertains to my writing, volcanoes, weather, and sci-fi.

What did we do to deserve whales?

Friday, March 16, 2018

A Most Noble Heir

A Most Noble Heir. Susan Anne Mason. 2018. Bethany House Publishers. Pages: 369. [Source: Netgalley / Bethany House Publishers Review Program]


When stable hand Nolan Price learns from his dying mother that he is actually the son of the Earl of Stainsby, his plans for a future with kitchen maid Hannah Burnham are shattered. Once he is officially acknowledged as the earl's heir, Nolan will be forbidden to marry beneath his station.

Unwilling to give up the girl he loves, he devises a plan to elope – believing that once their marriage is sanctioned by God, Lord Stainsby will be forced to accept their union. However, as Nolan struggles to learn the ways of the aristocracy, he finds himself caught between pleasing Hannah and living up to his father's demanding expectations.

At every turn, forces work to keep the couple apart, and a solution to remain together seems further and further away. With Nolan's new life pulling him irrevocably away from the woman he loves, it seems only a miracle will bring them back together.



I shouldn't have to say this warning, but if you haven't read the book and don't want to be spoiled, don't read!

When I was first introduced to this book through an email from Bethany House Publishers, I was super excited. The synopsis made the book sound fantastic, so I found myself waiting impatiently to see whether or not I would make it onto the reading list and be sent a link to the book on Netgalley.

The story began rather well. Nolan Price is one of the stable boys of Stainsby Hall, and friends with servants such as the earl's personal blacksmith, the other stable boys, and most of the other servants of the hall. He's in love with the kitchen maid Hannah, and his mother is the head housemaid. He has only one enemy - one of the footmen, who seemed determined to woo Hannah, despite the fact that Hannah has told him no several times and that she's Nolan's girlfriend.

This book was really good for about the first-half. I felt myself connecting with Nolan, and I was so excited for him to get the farm he wanted so he could marry Hannah and leave his job as a servant of the Stainsby household.

But as things started to happen the prose shifted a little in style, in my opinion, and I started to feel a bit disconnected from the whole story. Hannah's blatant mistrust of Nolan after he agreed to learn from his biological father after he found out who he was seemed extremely out of place since she's known him since she was 14 years old.

On top of that, the revelation of Hannah's insecurities of whether or not she was loved by her mother and others seemed like it came too late in the story. There weren't enough hints building up to the revelation of that fact.

The whole story had so many side-plots surrounding the main one. The main plot was the whole thing about Nolan and his father, learning to become the heir his father desired. There were at least three side-plots – one involving Hannah's family, another involving Nolan's relationship with Hannah, and one involving Nolan's biological father, Edward, and Hannah's aunt, Iris.

There was also another side-plot, but it didn't pop up until my kindle said I was 97% of the way through the book. There were the obvious seeds of the beginning of this plot near the beginning of the story when Nolan first met his half-sisters and his half-brother-in-law, but Nolan didn't seem to dwell on it for very long. The only reminder of it seemed to be the random threatening notes that, also, Nolan didn't seem to really worry about.

I hate that I had to be so nit-picky with this story, since it kept me enthralled to the point I could hardly put it down even though I read most of this on my Digital Media Retreat! I brought my kindle to a camp and retreat centre in the middle of an extremely isolated valley, and could hardly put it down even when I was dragged about to different activities out in the middle of hip-deep snow.

Unfortunately, the thing that bugged me the most was how disconnected I felt from the characters when things started to pick up. I feel the story could have been stronger if we could have been inside the heads of the characters a bit more.

All in all, though, it was done rather well for a story that took place in England and written by a Canadian who may or may not have ever been to England...

I apologize this took me so long to write! I finished reading this story back before March even began! My only excuse is that college has been killer. In a bad way. I've been so busy that I've found it hard to breathe.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A Century of Books

A Century of Books
This is a challenge that bloggers Stuck in a Book and The Captive Reader are attempting to do this year. I decided to do it as well, to challenge myself to read more and not spend all my time staring blankly at my computer when I'm not writing.

I really need to read more. So I decided to read a century of books spanning from 1919 to 2018 because I'm not sure I have or will be able to find books only existing in the 20th Century. Oh well. Maybe next year I'll be able to attempt the 20th Century, when I'm not juggling college.

Time: Well, I want to give myself a year, maybe 18 months because I'm getting a job when I go back to college, and then I'll be trying to get an internship for my practicum after I graduate.

2002 – The Contrarian's Guide to Leadership by Steven B. Sample
2018 – A Most Noble Heir by Susan Anne Mason

Monday, January 1, 2018

2017: A Year's Books in Review & Happy New Year!

Happy New Year's guys! I'm finding it extremely hard to believe that it's already 2018!

Where did the time go? It feels like 2017 just started. It reminds me how I'm going to be graduating in April.

I celebrated New Years by watching the festivities on and off on Fox TV since the channel actually shows important and interesting things instead of the inappropriate like on CNN (though we only checked long enough to see what they were saying before we would switch back to Netflix so we could continue watching BBC's The Musketeers, lol. I don't live close enough to anywhere to go watch fireworks in person.

As for New Year's Resolutions... well... I haven't thought of any. Other than how many books I might read.

I guess, if I had to make some resolutions, I'd say I'd... well, I'll try to get more exercise by playing some Kinect games on my brother's Xbox 360 since I'm bringing it down to college with me. I'll also try to get at least two short stories published this year, maybe get a novel written that I might be able to publish at Angry Robot when they open their doors to all manuscripts again.

I'm excited for this new year. It's a clean slate. I hope this coming year will be safer for everyone.

Another thing I wanted to go over in this post was the books I read last year. I certainly didn't read as many as I wanted, clocking in at 8 when I was aiming for 10. Unfortunately, the 9th book I had decided to read was a mass market paperback with around 650 pages.

According to Goodreads, I read a total of 2,662 pages over the 8 books. My shortest book was The Life and Diary of David Brainerd by David Brainerd and Jonathan Edwards at 256 pages. The longest book I read was Dreamlander by K.M. Weiland at 544 pages long.

The books I read this year, in order, were:
Fractured by Rae Elliott
Dreamlander by K.M. Weiland
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen
Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller
True to You by Becky Wade
The Life and Diary of David Brainerd by David Brainerd and Jonathan Edwards

This coming year I hope I will be able to read 10 books. At least ten books. Though, it all depends on how long my practicum is going to be and where I will get it. My practicum was going to take place in Tibet, but due to health issues, I will have to do it in Canada. Somewhere. I'm thinking 100 Huntley Street since 1) They have an intern program that's more than running around and getting people coffee, and 2) my Grandma knows almost all the up and ups that run 100 Huntley Street. So getting an internship and doing my practicum there is highly likely.

I'm really excited about this coming year. How is my life going to change? How will my grades turn out to be? Where will I be living in six months?

I hope your year will turn out to fantastic. I have a question, though: how did you celebrate your New Years?

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Christmas Break

So, I'm on Christmas Break. I know that I haven't posted any lately and that the last two posts might have sounded a bit scatterbrained as unfinished. Hopefully, that won't be the case forever as I'm not like that normally.

Right now I'm on break from what had to be the most brutal Term I've experienced to date. November was the most brutal with days spanning from Monday to Friday where I would have to be up for 8:30am and not be able to leave the school grounds until 4:10pm. On top of that, I would have up to three assignments on the go at the time and that often left me to push at least one assignment to the very last minute – which was usually my After Effects assignments.

After Effects is an Adobe program where you're able to apply special effects to video footage. Most of the special effects you see – like the information you see on news channels and the names and occupations that'll pop up on documentaries. There're other things,  I haven't learned how to do. Like the ghosting effect featured in Doctor Strange (which I haven't watched).

Anyway, because of the way I had to juggle things, my After Effects assignments turned out to be horrible, and I got a C as my final mark.

But I'm so relieved it's all over. Of course, I'm still working on my Advanced Photography's Assignment 5 and Final Assignment. They're interesting, but they're due tomorrow... at midnight. I have 12 things I have to get done:

  • Three Panoramas
  • Two HDR Images
  • One HD Timelapse
  • Two Images Illustrating 2 different Kingdom Concepts/Virtues (I chose Faith as one)
  • Two Images Illustrating 2 different anti-Kingdom Concepts/Virtues (I chose Destruction and Death).
  • One Image with a jet black background.
  • One Image of Food.

I've already got the three panos, one of the HDRs, the timelapse, one of the Kingdom Concepts (the Faith one), one of the anti-Kingdom Concepts (the Destruction one), the jet black background, and the food one done. I'm about to go and do the second HDR. I'm going to do it one of the LED lights on my garage since we don't have Christmas lights on yet. And since I missed the sunset.

And HDR is when you take a picture of something that is too dark, one that's just right, and one that's too bright, and then merge it all together so it looks more 3D.

I thought I had both HDRs already, but I looked at my first one today and found it too blurry for my liking.

I'm also afraid that my timelapse is too grainy because I accidentally saved all the JPEGs I used in it at a lower quality than I should have. My teacher wants me it to be HD, as in 1920 x 1080 pixels. It is those dimensions, but it looks grainy to me. I really don't want to have to go about sticking it together again, because it was a struggle the first time since I hadn't taken enough pictures for a ten second timelapse with 30 frames per second. I set it for 29.97 frames per second and still had to use some of the pictures I wasn't happy about in order to kick it off and have enough for ten seconds.

Just how bad would it look on a huge HD plasma TV? I think I'm going to watch it on the big TV in the living room in order to be sure it doesn't look too bad. I pray it won't.

I've recently begun to read The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks, the first in The Night Angel Trilogy, and it'll be the next book I'll review on my blog. It isn't a Christian novel, and there is some profanity, though not much thank goodness. Some of the stuff that goes on in the background isn't pleasant but seems to resonate since I just finished a course at college that addressed issues like what is mentioned in the book. Poverty is rampant in the city the main character finds himself trapped in, something he's trying to escape.

I'll have a lot to talk about when the review comes out.

With that book, I'm thinking of starting to rate my reviews like video games are rated (like ESRB rating). I'm thinking of rating it as a solid PG-13 or a 'T', though I don't know if that rating will go up because I haven't finished it yet. I haven't even gotten quarter of the way through it yet.

It's an intriguing story.

There's a lot of stuff going on in my life, good things, stressful things. I'm working on a short story I haven't planned out, and a novella I'm still planning out. I'm planning on publishing them on Smashwords, since it's a platform that publishes on ever conceivable ebook platform. I'm so excited!

I've really seen myself grow over these last two terms and that makes me extremely excited for my future. Like the trip to Tibet I'll be taking for my practicum after I graduate.

I believe I'll have a lot to write about in the future :D

Sunday, November 12, 2017

David Brainerd Quotes

This coming week, I'll be writing a short paper and an 8-minute presentation on the Life and Diary of David Brainerd. The book is a biography of David Brainerd interspersed with what parts of his diary that he allowed the author of the biography to include.

Brainerd was a missionary to the Native Americans, and he lived between April 20th, 1718 – October 9th, 1747. I'm not even half-way through the book yet, but already I know that he is a man who experienced the same emotions and fears that I've felt, which has me sympathizing with him and feeling what I need to feel and think for my coming assignment.

Here are some quotes I've come across that I quite like.

"All I want is to be more holy, more like my dear Lord. O for sanctification! My very soul pants for the complete restoration of the blessed image of my Saviour; that I may be fit for the blessed enjoyments and employments of the heavenly world."
– David Brainerd

"Farewell, vain world; my soul can bid adieu;
My Saviour's taught me to abandon you.
Your charm's may gratify a sensual mind;
Not please a soul wholly for God design'd.
Forbear to entice, cease then my soul to call;
'Tis fix'd through grace; my God shall be my all.
While He thus lets me heavenly glories view,
Your beauties fade, my heart's no room from you."
– a poem by David Brainerd

"Lord, I'm a stranger here alone;
Earth no true comforts can afford;
Yet absent from my dearest one,
My soul delights to cry, my Lord.
Jesus, my Lord, my only love,
Possess my soul, nor thense depart;
Grant me kind visits, heavenly Dove,
My God shall then have all my heart."
– a poem by David Brainerd

I find it fascinating that he wrote a couple poems in his diary...

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Alfâm Kuduszodikh - A Study on Music Playlists

*alfâm kuduszodikh – "music list" (ahl-faam kuh-duhs-zaw-dike – approximate pronunciation)


As promised, I bring you a post on music playlists. I would have written "music playlists" or "lists of music" in dwarvish (Khuzdul), but my source (Dwarrow Scholar) didn't have the words for those translations, lol.

Playlists are an easy way to keep track of songs that you like. You can pile all your favourite songs from one genre, or list all the songs that inspire you in your writing (or drawing, or working out, or doing paperwork or house cleaning or –).

You can build playlists almost anywhere – on iTunes, Spotify, Youtube, etc!

For example, here's a playlist from my Spotify (which I just built :P)

{ Fantasy Inspirational }

The list contains these songs:

Lúthien's Lament by Eurielle
Lost Girls by Lindsey Stirling
Misty Mountains by Peter Hollens
My Dear Frodo by Howard Shore
Viverti by Mattia Cupelli
Victory by Two Steps from Hell/Thomas Bergersen
Forbidden by Eurielle

Creating playlists might just turn out to be extremely addictive.

Here's another playlist:

{ Steampunk Inspirational – incomplete }
Filled With
Euphoria (album) by Revolt Production Music
Breaking Away
Darkness Falls
Beyond the Wall
Palladio by Karl Jenkins
The Submarine by James Newton Howard
Starfall by Driftmoon
Die Walkure, Act III: Ride of the Valkyries by Richard Wagner
Schubert: Symphony No. 8 in B Minor, D. 759, 'Unfinished': I. Allegro moderato by Franz Schubert
Time by Hans Zimmerman

Music is a fun platform to mess with. These two playlists are just examples of what I might end up building on Spotify. I encourage you to build your own if you want to - you can get a free account on Spotify, though you'll have to contend with the occasional ad.

iTunes would be the only platform out there, other than Windows Media Player, that wouldn't force you to listen to adds between ever three or four songs, but you'd have to pay for the music before you can put them into playlists.

Spotify is rather easy to manipulate, though, and forces less adds on you than Youtube, which makes you have to sit through an add at the beginning of every video, with most saying your "video will play after add".

All you have to do on Spotify is find your song and click the three dots to the right of it. There, you click "add to playlist", and it will give you the option to choose which playlist. You just need to create the playlists before you go hunting so that it shows up.

Before I end this, though, I would like to give you a word of caution. Spotify doesn't support the artists who make the songs you listen to on it as much as you'd support the artists if you bought their songs on iTunes or on a CD.

I know this might not be such a big deal for artists who are extremely popular and have money rushing in because, no matter what, their fans will buy their stuff and pay to see them live. But many of the artists who have their music hosted by Spotify are more independent than the biggest superstars and rely on the money they receive when people by their songs. The Piano Guys released a message about this at the end of their Youtube music video of "Celloopa", and they have compensated for the pennies they receive for having their songs on Spotify.

So, yeah. Use Spotify to your heart's content, but consider buying the songs as well in order to support your favourite artists. After all, it doesn't hurt to have it on iTunes or on your MP3 player just in case you go camping where you can't get LTE service or you're running low on data and you just have to listen to those particular songs that are on that playlist of yours.

The world's music is at your fingertips, folks!

– Mikaela

The More I Learn About Them...

...the more I want to swim with them. Most would remember that scene in Star Trek: The Voyage Home where Spock jumps into the humpback wh...