art

Mini Art Show: A Sketch of a Bird

It’s been a while since I’ve shown a piece of art I did recently. That is because I haven’t been doing much of it these days. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy art. I just have other priorities.

Anyway, I sketched this image based off a tourism pamphlet from my house. My parents went to upstate New York (I’m from Long Island) and brought back a wildlife guidebook.

Since I wanted to vary my drawing subjects, I decided to draw the bird on the front cover. Of course, there are differences, besides the lack of color and the pencil marks. I simplified the plants in the background and even changed some. As for the bird, I started off with simple shapes, a technique I learned in college.

The paper was also not a cream tone. It just came out that way when I photographed it with my phone and adjusted some aspects in order to bring out the image more. Despite that, I decided to keep the background that beige. I feel it adds some sophistication and aesthetic.

Will I color this in? Maybe. After my other priorities are out of the way, I could color or paint it, either with traditional or digital media. But I am not sure, as of now. What do you think of this?

fiction

Harry Potter Mystery: Are Godparent Roles Different for Wizards?

We’ve heard of godparents in the “Harry Potter” series. One obvious example is Sirius Black being Harry’s godfather, who spent much of his time in Azkaban. Harry is also named Remus’s son, Teddy’s, godfather. Ron and Hermione are godparents to Harry’s oldest son, James, in the seventh book’s epilogue, as well as his aunt and uncle, of course.

But they seem to serve more as mentors or other helpful adult figures rather than religious sponsors, which is what godparents really are in real life. It’s actually a common misconception for godparents to be guardians in the events something happens to their godchildren’s parents, although parents can still grant them legal withstanding. It’s rare, though, and rarer for kids to live with their godparents. Maybe that common misconception can be true if something happens to the parents, yet the kids are over 18, but don’t have enough money or jobs to support themselves financially. They could probably stay with their godparents, and the godparents can likely even take them in if they apply for their overage godchildren to be tenants (or whatever it is) and that gets approved. I’m not sure how that whole process works.

Anyway, religion does not play a huge role in “Harry Potter.” Yes, wizards and witches celebrate Christmas and Easter. J.K. Rowling has also revealed that there are Jewish magicians, such as Anthony Goldstein. I also read that Harry was baptized, so his parents must have been religious to some extent. However, not once has Sirius guided Harry through his faith. Maybe Azkaban and Sirius having to hide and even losing his life contributed. We also don’t hear a lot about Harry’s relation to Teddy Lupin and so forth. Lily and James did designate Sirius as Harry’s guardian, which could be why he was able to sign Harry’s Hogsmeade permission slip in the third installment. But I think Teddy’s grandparents were the designated guardians for him.

Someone on Quora asked why religion doesn’t receive much attention in “Harry Potter,” and somebody from the UK answered by stating that people there don’t usually discuss religion. Many places actually forbid talking about religion here in the US.  But my guess is that J.K. Rowling may have changed the godparent roles for wizards and made them more of other reliable adult figures for children instead of religious sponsors. Either for plot convenience or to avoid sounding too insensitive. What do you think?

TV show

Review of “Very CatDog Christmas” (1999)

Warning: Contains spoilers***

Cat and Dog are preparing for Christmas and go to the mall, where various animal children stand in line to sit on Santa’s lap. Santa is also the only human in that universe. Not long after, a VIP’s spoiled daughter, Rancine, whines about how she wants the CatDog. Dog convinces Cat to take the offer, but he doesn’t agree with it. So, Rancine cries while on Santa’s lap.

Shortly after, Santa is furious and cancels Christmas, where his sleigh erases every holiday element and decoration. Even CatDog’s Christmas tree is gone, so they get creative and try making their own. Then they realize that spending time with loved ones matters more for Christmas than the stuff.

This special interested me a bit when one of my friends wanted to play it at my 24th birthday party a few years ago. Like my guests, I found it odd that Santa was the only person in an animal world. I also found Rancine unlikable, not to mention that her dress is so short and her underwear shows. That’s not exactly age-appropriate for someone as old as her.

But the strengths include the morals and the engaging element of a childhood show. I think it’s a great special that everyone can enjoy. I would rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

Writing

When it’s Okay to Turn Off Your Inner Editor

As people learn the writing craft, they discover how to word their sentences, what types of words and phrases to avoid, and what sentences engage readers the best.

Because of that, many folks will strive for perfection. That is one of the causes of writer’s block. There are times where you need to worry about producing the best work possible and when you can turn off that inner editor or critic.

I, myself, have been struggling to write while on lockdown for a couple of months. I discussed this issue on a forum, and one person suggested to just write more sloppily and polish it during the editing stage. I tried it and it really worked.

Aside from when you are working on a story and you develop writer’s block, there are other times you shouldn’t let an internal critic stop you. One example is free-writing. By that, I mean writing any thought that comes to your mind, no matter how silly it might seem. It’s a great way to revive your creative juices. For the most part, it has worked for me and I have written more easily after free-writing.

Another technique is to put your work aside and find other hobbies. Unless you are working toward a strict deadline, you can take a break from your story or whatever you’re working on. You are in control of telling your inner critic that you need a break from your writing. As you focus on other activities, the internal editor will be suppressed until you feel ready to return to your work.

In fact, taking occasional breaks from your writing may help you improve your works-in-progress. You come back as if you had a fresh new pair of eyes. Then you can see more room for improvement.

Obviously, the inner critic matters at times, such as when you submit your work for editing or publishing. But if you struggle to write as best as you can, turn off the imaginary editor and write in whatever way feels natural at that moment.

fiction

Holy Cricket! These Details in “Harry Potter” Surprised Me!

I’ve enjoyed the “Harry Potter” series for many years. Although I’ve read all the books and seen the movies, I still like learning more about the franchise. In fact, that is pretty much routine for me.

Anyway, along with gaining more knowledge on J.K. Rowling’s fictional world, there comes some shocking facts either revealed at some point or that I didn’t notice until later. So, without further ado, let me begin.

1: The “Missing Day” in “The Sorcerer’s Stone”

I don’t mean the movie scene, where Hagrid drops off Harry at King’s Cross, apparently the day after his birthday (or more than a month may have passed and Harry just wore the same clothes again). In the book (I’m not sure about the film adaptation), it is revealed that Lily and James Potter died on Halloween night, but Hagrid does not deliver Baby Harry to the Dursleys until the evening of November 1st. This is known as the “missing day” or “missing 24 hours”. I did not notice this until a few years ago, when someone stated it in a YouTube comment. Before that, I had thought Hagrid had taken Harry straight to the Dursleys within hours of leaving his parents’ home within the same night (and encountering Sirius Black, whom he had to deny legal custody to for Harry, under Dumbledore’s orders). But when I first read that statement, I was surprised. Hagrid had to watch Baby Harry for a whole day? Darsh! Hopefully, someone else took care of certain things for the infant.

Anyway, many fans have come up with their own theories on what could have happened during that missing day. I’ve read so many different ideas. One person guessed that J.K. Rowling might have made a little typo. She could have, but then wouldn’t she have admitted it?

2: The revelation on how wizards used to “go to the bathroom”

After the “Harry Potter” series concluded, J.K. Rowling revealed more tidbits about her books, including ones that were better left unsaid. I believe that in 2019, she revealed that before muggles invented plumbing, wizards and witches would relieve themselves where they stood and then magically vanish their waste. Ewww! Gross! Why did we need to know that?

3: When Professor McGonagall made an appearance in “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” years before she should have been born

What’s even more bizarre was that she was already teaching at Hogwarts in the 1910’s and 20’s and looked to be in her late 20’s or early 30’s. But she was not supposed to be born until 1935. She even stated how many years she taught in “The Order of the Phoenix”, which takes place in the mid-1990’s. I forget what that number was, but she most definitely should not have existed in the events of “Fantastic Beasts”, which is the 1920’s.

Some people have assumed that that could have been a different Professor McGonagall. But the script reveals that it’s the same person Harry meets many decades later. Unless McGonagall has lied about her age this whole time, or somehow went back in time and used the time-turner (which has lots of rules), this should not have occurred. And no, J.K. Rowling’s excuse for not being strong at math isn’t valid. This isn’t calculous here—it’s grade-school level math. But “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” did have a lot of plot holes, even with J.K. Rowling involved.

So, there you have it.

travel

My Top Animal Encounter Moments on Trips

Who doesn’t love animals? I certainly admire them. This list will include moments from both local and exotic trips. It will not be in any favorable order, either.

1: Crabs at a park near me

This happened on a sixth-grade field trip, many years ago. We got to walk on the beach and play with the crabs. I remember naming mine Bob for that moment, Lol.

2: A chameleon in Hawaii

After watching the sunrise, our tour continued. We stopped somewhere for breakfast and outside of the place, our guide let us handle a chameleon. I recall it crawling on my arm, but cursing a bit since I was worried about it falling. This happened when I was 19.

3: An octopus and pufferfish in Costa Rica

While snorkeling, our guide there showed us an octopus and pufferfish. He let us touch them, too. I was too grossed out by the octopus, but was fine with the pufferfish.

4: Feeding fish in the Bahamas

A year before I went to Costa Rica, I went to the Bahamas and stayed at Atlantis. We went snorkeling at a place outside the resort and were given fish food for the fish. I was surprised that they permitted it, but it was because the fish would forget human interactions shortly after. After I dropped the fish food, I thought a fish bit me. But it turned out that the fins scraped my finger. I got a Band-Aid after, though, although not right away.

5: Swimming with dolphins in Cozumel and the Bahamas

The first time I swam with dolphins was when I was 10, in Cozumel. The latter happened when I was 16, one or two days before we snorkeled outside of Atlantis. Their skin felt rubbery and I could easily kiss them, which I could never do with any other creature, especially those with fur.

So, there you have it.

cooking

Why I Am Cooking in Advance Now?

Image from Pixabay

Once upon a time, I learned how to cook and would prepare many meals. That was… until I got my driver’s license and was ready to drive alone. I would eat out more, whether it was takeout, delivery, or dine-in.

Then in March, the world went on lockdown. I could no longer go out to restaurants, except to get takeout. Once the times when restaurants could re-open their dining rooms drew nearer, I started getting takeout a little more. Then when I could finally dine out again, I went crazy. I was so happy that I could finally enjoy my favorite places and commercial foods again.

But then I gained weight and felt kind of sluggish and unwell. My mom even got tired of me eating out so much. It had become a daily routine for me.

Then I discovered that my interests have changed since graduating college. Despite earning a BFA in studio art (big mistake!), I now am more passionate about writing. That being said, I still like doing art—I’d just rather keep it as a hobby.

Anyway, I want to get an online certificate in communications. I promised my mom that I would contribute to part of the tuition. That meant I had to cut down on eating out, not just for my health, but also for money purposes. So, that is when I started cooking more homemade food. For the first time ever, I am planning my meals in advance and cooking them ahead of time.

Guess what—it was a smart choice. Not only did I lose weight, and enough that many of my clothes got big on me within a couple of weeks, but I felt better about myself, too. My thinking and productivity sharpened, as well.

I will continue cooking in advance forever. After all, when I live on my own, I will have to watch my spending habits on unnecessary items, including commercial food.

movie

A “Hercules” Theory: Was Hercules Better Off Living as a Mortal? (1997 film)

Warning: contains spoilers***

Although the Disney adaptation of “Hercules” differed a lot from the original myth and was probably highly sugarcoated (which should not be surprising), it still pleases me a lot. I honestly like that stuff.

Anyway, onto the topic. Hercules was born a god, but was turned into a mortal by Hades’ assistants, Pain and Panic. The other gods look for him, but when they finally find him, he is mortal and can’t go back to Mount Olympus.

Years later, when Hercules is a teenager, he discovers from his adoptive parents that they actually found him when he was an infant and took him in. They also kept the metal Hercules had worn when he was a baby, and Hercules takes it to the temple of Zeus. That is where he discovers his true heritage and that he was born a god. The Zeus statue (which could be controlled by the actual Zeus in the movie) tells Hercules that he can become a god again if he proves himself a true hero. He tries to achieve that goal throughout the rest of the story and earns his immortality back. But then he realizes that he’d rather live as a mortal with Meg, his love interest.

So, this is where my question comes into place. Only gods can live on Mount Olympus, but can they leave Mount Olympus voluntarily? What if one of them wanted to go to the market, or go for a walk, or make friends? Are the gods allowed to do that?

Because Disney changes a lot from the original source materials, it’s probably a mystery if the gods can leave Mount Olympus and go out in public. But I am leaning toward an unlikely. I could be wrong for the Disney version, though. If I am correct, then I think Hercules would have been better off living as a mortal instead of a god.

If he hadn’t been turned into a mortal and got to grow up with his birth parents, would he have had limited understanding of the human world? Would he have been extra socially awkward from not being exposed to people?

What do you think?

travel

Why Flying First-Class is Worthy if You Can Afford it

Image from Pixabay

Okay, we’re living in a pandemic, and flying for pleasure is discouraged. But there will come a time when travel returns to normal.

I’ll tell you a little something about my travel experience. On certain flights, especially long ones, my family flew first-class. It was totally worth it.

Here are some perks of flying first-class:

Seats that can adjust their positions

You can lay them flat like a bed, or just simply push the headboards back a bit. You may also get blankets and pillows on these extra large seats. Who wouldn’t want that on a very long flight, especially when you’re traveling for pretty much the entire day? Plus, the bathroom was a short walk ahead. On a flight to India, we also got provided pajamas, which I didn’t wear because I didn’t think they were stylish. Anyway, let’s move forward.

Hot food service

Airplane food might not get the best reputation, but it can taste good, especially if you’re hungry. First-class food could taste better. I don’t really remember. I do recall having hot roast beef sandwiches and other goodies. Perhaps, they were higher quality.

Screens with various entertainment to choose from

I don’t remember if economy class got this when I went to India in 2011, but first-class passengers definitely did. We could choose from different games, music, TV shows, and movies. I watched the show, “Family Guy,” because I really love it. It’s super-funny.

Of course, flying first-class is not very cheap. If anything, it’s the opposite. But if you do have the money, it is worth it. There are also flights where you can get your own suites, like a hotel. But I think that’s a little silly. Plus, fewer can afford something like that. Even if I had the money, I wouldn’t spend it on a suite.

I hope these benefits inspire you for when normal travel is safe to resume. Obviously, if you’re on a budget or you can’t afford first-class, then I wouldn’t recommend it. Otherwise, though, you’d love it.

fiction

Harry Potter Mystery: How Could Almost Every Sixth-Year in “The Half-Blood Prince” Turn 17 by April, When the Cutoff Wasn’t for Several Months?

Everyone who is familiar with “Harry Potter” knows that a young wizard or witch can start Hogwarts when he or she is 11 and is expected to attend 7 years there. That means that by the time a student reaches his or her 6th year, he or she will turn 17 either during the school year or summer.

However, when Harry is a 6th year in “The Half-Blood Prince”, many of his classmates turn 17 by April, and only a few remain 16 by then. Sounds crazy, huh? Only Harry, Ernie, and Draco (as well as Neville, who wasn’t in that scene for some reason), remain under 17 by April, and therefore, have to stay behind while the others in their year can take their apparition tests.

I remember how shocked I’d felt when I’d read that scene, at age 13. Even then, that felt very odd and unbelievable to me. I recall thinking, That’s supposed to mean every other student’s birthdays are close together? No other 6th-years who aren’t 17? That can’t be. I’d also come up with my own theory where maybe there were students with birthdays between April and August in Harry’s year, but were all expelled during the previous years.

But it was not until recent times when I discovered that Harry’s year is quite small. A lot of fans guess that fewer babies were born in the magical world during the late 70’s and early 80’s, when Harry’s peers entered the world, because of the dark times and first wizarding war. Maybe it became worse by the spring. I don’t know.

Another thing that I learned recently is that the cutoff for Hogwarts is August 31st, not September 1st. People on Quora said that if a child turns 11 on September 1st, he or she has to wait another year before he or she can start Hogwarts. Crazy, right? It would make more sense if a child who turns 11 on September 1st could start Hogwarts that day. I mean, that does technically count as being 11. If it’s your birthday, you are your next age. For example, if you turn 18 on Election Day in the US, you can vote. It’s if you turn 18 after when you have to wait.

However, in the UK, cutoffs in August are typical and standard. If there are schools in Britain that start in August, then a cutoff of August 31st makes sense. But for those that start after that, a cutoff no later than the first day of school, would be more rational. In New York, it’s usually the opposite. The cutoffs are often in December. I was born November 22nd, 1993, but graduated high school in 2011. So that meant I turned 5 a couple of months after starting kindergarten. I used to hate being the youngest in my grade and would say, “I’m too young for this grade. I belong in the grade below me.” That would have been true for me if I lived in many other states where the cutoffs are before my birthday, like in September. It’s rare for American school’s cutoffs to be earlier than September, though.

Anyway, now that I’ve gotten to learn these things, maybe it makes sense for almost every 6th-year in HBP to turn 17 prior to mid-April.