Monday, April 30, 2012


Ring by Koji Suzuki is a trip through the disturbing. It is not true horror like I had thought, and I think the movie was a bit different from the book (at least from what I remember from my teen years). I was never really scared, per say, but the book was just that level of... unnerving to be more terrifying than most. It was a little like the beginning of Salem's Lot by Stephen King. Creepy, but not scary.

The characters are good, but my favorite has to be Sadako, a character you never actually meet. I want to learn more about what her deal is, and I'm going to spending a bit of time to find the next book in the series, Spiral.

Final Grade: A

Z is for Zero

April is closing in less than 10 hours (for me), and that marks the end of a lot of things.

Script Frenzy ends at midnight tonight, and I'm proud to say that I pounded out 141 pages at the time of I'm writing this, and I hope to have another 9 pages written before the end.

Another end in writing comes tonight as well. I created a spreadsheet at the beginning of the year to track how much I've written, and the first trimester of the year ends tonight. At the start of this month, I had a goal of writing 20,000 words for this month and 92,750 for the trimester, and I've managed to write over 30,000 and 98,000 for each respectively.

The semester ends tomorrow. I know, it's cheating, but still... I just need to wait for my grades to start trickling in. I hopefully haven't done too badly this semester, but you never know.

I'm looking forward to continuing to write this blog, and I think I'll start doing another A-Z challenge in the next couple of months or something. If anything, I'm going to be doing another book review shortly, so keep an eye out for that.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for Yooper

I've already written about my hometown, but this post is dedicated to the whole of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. It's a fairly big place, but there aren't that many major towns in the U.P. I sometimes think that the Lower Peninsula completely forgets that we exist sometimes. Nothing like going to a bowling tournament in Michigan and having people ask "Where's that?" when you say you're from the U.P.

Yeah. I've had that happen to me before.

For any trolls that might be reading this, I have to say: Good luck, you poor bastards.
For any Yoopers, best of luck with the hunting season.

Image from

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for Xenoplanets

υ  Andromedae d and its potential moons
Xenoplanet is a bit of an odd term. It's the same as "extrasolar planet" and "exoplanet". All of these terms refer to planets orbiting stars other than our own Sun. They come in all shapes and sizes, from gas giants larger than Jupiter to rocky planets about the size of Earth.

The dream of astronomers and astrobiologists in particular is to find a planet in a star's habitable zone with atmospheric properties very similar to Earth's. This planet could potentially harbor some form of life.

Of course, this "planet" could actually be a moon, if the primary planet orbits the sun at a close enough distance.

Image from Wikipedia - υ Andromedae d.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for Worldbuilding

Worldbuilding is the process of creating a fictional world. Tolkien's Middle Earth and C.S. Lewis's Narnia are examples of worldbuilding.

I've been working on a world called Materia for about the past decade or so. I think it started either in middle school or high school. It started off actually as a setting for a story I was writing about a couple of friends of mine, but then... It grew. A lot.

Materia has grown from just two countries on the same landmass to several continents. I've added races and taken away others. Countries have been created and destroyed at my whim, though I think I've started to settle on how I want the world to be arranged. One thing that hasn't changed much is its fantasy aspect, but I'm trying to keep some of the fantasy concepts more scientific.

I'm working on the details of my little planet, and each story is starting to be consistent with the major details, like the magic system and the politics of my countries. My current story, Wor(l)ds of Solitude, is also contributing to this process. I'm working on the religions on Materia as well as building more history into my world.

Hopefully, I'll finish most of the worldbuilding process eventually, and maybe I'll do another A-Z challenge next month to work on topics for Materia. That actually sounds like a good idea.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Victory

So we're approaching the end of the month, and for me, it's the end of the semester. Finals start tomorrow with Calculus II leading the pack. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping for the best, but I'll admit that I'm not the most confident about it. I finished up my astrobiology group project paper at about 2 this afternoon, so all that's left in that class is the final on Monday. Theory of Urban Design has a final on Tuesday and so does Earth and Space Science. I shouldn't do too badly on those. There's no final for Marine Ecology and Conservation (thank god), and I'm done with the lab for Earth and Space Science.

I sort of enjoyed doing this challenge. I thought that it would be more difficult, though now we're hitting the harder letters of the alphabet. It'll be interesting to do X on Friday.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

I finished the book Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, and I have to say that I was quite impressed. There were some things that could have been elaborated on, but all in all, the book was good.

Miss Peregrine's opens with an old man telling stories to his grandson. The majority of the book takes place later in the grandson's life after his grandfather is murdered by... something. He finds the home where his grandfather grew up, and there he finds far more than he bargained for.

The idea behind the story was good, if a little outdated with the whole "mutant people living in hiding" thing, but there are some interesting twists to the story. I'm curious to see what he has in store for the next book in the series, and I'm hoping that he reads some of the reviews on Goodreads and polishes up some of the problems.

Final grade: B+

Image from Goodreads.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Umineko

There is one anime/manga/visual novel that I wish I could emulate sometimes. It's called Umineko no Naku Koro ni, or When the Seagulls Cry. Yes, apparently the red na is part of the title.

The producer of Umineko is a group called 07th Expansion. It's a murder-mystery divided into 8 parts. Each part is a repeat of the previous part, but there are slight changes introduced into each part. The basic struggle, after the whodunit question, is the argument between magic and not-magic.

The reader/watcher is assisted by three things called Truths.

Red Truth is absolute, but subjective. It can be presented without supporting evidence, but since it is subjective, there can be multiple interpretations. The Witch Side uses the Red Truth. For example:

You are not Ushiromiya Asumu's son.

The Blue Truth can be used by both Humans and Witches. If the Red Truth is a single-shot handgun, the Blue Truth is a shotgun. It can be used against both Humans and Witches, and it can counter the logic of the Witch/Human while also abiding by the Red Truth. For example:
The one who is qualified to be Beato's opponent is 'Kinzo's grandson Ushiromiya Battler', and whether you are 'Asumu's son' or not is no problem. Thus, even if you are not Asumu's son, you can be Kinzo's grandson. As long as you are Rudolf's son!
There is the Gold Truth, but it doesn't play much of a role in the game. Another tool is the Purple Declaration. This appears in the last part of the game, Twilight of the Golden Witch. It is a bit of a double-edged knife, since it is used by the survivors. Only the culprit can lie while using the Purple Declaration, and it holds the same weight as the Red Truth.

The ending of Umineko is... strange and a little... disturbing, but all in all, I liked the way the story progressed, adding a few clues each time it repeated. In a lot of ways, it was similar to the previous installment, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. It would be kinda cool to write a story like that, but I think it would be better if it was a hypertext or a website with a bunch of stories that can be read in any order.

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Titan

We are literally on the last two days of classes before the start of finals, and most of my classes have their final, big, presentation projects wrapping up. In my astrobiology course, we had to design a fake astrobiology mission. My group decided to focus on the large moon of Saturn named Titan. It's the second largest moon in the Solar System after Jupiter's Ganymede, and it's even larger by volume, though only half as massive, than Mercury, that little chunk of metal being cooked by the Sun.

Titan was discovered in 1655 by a Dutch dude named Christiaan Huygens. I really don't know what his parents were thinking when they tossed that extra a in his name, but I digress. Huygens also contributed to a lot of different fields of study, including optics, engineering, and so on and so forth.

Now Titan is pretty interesting from an astrobiological standpoint. It is the only moon in the Solar System with a dense, smoggy atmosphere. It's even denser than the Earth's atmosphere, and there's even liquid on the surface. You have to understand that while I say liquid, I don't mean water. It's actually so cold on Titan (about -290 F or -179 C) that hydrocarbons like methane condense out of the atmosphere and create lakes on its surface.

Scientists are looking at Titan to see if there is some possibility of prebiotic (pre-life) chemistry that could lead to some form of life. Of course, being a moon of Saturn and as such being a REALLY long ways away from us, there haven't been a lot of studying of Titan up close and personal.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Script Frenzy

I finished my Script Frenzy challenge at about 10 last night. 20 days, 102 pages. It was actually easier than I expected, and I'm continuing the story, since most people probably never finish the original plot they have before they reach their goal.

I'm hoping to turn my Script Frenzy into a novel, though it's probably going to change again...

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Reading

I love reading. A good book can keep me interested for days, and if it's really interesting, I'll keep reading until I finish it, even if it's 3 in the morning.

I joined a couple of years ago. They have a challenge going on this year where you set a goal for yourself. You then have the entire year to read that many books, and you can change the goal as needed.

I decided that I'm going to try to read at least 50 books this year, or about a book a week. So far I've read 17, mostly books from various series, like the Dresden Files, Hunger Games, and Iron Druid. Hopefully I'll surge far ahead this summer, but you never know.

You can keep track of my challenge here.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Questions

As of right now, I have about 17,000 words and 82 pages towards my Script Frenzy, and I'm hoping to have about 70,000-100,000 words when I'm done, though it'll take longer than the rest of April to get that far.

This story's gone through a long painful process of writing and writing and writing. Each time I've attempted to write this story, it's changed in varying degrees. It originally started off as a single question:

  • Who killed Ennis and why?

Then I started adding characters and situations that changed the question into:

  • How did the death of Ennis and Caoi Gillespie cause the destruction of their hometown?

Now, about four months later, I'm in my... third or fourth "draft", though I haven't actually managed to finish the story like I wanted. I completely changed the story in some ways and kept it the same in others. I've expanded my original question into several questions:

  • What happened to Hayase Mawe?
  • Who killed Heind Navidson?
  • Why did Caoi and Ennis Gillespie disappear?
  • Who is the father of the Gillespie twins?
  • How are the above questions connected?
  • Who is Elia?

I think it's easier sometimes to work around building a story through these kinds of questions. I try to leave myself enough room to work more into a story, and asking myself these questions lets me focus on details as well as the big picture.

I'm starting to wrap up some of the questions, though I still need to put a few more details into them. The last question is more of a subplot that I'm hoping to connect into a larger collection of stories. I'll have to see how things work out with this thing first.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Pain

This past year has been a year of pain. I say that because every time I've gotten sick or something bad has happened to my health, it was accompanied by a healthy dose of pain.
Not my feet, by the way...

It started at the end of last spring's semester. I had gone to a foot doctor, and they found my early inheritance from my maternal grandmother: bunions on both feet. So rather than allow them to get any worse, we decided to get rid of that problem before it got any worse. So, last spring, I got this lovely thing called an Austin bunionectomy. It's essentially where they break the bone of your big toe, shave off the extra growth, and put it back together. I got to spend three weeks in the full boot of shame and another month or so in a special shoe.

Oh, and a bunionectomy is considered one of the most painful kind of surgeries you can get.

So I recovered from that, and just before the beginning of this spring semester (and about a month into it), I got kidney stones. The first one was the more painful of the two, since it was larger and I did not take... precautionary measures. I also got a lovely case of nausea, which struck half hour and got so bad that my mom took me to the hospital. I managed to pass that one, and I got a little reward for my pain. My mom was, like, "That little thing caused so much pain?" Yeah, ma, that little thing went through tubes made for liquids, not pointy little rocks. It's a-going to hurt. The second time, I had learned my lesson, so it wasn't so bad. No nausea at least.

I'm preparing to get my left foot done at the beginning of May, so my year of pain's going to be going on for a little longer, but if I pass Calculus (*praying praying praying*), I think I'll be able to survive...

Images from Wikipedia.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Openings

I like to watch the openings of anime and other TV shows on YouTube. I find it stupid how companies would have the audio silenced or the video removed completely. I sometimes choose what shows I want to watch based on what their TV openings look like, because if an opening looks boring, why should the show be any different.

The same thing applies to animated music videos. I see AMVs as a gauge of a show's health. If nobody is making AMVs for a show, then the fandom is not doing well. If there's a lot of AMVs, then there are a lot of people interested in the show enough to make a little tribute to that show. It also has the benefit of promoting an  musician's work. I've gotten a few songs from artists I would otherwise not have listened to if it hadn't been for AMVs.

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for Nighttime

I'm afraid of the dark. I always have been. It certainly didn't help matters that my brother used to jump out of doorways in the dark when we were younger, and my overactive imagination does little to ease my mind.

I know that I would probably get slightly better sleep at night if I didn't have a small light on, but I can't help it. I think that I'm getting a little better. Maybe soon, I'll be able to sleep without the light on. It's just... force of habit a bit.

The nighttime is also one of my most favorite times of the day. I love to stare at the stars. Find the constellations. Grab the binoculars and look at whatever I can find. It's pretty fun to go out at different times of the night and see what has changed, which constellations and planets have set and which have risen.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for Menominee

One comment I've received this month wanted to know more about me, so here's a post on the city that shaped my life.

I was born in Fort Huachuca, Arizona, but I spent most of my life in a small town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan called Menominee. It's situated literally at that point along Lake Michigan's Green Bay (not the city) where Michigan comes down and touches Wisconsin. Menominee is the city on the top of the picture below, while Marinette, Wisconsin is on the bottom.

It's a small town of less than 10,000 people, and if I had to call it, it's quaint. Once we reached middle school, all of the kids were in the same classes together. I lived in an old house and walked to school for most of the 11 years I went. I will admit that while we were about a block and a half inside the cut-off point for the buses, my brother and I managed to get to ride the bus during the winters.

This train station was near my house, though I don't think that there were really any train tracks nearby. If there were, it was only used by freight trains that practically crawled along.
While we lived in Menominee, most of the business and action was across the river in Marinette. We would ride our bikes across the .6 mile wide Interstate Bridge and go wherever we wanted in Marinette. Most of it was done in the summer, because obviously the weather's not the best during the winter. I tended to spend most of the summer at the mall on the other side of Marinette at the bookstore.
Being an old town, Menominee has a lot of old buildings. Grant School, on the northern edge of the city, has always been boarded up for as long as I can remember. It was really rather creepy, and looking at a picture of it now, I imagine that some horrible thing happened there and that it was abandoned quickly like Chernobyl. It's probably a lot more benign than that though.
In the winter, children would either go to Marinette's city park to sled or they would come here to the welcome center. It's a log cabin at the top of a nice, big hill. Snowplows clearing the parking lot below would create this tiny mountain range of snow that kept the children safely out of the parking lot, which could get quite busy at times. It was a pain to drag your sled up the hill, but it was fun.
A good little place near the middle school and next door to one of my friends is this little pasty shop. They are basically like... hot pockets. I got a small addiction to pistachio ice cream from this place.

Images from, Flickr, Wikipedia, Michigan Department of Transportation, &

Friday, April 13, 2012

L is for Longhand

One skill I wish I had was the ability to write shorthand. I've even picked up a Gregg shorthand phrase book. I'm probably going to buy this Gregg shorthand textbook. The only problem that I have is that the words can overlap, like "seat" is written as "s-e-t" and the phonetics focus is a bit weird.

Right now, my writing is a bit slow, but if I can get used to using shorthand, I think I would probably be happier. Of course, no one will ever be able to read what I write, but that's not my problem.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Need to work on that...

I found out last fall that my computer comes with speech-to-text software, I decided to try it out. Then I promptly forgot about it from October to February when my computer had a few issues...

So anyway, I decided to try it out on Monday during my mineralogy class. Now, before you read the following result, keep in mind that this is mineralogy.

Here's what my computer spat out:

The layer art will air winery all are quite a lot like the idea all air or will allow all will all agree or ill or Reoul are all Aulli all OO wall tall are all Haou are allowed Haou room wall of alert you to want hallway of Aul Aulli are you or or all will allow at Lowell old are lack Ailin allow her will all ball at all three are all wore a IR or O 00 era wall to augur called our goal of the Ahl whole leeway are hotly will air later taught law layer low or or walla are all are all a finger or a lot longer you your old rely out like Aulli our goal all RE your eager all I’ll eat your ear

...Yeah. It turns out that my microphone works pretty damn well, but the software needs a bit of training...

K is for Kathleen

So, the name Catherine and Kathleen are names that pop up on the Hammiller (my mother's side) side of the family. My grandma has Catherine as her first name, though she goes by Patricia (her middle name), and she bequeathed the moniker Kathleen to my aunt (my mom's younger sister). My mom decided to name me Catherine. Never mind that the nickname for both Catherine and Kathleen is Cathy/Kathy. So much fun when she visits...

My aunt Kathy is... a pain in my mom's butt sometimes. Keep in mind that we live in Arizona, and the rest of the family lives in Wisconsin. Frequent visits are out of the question. So when my uncle got sick with cancer of just about everything, my mom was not able to be there for most of the time. Didn't stop my aunt from yelling at my mom for not being involved to her satisfaction.

Of course, being so far from Wisconsin makes us a good refuge for the rest of the family from their stresses. We had one aunt come down and visit last year, and my mom invited another one after a spat between her and aunt Kathy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Jams

Downtown Tempe isn't built for drivers, and it certainly isn't built for the amount of traffic around ASU's Tempe campus. With nearly 10,000 people at the Tempe campus as well as the people who live and work in the surrounding area, University Road and Mill Avenue have a tendency to nearly stop around 5:00 P.M. There's only one lane of traffic each way through downtown Tempe, and only two lanes each way down University. In short, it's a major pain in the butt to get anywhere.

It doesn't help when Arizona drivers are not the best at... well, driving. Just yesterday, there were 2 accidents during the morning rush hour on the 60 (one of the major freeways in the metro area) and 3 in the afternoon. Drivers are liable to drift out of their lanes or cut across four lanes of traffic to reach their exit...

It's a bit scary to go out sometimes...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for Ideas

I love to write. It bothers me when I don't write something (not including notes for classes) every day. I write down ideas constantly, and I think up new plots or characters almost every day. It makes it difficult to watch or read anything without thinking of how I could fit something into my writing.

Take my ScriptFrenzy 2012 draft, for example:

The original idea came from the F.E.A.R. games, with Alma (the antagonist) being incorporated into the character of Ennis Gillespie. F.E.A.R. 2 gave me ideas of a minor antagonist named Michael, who becomes obsessed with Ennis. I took the idea of a cult sacrifice from the Silent Hill movie, and a fog blanketing the town of Ashe from Silent Hill Downpour.

There was supposed to be a pair of characters called the Watcher and the Devourer. The Watcher came from the character Antubus from Kingdom Hospital, and the Devourer is an adaptation of the Slender Man.

I haven't worked on either of those characters yet, and I'm not completely sure how I'm going to fit them into the script. I've instead started to use The Killing to give some ideas about writing a murder mystery, but I want to incorporate the scare tactics of The Grudge into the script. I've combined parts of Arang and Muoi to add a subplot to the story. I have the manga 07-Ghost to thank for adding yet another idea (lost forbidden love), though I originally add it for a different story.

It's a bit annoying sometimes, when I'm writing about one story, and I'm already thinking about the next plot. I will finish this story, even if I keel over dead afterwards.

Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for Horror

I've recently decided to start using my brother's Netflix to watch horror movies. In about four days, I've managed to watch about 6 movies.

  • Arang
  • Muoi
  • Ju-on 2
  • The Grudge
  • The Grudge 2
  • The Grudge 3

The first three were foreign language films. Arang and Muoi were Korean, while Ju-on was Japanese. The Grudge series is the American adaptations of the Ju-on series.

I like Asian-style horror movies, because it's not just some massive splatter-fest. The Asians drew upon their myths and legends when they created these movies. They focused on the people in the movies, and thinking back... Not once did the protagonists completely defeat the "monster".

Sorry, if I spoiled anything for you...

Images from Wikipedia

Saturday, April 7, 2012

G is for Games

In about 2 weeks, I'm off to the GameStop down the road to get my copy of Prototype 2. I decided to splurg with this game (though God only knows why) and bought the special edition with all of the bonus stuff. So I get the reservation bonus (a special move) and:

  • Game soundtrack
  • Art booklet
  • First DLC for free
  • A bunch of stuff from the next edition cheaper

I'm looking forward to getting this game, though I still have to work on a lot of other games as well. Thankfully, the semester is ending on that day, so I'll have a lot of time to play it. Of course, I'm also getting a bunionectomy at the beginning of May, so that won't be much fun either.

Friday, April 6, 2012

F is for Family

I'm going to be an aunt in 7 months...

My brother's gotten his girlfriend pregnant, and she's 7-8 weeks along. He's already told my mom, but he's afraid about telling my dad (completely understandable since my dad's not the most... patient of men).

We were joking about what to name the kid. The wifey (aka the girlfriend) wants to name the kid Marrow or Nikko, but my brother wants something a little more normal. I told him he should name it (if it's a boy) Tom or Tony.

You have to know that we had 3 Uncle Toms, and two of them had named their sons Tony.

It should be interesting to see what's going to happen with my brother and his girlfriend in the coming months and years.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for Exhaustion and Exams

So I took one exam for calculus yesterday, and I think I might have done pretty good. I'm not holding my breath though on my grades... I don't even want to think about it...

I'm tired and getting ready for bed, so I'll end it here...

Good night, peoples!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for Death and Density

I'm watching Science right now, and it's a show on black holes. Everyone knows what a black hole is. It's an object so dense that the gravity it has pulls even light to its center. That's what makes it a black hole.

Black holes are "born" when very massive stars die.

For most main sequence stars, this is not what's going to happen. The star will expand into giants before they start to collapse. Usually, the heat from the core and the repulsion between atoms and subatomic particles stops the collapse from progressing past dwarfs. These dwarfs are essentially the faintly glowing embers, the remnants of the core of the original star. This is the fate awaiting our own sun. A size comparison of A-Class IK Pegasi A (left), its companion white dwarf IK Pegasi B (center), and the Sun.

For a star that is a bit larger than our sun follows a similar process. The star explodes with enough force to expel its outer layers, creating spectacular supernova remnants as well as the elements heavier than iron. They become strange objects, including black holes. Black holes form when the collapse is not stopped by internal pressure. The remnant core simply continues to crush itself further and further.

I leave you with this beautiful supernova remnant N49 in the Large Magellanic Cloud.

Images from Wikipedia.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C is for Challenges

So a couple of months ago, I first stumbled upon the A-Z challenge... thingy... Anyway, so I was like this looks fun! Let's do it! I could do this and Script Frenzy and finish my classes.


WTF was I thinking? This challenge isn't too hard, and I'm actually ahead in my Script Frenzy. My classes are my biggest concerns (obviously). I have a test tomorrow in calculus... T-T  I'm going to bed early tonight (like in 10 minutes). Maybe take a sleeping pill to knock me out the majority of the night...

Monday, April 2, 2012

B is for Bros

I've become addicted to watching videos by PewDiePie. This guy is probably the most insane player on Youtube. Despite the fact that he's Swedish, his English is actually pretty good. His commentary makes watching horror games easier. He uses a facial camera, so you get to see his expressions (as below):

He tends to upload a couple of videos every day, but the ones I like the most are his clips from Happy Wheels, where he plays as the irresponsible parent and the son.

If you have the time (and you don't mind a little vulgarity), just pop in on his channel and become a Bro! Here's the link:

Image from and

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A is for Assignments

We've reached the final stretch at ASU for the spring semester. The last day of class is April 24th, and the professors are trying to get those last few assignments in. Here's what this month's looking like:

BIO494 - Marine Ecology and Conservation
4 short essays and a joyful *gag* presentation next week

MAT266 - Calculus for Engineers II
Homework for most of the remaining lessons and 2 exams. If I can get at least 75% on both of them, I should be able to pass. If not... I've already registered to retake it T-T

PUP420 - Theory of Urban Design
Group project and presentation

SES102 - Earth & Space Science II
Homework 4 (and maybe 5) and final exam

SES 104 - Earth & Space Science Lab II
A couple of afternoon labs and a night lab

SES311 - Essentials of Astrobiology
Group project and paper. We have to finish creating a (fake) NASA mission as real as we can make it.

That's it! Hopefully, I'll be able to survive to the end of the semester.