RIP My Computer

My final semester of college is starting to wind down. I have two major projects left to finish and some photos from a senior photo shoot I shot for a friend to edit. So of course, now is when my good computer decides to crap out on me.

Okay, technically, it’s not totally dead. The display cable that connects the screen to the computer body is what died. Still, it is effectively dead, since I can’t use it anymore.

I actually sent it off to the Lenovo people to have them fix it since it’s still under warranty. They won’t be done with it until after graduation. Soooo, I’m going to be living in the computer labs at Liberty for two weeks so that I can get all of my work done. The last time I lived in a computer lab was when I had awful roommates and didn’t want to go back to my room. All things considered, I’ll take the broken computer.

I am not completely without laptop, thankfully. Sort of thankfully. Thankfully-ish. It’s… not great. It took five times of restarting it just to get it to stop fatally freezing when I first opened it up again for the first time in months. It runs like a manatee on land pulling a semi-truck laden with lard.

(Yes, I am proud of that sentence.)

I’ve got it functioning a tad bit better now, but editing literally anything other than Microsoft Word files (and sometimes not even that) gives the computer a heart attack.

The upside is that, because I can’t do anything else productive at home, I’ll be doing a lot of writing in the next two or three weeks. Probably a lot of photography too because I just discovered a new place to hike and I’m currently obsessed with nature photography.

Here’s a few of my (woefully unedited) recent photos.

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If you want to keep up with my writing, follow me on Wattpad. I’ve got a new story, called Deep Hollow, that I’m releasing a chapter at a time. It’s about dragon people.


What I’ve learned doing nature photography

I’ve been learning more about photography and videography in an attempt to diversify my skill set ahead of graduating from college. A few weeks ago, I decided that since I’ve got a halfway decent camera, and I was going to have a lot of free time on my hands while camping, I ought to give nature photography a try.

And I love it!

I have always loved hiking and being in the great outdoors. Now, I just added a camera to mix, and it’s SOOOO much fun. But also enlightening. So I’m going to share some of what I learned on my first nature photographer adventure (along with some of the pictures I captured).

1. Nature does not want to be photographed

Most of the animals I took pictures of were birds. You probably already know this, but birds move. A lot. My camera is a simple point-and-shoot affair that doesn’t have the greatest shutter speed capabilities. Basically, if it was moving, I couldn’t take pictures of it.

I got a lot more blurry photos like this:


And a lot fewer nice, perfectly-focused, crisp shots like this:


That robin was about 3 feet from me by the way. That’s another part of this lesson: nature will run away from you. For my best shots (with the exception of the overly-courageous robin above), I had to sit far away from my subject and sit very, very still. That segues nicely to my next lesson.

2. Patience is a virtue, especially in nature photography

While I got some of my photos just by walking around, for many of them, I had to sit in one place for a long time. This wasn’t easy for me, as I’m fidgety by nature. It was also freezing with the wind blowing fifteen miles an hour for three of the days I was camping.

Still, patience got me one of my absolute best photos. I was out hiking with a friend and The Fiancé (yes, he’s The Fiancé now. I’ll do a full post on it later), and I saw this gorgeous osprey. It flew off as soon as we walked onto its part of the trail, but I saw it circling over the water. I thought that it might come back if we sat down and waited.

And it did. I got some decent long-distance shots, like this one:


As you can see, it’s a little blurry, but I thought I could get a better one if I got closer.

Of course, he flew off again as soon as I got within range. This time, he flew off to another part of the island where we could hear him cawing at us. I realized that he was trying to draw us away from his nest. The Fiancé volunteered to go hike over to the other part of the island to try to scare him back.

The plan worked perfectly, and I got a few more awesome shots of this majestic bird:

Best osprey - edited

3. Auto-focus is garbage

I have a pretty good camera for a point-and-shoot (I’m looking to upgrade to a DSLR soon). But my biggest complaint with it is the lack of manual focus. There were many, many times on this trip that I missed a shot because I couldn’t get the focus right.

It’s not bad if the subject is the only thing in the shot, but it gets tricky when the shot is more crowded. Take this photo for example:

Northern Mockingbird 2

This mockingbird is almost perfectly in focus. But the auto-focus clearly decided those leaves in the background were more important to focus on than the bird. I had a lot of instances like this, and it was incredibly frustrating to have an animal holding still long enough for me to take its picture, but then still have the photo not come out right because of the auto-focus.

Every once in a while, I got an awesome shot despite the auto-focus. For instance, this brown thrasher:

Brown Thrasher 1 - Edited

4. Sometimes, even a good photo needs a little correction

I’ve been learning Photoshop in the last few weeks, in addition to learning more about photography. In fact, several of the photos above have been lightly Photoshopped. And I do mean lightly. I mostly used the program to brighten or darken the subjects or the background, so that the viewer’s eye is drawn toward the animal and not something distracting in the background.

The photos I got were pretty good on their own, but they usually needed a little something to make them pop more. The trick is to preserve the spirit of the original as much as possible.

Here is the photo I probably shopped the most (original first):


It was a decent photo to begin with, but I thought it was a little over-exposed (basically, too bright) in certain places and a little too yellow for my tastes.

Wildlife of Dreher Island - 4

I like this a lot better. I darkened the leaves in the background as well as the log the turtle was sitting on and the one near his head. I boosted the saturation on his shell to make it more noticeable. Finally, I re-colored the water to give it a red instead of yellow tinge.

Most shots don’t need this much work, but they almost always need some kind of work. Like I said, it’s not about really changing the photo to something it’s not, but instead, it’s about making the photo you have even better than it already was.

Essential Trauma

I made a quip in my last post about missing out on the “essential trauma” of watching The Lion King as a kid. It was a joke, but I got to thinking about that phrase, essential trauma. I realized that I have had a lot of that in my life.

I was talking with my sister the other day, and she said that one of the things that frustrated her about me when we were younger was that I projected an air of not caring about anything. Now, there’s a part of that that’s true. I didn’t care about what I wore or if my hobbies were acceptable to anyone else. But it isn’t entirely true that I didn’t care about what people thought in general.

I think the reason I wore the mask of not caring about anything was because I was bullied when I was a kid. My softball team when I was in middle school made my life miserable. They didn’t like me because I got our star pitcher kicked off the team by reporting her to the coach for threatening to knock my block off. I didn’t know at the time that tattling would make everyone else hate me.

Also in middle school, my youth group treated me like garbage because… I don’t really know. I guess I was just different. Most of the people in my youth group went to the same school and did all the same things. I was taller than average, nerdy, shy homeschooler who liked reading and drawing. Most of the time, the other kids in my youth group just ignored me. It was better than teasing, I guess, but it was still an incredibly lonely time for me.

So I acted like I didn’t care. I tried to convince even myself that how they treated me didn’t matter to me. It did, but I can only recognize that now, years after the pain has lost its freshness.

It wasn’t until late high school and even more in college that I finally “came out of my shell.” It took so long to be able to feel like I could share who I was with people and not worry about being treated like dirt because of it. I can say that I care about things now partially because I know I have friends who will care about it with me.

I wonder how my life would be different if I’d missed out on all that bullying, that essential trauma, when I was younger. In a way, that kind of treatment has shaped me into the person I am today. I’m probably stronger than I would have been without it, but I’m also more cautious and still, after all this time, more guarded with my emotions.

Thankfully, the bullying wasn’t the only thing that shaped who I am today. I’ve met amazing friends and mentors since high school, and they’ve helped me become more free to be myself. Because of them, I’m not afraid to meet new people or try new things. I’m not scared of showing that I care anymore.

So if any of my friends are reading this article, thank you. You may have no idea the impact you’ve made on my life, but thank you for being in it. You’ve been the essential blessing to drown out the trauma.

And to those who made me miserable… I hope you changed. I don’t know, because you weren’t worth keeping in touch with, but I hope you learned to build others up instead of tearing them down. And I hope I’m the only person you scarred with your callous actions and biting words.

Disney animated villains who actually killed

I was having an interesting conversation about Disney villains with my mom last night. I asked her what her favorite Disney villain was. She gave me an interesting answer: the hunter from Bambi.

The hunter who killed Bambi’s mom isn’t what I would have thought about. We never even see the hunter. But the truth is that this unseen hunter does what very few other Disney villains actually accomplish. He actually killed a characters.

So that got me thinking, how many Disney villains have actually killed. I looked it up, and the answer is interesting.

Before I give you the full list, I want to explain how I’m choosing these. I’m going off of this list from Wikipedia of only animated movies from Disney Animation Studios. I’ll admit I haven’t seen all of these, so I may miss one or two, but this list is the closest I can get right now.

I’m only looking at Disney movies, so villains like Syndrome from Pixar’s The Incredibles aren’t going to be on this list. I’m only going to count villains who killed someone in their movie (so villains like Cruella de Vil and Shere Khan, who almost certainly killed outside of the movies won’t count). I’m also not counting villains who managed to kill their victims, but the victims got revived somehow. I’ll list them as honorable mentions at the end.

That said, in chronological order, here are all the Disney villains who actually managed kill someone.

1. The hunter from Bambi (1942)


This was a traumatic moment in the lives of many children for generations. We thought we were watching a cute little movie about an adorable baby deer. And then, BANG, childhood over. I feel like everyone who saw this movie as a kid grew up a little the moment that shot rang out.

2. Scar from The Lion King (1994)


Scar is probably my second favorite Disney Renaissance villain and also the owner of what I believe to be the second best Disney villain song. I actually never saw The Lion King as a kid, so I missed out on the essential emotional trauma from seeing this villain kill Mufasa. Still, even watching it for the first time as a teen, it got me a little bit.

3. Thomas from Pocahontas (1995)


I almost didn’t put Thomas on this list. I don’t really think he’s a villain in the traditional sense. He’s not evil, and he only killed Kocoum to save his friend. Still, he’s a force of antagonism, in the sense that he makes things harder for the heroes. So I think he counts.

4. Frollo from Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)


Frollo is my  favorite Disney villain and the owner of the best Disney villain song of all time. He’s just sooo slimy and conniving and just… evil. He kills not only Quasimodo’s mother at the beginning of the movie, but he undoubtedly killed dozens of others by setting fire to half of Paris in his attempt to find Esmeralda. He definitely earns his place on this list.

5. Shan Yu and the Huns from Mulan (1998)

Shan yu.gif

This movie has arguably the highest body count on this list. It’s not shown directly, but the massacre of Shang’s father’s troops did happen during the film, so Shan Yu and the Huns definitely count. It’s a surprisingly somber scene for an otherwise fun movie about a cross-dressing female Chinese soldier.

6 & 7. Clayton and Sabor the leopard from Tarzan (1999)


Clayton isn’t really one of most competent villains in Disney history, especially considering the downright dumb way he died. However, he does manage to kill the leader of Tarzan’s gorilla pack, Kerchak, at the end of the movie.


The one I didn’t immediately think about was Sabor, the leopard that killed Tarzan’s parents. She isn’t a major villain in the movie, but she’s still one of the few Disney villains who’s killed. Actually, she’s one of the few on this list who killed more than one person. Also, how many of you actually knew the leopard’s name? I didn’t until I researched it for this article.

8. Commander Rourke from Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)


I would say that Atlantis is my favorite Disney Renaissance movie, but that era only lasted from 1989 to 1999, so Atlantis falls right outside of it. However, it’s still one of the best and most underrated Disney movies ever made. It also happens to have a murderous villain.

Lyle Tiberius Rourke is the suave, charismatic and desperately greedy leader of the expedition to find Atlantis. He kills the king at the near the end of the movie, making Kida one of the few Disney princesses to become a queen. It’s not explicitly stated, but Rourke’s actions probably also caused the deaths of many other Atlantians in the battle to rescue Kida.

9. Scroop from Treasure Planet (2002)


I actually had to be reminded of this one from a friend because the Wikipedia article doesn’t explain what happened very well. But Scroop does kill Mr. Arrow by sabotaging his lifeline, allowing him to float into a black hole. It’s safe to say he belongs on this list.


Now for the honorable mentions.

If you count the sleep from Snow White (1937) and Sleeping Beauty (1959) as “death,” then the evil queen and Maleficent both get an honorable mention. I’m pretty sure the Beast was dead before being turned into Adam, so Gaston from Beauty and the Beast (1991) also debatably belongs on this list. Mother Gothel from Tangled kills Flynn quite definitely, so she gets an honorable mention. Finally, I believe Elsa from Frozen also deserves an honorable mention.

I feel like I should explain that last one. There are two different ways of viewing Frozen. You could think about it as a movie with two protagonists, Anna and Elsa. But I think a better argument can be made that there’s only one protagonist, Anna.

If Anna is the protagonist, then I think Elsa counts as a force of antagonism, just like Thomas from Pocahontas. If I count one, then I have to count the other. Since Elsa did freeze Anna solid, whether she meant to or not, she still counts as an antagonist who killed someone. Thankfully, she only gets an honorable mention.


And that’s it. As far as I know (and correct me in the comments if I’m wrong), this is the full list of Disney villains who have actually killed someone. There are dozens of Disney movies, but only nine killers in them. There are five additional villains who only temporarily killed someone.

Apparently the 1990s and the early 2000s were a dark time for Disney animators, as all except for one of the murderous villains were from this time period. There have been two recent honorable mentions, but so far, none of the newer Disney villains have managed to get the job done. It’s possible we may see another 52-year gap before we see another Disney murderer.

Finally, before I go, it’s worth pointing out something that I realized while researching for this article. Namely, that the list of Disney heroes who killed someone would be a lot longer than this one. Food for thought.

Late to the Party – Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

I actually finished this game a while ago, but I haven’t figured out what to say about it. Still, I should probably give it a shot. Drake’s Deception is not my favorite of these games for several reasons.

**Some spoilers ahead**

Perhaps the biggest reason I didn’t like Drake’s Deception as much as I liked the first two was because of Nathan Drake himself. One of my favorite things about his character that I’ve talked about several times is that he’s always been a genuinely good guy who puts his friends’ lives above his own mission. In this, that isn’t so true.

Uncharted 3 nathan.png

Why were you suddenly a jerk?? Source

There were a lot of instances where I thought Nathan was being kind of a jerk. I get that this particular mission was very personal to him, but it felt like he was being more reckless with not only his life, but that of his friends. Normally, I wouldn’t mind that kind of character. The problem was that it was against his established character.

I’m also getting a little tired of the will-they-won’t-they relationship between Nathan and Elena. I feel like they’ve been through so much together already that they should either stay together or break up and go adventuring with someone else. I mean, they apparently married between games 2 and 3, but they were separated by 3. If they’re broken up again by game 4, I’m going to be very annoyed. Seriously Naughty Dog, there are other ways of manufacturing tension for a game.

Uncharted 3 nathan and elena

Pick a lane, you two! Source

Actually, the consistency of the way Naughty Dog makes the tension and conflict of the games is part of the reason I didn’t like this one as much. It’s just starting to feel like a rehash of the plot from the other games. They all go like this:

  • Nathan and Sully get into some trouble
  • Bad guy is revealed
  • Nathan and Elena meet up again
  • They all go to some exotic locations
  • Bad guy captures/almost captures them, but they get away
  • They find some ancient civilization with a dark secret
  • They decide against stealing the secret thing
  • The bad guy tries to kill Nathan, fails, and dies
  • They destroy the ancient civilization
  • Nathan and Elena lovingly bicker a bit before the credits roll

That’s the plot to the first three games (as far as I can remember). It’s getting formulaic, and predictable at this point. I sincerely hope they at least something at least a little different in the next game.

Before I continue, you should understand that I didn’t hate this game entirely. Just because I was a little disappointed, that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy playing it.

The graphics were, as usual, very good. It was a gorgeous game with a lot of interesting locations to visit. The controls were very smooth, although I missed the assisted-aiming feature (to be fair, I may have just not been able to figure out how to turn it on). I also didn’t hate the jumping puzzles in this one.

Uncharted 3 horse

I also didn’t dislike the driving/riding scene as much as I usually do Source

One plot-related point I did really like was the villain. Marlowe was a much more interesting villain than the villains from the other two games. Most of the reason was because she actually meant something to the main characters. I appreciate that sort of thing.

I also really enjoyed getting to see young Nathan growing up and getting his origin story. That was probably my favorite part of the game.

Overall, it was a bit disappointing as a part of the series, but an enjoyable game to play through at least. It didn’t kill my love of the series, and I am really looking forward to playing the fourth of the Nathan Drake games and starting on some of the spinoffs.

Uncharted 3 nathan from behind.png

This was probably my favorite Nathan Drake outfit, tbh. Source

Why Avatar: The Last Airbender is worlds better than Legend of Korra (Part 1)

*SPOILERS* If you haven’t seen Avatar: The Last Airbender all the way through, you really should watch it before reading this. I don’t care if I spoil Legend of Korra for you.

I just did a quick search on my blog, and somehow, I apparently have never talked about Avatar: The Last Airbender. Which is just inexcusable because it’s absolutely one of the best cartoons ever made. There are few shows that have sucked me in more than this one.

You should know that my love for Avatar isn’t just nostalgia goggles talking. I wasn’t even allowed to watch the show when I was a kid because my mom didn’t like the Eastern mysticism aspects of the show (I showed it to her a year or two ago, and now she loves it too). I watched it the first time when I was 16. I also recently rewatched it with The Boyfriend a few months ago, so it’s pretty fresh in my mind.

Like most fans of the original show, I looked forward to Legend of Korra, which told the story of the next Avatar, an older teenage girl named Korra. It was… dull. In it’s first season.

korr reaction.gif

Accurately depicts my feeling about this show.

Compared with Avatar, it was a huge disappointment for me, especially as the series went on. I want to talk a little bit about why I believe that A:TLA is way better than LoK (I’m going to abbreviate them from now on).

My first point is an issue of organization. This is a somewhat nitpicky complaint, but it’s so obvious that LoK was only ever supposed to have one season. The first season is not great, and not even the best of the series (I’ll talk about that later), but at least it had a definite ending. The villain was dead, and Korra’s struggles and relationships were resolved.*

If it had been just one season, it would have been a little disappointing, but I wouldn’t dislike the show as much as I currently do. But after that first season, it was so popular that I guess that the network thought they could make some money off a few more seasons. That’s what the later seasons felt like, a cash grab. Each season had a new villain or set of them (there were some good ones, don’t get me wrong) and a new issue to deal with and no cohesion.

Now contrast that with the original show. From the beginning of the first season, the problem was Firelord Ozai and the Fire Nation. That recurring villain and threat helped to tie the seasons and the show together. Watching A:TLA is like watching an epic told across a number of episodes. Watching Korra was like watching a bunch of short stories that kinda connected.

A:TLA did have multiple villains in each season too. In fact Ozai wasn’t even the most visible villain** until the third and final season. For the first season and a half, it was Zuko, and for the second season and some of the third it was Azula (both Ozai’s children, by the way, for those of you who haven’t seen the show and ignored my warning). There were a few different more minor villains, but most of the time, both the minor and major villains eventually led back to Ozai. This led to consistency in A:TLA that LoK never had.

Speaking of characters, that leads me to my next gripe with LoK. Despite having four seasons, one more than the original show, the characters were far less interesting and entertaining.

Let’s start with Aang from A:TLA and my least favorite character in Legend of Korra: Korra. Okay, that’s a lie. My least favorite character is Mako, but Korra’s more important, so I’m going to talk about her first. I really hate to compare Aang to Korra, but they were the main characters in both of their shows. I think the biggest problem with Korra is a problem of motivation and conflict.

Aang goofy.gif

The thing that made Aang interesting to watch was the that his personality conflicted heavily with the world he was thrown into. Aang was a sweet, innocent cinnamon roll of a monk who just wanted world peace and to have fun with his friends. He’s thrown into a world that is dark and war-torn, and he’s told that his mission is to stop a 100-year war, by force if necessary. Almost every situation he finds himself in forces him to measure his principles against reality.

Now let’s look at Korra. She a tough bad*ss who’s thrown into situations where she has to punch things. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out which of these two situations would be more interesting to watch. The lack of contrast between her personality and korra punch.gifthe forces around her are part of the reason that I think the second and third seasons are better than the first and fourth. In the middle seasons, she was trying to deal with the spiritual side of being the Avatar, which at least was conflicting with her personality.

My biggest problems with the character were actually more based on how she was written. One of the dumbest scenes of the show was the defeat of the best villain of the series, Zaheer, by a bunch of children without the hero. That’s right, Korra didn’t even get to defeat the villain in season 3. It’s just sooooo unsatisfying. Seriously, you have no idea how much I hated that ending.

Whereas the last season of the original show was the culmination of everything we’ve been waiting for with a massive amount of character development (mostly in the form of Zuko’s adventures), the last season of LoK was… boring. And Korra didn’t even SHOW UP for a few episodes. It was like the show forgot about its main characters for a few episodes of the final season.

I’m going to end part one of this post here because it’s getting really long. But I wanted to say a quick word about the writing. I don’t think that the writing in Legend of Korra was particularly bad. In fact, I think there are some very good moments.

I looked up who did the writing for most of the episodes, and compared what they did on the original show. To my surprise, I didn’t hate the episodes they wrote in A:TLA. In fact, Tim Hendrick (LoK seasons 2-4), wrote one of my all-time favorite episodes, “The Puppetmaster,” Joshua Hamilton (LoK seasons 2-4) wrote the second part of “Boiling Rock,” and Katie Matilla (LoK seasons 3-4) wrote “The Beach.” These are all great episodes (not that Avatar had any truly bad episodes, just less great ones).

They are clearly skilled writers, but I think that the problem might have been that they didn’t have the plan or the vision to keep Korra going for four seasons. I just wanted to acknowledge that I didn’t hate the writers before I continue to tear apart their creation in the next part.

*Quick sidebar: the ending of the first season of LoK is one of the few great things about the series. Not many cartoon shows have the guts to kill their villains by way of murder-suicide. It was gutsy, and I appreciate that.

amon death.gif

This shocked the crap out of me when I first watched it.

**I mean that Ozai wasn’t a very visible villain literally. In an excellent example of how to make a villain more mysterious and ominous, the show creators didn’t even animate Ozai’s face until wayyy far into the series.

I’m NOT allergic to kiwis

So in the last few months, I’ve been having a lot of problems with my digestion. Every couple of weeks I eat something, and then my intestines attempt to escape from my body.

Let’s just say it’s not fun. Basically, I seem to have developed a food allergy. I haven’t quite figured out what is causing the issues. I’ve gone through thinking it was milk and then thinking maybe it was soda, and now I’m back to milk again.

So I’m not going to drink soda or milk for a little while, and see if can avoid the pain. Which sucks. Because I like both of those things.

But this post isn’t about me complaining that I can’t drink soda and milk for while. Actually, this post is about something entirely different, something I’m not allergic to.


Evil Kiwi

An evil fruit.

I love kiwis. I don’t eat them very often, but I was grocery shopping the other day, and I saw some kiwis. I thought they would make a nice snack in their raw form, and I could freeze a few to use in smoothies. Which was a good plan.

Until I tried to, you know, eat them. I made myself a bowl of pineapples and kiwis to go with my dinner tonight. I ate most of the bowl and then I noticed that my tongue and my lips were burning.

You know that feeling you get after you’ve burned your tongue on something hot? That sort of itchy, stinging, raw feeling? Multiply that by four or five times and that’s what my tongue and lips feel like right now.

My first thought was, “Oh great, I’ve developed another food allergy. Is there any food that isn’t trying to kill me?!”

I Googled “what does a food allergy feel like?” That… wasn’t super helpful. So I Googled “why does my tongue hurt when I eat kiwis?”

That was significantly more helpful. Suddenly, all I found was articles about people who burnt their tongues with kiwis. And pineapples. Apparently, it is very common for people to have bad reactions to pineapples and kiwis in particular.

It wasn’t that I’m allergic to the fruit. I just so happened to eat two of the most acidic foods on the planet. And they tried to eat me back.

Now I’m stuck with a half-eaten bowl of kiwis and pineapples and horribly itchy, stinging lips.

Oh, and two of things that I found online that could help with the pain were Coca-Cola and milk. In other words, two things I can’t eat right now. Awesome.

Here’s the most horrifying GIF I could find related to kiwis. Because they hurt me.

horrifying kiwi.gif

P.S. I still love kiwis. *cries*