The Final e-Portfolio

Of course I was going to use a Disney gif, guys – you know how much time I spent working on my Disney projects, right?

Here’s the handy-dandy link to my e-Portfolio, “A Collection of Musings!”  Of course, you’ll find other projects besides Disney, but I’ve chosen to include pieces that match with the work I did this year.  I’m proud of how it turned out, and I think it looks great.

Enjoy!

Post-Game Thoughts

Oh, goodness, let’s hope I can write something coherent.

Let’s start from the top, shall we?  This was actually the first Michigan basketball game I’d ever seen.  Scratch that, this was the first basketball game that I had sat all the way through ever.  Not only that, but getting to the championship for the first time in over 20 years is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  I was never planning to go to Atlanta, but it was given that I would watch this.

My friends and I went to watch the game at the Crisler Center.  It didn’t matter that the team wasn’t physically there, we were still pumped up and screaming.  I had no idea what would happen at the game.  I did expect a close match, but I hoped and dreamed of a Michigan victory.

The first half went extremely well.  Our team was in top form and gave Louisville a shock.  It was close to halftime that Louisville began to make up the difference, and we ended the half only a point ahead.  Then the second half came around, and, well…  We just couldn’t seem to mount a defense against the Cardinals.  Granted, we would chase them down every time they got too far ahead in the points.  But after the final buzzer, Louisville had won by six or eight points.  (I’m not going to look up the score at the moment.  I don’t really want to read any analysis of the game right now.)

It was sad to see Crisler Arena start to empty out near the last thirty seconds of the game.  The clock hadn’t run out, but the crowd knew what was going to happen.  It hurt worse to see my friends react – they’ve invested a lot of time and emotions into the team over the past two seasons, so to see the team lose was terrible.  Even though I was still a newbie, more than once I thought, Come on, guys, you’ve come too far to lose now.  It was to no avail.

The walk home was better, though.  Fresh air is always a great remedy.  As disappointed as we were, we did conclude that our team had fought hard the entire game.  Besides that, we still have amazing players for next season.  We have freshman and sophomore players with incredible talent, and they showed off their skill tonight.  At the very least, it would hurt more if it was a buzzer-beater that we had failed to win.  With this end, you don’t have to wail over a single second of a missed opportunity.

Ah, but I’m tired, and I’m writing this in the wee hours of the morning.  Much like fresh air, sleep does a world of good.

News on North Korea

Photo by Jon Chol Jin, The Associated Press.  North Korean university students rally in Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on March 29.

As you may have heard last week, tensions on the Korean peninsula are high once again.

That “once again” is an important phrase.  Given that North Korea often makes threats and ultimatums to the international community, you can be forgiven for thinking that this time is a lot of hot air as well.  It very well could be… but there’s the chance that it isn’t, and that’s what has people worried.

The big concern that everyone points to is that Kim Jong Un is in power.  He’s young and hasn’t been in power for long, so leaders and analysts are unsure as to how he’ll react when in different situations.  What we do know is that like his predecessors, he has a fondness for bold claims.  However, as Barbara Demick noted in an interview on NPR, “…one of the things that’s different is that we have this 30-year-old leader who may actually believe his own rhetoric, may really believe he runs a mighty country that can vanquish the imperial enemy.  And if that’s the case, we could be in trouble.”

North Korea does have one of the world’s largest standing armies – the fourth largest, in fact, at 1.1 million people.  But the capabilities of that army are much less than that of the U.S. or even South Korea.  North Korea has 820 jets to the South’s 460, but the former doesn’t have much fuel to fly them.  They also have more tanks, with 4,200 to 2,400.  But South Korea’s tanks are more modern and in better condition.  (For more information on North Korea’s army, read this article.)

Of course, the big thing that everyone is worried about is the country’s nuclear capabilities.  It’s hard to know for certain what kinds of weapons they have.  In general, analysts don’t believe that North Korea has fantastic abilities in this category.  Bruce Auster writes that North Korea’s missiles can’t reach the United States, the country has decided on a “no first-strike” policy, and that we’ve heard all these nuclear threats before.  Others debate on whether their warheads can reliably reach their intended targets, or if they have a delivery system at all.  However, North Korea does have artillery that they could use to hit Seoul.  It’s unknown what the country may try to do.

What is sometimes lost in these discussions is the human element.  The average citizens of North Korea will be affected by the decisions made on the world stage.  Any attack or invasion will be disastrous for them, and their lives are already hard as it is.  Demick remarks that North Koreans have trouble getting enough food to survive.  The CIA World Factbook doesn’t have a number for the poverty rate, but it does note that, “Large-scale military spending draws off resources needed for investment and civilian consumption. …Frequent weather-related crop failures aggravated chronic food shortages caused by on-going systemic problems, including a lack of arable land, collective farming practices, poor soil quality, insufficient fertilization, and persistent shortages of tractors and fuel.”

The situation in North Korea is extremely complex.  If one thing is certain, it’s that the international community will be watching Kim Jong Un and his government closely in the following months.

Naming Characters

For a long time, I’ve had a fascination with names.  I love reading about meanings, histories, and where a person’s name comes from.  (Thanks, Matilda!)  It may have started when I read about how J.K. Rowling used names in her own stories.  Take Argus Filch, caretaker and patroller of the hallways of Hogwarts.  Argus is a giant from Greek mythology who had a hundred eyes and was ordered to watch Io and prevent her from escaping – a fitting name for a patrolman.  I’ve always liked the idea that names can have meanings far beyond what the audience may first consider.

With that in mind, it can sometimes be difficult for me to come up with names for characters.  On the one hand, I’d like to have a name with an interesting history or meaning.  On the other hand, I don’t want the name to be completely unbelievable or totally transparent.  Let’s face it, no one is going to buy a name like “Nasty McBadguy.”  (Unless it’s a parody or a comedy story, in which case it’s fine.)  There’s also a third problem – the undescribable factor.  A character’s name has to “fit,” and while there are no rules at all about using a particular name, you know when a name sounds right and when it doesn’t.  It’s similar to how people will say things like, “Nicki?  She seems more like a Jennifer to me.”

Luckily for me, the internet has come to my rescue.  Baby name websites are actually great resources for picking out a name.  Quite often, the site give you small blurbs on where the names come from and if any famous people have had the name.  Babynames.com is exactly what it looks like, and Parents.com has a searchable database.  (I’ve often used the latter.)  If you really don’t know what you’re looking for in a name, or just need some inspiration, Behind the Name has a random name generator.  You can even customize the randomizer to your needs.  Do you need a female French name with a middle name that can go with the surname “Fontaine?”  No problem!  There are also options for ancient and mythological names, as well as silly categories like Hippy, Rapper, or Transformer names.

Sometimes, you’ve got a first name settled, but need help with a last name.  The earlier random name generator helps, but it does give you more than you need.  While certainly not exhaustive, it can be helpful to look at these lists of last names, ordered A to G, H to O, and P to Z.  Behind the Names also has this page to browse through surnames, as well as assorted categories.

Even if you don’t have any characters who need naming at the moment, it’s still interesting to look through the sites and see what you find.  Do you see yourselves using these sties?  How do you usually come up with names for characters?  Do name meanings do much for you at all?  Leave a comment below!

Spring is Here… Yay?

“The way that I always know that spring is coming is I can hear the birds again.” -Kelsey Ann Wessel

Kaitlin: After a long Michigan winter, spring is one of the most welcome sights for us college kids. No more wandering out into blizzards, dragging ourselves out of bed into 20 degrees and biting wind, or taking an extra ten minutes to add an extra layer before classes.

That doesn’t look enjoyable, does it? Bring on spring.

Kelsey-Ann: …And now I’m about to dash all pretenses of hope.  Spring brings exams.  Lots of them.  Big ones.  Make-or-break your grade ones.  And let us not forget homework and essays and registering for classes.  Yeah, hooray for Spring.  At least the sunny weather makes up for the overload of work.

It will be a few months late, but you kind of want to crawl under your sheets and hibernate for a while.

Quality, Popularity, and Oscars

When we first talked about the Oscars in class, I thought, “Oh, this will be so cool!  The movies I saw this year will do great!  I’ll get to cheer them on and-“

 “Um…  Amour?  Argo?  Beasts of the Southern Wild?  I’ve never heard of these…  But, they’re probably good if they’re nominated…  At least I know what the others are about.  Vaguely.”

“But that’s OK, because I’m sure I’ll have someone to root for in actors and actresses!”

“…I didn’t see any of the movies they got nominated for.  I saw Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games, and I saw a stage production of Les Mis, but that doesn’t quite count…”

“Y’know, The Avengers came out this year, and it’s the third-highest grossing film of all time, and so did The Hobbit – it got over $960 million!  They must be in the running for some categories!”

“…The Hobbit is in makeup/hairstyling, production design, and visual effects.  Just three.  The Avengers is in visual effects.  Just one.”

“…”

“…How come comic book movies never get nominated~?”  I just don’t know why, Hugh Jackman.

I respect people who watch all these different films and have informed opinions.  (Like Carly, for instance.)  I am most certainly not one of those people.  It takes something big to get me off my rear and go to the theater, so usually it’s a big-budget, splashy film.  Essentially, it’s the stuff that’s popular.

I got to thinking about how complicated popularity and quality are.  On the one hand, if something is wildly popular, then there’s something in it that appeals to audiences.  The Avengers isn’t one of those deep, thought-provoking films, but it is a ton of fun to watch (especially if you’re a fan).  On the other hand, just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s good.  (I’m looking at you, Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.)

The problem with me and reviewing films is that I really have no frame of reference other than my personal opinion.  Critics, at least, are aware of general traits that make a film stand above the rest.  I suppose all I can really say for certain is that if the public was allowed to have a say in the Oscars, the divide between them and the Academy would be miles wide.

What do you think of this popularity/quality business?  Is there anything you’d like to add, or anything I’ve missed?  Feel free to leave a comment!

Tags and Tumblr

This is an example of a gif. Gifs are very popular on Tumblr.

I have a feeling this might make me known as “that weird Tumblr girl,” but the site is like nothing I’ve seen anywhere else on the internet.  If this is the first time you’ve heard of Tumblr or if you don’t really know what it is, here’s a quick explanation: Tumblr is best described as a “micro-blogging” site.  A user can create their own blog, customize it as they see fit, and follow blogs that match their interests.  (For more information, see their About page.)  Tumblr is fascinating to me for the people who use the site on a daily basis.  Bloggers on this site have developed their own miniature culture, complete with in-jokes, jargon, and certain styles of writing.

One of the peculiar modes of speech is the use of tags.  For those completely uninitiated to blogging, a tag is a word or a phrase that the writer can attach to a post in order to make it easier to find.  For example, if you wrote a post critiquing the Harry Potter series, you could tag it as “#Harry Potter” to make it simple to locate.  (When you copy and paste a tag, it will automatically include the hashtag and underlining.  I have decided to keep this convention.)  Furthermore, on Tumblr you can check and follow certain tags so you can see updates as they come.  If anyone tags a post a certain way, it will show up there.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the original post, but someone once called Tumblr tags “like muttering under your breath on the internet.”  People don’t only tag things as “#photo,” “#cat,” or “#nature.”  Quite often, tags are used to express strong emotions without having to insert text in the reblogged post.

For instance, one user wrote, “#WHY MUST YOU DO THIS TO MY FEELINGS” and “#AUAUAUAUAGGGGGHHHHH.”  Emotions can also be positive, such as, “#YOU ADORABLE BABUS,” “#I CAN’T EVEN YOU’RE SO CUTE,” and “#HUGS FOR EVERYONE.”  A post can be filled with up to 30 tags, so on occasion a user may end up writing an entire “essay” in the tags.  Putting long phrases here allows a user to reblog a post without clogging up the actual “text portion” for other users who want to reblog the post.

Interestingly enough, the tag system has influenced how people write in regular text posts.  Popular text posts are often written in the same style as tags – no punctuation and no capitalization.  After being on Tumblr or even the internet as whole for a long time, it’s a quirk you don’t notice until someone points it out.  It should be noted that a user named turnabout-taisa gets the credit for this theory on tags.  He or she writes, “This adaptation is actually pretty cool, I think, as it serves to communicate tone across a very toneless medium.”  Blogger crowleyaziraphale quoted someone else’s tags (appropriately enough): “#we’ve created our own language with its own set of rules and guidelines #based on the environment #that is cool #if you don’t think that’s cool you’re wrong“.  In short, communication on Tumblr is really very sophisticated, even if outside observers and the bloggers themselves don’t realize it.

Though other sites (such as this lovely WordPress blog you’re reading now) include tag systems, as far as I know there is no other site that uses tags in this way.  For those who were in my section of class on Friday morning, this is why I asked about the tags.  For me, tags aren’t just a way of cataloging posts – they are a way to communicate unto themselves.