Monday, March 9, 2020

Week 10 Lab: The Black Family

For my next storybook story, I will be writing about Walburga and her sons, Regulus and Sirius. I will be using an astra as my object.

Harry Potter stuff:
Object stuff:

  • I'm thinking of using the Brahmastra
    • "Would destroy entire hosts at once and could also counter most other astras. In the epic Mahabharata, it is said that the weapon manifests with the single head of Lord Brahma as, its tip."
  • OR the Nagapasha (can't find a good resource for this but it's mentioned here and here)
    • "Upon impact, this weapon would bind the target in coils of living venomous snakes. In the Ramayana, it was used against Rama and Lakshmana by Indrajit." 
    • could be good because Walburga might want something related to Slytherin 

"Borgin & Burkes" by HarshLight is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Friday, March 6, 2020

Learning Challenge: The Importance of Sleep

The sleep-related article I read was Yes, Your Sleep Schedule Is Making You Sick. For me, this article confirmed the importance of sleep. I personally have to get 9 hours of sleep to feel perfectly healthy, and when I don't get that I feel like trash and my mood is all over the place. The article mentions that a study was done on a group of depressed patients, and a "night of complete sleep deprivation produced an immediate, significant improvement in mood in about 60 percent of the group." It really is incredible what a lack of sleep can make you feel, and for my friends who think sleep deprivation doesn't affect them, I always wonder how long it has been since they've gotten enough sleep to actually realize they don't feel normal.

One new thing I learned that I did not know before is that there is a treatment called chronotherapy to alter the circadian rhythm: "This involves exposure to bright lights at progressively earlier times in the morning, which should make it easier to fall asleep earlier." For those who just give up on sleep because they have tried over and over, this might be a good therapy to try.

One thing I am now curious to explore is avoiding my smartphone and laptop in the evening. Although this is my peak studying time when I seem to have the most energy to accomplish tasks, this article made me realize it might really be ruining sleep for me. I might try this for a week or so over a school break to see if I notice any positive effects.

Circadian Rhythm image from Icinori (from the article)

Week 10 Microfiction: Harry Potter, Book Five

[Warning: Spoilers below if you haven't read Harry Potter.]

The Veil

The fall gave Sirius a tranquility unlike any he had felt before. His life flashed before his eyes, but only the good bits: meeting James, smiling at Remus, playing Quidditch, laughing with Lily, hugging Regulus, successfully sneaking out of the castle, visiting the Potters at Christmas, holding Harry, meeting Harry all over again... He faintly heard screams and wanted to respond but the lack of air in his lungs wouldn't allow it. Don't worry. Sirius thought. All is well now. I will see you again someday. A feeling like light filled his entire body and he finally understood complete peace.


No matter how many objects Harry threw and broke, he could not relieve the incomprehensible pain of loss. How many more loved ones would he have to lose before his heart shattered completely?


Bibliography: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling.

Author's Note

The Veil: I decided to write a 100-word story on Sirius falling through the veil. He was hit with the killing curse right before that so this takes place sometime in the instant before death. This heartbreaking moment is something that pains me every time I think of the fifth book, and I wanted to write something that made it a little easier to comprehend. I do not deal with death of loved ones well, but thinking of it in a way where the person feels complete peace really helps me. I wanted to write a 100 word story because it felt like the exact right amount of words to give justice to the last moments of a person's life.

Loss: For my second story, I wrote a dribble (no more than 50 words) about my absolute favorite scene in the entire series--when Harry is breaking objects in Dumbledore's office and screaming because he's in so much pain from losing his godfather. That whole scene is so emotional to me and just physically describes the pain of loss so well. I wanted to write a dribble about the actual emotions Harry experienced. Rowling definitely did a better job but I tried! Here is a beautiful and sad comic illustrating the scene (from one of my favorite artists).

Image information: The Veil from Harry Potter Fandom Wiki.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Wikipedia Trail: From Yajna to Shaktism

In this week's reading, I came across the term yajna. It means sacrifice, worship, offering, or devotion. In Hinduism, it is often a ritual with mantras performed in front of a sacred fire. The tradition began as offerings to gods in sacred fire and transformed into "symbolic offerings in the presence of sacred fire."

That article led me to Agni, which means fire in Sanskrit. It is also associated with the Vedic fire god in Hinduism. Agni guards the southeast direction, and he is the mouth of the gods and goddesses. Agni (fire) is also one of the five elements in Indian religious cosmology.

Agni led me to Holi, which I have heard of before but never knew the significance. Holi is an ancient Hindu festival that is known as the "festival of colours/love/spring." It's purpose is to recognize the end of winter and the beginning of spring. It gives people a chance to "repair broken relationships" and just take care of each other. What a beautiful celebration!

That led me to Shaktism, which is a Hindu tradition where "the metaphysical reality is considered metaphorically feminine and Shakti is regarded as the supreme godhead." I was pretty confused by this article, but generally I think Shaktism is a denomination of Hinduism where certain goddesses are seen as the highest powers. 

Week 9 Reading Notes: Nine Ideal Indian Women, Part B

  • Sati falls in love with Siva. 
  • I really loved this quote that shows Siva's character: "When he called Siva a beggar, Daksha Raj spoke truly, for among all the gods there was none so poor as Mahadeva, who owned the whole creation but had nothing it it to call His own, for He had given all to others and had for Himself only an ox." (page 2)
  • Pages 3-4 give some really beautiful description about Sati and Siva enjoying a peaceful life together.
  • Sati goes to her father's yagna that she was not invited to. 
  • Sati ends up dying because her father's disapproval of her choices. Siva is enraged and begins to destroy the world, but Vishnu helps to reverse this by putting pieces of Sati's body on Earth. These became temples of Siva. 

"Sati shiva bishnu" from Wikimedia Commons

Bibliography: Nine Ideal Indian Women: Savitri, Damayanti, Sati, and Uttara, by Sunity Devee.

Week 9 Reading Notes: Nine Ideal Indian Women, Part A

  • Savitri falls in love with a boy (Satyaban) in the forest. It turns out he is an exiled prince. Savitri's father doesn't want her marrying him because he was an "exiled beggar" but he also doesn't want her to be forced into obedience. He learns that the boy's father (the king) was surrounded by enemies from day one on the throne, making it really difficult to rule anyways. Then the king became blind, and he was eventually driven out of the kingdom by his brother. Satyaban and his mom followed him into exile. This makes Savitri's father more okay with her marrying him, but then he learns that Satyaban is destined to die within a year (which reminds me of The Raven Cycle!!! That is a key point of that book! I wonder if that's where she got the idea...).
  • Savitri still wants to marry him despite knowing he'll die in a year.
  • The way their love is written about is really beautiful. I might write about a single moment/day in their relationship where they are just doing daily domestic activities, helping Satyaban's parents, but both of them are admiring each other, and Savitri is trying hard not to think about how she will live without him.
  • When Satyaban dies, the King of Death comes. Savitri begs him not to take Satyaban's body, but eventually gives in. She follows the King of Death, saying that she can't live without Satyaban so he should take her also. The King of Death says he will grant her wishes if she stops following him. She wishes for: her father-in-law's sight back, her father to have a son as an heir, and sons for herself. She then says that all of that is pointless to her if she doesn't have Satyaban, and she also wishes to die. The King of Death is surprised and realizes he has been conquered (love this!!! Reminds of Harry Potter). He gives Savitri her husband back. 
  • Satyaban wakes up and thinks he has been sleeping there all night. Savitri doesn't tell him he died. This could also make a really interesting story--they continue gathering wood, and I could write about how Savitri is looking at Satyaban, thoughts racing and admiring him. 
  • I love how everything just fell together perfectly in this story. Everything had a purpose: the birth of a girl instead of a boy, the exile, the wishes, the death, etc. 
Savitri and Satyavan from Wikimedia Commons


BibliographyNine Ideal Indian Women: Savitri, Damayanti, Sati, and Uttara, by Sunity Devee.

Week 9 Microfiction: Harry Potter, Book Four

The Perils of War Show No Mercy: Cedric Diggory

A flick, a flash; an innocent, pure heart stopped. A pointless murder, but a necessary one all the same. 

Book Four

The beginning of a darker time. 


Author's Note:

My two sentence microfiction is about Cedric Diggory, who was murdered on Voldemort's orders. Diggory is one of my favorite characters, and it took me two re-reads to finally accept his death. At first, I was completely distraught because it felt pointless. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Diggory's death was a pivotal moment in the books. It was the evidence many people needed to realize that Voldemort was back, and that he was going to do whatever horrible things he had to to achieve power. Killing Diggory was one of the biggest mistakes Voldemort made for so many reasons, but the biggest was that it brought people together. Anyways! I wanted to make it a six-word story but in the end I realized a short two-sentence story was more meaningful. Also, I really like the idea of creating a long title for such a short story. It feels kind of silly but also important. It forces the reader to take in every single word and gives them more to analyze.

My six-word story is about the book in general. The ending of The Goblet of Fire is a turning point in the series that introduces some very intense and unsettling content. I wanted to convey this in a succinct way, and I think a six-word story does it well.

Bibliography: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

Image information: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire poster from Flickr. I haven't seen this before and I thought it was so good!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Famous Last Words: Week 8 Assignments Finished!

Week 8 was a review week, and thank goodness for that because I badly needed some reflection time. I have not had much time or energy to seriously contemplate my work and schedule this semester, so being forced to do so was immensely helpful. It is wonderful how much reflection can help clear your head and take a weight off your shoulders that you didn't realize was there before. This also makes me realize I need to put aside some time for journaling again.

I am still having a lot of fun writing my Harry Potter microfiction. I feel like I'm starting to run out of writing steam, though, so I might take a break from biography or microfiction? Although usually right when I give up on those, I come up with an idea to write about. Before I know it, the assignment is done. Maybe that is saying something about how I need to stop overthinking... Some of the best advice I've ever heard is "don't try so hard" (from the show Parks and Recreation), and as simple as it is, it's definitely what I need to hear most of the time.

My other courses are okay, although I'm starting to feel a mid-semester lull where I am tempted to skip... (This is why I prefer online classes! The amount of energy it takes just to go to campus, find parking, get to class, wait for the professor, etc. is equivalent to doing an entire module in an online class.) But I am too scared to miss class just in case a professor decides to throw in a pop quiz or extra points that day, so I still go to class anyways. The main connection I see between this class and my other classes is that Indian Epics helps me improve my writing skills, which makes essay-writing easier for other classes. It's wild how just a few weeks without practice can make it so much harder to write.

To finish, I randomly came across this HEART image and wow do I feel personally attacked. I've always struggled with over-highlighting because everything feels important to me. But then when I try to minimize my highlighting, I end up focusing on things that apparently the professor doesn't see as important. It is such a frustrating cycle!

Meme from Learning by HEART blog

Week 8 Biography: Camelback Mountain

The sweat on my back and my twitching muscles were constant reminders that my body was not used to such rapidly increasing elevation. Camelback Mountain was no joke, especially for someone who had never seriously hiked before. I laughed at my confidence from an hour before, when I brushed off warnings about this strenuous hike for those who were inexperienced. Locals passed me one by one, and I had to remind myself to not get competitive and to instead take my time. Up and up I went, using my hands to climb up and over boulders. I soon realized this was not so much a hike as it was rock-climbing. My journey to the top was not an easy one, but once I made it, I basked in the pleasure of my accomplishment. For me, hiking will never be a pretty or elegant venture, but it will always be a worthwhile one.


Author's Note:

In keeping with my hiking biographical writing, I wrote about my Camelback Mountain hike in Arizona. I have been trying to write a shorter story but have found it to be very difficult since I can't figure out which details to leave in or take out. I'm so glad I was finally able to do it! I'm pretty happy with what details I decided to share in this one. It tells the story of how brutal this hike was for me, but I hope it also shows how it is one of my favorites. I have a lot of love for Camelback Mountain, and I'm glad I was able to write a small tribute to it.

Image information: Personal images of Camelback Mountain, Phoenix, Arizona, March 2017.

Week 8 Wikipedia Trail: From Trimurti to Pāṇini

I started with Trimurti, which is a term I saw mentioned in a past storybook for Indian Epics. This is a triple deity in Hinduism that personifies creation (Brahma), maintenance (Vishnu), and destruction (Shiva).

I then clicked on Maitrayaniya Upanishad, which is an ancient Sanskrit text in the Yajurveda. There are so many terms I'm unfamiliar with in this article so it's hard to decipher exactly what this term means, but I think it's a really important text in Hinduism.

I had no idea what the Yajurveda was so I clicked on that next. It is basically scripture for worship rituals said by a priest. It is one of the four Vedas and was probably made between 1200 to 1000 BCE.

From there I clicked on Pāṇini, who was a "Sanskrit philologist, grammarian, and a revered scholar in ancient India." He is known as the father of linguistics (just in India, I believe) and he did a ton of work to form and improve Indian language.

The Trimurti at Ellora from Wikipedia

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Week 8 Microfiction: Harry Potter, Book Three

Lupin's Decision

Remus held the Hogwarts letter in his hand, wondering what possibly qualified him to be a Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. He wondered how Professor Dumbledore would justify and explain the werewolf issue to parents. His main concern, though, was the memories. He didn't know if his heart could take being back in the only place he had ever been truly happy, surrounded by the ghosts of his past adventures. He thought of James, Lily, and Peter, and how they would have told him to take the job. He thought of Harry. Then, he replied with: Yes, I accept.  

Sirius in Azkaban

He was innocent. Dementors don't care.


Author's Note:

In continuing with my Harry Potter microfiction, I wrote some about book three. For my first story, I wrote a 100-word story about what I imagine it was like for Remus to get the request from Dumbledore that he teach at Hogwarts. It was extremely brave of him to say yes, especially with all the PTSD he definitely had... I'm not sure I captured the amount of immense anguish and indecision he probably felt in that moment, but I did what I could with 100 words.

For my second story, I wrote a six-word story about Sirius' time in Azkaban and how brutal dementors can be. I chose to write a six-word story for this one because there really isn't much more to say than that (if you understand the context)--he didn't deserve the pain he endured. I had difficulty with tenses, though. I wanted to say "the dementors didn't care" but that would be a seven-word story, which defeats the purpose... I think it works this way, too, though.

Bibliography: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

Image Information: "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" by mcgenabdgma is licensed under CC CC0 1.0

Week 8 Progress

Looking back, I am happy with my progress so far. I'm proud that I got ahead and stayed ahead, which I really did not expect considering some of the personal issues I've had to deal with this semester. My weekly routine for this course isn't exactly a standard routine--it's more just that I do the work for this course when I want to procrastinate for other courses that I don't enjoy as much, or I do this coursework in between classes. The assignment I enjoy the most is the stories. At first I always feel pressure with them because I'm worried I won't be able to come up with an idea, but once I just start writing, the story basically writes itself. In terms of extra credit options, I'm definitely making use of those. I'm having so much fun with the biography and microfiction, although I am not the best microfiction writer. I feel like I'm improving, though! In terms of building my website, there isn't much to say. I worked on last semester's website until I was completely satisfied with it, so I then just used the exact same layout for this semester's website. 

Looking forward, there are not really any changes I want to make for the second half of the semester. I do want to avoid trying to hurry through the assignments, though. This class gives me a creative outlet, and once it's over I know I'll miss it. I want to try to take my time with these last ~100 points I have left, although I also want to avoid striving for perfection. I need to find a middle ground.

As for an image to motivate me for the big push through the end of the semester, below is a comic that always helps me. It's a good reminder to focus on the present and do what you can with what you have right now. It's one of my all-time favorite images that has helped me through a lot.

Week 8 Comments and Feedback

The quality of comments and feedback I am receiving from other students is really high. My peers are making a lot of good points. The comments I find most useful are the ones that ask "what if", meaning that they are making recommendations for ideas I could add to my story to make them more interesting.

I would say the quality of the comments and feedback I am leaving for other students is pretty good. I'm not great at making recommendations for changes, but I'm getting better at it as we go. I am definitely getting good ideas for my own writing when I read other people's writing. A lot of my peers think outside the box, and reading their writing helps me do the same.

I definitely have a sense of getting to know people by connecting with them on their blogs. Their introductions are really informative and help me understand their writing even more. I am happy with my introduction post, although I might go back and edit it a bit to add some new details.

To make the feedback assignments more useful for others, I might go back through our earlier feedback assignments and look for suggestions on how to give good feedback.

Image From Growth Mindset and Feedback Cats Blog

I chose the above image because it's such an important thing to remember when I receive feedback. I often skim over the praise and go straight to the criticism, which then makes me feel like a failure of a writer. It's important to balance the good and bad, and accept feedback without taking it personally.