Archive for the ‘Things I Like’ Category

Review: Mike Shinoda’s EP, “Post Traumatic” is a Game Changer
January 26, 2018

I wanted to take a day or so to absorb these songs before reviewing them. Every time I’ve done a review of any music, or other art forms, I always like to let things sink in. When it comes to an EP like Post Traumatic, this is especially important for me to do. There’s so much content in just three songs, so I’m going to touch on the most powerful points, without spoiling anything for anyone who hasn’t listened to them yet.

Let us begin by talking about the less obvious aspect of this album: It’s not a Fort Minor or Linkin Park album. It’s Mike Shinoda. It’s not just his name, it’s Mike doing something that is purely his focus and no one else’s. These songs aren’t about topping charts, pleasing fans or re-inventing Linkin Park’s sound for the eighth time. These songs are a highly personalized snapshot into his head. It’s a whirlwind of emotions, ranging from anger and rage to anxiety and depression. There’s darkness in there, a drop of unpredictability, followed by frustration and loneliness. Yes, loneliness. I’ll touch on that more later.

When I look back on Shinoda’s prior projects under the name Fort Minor, and the interviews he would do, he’d always bring up the discomfort with releasing songs or albums under his own name. From a marketing standpoint, it makes sense. His name is pretty cool, but it isn’t exactly easy to release a collection of rap songs under the name Mike Shinoda. Any time I’ve made music, I haven’t dared to release it under my legal name, even if I’m just singing. And I like my name a lot, I just know I’d sound absolutely ridiculous rapping “A to the L to the E to the X”. I’m sure Shinoda feels the same way to some degree.

Looking at it from a different angle though, as much as I’ve enjoyed Shinoda’s prior music with Fort Minor and Linkin Park, I enjoy the Post Traumatic EP a lot more. A huge part of Shinoda’s discomfort with releasing music under his name, is that it puts the focus on him. To display so many raw emotions and thoughts, is a huge vulnerability for him. It takes a massive amount of courage to put yourself out there like that. I’m proud of him for doing it, and it’s a choice I greatly respect and support. I hope this is something he continues to embark on, not just because of it being a powerful coping mechanism, but also because every artist has to walk down the road to find a new part of themselves. Shinoda’s voice has a natural reggae tone to it, and I can hear that peeking through to the surface of all three songs. It’s not a new part, but it’s much louder than before. As someone who makes hip hop/reggae music, I hope it gets even louder.

With that in mind, I want to talk about the songs on the EP in chronological order of when it appears Shinoda wrote them. So I’ll start with Over Again, which looks to be growing in popularity already. The song starts with Shinoda singing a powerful lyric, “Sometimes you don’t say goodbye once. You say goodbye over and over and over again”. For anyone who has lost a loved one, these lyrics automatically hit home, and I don’t need to explain them. It transitions to him rapping about it being a month since Chester had passed away, his anxiety about the tribute concert, and then erupts into intense anger. It’s debatable whether or not grief is confined to the stages that psychologists allocate to it, but anger is always a part of it. It’s explosive, and at times, frightening. At some point in our lives we’ve all been royally pissed off about something, and so frustrated by it all that we lash out at everyone and everything. It’s important to understand that no matter how intense that anger becomes, it’s a normal human reaction.

Watching As I Fall is similar because the anger and frustration are there. What struck me about this song is that the lashing out is taken several steps farther. Shinoda paints a picture of a scenario where he is trapped in a situation where everyone around him is closing in. He talks about the idiotic and insensitive assumptions people have made about him, Linkin Park’s future, and how he really feels. All I can visualize is an animal in a cage, and hundreds of people standing around with sticks poking at him until he finds a way to break through the bars and attempts to devour his attackers. Because when something traumatic happens, the wrong people love to push your buttons and make life harder for you.

Place to Start, which is actually the first track on the EP, sounds like it was written fairly recently. It drifts back and forth between singing and rapping, and does so in a way that is so smooth it’s hard to tell the difference between the two. As if the two sides to Shinoda as a musician finally merged together harmoniously. It’s interesting that this is the first track, since despite how sad it is, Shinoda sounds like he is looking back on his career and looking forward at the future of the same career. The so-called stages of grief don’t always happen in the same order, so a person can feel hope and acceptance before anger and denial.

What’s especially important about Place to Start, is that it tackles the topics of loneliness, redefining yourself and ‘moving on’. To be blunt, he has to continue a career as a musician where Chester won’t physically be there. All I can say in response to that is moving on isn’t something we can actually do. If we could, we’d forget the people we love and forget everything they did for us. Last year, after someone I loved died after a battle with ALS, an acquaintance of mine told me to move on because there were other men in the world. The implication that his existence was so meaningless that he could be replaced by some other man was gross. I told this person that I don’t have to move on, and have never spoken to him again.

I highly recommend that you watch the videos that Shinoda made to go along with these songs. They are dark, and a little creepy, but grief isn’t exactly rainbows and unicorns. The visuals will take you deeper into the process, and all of the feelings I described above, plus more. All of which can be found on his website,

On that note, my final thought about the EP is that Shinoda has changed the game. Before he was Fort Minor accompanied by many others, and continues to be a member of Linkin Park, but with those two groups we know what to expect. We didn’t expect something so raw and personal in the face of such tragedy. If he continues this journey, I’m sure that fans will be there every step of the way. I know I will be.


Song of the Arcanist
November 18, 2017

Song of the Arcanist is a medium sized modpack for version 1.12.2, that adds all sorts of new things to Minecraft, without interrupting the open-ended and simplistic feeling of the game when it isn’t modded. You’ll still need to survive your first night by collecting food and resources, plus finding or building a shelter. You’ll still want to find that perfect place to build a starter home, or even better, that amazing location to call your forever home.

What S.O.T.A. changes is the way you can generate your world. You can go with the options provided by Mojang, such as default or customized. Or you can take it a step farther and go with a Dooglamoo Worlds setting. Dooglamoo changes terrain generation so drastically that your world will look real while still being Minecraft. You’ll be convinced it was created with World Painter, rather than a mod. Dooglamoo adds a unique and beautiful feeling to the game, but the open space and magnificent mountains also present a serious challenge if you aren’t used to it. You also have the power to go with a Biomes O’ Plenty world instead of Dooglamoo Worlds. Biomes O’ Plenty will add brand new biomes throughout the world you create, which adds to the uniqueness of your game. This mod is a favorite among the internet community, and offers a more subtle challenge than Dooglamoo does.



However, that’s not the only thing you can do. Many of the mods add new structures, such as Roguelike Dungeons. If you want to progress in combat, you have mods like Dynamic Sword Skills, Magic Books and Everlasting Abilities to experiment with.


NetherEx is a special mod that completely overhauls the Nether dimension, to add in biomes and many other things. If you like traveling back and forth to the Nether a lot, then progressing with Arcanery and Astral Sorcery might be more up your alley. You also have mods like Botania, Mystical Agriculture and Terraqueous, which are all about adding tech, droplets of magic and farming to the game. And there’s also Plants, which adds, guess what, plants!


Defiled Lands is a creepy mod that adds a defiled biome to your world. A defiled biome has its own unique blocks, ores and mobs. It’s a scary, desolate place, so beware!


There are a lot of new food sources. Some help a lot, others help a little, and some will poison you. Over time, you’ll learn which is which, and what works best for you.

There are a bunch of mods to help you with taking care of storage, transporting items, smelting faster, and adding new blocks to build with. This pack focuses quite heavily on aesthetics and being creative.

Travel is also important. Who wants to play with a magic themed modpack if they can’t go exploring without fear of getting lost? You have the JourneyMap mod, Magical Map mod, along with tameable unicorns and pegasuses from the Ultimate Unicorn Mod to help you get around. Traveling has never been more comfortable!


This modpack was put together by me over the course of several months, with several tweaks and test plays to make sure everything runs smoothly. Because there are 81 mods, I highly recommend you install the latest version of Optifine, or the BetterFPS mod (but not both). It is important that you allocate a minimum of 4GB of RAM to your Forge profile, otherwise this pack will not run smoothly at all, or might even crash. I run the pack on my HP laptop with only 4GB of RAM allocated, and it works fine. Optifine or BetterFPS are only necessary if you have an older laptop or desktop and aren’t sure if your computer can handle the pack.

Adding or removing mods can drastically change the flow of the gameplay, and have negative effects rather than positive ones. If you choose to modify this pack, you may not claim it as your own. You also may not distribute the Song of the Arcanist pack on any websites without asking me first.

You can download the S.O.T.A. modpack here:

To install the modpack on a Windows computer, follow these instructions:
1. After the modpack finishes downloading, right click on the .zip file and extract each of the mod files.
2. For convenience, highlight all of the files by dragging your mouse over them. Hold down CTRL+C to copy them to your clipboard.
3. Go to your search bar on your start menu and type in “%appdata%” (without the quotation marks). You’ll see the %appdata% folder pop up. Open it, and look for your “.minecraft” directory/folder.
4. Open your .minecraft directory, and look for the folder which is titled “mods”. Open it, then hold down CTRL+V to paste all of the mod files into the mods folder.
5. Make sure that you have downloaded the latest version of Minecraft Forge. Mods cannot work in Minecraft without Forge! To make installation of Forge easier, download the Windows Installer that it provided on the Forge website (
6. This modpack is only available for Minecraft version 1.12.2, and will not work in any other versions. This means that version 1.12 and 1.12.1 will not be compatible with this modpack.
7. As a side note, some of these mods require an additional API mod to work correctly. All of the necessary API mods are included in the .zip file you downloaded. They go into the mods folder just the same as all of the mods do.

Have fun!

Complete Mod List:

What You Should Know About Martial Arts
October 8, 2017

There are many myths, misconceptions and downright bizarre attitudes and behaviors that many people have about martial arts. The purpose of this blog entry, is to dispel that nonsense and at the same time, be educational.

Let’s start with the weird behaviors:

  • Don’t laugh. While people who study martial arts typically enjoy it, we also take it seriously. We train in public or private because like most things, you use it or you lose it. It’s not cute, and it’s not funny. This is both a sport and an art form, and it’s intense. Martial arts can and will inflict serious bodily harm upon someone, and in many cases permanently injure or kill a person. The history of the majority of martial arts styles across Asia are rooted in monasteries and the military, and that’s not the kind of thing you joke about.
  • Don’t mimic us. You should never try to do something you see a martial artist do without proper training, no matter how easy you may think it is. Secondly, mimicking us makes you look like a fool, and it’s extremely rude. A couple of years ago, I mentioned to my Japanese language teacher that I had studied Kenpo, and she actually mimicked what she thought was Kenpo… I just sat there staring at her and eventually said to her, “What are you doing?” It was upsetting enough that I never talked about Kenpo or any martial arts during class ever again.
  • Don’t ask us to show off. Unless you are going to give me a huge wad of cash for showing off, don’t ask me to “show you some moves”. They aren’t moves, they are techniques and skills, and they aren’t for your entertainment. If you want to watch martial arts that badly, go watch Bruce Lee, or Jackie Chan, or some other dude who made money off of making us look silly.
  • Don’t ask us if we can do things that aren’t humanly possible. Like spinning around in the air ten times, bending or breaking steel, or any other superhuman thing you saw in the movies. Those things aren’t real, they will never be real, and I personally don’t wish they were real. As much respect as I had for Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid films, there’s a moment where he rubs his hands together vigorously and touches Daniel’s injured leg to “heal” it with his “energy”, and physics says a big fat NO to stuff like that.

Myths and Misconceptions:

  • Martial arts are not about fighting. Setting aside the military history, martial arts in both technique and culture are not about fighting. Most people who study this don’t get into fights. We don’t seek out fights, and we go out of our way to avoid them. Not just for our own safety, but because we know our own strength, and would rather not have to hurt another person unless we have no choice.
  • What happens in the movies is not legitimate martial arts. Creative at times, based on martial arts, but not martial arts. The Thai film “Chocolate” is one of a select few martial art movies I actually like, because it’s the most realistic looking one I’ve ever seen. But the superhuman behaviors of those enormously high jump kicks, or wall climbing, are usually CGI or performed by stunt workers with special effects assistance (Jackie Chan does his own stunts though). The star martial artist in the real world would not get attacked by each enemy one by one. They’d get swarmed by the pack and probably die. If a group of people who intended to hurt me ever approached me on the street, I’d run like hell, because I cannot fight off a group and even the most skilled martial artists can’t either.
  • Most of us aren’t very talented. Anyone who is not trained in or knowledgeable about something will say a more skilled person is talented. That’s a nice compliment, but with some rare exceptions, we aren’t talented. I don’t see myself as talented. Martial arts at its core, can be learned by just about anybody. It’s a rare few who take it to the next level and create their own style from it. I was always a fast learner and the form came relatively easy for me, but that’s actually how I am with most things. When it comes to creating my own style, I’m at a serious loss. Martial arts weren’t intended to be tweaked and mixed up, they are passed down from teacher to student in the same way over and over again to preserve the core of that style, so mixing things up is a bit strange.
  • We aren’t a bunch of badass mofos. I’m definitely a badass mofo when it comes to creative writing, but in regard to martial arts, definitely not! We aren’t these macho men and women walking around in full leather and firing death glares at everything that moves. I wear dresses and make-up.
  • Weapon usage and defense against them. Some styles use weapons like swords, short swords, double sticks, bo staffs, and others. Some styles are strictly focused on body techniques and nothing else. A lot of American teachers like to show young students ways to disarm attackers, basically take away a knife or gun and use it against your enemy. If a teacher ever tries to show you stuff like that, find a new school immediately. That nonsense will get you killed. Knife attacks are lightning quick, and you won’t have time to pull off those fancy moves when a knife is flying at you, or into you repeatedly. Same goes for guns. If you take someone’s gun away from them, you will break or possibly tear off their trigger finger, and if you shoot them, you be wounding or killing an unarmed person. We cannot always run when confronted by someone with a weapon, but running is always your best option. There’s no shame in running, because that’s how you stay alive. I do own a pair of 30 inch wooden sticks, and I enjoy training with them, but they are a dangerous weapon, which is something I always keep in the back of my mind.



The Depth of a Youtuber
June 23, 2017

As some of you who read my posts regularly know, I have a channel on Youtube that is titled “theartbook35”. This is an old internet handle that I’ve used since I was 13, which means I’ve been using this handle for 17 years. If you really need to know, I borrowed a book from a library back then that was titled “The Art Book”, and I just liked the sound of it. When we got CompuServe (the shitty AOL alternative and a testament to my age), I made “theartbook” my username. A short time later, I added the number 35, purely because that’s my favorite number. It’s my go-to username on every site I join (at least when I want people to know it’s me), because it’s never unavailable about 99% of the time. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with my channel’s content, which is primarily Minecraft survival series (modded and vanilla), building and the occasional retro game.

Since March of 2015 I’ve been uploading regularly to my channel. I get a lot of enjoyment out of making videos, because I can make whatever I want and know that the handful of people who watch my videos, actually like what I do. Of course my aim is to have more than 250 subscribers, and I’d like for my channel to become a source of income for me. But I’m also old in spirit, so I’m not banking on ad revenue being my only source of money. That’s why I have a somewhat standard job at a retail store. Working in retail is not always glamorous, but my work environment is a huge step up in comparison to Walmart and Target, as well as other retail chains, and the only thing less glamorous than retail is being unemployed. I’m happy where I am, devoted to the work I do and I have no plans to ever become unemployed again, even if my Youtube channel gains millions of subscribers in the future.

One thing I can say about myself is that even though I have fun with life, because of my old-fashioned brain, I take things seriously. Even my videos can be serious business. I swear up a storm sometimes in my commentary, say silly things and temporarily return to my childhood, but I have standards at the same time. If my commentary is shit quality, or the video footage is shit quality, it will not go on my channel. And believe me, I know when something is bad quality, especially if I know it’s something I wouldn’t watch. I’m gentle about how I advertise my videos within my videos. I keep my intros short and to the point. I tell people at the end of each video that if they enjoyed the content, they have the option to leave a like or a comment or possibly subscribe. I have an end screen and that’s it. I’m not going to beg people to stay, because if they’re going to stay, then they have the sense to make that choice, and I’m not desperate to be popular. Do I want to be popular? Technically, yes. I somewhat define popularity as a lot of people liking me. There’s nothing wrong with me wanting to be liked by a bunch of people. Who doesn’t want people to like them? But my entire idea of being popular is more along the lines of people enjoying my videos, and responding to my commentary so we can create interesting discussions in the comment section. Why should the enjoyment of a video stop when the video itself stops? I’m not trying to make my channel educational (even though I have worked as a teacher for many years), I just don’t have the heart to throw videos at people and pretend to care about my subscribers. I need to speak to people, which I see many content creators on Youtube fail to do.

When it comes to Youtubers who conduct themselves in a way that I disagree with, I am not going to name names, no matter how badly I want to. I have a very different idea of expressing my opinion than how people younger than me like to express themselves nowadays. It’s very hard for me to not call out someone directly and hold them to task or make them responsible for their actions/behavior. I don’t get offended by the little shit, especially when it’s not even shit, and only the big shit can make me speak up. But I have observed a trend on Youtube for a long time, where gamers beg for subscribers and to “smash that like button”, and they don’t give a flying fuck about the people who watch their videos. Those subscribers they’ve accumulated don’t even register on their humanity scales. I may not have millions of subscribers, but the 250 that I have I definitely earned, and if I earn millions, I sure as hell won’t objectify them the way these kids like to. And don’t you dare even think of telling me I’m doing one of those holier than thou things, or being snooty, because I’m not better than other people. I just had the unfortunate experience of being objectified for most of my life, and that experience has taught me to never do that to someone else.

There are a select few Youtubers who I feel like have some real depth to who they are. My all time favorite channel is “ochikeron”, whose videos are about Japanese home-cooked meals, traditional Japanese recipes and the artistry of cooking. Another favorite of mine is “Grant Thompson”, who refers to himself as the King of Random because his channel’s content doesn’t fit into a particular mold. Science experiments, projects, decorations, tools, it just goes on and on and on. And it’s funny because unlike ochikeron, who makes videos about recipes that I actually use in my day to day life, Grant Thompson’s projects and experiments are things that I would never try. I love science like you wouldn’t believe, and I enjoy watching him try these things, but they serve absolutely no purpose to my every day life. I think my fascination with his channel is that beyond the videos, he’s a husband with four children and has responsibilities outside of Youtube.

One of the best experiences I have ever had with my channel, is being able to tell my subscribers that I have important things going on in my life outside of Youtube, and those things will impact my ability to record and/or edit my videos. And I make it a point to remind people that I care about my channel, but I also care about my family, friends and my retail job a lot more. My subscribers respect this, and it’s probably because I’m honest with them. The best thing I learned from working as a salesperson, is that if you make people feel like they are obligated to buy what you are selling, you are lying to their faces and that is hurtful. I understand, and my subscribers understand that Youtube is not everything; it is not the end all and be all and it never will be. Youtube will not last forever, no matter how popular it may be right now. Just like how Facebook replaced Myspace, Twitch can replace Youtube. And it honestly scares the hell out of me how many young people devote themselves to their “Youtube careers”, quit their jobs and in some cases sell their souls for internet fame. The class, dignity and professionalism are thrown out the window, because they are so desperate for those likes and subscribers. I call bullshit on anyone in their early to mid 20’s who dares to say that they dreamed of being a Youtuber when they were younger. You’re on average only five years younger than me, and when you were a kid, Youtube wasn’t even a thing. I can’t say what you should be dreaming about, because your life is not mine to live, but I can say it shouldn’t be Youtube.

If anything, view Youtube has a stepping stone to greater possibilities. It’s a good way to build connections to other content creators, who often times know people that will be able to give you a recommendation or even get your feet in the door. For people who dream big, like visual art, publishing their books, acting, music, and other forms of entertainment, Youtube is a good avenue for these projects. This is where the depth of a Youtuber comes in. When Youtube eventually disappears, what will you go on to do? Migrate to another website and keep producing videos where you sell your soul, or will you pursue something that you actually love doing?

One Youtuber I want to discuss is Markiplier. He’s been a popular topic of discussion for a long time, for a lot of reasons. Most of the time it’s because people question how real he is, which is hilarious to me, given that people en mass don’t seem to question the legitimacy of the fakest Youtubers on the map. Is it really so hard to believe that someone on Youtube can be real and honest with his audience? The thing is, Mark is followed by millions of very young people, and he speaks to them and doesn’t subscribe to the bullshit that his fellow content creators subscribe to. And these young people couldn’t be bothered to listen to his suggestions of how to treat others; they’d rather tear fellow fans apart and harass each other just to prove they are the best fans ever. In the beginning, Mark drew in a good sized crowd of people who engaged in what he said, respected him as a person and appreciated the respect he gave them. This is basically what I have done with my channel thus-far. Not inspired by Mark of course because it comes naturally for me to act this way. But I do wonder from time to time, if my channel were to reach the level that Mark’s has reached, if I’d end up with a fanbase who is predominantly mean and nasty like his.

The one good thing I can say is that outside of Youtube, Markiplier has the power to walk away and go on to other things. His recent comedy/improv tour proved that. While I do think the tour was poorly organized, sloppy in places, and certainly not something that some of the people involved were ready for, I also appreciate his willingness to aim for something he’s passionate about. Mark was not required to give a fuck about his future. He was fully capable of sitting at home making gameplay videos and sucking off his fandom, but he chose a different avenue. He exercised this basic human quality called DEPTH. Again, while I don’t think the tour is the best thing ever created, I do think it’s a great example of who he is as a person and what creative endeavors he cares about. I hope other people can respect that, and have the insight to see his pathway choices as a form of wisdom and/or inspiration.

I can say for myself that if I ever get to a point where my Youtube channel serves no purpose in my life, I will be able to walk away and feel good about it. At the end of the day I am not a Youtuber, but instead an artist, writer and an educator. I have a future ahead of me. I hope that if you are a young content creator who is banking on Youtube being your career path, that you take what I have written here to heart and find something within yourself far more magical than begging people to smash like buttons and subscribe to your videos.


Thinking of Getting a Turtle? Read this first :)
May 31, 2017

I began my journey into reptile-land back in late 2008. It all began when my mother’s boyfriend at the time suggested getting a couple of aquatic turtles from a flea-market. I told him very firmly that I liked the idea of having turtles, but I wanted to do some research about a proper setup, diet, and other things that turtles may need since they obviously are nothing like cats and dogs. He told me he understood. And a week later he came home with two tiny aquatic turtles.

They were so tiny they fit in the center of my palm. My mom liked how active the smaller of the two was, so she started calling her Hurricane. I wanted their names to match somewhat, so I named the other Typhoon. We’ve had them ever since.

After a few years of experience in turtle care, we heard from a friend that someone she knew had a turtle he wanted to “get rid of”. He’d had this turtle for a few years and was sick of taking care of her. We asked them to bring her to our apartment so we could see what condition she was in. Aside from a bad case of conjunctivitis, she was in really good shape. We said yes almost immediately. We got her in a proper setup over the next few days, treated her eyes with medicated eye drops, and after a couples of weeks she was fine. We named her Sadie.

Hurricane is a standard red eared slider. Her shell is about 7 inches long now. She doesn’t like being held, pet, or any contact with us unless it involves being fed in the early morning. If we pick her up, she starts scratching and snapping and even hisses. Hurricane cannot be handled like a typical pet at all. When I have to move her to and from her tank, I have to be quick to avoid being bitten or scratched.

Typhoon is special. She is half red eared slider, and half common map turtle. She shell is 8 inches long. Map turtles are VERY different from sliders. Maps are spunky, assertive and very sensitive to their environments and how they are treated. I think of them as the most “emotional” of all aquatic species. Typhoon is pretty chill with just about anyone, adult or child. I’ve introduced her to kids, and plan to keep training her so that she can actually work with kids in an educational setting in the future. I can pick her up and hold her, rock her side to side, give her chin rubs and she’s totally cool with it.

Typhoon and Hurricane share a 55 gallon tank. A while back, Hurricane used to be very aggressive toward Typhoon, and seriously injured her chin. I knew well before that incident that aquatic turtles DO NOT like to live in groups. By some miracle these two since then have managed to sort out their differences. I do not condone putting aquatic turtles together, even hybrids, because the likelihood of aggression is too high to risk it. Aquatic turtles can seriously hurt each other, and captives have been known to kill each other. I assure you, I am moving into my own apartment later on this year, and these two will be separated.

Our theory is that the guy who had Sadie before us, took her from the wild. We live in CT, and taking a red eared slider from the wild is actually okay, because they are invasive here, and do a huge amount of damage to native wildlife and foliage. However, I also caution you who reads this – don’t take a red eared slider from the CT wilderness if you aren’t prepared to care for it. Sadie likes my mom and sits in her lap, but is very aggressive toward everyone else. Part of this is due to her size and age. Her shell is almost 11 inches long, and she is approximately 20 years old. In 2012, Sadie became gravid, which means she was carrying unfertilized eggs. All of my attempts at nesting boxes, attempts at getting her to lay those eggs outside, failed. We brought her to the vet to be induced. She bit the vet when he tried to give her the shot. My mom held Sadie by the rear-end of her shell, I put a popsicle stick in her mouth, and the vet quickly stuck the needle in her before she could get away. She laid one egg. We brought her back the next day for a second shot. The vet techs told us not to come in with them, despite us insisting that we should. 15 minutes later, one vet tech emerged with Sadie wrapped in a towel and she was as pale as a ghost. And Sadie is looking at us like nothing had happened. That vet tech practically shoved Sadie at us, and told us about what a nightmare it was to give ONE SHOT to our turtle. We were told that if she didn’t lay any eggs after this, not to bring her back and just let her do it in her aquarium. That’s what Sadie ended up doing. She laid the 11 remaining eggs underneath her basking dock. After that experience, we CANNOT put our hands in Sadie’s tank, because she will attack us. That tank is her nest, her territory, and she will defend it ferociously. In the morning when we feed her, she launches herself out of the water and bites the first thing she can get her mouth around. I am not exaggerating, turtles can launch themselves out of water similar to what alligators and crocodiles do. On a side note, every since the day we got Sadie, she’s been extremely close with our Egyptian mau mix, Spike. We let Sadie walk around the apartment and Spike follows her everywhere. Spike is the only living thing that Sadie has never acted aggressive toward.

Not all turtles are like this. Most people end up with sliders like Hurricane, that are very active, and don’t like to be handled. There are a few rare ones like Typhoon that genuinely enjoy contact with people. None of the people I know who have turtles have ever been shocked at Sadie’s aggression.

I genuinely enjoy caring for turtles, because they are fascinating animals. People tend to think reptiles in general are lazy, unintelligent and slow-moving. Watch my turtles dash across my living room floor, take apart their filters and plot their escape routes from their aquariums, and you’ll stop thinking they are dumb and lazy. Aquatics have full color vision, they can see a good distance and they even have personal likes and dislikes of various colors. Typhoon is attracted to yellow and acts aggressive toward anything pink. Hurricane like red and green, and doesn’t care either way about any other colors. Sadie likes dull, neutral colors, and tends to act aggressive toward anything vibrant. There’s no pattern to this, because I’ve heard stories about turtles that were obsessed, genuinely obsessed with colors like blue and orange. After all my years with turtles, I attribute this to personal taste, and I see nothing that indicates it’s an evolutionary advantage to have color preferences.

In short, I’ve learned so much about them that I could write a book about aquatic turtle care. I won’t spend my time doing it, but I could do it if I wanted to. I won’t go as far as to recommend turtles, or say they are “good” pets. I will say that they work for some people, and don’t work for others. Do your research about the species you want, take the time to spend a few extra dollars on a good, appropriate setup and don’t forget to ask questions. A good place to start is, which is where I started. They gave me a good boost into turtle care, and then I took off on my own. My advice however, is that if you feel for even a second that you don’t want to take the time to spend the money on the right aquarium setup, and take the time to learn about aquatic turtles, then you should not get one.


Youtube – I Went There
April 6, 2015

For the last five years or so, I have been interested in the gaming community on Youtube. My interest increased with Halo Reach’s “Forge” world, where people could create all kinds of mini-games and unique structures. I enjoyed people’s creativity, especially the videos on TheHaloForgeEpidemic, which showcased some very intelligent and never-before-seen builds. You can probably imagine what I was like when I got ahold of Minecraft!

So I came across Minecraft for the first time when I discovered the Starship Enterprise creative build. It is to scale, it has all of the decks. It is, without a doubt, incredible. I don’t even need to provide a link, you can go right on Youtube and search “minecraft enterprise”, and you’ll see it. It might be one of the most well-known community builds to date.

I had to get Minecraft after I saw that build. I didn’t have any desire to build the Enterprise, despite being the Star Trek fan that I am. I just wanted to build… something.

I got into other channels, like Jamziboy, who does some brilliant Nordic and gothic style houses. I experimented with his building tutorials for quite a while, until I found my own style, and posted it on Youtube.

Having very little idea of what makes a channel popular, or just likable, I posted a 39 minute tutorial about how I built these ancient Egyptian style houses. Some people liked my ideas, others complained about the length of the video. It was not a good recording, it was laggy and almost too in-depth. So, for a short while, I was turned off to do more videos, and went on hiatus.

I later started a second channel, for strictly Minecraft creative builds. I went through a lot of work to promote it, I noted other channels for inspiration, and asked for feedback. The reception was very negative. Some folks even wanted to start a fan war between myself and Jamziboy, and since he has no idea who I am (as far as I know), their logic behind that was bizarre. I stopped uploading however, when my screen recorder became obsolete.

Recently, during Spring break, I decided to return to my first channel, I got a new screen recorder, D3DGear, and began recording a Minecraft survival let’s play. After three episodes, it was officially titled “Let’s Play with Clay” (LPWC). It is set in a mesa biome. We don’t just do vanilla Minecraft, there are some creative mode aspects, cheat codes for doing funny or strange things, and my love of ‘punting’ mobs. To top it off, I have this odd catch phrase, “happy universe”. My best friend watches this series regularly and I am keeping it going for her, and anyone else who wants to watch it.

I felt like I channel was missing people. My best friend cannot to a multiplayer series with me, due us using different platforms. After many failed attempts to collaborate with other Youtubers, I decided to start playing on the Mineplex public server. Mineplex is a giant pool of people from all ages, and they are quite interesting. So far my favorite mini-games are Survival Games, Draw My Thing, and most of all, Super Paintball. I tell people I am recording also, which usually gets me painted by the opposition in Super Paintball. It certainly makes for a hilarious recording! (It also limits bad sportsmanship and foul language).

But I have a huge plan for the channel, since lately I have been experimenting with command blocks. I want to recreate the Invasion mini-game from Halo Reach, but add in some Minecraft components to set it apart from Halo. I won’t give anymore details than that 😉

My channel is getting a lot of views, but lacks feedback. My channel will thrive on comments, likes, and subscriptions, and I think we can build quite the community if we work hard at it. I invite to come be a part of the action. Let’s make it happen!


Let’s Chat
July 9, 2014

I want to take a break from blogging about the usual stuff that’s too serious and instead, talk about a youtube channel I’ve been subscribed to for a very long time: Captainsparklez.

I originally found Jordan’s channel by searching for a survival gameplay series in Minecraft. After watching his Skyblock series, I ventured into his vanilla survival series. Jordan’s commentary has always been humorous, from blurting out phrases like “Mistakes were made!” and “R.I.P. in peace”, to always referring to himself as “We” instead of “I”. I think by addressing the viewers that way, the videos are more inviting.

With popularity comes opinions from your viewers, and as your popularity grows, their need to voice their opinions also grows. Jordan’s vlog, “Let’s Talk“, addressed several of the negative opinions.

People are going to have something to say about everything; it’s how people work. We cannot please everyone, and it just isn’t worth exhausting yourself trying to make everybody happy. I know that statement gets overused, but in this instance it rightfully applies.

So let’s chat about his series called “Ultra Modded Survival”. This is season three of his survival let’s play, and the second season in which he uses mods. Mods add a unique flavor and twist to Minecraft, and allow players to change their world or create objects they couldn’t do otherwise in a regular Minecraft survival game. And while mods do allow us to make things faster, better, and cooler, sometimes veteran Minecraft gamers like to take the old-school approach of making things from scratch, and needing several hours or a whole day to do it. The purpose of adding mods to his survival series wasn’t to showcase every mod in expert detail; the point was to enhance the gameplay and make it interesting. Simply put, there’s a big difference between making a singular block that acts like an elevator, and understanding the redstone mechanics behind making a piston elevator. The piston elevator will take longer, sure. The elevator block doesn’t take more than five minutes, I’d say. Notch did not create Minecraft to provide the same instant gratification as an iPhone. This is a sandbox game.

Ultra Modded Survival has too many mods, and given how it’s impossible to know every single block that comes from every single mod, it would be best to not add so many in the future. Or, for season four, not have any more mods at all. Maybe even play vanilla only in a newly spawned 1.7 world, or 1.8 world if it releases before season four starts. The other option would be to cancel the series altogether, and piss off the majority of his subscribers.

Let’s move on to the “Mianite” series. Mineplex was starting to become redundant, so this multiplayer server, Mianite, is a fresh addition to the channel. The people Jordan is playing with are interesting, charismatic and humorous. The idea of having good, evil, and neutral teams makes for interesting gameplay. There are a couple of problems with Mianite though:

1. The server is now devoted to repeatedly killing other players and griefing. It was funny the first few times, but now that’s all that seems to happen. I was considering participating in this server, but I don’t want to spend several days building my house and log on to find it completely destroyed by someone who thinks it’s “funny”. Most servers have no griefing rules for a reason.

2. Disorganized. The server seems like it should have a story, but it doesn’t. Instead, players randomly ask the “Gods” for ways to grief each other, or have random battles against other players. Why not create a tournament arena, where players can challenge each other away from their houses/builds and settle their issues accordingly? Why not have territories for each team? Since teams Mianite and Dianite oppose each other, crossing into each other’s territory could prove fatal, or rewarding if they survive. Team Ianite could have a neutral territory, like a safe zone. It would be the responsibility of the players to know who is, and who is not on their teams.

This doesn’t make Mianite a bad server. It has the potential to be very interesting and draw a huge crowd. This is a young series with a long way to go. But if there must be complaints, they should be directed at Mianite, rather than Ultra Modded Survival. Jordan puts a lot of planning into UMS to avoid the disorganized spontaneity of Mianite. If you think you can start a let’s play that does what his cannot, by all means, go make that let’s play. Or you can be respectful and offer suggestions. The only thing bullying will get you is someone who doesn’t want to continue the series, and then everyone loses.


What Women Want From Men
June 27, 2013

Women vary from one to another as far as personalities are concerned, but when it comes to what we want from men, we are not that different from each other. I’ve compiled a list of several things women look for in men, and I think they are things which are realistic and appropriate to expect from men.

1. Don’t complicate things. Women are NOT drama queens. We don’t like to fight over men, material things, or have intense emotional outbursts. Those reactions are because your behavior, not the cause of it. If you cheat on me, it shouldn’t surprise you when I throw a wine bottle at your head. If you don’t cheat on me, I won’t have a reason to flip out on you.

2. Don’t be superficial. Trying too hard to impress a woman by grasping your belt or crotch, being over-animated, or slipping sex innuendos into a conversation are turn-offs and make you look ridiculous. There is nothing masculine about a man who acts like someone that he isn’t. We want you for the person that you truly are.

3. Space. Women need a different amount of space than men. Every woman is a bit different about how much space she needs. Men that are super clingy and start suggesting marriage and children within a couple of weeks after dating are too intense and a little bizarre. Men who have high expectations of a future with a woman can also be intimidating.

4. Respect for our bodies. Women often receive mixed information about what their bodies are capable of, which can make sex a very uncomfortable experience, even if it isn’t the first time. Understand that if a woman isn’t feeling it tonight, it’s because she might not be feeling totally comfortable with her body. It is your job as a man to work with her on that, and lend an ear if she wants to talk about it. Women usually will discuss this with other women, however. (Tip: Don’t ask other men about a woman’s body. Men are no better educated about the female body than women are).

5. Food and drink. Women like to eat well. You don’t have to be a professional chef or even cook. But we like it when a man cooks, especially if he does it well. Baking is 100% acceptable; not all baked food is cakes or pies or pastries. Taking a woman to great place to eat is a wonderful treat. You don’t have to do it for every single date, but at least once or twice a year.

6. Let women pay for breakfast, lunch or dinner if they were the ones who asked you out. Believe it or not, it makes a woman feel absolutely wonderful when she knows that a man respects her ability to make money. But paying for a meal, or even a movie, is also a genuinely kind gesture, and should be received as such. To say a woman can’t pay, ever, makes it look like she can’t do something, and that is very rude. It is just as hard for women to believe they cannot do something, as it is for men.

7. Manage your body hair. I like beards, when they are well trimmed and clean. Body hair is natural but I don’t want to run my hands through your thick, curly, back hair in the middle of the night. If I have to shave my armpits, legs, upper lip, chin, between my legs and other regions, then you ought to do it too. Body hair can gross out women just as much as it can gross out men. We like smooth skin.

8. Creativity. This comes in many forms. Creative dates are always a blast, and make you more appealing in the long term. Creativity in bed is also very important. Women can get bored during sex if you only do one thing every single time you get in bed. Sure, it works for you, but she doesn’t get to feel any pleasure. That doesn’t mean that you have to run off to the nearest toy shop and pick up some vibrating beast with three or more attachments to it, but trying something new or asking her what she’d like to do or what she fantasizes about, makes for excellent intimacy.

9. Don’t define a woman by society’s expected gender roles. Women don’t like to be trapped in the idea that they can only be one way. Women are not baby producers. If you want a real woman, be prepared for her to want to wait a long time before getting married or having children. Marriage is mutual, but giving birth is not. Men don’t have the power to carry a child, and while some women take pride in having babies, others are not interested in it, mainly because it sucks the life out of us. Literally.

10. We want you to bring out the best in us. A man should have a profound and healthy affect on a woman’s life, and she should do the same for him. If you feel like you can be you around a woman, and if she can be herself around you and not be criticized for it, then you are a great man.

11. Communication skills. It is perfectly fine to speak up about something that is on your mind. We do it all the time. You don’t have to be an emotional mess, but if something bothers you, say so. If you aren’t comfortable saying so, let us know that, and that you want to talk, but not right now. At least you are being honest, and we have been put on notice. Your feelings matter to us, just as much as we want them to matter to you. When we vent, we don’t want a solution unless we directly ask for one. Most of the time we want you to listen.


Ann Coulter – You Must Be New Here
May 21, 2013

I agree with you 100% Ms. Coulter. “Too many” minorities is very offensive to bigots.

It’s not like Star Trek’s original television series was a groundbreaking show because it was built on the foundation of minorities. It’s not like the series featured the first kiss between a black woman and a white man on national television. I’m not sure which Star Trek series she watched but the one I remember is the same as it was 50 years ago. (I didn’t grow up in the 60’s but I have seen several of the original episodes).

I imagine many long time Star Trek fans have been very critical of the reboots, both the 2009 film and Into Darkness. Rightfully so, because when you play with an alternate reality, you need to do it right. You need to keep to the nature of the original characters, even though with new events not previously seen in the other films you have a little room to play. I can say for sure that even though the timeline of this movie is very complicated in comparison to that of the Star Trek original series and films that followed, Kirk is Kirk and Spock is Spock. The only character who seems to have more to her than previously is Uhura, and I am sure many people appreciate that. I’ve always liked her regardless but I’ve heard enough complaints about her lack of personality to see why she has a lot of oomph in the newer movies.

This film is brilliant in 3D and will definitely appeal to everyone who loves the Spock, Kirk and Bones trio. You will love Mr. Scott, no doubt about it. Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance is also amazing, and frightening. I enjoyed it overall and believe everyone should see it.

Now, I need to move on to the timeline because there are several things which are a bit weird to me. There are some spoilers coming in regard to the plot, so please, if you haven’t seen the movie and you plan to, DO NOT CONTINUE READING.



The Day We Celebrate Love
February 14, 2013

I don’t look forward to Valentine’s Day just so that I can spend time with my boyfriend. I love him dearly but I can see him any day in the year.

What I look forward to is that I can see my mother, and my closest friends on this day and tell them that I love them.

Valentine’s Day should not just be about your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife. This holiday should be a celebration of unconditional love as well. The love you have for your children, whether you have given birth to them or adopted them or whether you are their teacher. Love for your family, such as your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and so on. Love for your closest friends who have always stuck by you and had your back when shit got rough. Love for your country, love for your ethnicity, love for who you are as a person, love for your planet and love for humanity.

So if you aren’t dating someone, or you aren’t married or engaged, and you’re dreading the idea you’ll be alone, then get together with a friend or pay a friend of your’s a quick visit to wish them a happy Valentine’s Day. Call your mother or your father or both and ell them you love them. Take your kids out for ice cream (if they can eat it) and at least remind them you love them with a hug and a kiss. There is no reason to be by yourself today just because you aren’t romantically involved with someone else.

Sure, most of us probably do desire to be loved by someone in a romantic way. That is perfectly fine. But does love always have to be about what you are getting from it? Why not just give it to someone else? The world would be a much happier place if we were more concerned with giving love to others than always receiving it.

I’m making it a point today to not only see my boyfriend this afternoon but to tell my mother I love her, and to also visit my friend and remind him that he is loved too. During my travels if I see anyone that I know and am close with, I will remind them also.