Review: Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 1 (July 16, 2017)

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~Spoilers ahead of pretty much the entire episode – some thoughts on what we’ve seen so far from the first episode and some questions and musings on what those might mean for the rest of the show! You’ve been warned!~


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My Language Learning Journey: German (Log: 02)

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Whenever I have the smallest inclination to research whatever interests me at that moment, and I have the time, I rarely hesitate to look things up and get lost in the information for a while. One of my teachers in high school once announced to the class something along the lines of: “If you have questions, google them.” Lately, I have been looking up resources for language learning even though I have enough to at least satisfy the requirements of my personal language learning journey for the next several months without needing to look up another single resource.

A few days ago, I came across the Rosetta Stone answer keys and workbooks online. They have pdfs on their site for free for English, French, German, Latin, and Spanish. Considering that the answer key also comes with the student workbook for homeschool, I think it’s fine to use separately from RS’s audio for the most part. The structure reminds me of the structure of my old Spanish workbook that I used when I took Spanish in university (which I came out at A1-A2 at best). I’ve tried out a few of the German lessons (level 1, of course) of the RS supplemental education material and will plan to eventually get through the workbook as I continue my German language learning journey. So far so good as far as I can tell. I can get the gist of the directions through reading it and looking at the examples.

In addition, I’ve done language learning before in attempting to learn Japanese and Spanish, but neither worked out because I eventually lost interest, especially when I took them in university. I find an university’s language learning structure doesn’t work for me because my goals for learning a language is geared towards reading and writing rather than listening or speaking, and an university’s language learning is geared towards all four plus the vocabulary isn’t geared towards the things that I want to read or write about.

Lastly, I’ve started up doing Duolingo through the desktop for German, which is nice because there is some grammar points they put up that nicely introduces the concepts. I’ll be studying it more in depth later with my grammar book, but to get a little introduction by Duolingo that’s reinforced by basic structures to help home in the concepts is great. Now that I’m using Duolingo more; however, Memrise has been shown a little less attention, but it’s still my main app for vocabulary building. I can recognize and recall a good portion of the root words that I’ve been learning when I’m reading German posts on Reddit or the Bible, etc, which is more than I could do last month when I was first began really putting in the effort. Considering that I normally try to learn 50-100 words of vocabulary a week with constant review, I think I’m finally getting somewhere – so far I’d estimate that I know about 100 words easily. However, I need to start learning the grammar side of things soon. Either way, I’m happy that I’m progressing! It truly does motivate me to continue my language learning journey.

Utilizing Patience is More Advantageous Than Not

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“This is one more piece of advice I have for you: don’t get impatient. Even if things are so tangled up you can’t do anything, don’t get desperate or blow a fuse and start yanking on one particular thread before it’s ready to come undone. You have to realize it’s going to be a long process and that you’ll work on things slowly, one at a time.” ― Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood.

Patience is a virtue. It’s a form of delayed gratification knowing that if you endure now, you have a much greater potential for a higher reward in the future than if you didn’t endure in the present time. Patience’s definition per dictionary.com: “(1) the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like. (2) an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.”

I’ve learned that keeping your cool is important to not escalate the situation further. If I show my frustration to a worker about long wait times who’s not causing the delay but is a convenient target since they work there, I’m only creating a hostile situation. Rarely has being impatient ever helped me out.

With the amount of times that I’ve gone to the doctors and had to wait in the lobby for a few hours past my appointment time a few times (I once had a check-up appointment with a clinic that had strict hours and they ran out of time (even though my appointment was a few hours before closing so I had to go back the next day), that’s patience building right there as I’m forced to endure the wait times. There’s no use getting mad at the nurses or doctors who are just trying to do their jobs as sometimes situations arise that’s out of control that they need to focus more on. My impatience won’t get them to hurry up unless I’m doing it because there’s a genuine emergency that needs immediate attention ala it’s a life or death kind of situation. There is no need to ruin their day as they’re not out to get me with all these delays. Otherwise, utilizing patience to the best of my ability makes things just nicer now that I’m not focusing on the annoyance of being forced to wait hours past my appointment time and instead focus on what I could be doing during those wait times like learning something, planning stuff, or playing a game or reading Reddit. Thank you, smart phones.

Another opportunity that has taught me patience is my exploration into language learning. It’s taught me that I need to continuously and consistently put in the time and effort if I hope to remotely succeed in my endeavors. Learning a language takes time. It’s like starting off as a seed and you continue to grow until you bloom into a flower. I won’t be learning and understanding everything that I learn for the first time, and even with the delay in language learning, being patient and not erupting in anger results in more positive results. By exercising patience despite feeling like my growth is going too slowly, I’ll continue to feel the interest in learning. Learning a language is a lifetime opportunity. I’ve been learning English all my life as a native speaker, and there is still more to the language that I can learn and apply to my communication skills.

Getting frustrated and annoyed at things that causes you delay which are also ultimately out of your control is detrimental to you in the long run. There’s a saying in Hawaii that goes: “If can, can. If no can, no can.” If there’s literally nothing that you can do about the situation until later, then exercise patience in the moment while knowing that there is something you can do in the future. However, that’s not to say that you should block out your emotions when using patience. When you feel the emotions, acknowledge it, but don’t allow it to overtake you. Let it pass.

Of course, patience is easier said than done, but you can build up to having a large repertoire of it. Patience is a deliberate practice that you can exercise and grow. I’m much more patient now than I was as a child, but there’s still a lot that I can work towards being patient with. It’s always a self-improvement experience if your goal is to improve yourself, and patience is something that people who want to improve themselves should strive to attain and maintain.

Coping with My Chronic Illnesses: Some Thoughts (01)

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“Those great wars which the body wages with the mind a slave to it, in the solitude of the bedroom against the assault of fever or the oncome of melancholia, are neglected. Nor is the reason far to seek. To look these things squarely in the face would need the courage of a lion tamer; a robust philosophy; a reason rooted in the bowels of the earth.” – Virginia Woolf, On Being Ill.

There are some days that you feel ill from the very moment you wake up. Your body is waging a war with your mind. How can you face it? You know something is not right; you’re unhealthy. You’re not at the top shape you know you could be if your body and/or your mind wasn’t failing you. The constant onslaught of a chronic illness is enough to drive people crazy, and as Woolf puts it: “To look these things squarely in the face would need the courage of a lion tamer; a robust philosophy; a reason rooted in the bowels of the earth.” Finding that reason can be hard, but it’s achievable. And then it’s being gritty and persisting in the direction you want your life to continue going despite the uncertainty of how the illness affects you on the timeline it affects you.

I can only plan as appropriately as I can, even if it’s not that far in advance, but that’s okay. I’m going by my timeline because my timeline involves being chronically ill that has no pattern beyond being every day. The intensity of the illnesses aren’t always the same on a day to day basis, but even on the better days, dealing with the illnesses is still stressful.

Still, slowly, you must fight on through the chronic illness. It’s tempting to give up. There’s nothing sweeter than temptation. I want to give up a lot, but I can’t. I refuse to. Taking each day, sometimes each hour, one at a time and slowing down is what’s best for me. That’s all I can handle sometimes, and that’s alright. Sometimes I’m so hard on myself even when everyone is telling me to take it easy. Truly, sometimes, you are your worst critic. Practicing self-compassion is another strategy to help with this.

Sometimes, my mind is hazy in the morning. It feels like I can’t quite understand what’s going on and nothing registers in me because of it. This feeling doesn’t last long, but sometimes it’s a little scary in retrospect. Moreover, my anxiety heightens the scariness as well when I can’t get it under control. Trying these coping methods helps a little, but ultimately when things are really bad, catharsis by crying and praying is the only thing that helps me feel remotely any better. Once the emotions are drained, it’s then possible to look at solutions as to how I can make myself comfortable while dealing with the chronic illness. For me, the pain won’t go away, but I can deal with it by not making it the center of every thought by trying to do the things that I need to get done or do my hobbies like reading or my language learning activities.

Regardless, things have been looking up emotional-wise. I’m glad that things have slowly gotten better over the past few weeks in all my personal relationships even if my physical health is deteriorating to balance out the emotional stability that I’ve slowly gained. However, I do my best to not allow my illnesses to interfere with my personal development as much as possible, and this blog helps me stay accountable while being a place where I feel willing to write down my thoughts.

My goal of self-improvement (among other goals) stems from wanting to have a better relationship with God, my SO, and myself as I deal with the fact that I’m more than likely won’t ever escape my chronic illnesses like I wished desperately to when I was a little girl. It’s a continuous challenge, especially as my illnesses sometimes dominates my mind and body, but as I stated before, achievable. As Albert Einstein said: “You never fail until you stop trying.” I’ll only fail at my goal when I stop trying so as I don’t like failing, I obviously can’t stop trying.

My Language Learning Journey: German (Log: 01)

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“Facing a language you don’t know is like returning to your infancy when your mother tongue used to be a foreign language to you.” – Munia Khan

Growing up speaking a creole language like Hawaiian Pidgin English that incorporated a lot of different languages altogether to form a new one exposed me to many different languages utilizing not just different vocabulary but at times different grammatical structures like sentence structure (Hawaiian Pidgin English follows Portuguese grammar more than Standard American English). As I grew older, my interest in languages grew as I grew more aware of how languages functioned, but it wasn’t until recently after I graduated from college and wasn’t forced to endure learning a new language for a grade and requirement did language learning turn fun again even if it meant that I would once more be a complete beginner again.

The choice to learn German was based on my interests in philosophy and religion – both subjects where German has a foothold in. German and English is also a little similar, so it’s not a language that was too far from the standard language that I was taught in school. I’m more interested in learning a foreign language for reading and writing (and some listening) purposes only rather than speaking. I’ve tried learning a little bit of Japanese, Korean, Chinese (Mandarin and traditional kanji), Spanish, and Latin, but it hasn’t really worked out as eventually I give up due to a lack of interest.

This is my first real foray into learning German. It’s been about a month since I started putting in more effort in my language learning journey to learn it. Memrise is proving to be a key in keeping me practicing vocabulary at least four times a week. The SRS does help me to retain the information, and I like how game-like it can get with Memrise. I’ve also been going through Essential German Grammar by Martin Durrell, Katrin Kohl, and Gudrun Loftus. It’s slow, but slow and steady wins the race!

I’ve also recently decided that looking up a German bible with an accompaniment of the audio has got to be one of my greater decisions in my language learning journey. Not only am I gaining exposure by reading and listening, I’m also combining it with something that I’m interested in aka religion. I’ve found myself much more interested in learning the material; it feels less like a chore and more like something that I want to do. I’m also subscribed to a few German subreddits on my Reddit account, which I take the time to try to read even though I maybe understand only a limited amount of words and barely any grammar.

I hope to continue and persist with my language learning this time. I’m thinking that I’ll use this blog also as my personal language log, but also make an offline log as well. There’s still a lot for me to learn, both in German and in my native English. Language is ever evolving.


German Language Resources:

Essential German Grammar

German Bible Audio

German Subreddits: German, de

Reading and Studying: Virgil’s The Aeneid: Book 1

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I’m currently reading Virgil’s The Aeneid for the 2017 Classics Challenge that I’m doing. The Aeneid is one of the major classics in the western canon of literature.

One of the main things I remember about Greek and Roman mythology from when I used to read it a lot was that Hera (Greek)/Juno (Roman) often was fired up about one thing or another. I don’t blame her with such an unfaithful husband, but the way Juno goes about doing something about it, in my opinion, is quite awful considering that she often causes destruction and anguish to Jupiter’s paramours and their children because of her jealous rages. She is no different here in Book 1 of Virgil’s Aeneid.

But she heard a race of men, sprung of Trojan blood,

Would one day topple down her Tyrian stronghold,

Breed an arrogant people ruling far and wide,

Proud in battle, destined to plunder Libya.

So the Fates were spinning out the future…

This was Juno’s fear

And the goddess never forgot the old campaign

That she had waged at Troy for her beloved Argos. (Book 1: Lines 23-30)

There’s a lot of reasons on why Juno hates Troy. In these lines, Juno feared for her people and didn’t want them to be plundered by an arrogant people. Then, she brings up the Trojan war, which her rage goes even further back from. In the lines following 30, the narrator mentions Juno’s resentment having festered into a rage that also includes the slight against her done by Paris when he chose Venus over her. Juno couldn’t handle the slight to her beauty, nor would she tolerate Trojans coming in to destroy her dear Tyrians. So she let loose her rage, even bribing the west wind Aeolus who was scolded by Neptune for having done so. With another of the Olympian gods putting a stop to her, Juno’s troublemaking for the Trojans in Book 1 ends here, and Venus’s plotting begins to stop Juno from ruining the prophecy given by Jupiter and the Fates.

Aeneas is feeling down despite the hope-laced words he says to his men. “Brave words. / Sick with mounting cares he assumes a look of hope / And keeps his anguish buried in his heart.” (Book 1: Lines 244-246). As leader of what’s left of his people after having endured the wrath of Juno, Aeneas cannot afford to look weak when everyone else is already feeling down. However, later, when Aeneas and Achates are in Dido’s grove, Aeneas breaks down in groans and cries at seeing depictions of the tragedy of Troy. The last of Aeneas’s laments is about Hector: “And Hector – / Three times Achilles has hauled him round the walls of Troy / And now he’s selling his lifeless body off for gold” (Book 1: Lines 583-585). It’s agony as Aeneas basically relives the tragedy of his people. His agony is moving as the verses describe his tears and groaning as he goes over the tragedy of Troy that he has seen decorating Dido’s grove.

After losing many of his people, Aeneas feels a great love for his son Ascanius. Aeneas left behind his son at his ships because he didn’t know of the dangers he would face on this new land. “Aeneas – a father’s love would give the man no rest – / Quickly sends Achates down to the ships to take / The news to Ascanius, bring him back to Carthage. / All his paternal care is focused on his son” (Book 1: Lines 766-769). Aeneas is a father who wants his young son nearby once he knows it’s safe where he can focus on caring for his son and heir.

In addition, you can see the blatant parallel in Aeneas and Odysseus’s journeys as both have gained the wrath of an Olympian god (Poseidon/Neptune for Odysseus) and Olympian goddess (Juno/Hera for Aeneas). There’s also the parallel of being forced to wander and suffer tragedy. In addition, seven years is used as a measurement. What I mean by that is Odysseus and Aeneas both are specified as having done something for seven years to the detriment of their journeys. In the Odyssey, Odysseus stays as Calypso’s lover for seven years. In the Aeneid, at the end of book 1, at Dido’s urging, we as readers find out that it’s been seven years since Aeneas and his men escaped from fallen Troy and forced to wander in search of a new place to build their kingdom.

The epithets in the first book was interesting to read because they described events happening in the scene such as Aeneas having the epithet of “deluded father” when Cupid is disguised as Ascanius or such in the case of foreshadowing as Dido’s epithets of “doomed” and “tragic”. I feel the epithets also add more to the characters as a way for readers to classify them easier as to what’s an important aspect about the character.

Overall, Venus’s plan is working. By Venus deciding to interfere to help with fulfilling the prophecy promised to her by her father Jupiter and the Fates that the great Romans would arise out of the bloodline of the Trojans, Venus has essentially doomed Dido. There’s also a parallel here you can extract that by Venus’s interference once again by forcing a woman to become infatuated with a Trojan, she has doomed a great queen and her people, solidifying Juno’s fear; although, Venus did have the reassurance from Jupiter that Juno, herself, will eventually come to love the Romans.

Book 1 of Virgil’s The Aeneid is off to a great start. I’m enjoying it thus far. I’ve been wanting to read The Aeneid for over a year now. I’ve only read parts of it before while I was still in university, but I hadn’t been interested in it then. I’m certainly interested in it now!

On Learning: Some Thoughts on the Importance of Critical Thinking

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“Whenever we hear an opinion and believe it, we make an agreement, and it becomes part of our belief system.” ― Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom.

“Believe what you like, but don’t believe everything you read without questioning it.”
― Pauline Baynes, Questionable Creatures: A Bestiary.

There are two quotes today because when I came across them, I thought they fit well with each other. Both are based in the thinking process of the absorption of information. Miguel Ruiz reminds us that when we absorb information and believe in it, we’re agreeing with what’s said, and it becomes a part of us. Moreover, Pauline Baynes puts it succinctly in that we can believe in whatever we want, but we probably should not believe in everything that we read without questioning it. Her quote bears an implication that to do so is something negative. In their words, I gain the feeling of needing to be personally responsible for the information I absorb.

Critical thinking is hard. It’s something that’s learned and developed. It’s a skill that can develop into an enlightening lifestyle if you constantly seek it out.

There’s a lot of information out in the web and, often, it’s hard to critically evaluate the information if you aren’t trained to look beyond the first source you see that confirms your bias (otherwise known as confirmation bias). When seeking out information, do you stop to think: “How credible is this source where the information came from? Why?” or “Are there other reputable sources corroborating this story?” There’s obviously more questions to ponder as you contemplate the validity of a source, but it’s a good start to begin thinking why a source is credible and reputable.

You can go even further and contemplate what it might mean to you as a consumer of the source material for having learned about it. What does learning about the source material mean for you? What does it do for you? Are you looking up the information for entertainment purposes? Or perhaps you’re looking for research material for school? One will lead to a more rigorous scrutiny, but there’s something to be said for developing and using the skill that allows you to better think about the information you’re consuming and thinking about the reasons on why you’re consuming that information in the first place.

Being able to critically evaluate information is an important skill in life. Practice makes perfect. Being conscientious of the information you’re absorbing is just as important as well. This is information that you’re willing to accommodate or assimilate into your memory, so be tough on the information and try to seek out variety of sources to corroborate the information if possible and build upon there to critically think on the information.

Without being able to critically evaluate information, your gullibility will cause people to pull fast ones over you because they know they can get you to believe them. However, one thing to remember is that people are human. Humans make mistakes. People will make mistakes, and someone who is typically credible will make a blunder. Essentially, it’s much better to constantly be vigilant and rely on yourself as the final judgment call of your thinking, as you work to critically evaluate the thoughts of others and what figure out what the consumption of the source material means for you.